By Lwazi Somya
Academic Steven J. Rosen (1975) in his book titled Testing the Theory of the Military Industrial Complex describes the phenomenon of the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) as: a self-sustaining politico-economic system that perpetuates profitability in military supplies industries, de facto in multiple countries but primarily in the USA. It is made up of competing and/or collaborating entities – the maintenance of which is on the whole financially advantageous to all concerned. These include professional soldiers et al., managers and owners of industries that supply military equipment, government officials whose careers and interests are tied to military expenditure, and legislators whose districts benefit from defense procurement. This perpetual cycle has been used as a means towards implementing military conquest as a policy tool in the Middle East, but in particular that of Palestine by Israel.
Since 1948, the USA has given Israel $128 billion (this takes into consideration inflation) in military aid to the state of Israel, and in 2016, the Obama administration granted $38 billion in military aid that should cover the period 2019-2028. This amount of military assistance is unprecedented, which brings to question as to what ends are the USA arming to the teeth the state of Israel. Well, one may look at multiple factors, the first being that Israel geographically is the perfect ally to the USA to feed the USA’s Military Industrial Complex through the creation of regional instability, in particular through wars currently fought in the region. This in turn becomes a self sustaining animal to which the larger the conflict or instability the more money is fed into the system to sustain the MIC. For the USA, military conquering serves two purposes, influence over regional players, and the financial incentive of sustaining the MIC.
Another justification is the rise of the Zionist movement within the USA, to which the policy makers in the USA feel that there is a need to feed the fear being perpetuated by Zionists in Israel. This fear whether irrational or not is self created through the policy goals of expansion of settlements in Palestinian territories, and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian people to sustain notions of a “Jewish” state. When Palestinians resist the encroachment, dispossession, and annexation of their land their only response is to fight for it. In essence, Israel has created the circumstances of their own feelings of “unsafety” through not obeying international law and human rights. For example, Israel currently has an illegal blockade on the Gaza Strip to which Palestinian residence have built tunnels to bring in aid and other necessities. Israel currently bombs these tunnels along with hospitals, schools and even shutting down necessary services such as water and electricity, thus creating the world’s largest open air prison on a civilian population.
Another exacerbating factor is the creation and building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank to which entire villages on Palestinian land have been destroyed on the basis of building settlements for Israeli citizens, and establishment of checkpoints for Palestinians. These policy decisions fall in line with the policy position of the ruling Likud Party Platform (Charter) which states the following, “The government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river. The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state”. This outright denial of statehood for Palestinians is currently being carried out through the utilization of military conquest, supplemented by the US military industrial complex.
In conclusion, military conquest as a policy tool has generated great instability in the Middle East in particular in Palestine. Whether the military industrial complex itself or the policy objectives of oppression are the means to each other’s end remains an area of great debate and deliberation. What many of us in the human rights activism sphere agree upon is the non violent campaign to not only expose this systematic alliance of MIC but to shed light on the gross human rights violations of Palestinians at the hands of Israel is the Boycott, Divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel. After all, it worked against Apartheid South Africa.
Lwazi Somya is a Policy Analyst, and a UCT Graduate with a Degree in Public Policy and Administration and International Relations. He is the Former Vice President of the UCT SRC.