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Russia Today on U.S. elites with respect to China: Military Industrial Complex vs. Rest of Industrial Capitalist

Russia Today’s Producer has a very thought-provoking take on the U.S.-China relations. It goes something like this. The true division is among the American elites. On one hand, the military industrial complex wants a fearsome and bogeyman China. On the other, “normal” industrial capitalists wanting more business for their constituents. “Human rights”, “intellectual property”, etc are perhaps “hot air.” “Congress attack on China?” Probably that too.



[Update]
Dwight D. Eisenhower exit speech on Jan.17,1961. Warning Americans of the danger of the military industrial complex.

Public Papers of the Presidents, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960, p. 1035- 1040 (from here)

My fellow Americans:

Three days from now, after half a century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor.

This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.

Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.

Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the Nation.

My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and, finally, to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years.

In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the national good rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the Nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.

II.

We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts America is today the strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America’s leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.

III.

Throughout America’s adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.

Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology — global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger is poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle — with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research — these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.

But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs — balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage — balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.

The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of stress and threat. But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only.

IV.

A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

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 State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present

and is gravely to be regarded.
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientifictechnological elite.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system — ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

V.

Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society’s future, we — you and I, and our government — must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

VI.

Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.

Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war — as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years — I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.

Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.

VII.

So — in this my last good night to you as your President — I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and peace. I trust that in that service you find some things worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.

You and I — my fellow citizens — need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation’s great goals.

To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America’s prayerful and continuing aspiration:

We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.

  1. r v
    January 21st, 2011 at 09:45 | #1

    Of course,

    The current whiners in DC are the unions and low tech manufacturing lobbies (such as the steel/textile industries).

    But if they have their way, i.e. make China raise prices (through rising Yuan or less competition), then it will undercut the profits of other large US industries, the high end producers who depend on cheap manufacturing in China.

    It’s really lobbyists against lobbyists in DC.

    They may complain about China’s policies to “force” US companies to transfer technologies, but that’s a silly issue. US companies take these deals because they do profit from the deals, of gaining access (AND low cost labors, tax breaks) in China in exchange for transfer of technologies.

    If it’s not profitable for these US companies to do so, they can always leave China. (and some do).

  2. pug_ster
    January 21st, 2011 at 10:24 | #2

    R V,

    I think there are only a handful of Western Companies who actually left China. Even google who went out kick and screaming last year decided to invest in China again recently. Most of the companies left China because they have a wrong strategy to go into that country but blame on the Chinese government anyways while other western companies made it because it adapted.

    Despite the uneven trade between China and the US, there are just too few Chinese companies who are actually investing in the US. Whenever it seems that some Chinese company wants to invest in the US, it won’t take long before American politicans interfere. So it makes perfect sense for Chinese companies to invest in South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia where Chinese companies are more welcomed. Meanwhile, American companies wanting to take money out from the US economy (along with US jobs) and investing in China. Talking about shooting themselves in the foot.

    This whole issue about GE transferring technologies is ridicious. China is going to transfer its high speed rail technology to GE and buy GE’s locomotives yet this is not even mentioned in Western media.

  3. r v
    January 21st, 2011 at 10:46 | #3

    The true enemies of US are actually the US corporations, Unions and lobbyists.

    They stuff their own pockets with subsidies they squeeze out of taxpayers, and then they just squander the money, by investing in foreign countries, more lobbyist campaign contributions, and speculating. They don’t build jobs or invest in new technologies or education.

    And they turn around and accuse the Chinese government of “unfair practices”, when the Chinese government invests in infrastructure and technologies and education.

    It’s rather like accusing someone of “unfairly” working or studying too hard.

    In the mean time, the US Congress still can’t settle down on basic investments like education and infrastructure.

    *I frankly don’t care if China is a little “unfair”. LIFE is UNFAIR, the REAL WORLD is UNFAIR, get used to it.

    China is growing, because the Chinese people always had to deal with tough situations, and they did it by the age old tried and true “suck it up and do it” mentality.

    As Amy Chua’s parents taught her, if you think you got an unfairly low grade from your teacher, don’t whine about it, try twice as hard and prove yourself.

  4. TonyP4
    January 21st, 2011 at 13:55 | #4

    Most are quite true but there is nothing new. All think their own gains.

    The offense industry of course wants China to be military powerful, so they can have more funding. It does not make real sense as US spends more than the next 4 countries combined.

    The unions complain on China’s cheap labor. $20 wage just cannot compete with $2 wage. They can stop China but these consumer products will come from other countries like India. Appreciating the Yuan will hurt US more than help its economy as their major products do not compete. Product dumping and tariffs are more justified, but it would lead to a trade war.

    All the rest are hot air and the politicians want to be re-elected as they represent the wrong perception of US citizens.

    Most multi national companies make good money from China and they’re the silent majority except Microsoft whose software are illegally copied as they are in most developing countries.

  5. January 21st, 2011 at 14:32 | #5

    @pug_ster

    Another good example is how Huawei is constantly blocked in the U.S. due to the U.S. wanting to protect Cisco at home turf.

    @rv
    “It’s rather like accusing someone of “unfairly” working or studying too hard.”

    Indeed. And the media couches it “slaving” away at studying.

    @TonyP4,
    Good summary.

  6. January 21st, 2011 at 15:30 | #6

    Just updated post with Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell speech. Eisenhower was himself a 5-star general in the U.S. Army.

    Eisenhower is in the news again, because segments of American society want to trim the military back.

    The clash of the elites have started within America.

  7. January 23rd, 2011 at 14:17 | #7

    This video does raise the good point that the American democracy is governed by special interests, not by the people. I allueded to that plenty in a previous post on democracy.

    The key thing to understand about freedom and democracy is that without vigilance on the part of the people (every citizens, can’t outsource it to a “free press”), a democracy is just an oligarchy – which is what China has.

    I’ve wondered before when a free market place of ideas – freedom and democracy – really work.

    If democratic discourse is about sensationalism (just look at the political season t.v. ads, speeaches and political smearing that dominates in the leadup to every election here in the U.S.; we can also look to our very biased media on a daily basis), I am not sure real democracy exists – except merely as a mass opiate for the masses.

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