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Military-industrial complex

Defence vs big business: the growing divide

A B-2 stealth bomber at a facility owned by defence firm Northrop Grumman. Frederic Brown/AFP/Getty

The US military has long served as an enforcer of the “global capitalist order”, says Thomas Fazi in UnHerd, by securing resources and intervening when business interests are threatened. As the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman put it in 1999: “The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist.” But it’s hard to see how this fits with the West’s efforts to decouple from China, the world’s second-largest consumer market. A “revolt is brewing” among top American CEOs, many of whom have travelled to Beijing in recent months to stress the importance of good relations. Elon Musk, who visited last week, pointedly described the US and Chinese economies as “conjoined twins”.

But rather than serving big business, US foreign policy is beholden to the military-industrial complex – possibly the only group which “stands to benefit from the militarisation of great-power relations”. This network of defence firms and other companies that profit from conflict used to be encouraged by big business “as a tool to promote its interests abroad”. Yet the beast “has been allowed to become so powerful that it has broken free from its masters”. As such, business leaders are limbering up for a new kind of class struggle: “the owners of the means of production against the owners of the means of destruction”.