Donald Trump’s Complex Cabinet

Didn’t President Eisenhower warn us about this?

Eisenhower coined the term Military-Industrial Complex in his 1961 farewell address. In 2017, maybe the Military-Industrial Complex will rule America.

President-elect Donald Trump’s most notable Cabinet appointments so far divide about equally into military leaders and captains of industry and finance. Does a general outrank a captain of industry, or vice versa?

Gen. James Mattis nominated to head the Defense Department, and Gen. John Kelly for secretary of Homeland Security, to mention only two.

Steven Mnuchin, from Goldman Sachs, to be secretary of Treasury, and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, for secretary of Commerce.

And surpassing all, Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobile Corp., for Secretary of State.

Tillerson heads one of the world’s top-ten international corporations. President-elect Trump presides over one of the world’s largest privately held business empires. Business interests have a long history of influence over government foreign and military policy, particularly when you look at history through the lens of imperialism and colonization. Now, looks like international business interests and U.S. foreign policy will be one and the same.

When Eisenhower spoke of the Military-Industrial Complex, he was referring to the Armed Services and the Defense Industry. The Trump administration will feature a more modern and encompassing complex, not limited to defense.

So we have generals and admirals, of course, along with corporate CEOs and masters of finance. As Britain once ruled the waves, I suppose U.S. financiers, perhaps in an unholy alliance with bankers in London, Tokyo and other capitals, maybe even China, now aspire to rule the world of currency, investment and international trade. Kind of makes you wonder if national borders have any purpose at all, except for managing immigration.

I can’t help but wonder: With the best military leaders and the most successful CEOs firmly in control of government, will elections still be necessary? Don’t want to think about it. Shouldn’t even mention it.

Stop worrying about worst-case scenarios, I tell myself. At this writing, selection of the Cabinet is ongoing, and the nominees await Senate confirmation.

So let’s be fair. It’s far too early to judge the Trump administration. It hasn’t even taken office. I will continue to hope for the best.

— John Hayden

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Donald Trump’s Complex Cabinet

  1. I’m not hoping for anything, but I did send money to the Hamilton Electors, who are working to turn ONLY 37 of the 306 Trump electors to a reasonable GOP candidate… people I would have spurned with my foot half a year ago, like John McCain or Lindsey Graham, but they’re at least not Trump and not sucking Vladimir Putin’s johnson. It’s worth supporting and promoting on the sliver’s chance that it works. At the very least, it will set a cat among the pigeons. Look it up.

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    • I respect your position. Many, many people feel the same way. In a just world, the Electoral College would work the way the founders intended, and prevent a bad candidate from taking office. In our real world, I fear that proactive electors would create a true constitutional crisis, leading who knows where. I admit that when I say I’m hoping for the best, I’m really whistling past the graveyard with all my fingers crossed.

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  2. To be technical, it was Eisenhower’s speech writer, Malcolm Moos who coined the phrase Military-industrial complex. Moos was a native Minnesotan and graduate from the U of M, who returned to lead it as president.

    Speaking of Minnesota, it is said that Education Minnesota, the union that supports K-12 teachers, school staff and college faculty is the 800 lb gorilla of state politics.

    What it wants, it gets.

    Would that not constitute an Education-industrial complex?

    Truth be told, there are many XXX-industrial complexes in the land, most powerful of all is probably the Medical-industrial complex that survives in large part on Medicare and Medicaid money – and in one of its more naked exercises in power, convinced Congress to pass a law barring Medicare and Medicaid from negotiating the lowest possible drug price.

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    • The speechwriters do the heavy lifting, and the presidents get all the credit. Thanks for reminding us that practically every industry lobbies the government and pressures politicians for its own ends. Eisenhower was singling out the military industrial complex because of its unusual power and potential to dominate. In the present state of things, it’s not the power of a single industry, but the combined weight of business and corporate power that might overwhelm the people’s democracy.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Anonymous

    Point taken about who does the writing and who gets credit. 🙂

    An interesting note: at the time of Eisenhower’s farewell address, federal health spending made up only 1.1% of the budget, social security 9% and defense 51%. Today, health and social security constitute more than half of the budget and defense is down to 16%.

    I am not so much concerned about corporate power because it is not monolithic, rather it is dominated by conflicting interests. Information and aerospace industries are rather upset about their healthcare costs. The pharmaceutical industry is the fiercest opponent of free trade and globalization.

    Where the threat lies is captured regulation when industries and non-profits start lobbying use health and safety regulations to create an insurmountable barrier to competition and attack other industries.

    We see this in the energy sector, where Aubrey McClendon, the king of fracking, donated millions to the Sierra Club to lobby against coal and coal donated millions to limit fracking – and Warren Buffet sent $9 million to the Tides Foundation to lobby against Dakota Access Pipeline to force oil to be transported on his Burlington Northern railroad line.

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    • Amazing point about how greatly government spending has changed over the decades. I wasn’t aware of the battle between the coal and fracking. industries, or between pipelines and railroads. That kind of competition between industries is crazy and wasteful!

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  4. All we can do is hope for the best. It’s really confusing to try to guess what will happen if the electors respond to the movement urging them to vote differently than they are pledged. Trump’s electors aren’t likely to vote for Hillary Clinton. If there are enough dissenting votes, the results will be indecisive.

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