The Permanent War

| March / April 2005

Militarism and the American way of life

It's no secret that the "military-industrial complex" represents one of the most powerful forces in American economic and political life. What is less talked about is just how dependent on the war machine we have become. Approximately six percent of the U.S. workforce is employed or supported directly by companies or government agencies in the business of preparing for war -- as soldiers, civilian professionals, factory workers, and military retirees. That is to say nothing of the countless others supported indirectly by this juggernaut in restaurants, retail stores, schools, and other services in communities across the country. In this essay Michael Fitzgerald examines how we got here. -- The Editors

It's tempting to believe that a change in which political party is in power could bring about a major change in U.S. foreign policy. But it isn't really so. The problem isn't in the White House or Congress; it's structural, built into our economy. The fact is, there are just too many people in the United States who are dependent on war for their livelihoods. I was once one of them: My father helped kill children in Vietnam in order to feed his own kids.