Ike’s Unheeded Warning: The Costs and Consequences of America’s Military-Industrial (Political) Complex

Paul Richgruber is a tenured faculty member in History and Political Science at Lake Superior College in Duluth. His research interests include U.S.-China relations, American foreign policy, and the causes of war among great powers. His deep sense of angst regarding America’s over-spending on “defense” has plagued him for more than 30 years. 

Between 2001 and 2011, the U.S. spent approximately $6.26 trillion on its military. In comparison, during this same period China spent $890 billion and Russia spent $526 billion (Source: SIPRI). As former Defense Secretary Robert Gate put it back in 2011, “Does the number of warships we have, and are building, really put America at risk, when the U.S. battle fleet is larger than the next 13 navies combined — 11 of which are our partners and allies? Is it a dire threat that by 2020, the United States will have only 20 times more advanced stealth fighters than China?” (NPR, Jan. 17, 2011).