Accidently came across this superb documentary on BBC 4 while flipping around the channels.
"Why We Fight" is actually the title of a series of US propaganda films made in 1942 justifying the war effort. This film starts there and looks at the forces that shapes and propels America's militarism. America developed it's military-industrial complex during WWII and maintained it because of the cold war. Dwight D. Eisenhower recognised the danger in his farewell speech in 1961:
"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 military-industrial 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."
The film exposes the collusion between the White House, Congress, Think Tanks and the Military-Industrial Complex. Essentially, we now have that "disastrous rise of misplaced power" as illustrated with the Iraq War. War is a profitable business.
George Bush has dramatically increased military spending. From $288 billion in 2000, the budget request for 2005 is $420 billion. This is almost the same as the rest of the world combined! It is 8 times more than China which is the 2nd biggest spender. By comparision, all the programmes and agencies of the United Nations cost a paltry 10 billion.
Why does America need such a huge military? It doesn't but the film provides plenty of insight to how it got that way and how ready America is to use it.