These words, spoken in 1961, were prophetic:
“This conjunction of an immense #Military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. [ ... ] In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. ” - President Dwight D. Eisenhower ('Ike') in his farewell address to the nation.)
President Eisenhower was the World War 2 allied commander who led the Normandy Invasion and a popular two-term President of the United States from 1953 to 1960. In the current political atmosphere he would be dismissed as a “conspiracy theorist.”
Were Ike running for the Republican nomination in 2016, Republicans like Senators Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio would be screaming at Ike for criticizing “the patriotic industry that protects our freedom,” while supporters of Barack Obama would be yelling about the need for military intervention to overthrow human rights abuing dictators like Basar Al Assad, and the already disposed of (at great human and material cost to their nations) Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi.
Worse, the Democrat / Republican political puppets in the USA would be supported by European leaders including Prime Minister David Cameron in the UK, France's Francois Hollande and Germany's Angela Merkel who, even as I type, are preparing massive interventions in Libya and Iraq, both turned into chaotic and lawless failed states by previous US / European interventions that deposed nasty and undemocratic dictators who at least gave most of the people (those who did not oppose them) stability and a degree of prosperity.
Today's 'Neocons' would be demanding to know why the RINO Eisenhower was speaking against US interests rather than warning against Soviet imperialism and left wing media would be hinting darkly that Ike was suffering from dementia (as they did when physicist Freeman Dyson rubbished the junk science of global warming.)
Cold Warriors kept the west on high alert against the communist threat and kept their claws in the flesh of western taxpayer from the end of WW II to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990 and the liberalisation of China around the same time.
The military-industrial complex had learned how to play the government systems, research and development projects were awarded on a 'cost plus' basis, guaranteeing profit no matter by how much budgets were exceeded. Armaments industries and military bases were spread over nations, distribution based more on how much the incumbent political party wanted to hold the constituency than any strategic consideration.
No matter how pressing the economic and social problems facing nations, military spending always took priority. If it's any comfort the Russians were equally obsessed with defence projects, though their government was driven more by collective paranoia than corporate greed.
The Cold War created a lot of millionaires.
There no danger at any time of the Red Army invading Europe. Uncle Joe Stalin (a madman whose appetite for slaughter made Hitler look like an amateur) declared “socialism in one country” and purged the Russian Communist Party of Trotskyists who preached world revolution.
Now people are waking up to the fact that the real threat to freedom and democratic rule was posed by the shadow governments, the corporate investors, bankers and political backroom deal - makers, who meet in closeted cabals to plan a society in which governments control our finances and thus our actions.