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The Origin and Nature of the US “Military-Industrial Complex”

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This paper makes three primary claims. First, the so-called military-industrial complex (MIC) has its roots in the United States during World War I, when the army and navy turned to private firms for design of aircraft, and not, as some analysts have proposed, in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Second, the MIC took on its current shape during the 1950s. President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s famous warning, in effect, expressed recognition of and perhaps something like dismay at his own creation. Finally, despite the broad shift in responsibility for design, development, and production of military systems from government to industry in the middle of the last century, the armed forces remain the dominant partner in the MIC by reason of their control over the technical requirements that shape and constrain weapons system design. This leaves the defense industry a junior partner.

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