This is a book I will be picking up — The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives, by historian Nick Turse. Apparently it's impossible to own an i-Pod and be a true pacifist.
The Pentagon has significant contracts with companies ranging from Starbucks, to PepsiCo, to Nestle, to Apple, and Google. The book explores the web of corporations and products that are tied to America's mammoth defense budget. It's not just the missile and equipment makers like Lockheed Martin and Boeing that feed the Military Industrial Complex.
I came across a very informative interview with the author in Mother Jones. For some of the highlights concerning yuppies, Hollywood, and the web,
- On the yuppie progressive who gets up in the morning and pats himself on the back for not participating in the Complex: "As I mention in the book, unless you're a very committed anarcho-primitivist, it's almost impossible for an American to really unplug from the complex. It's just so invasive. It pops up in so many places — Christian bookstores in Mississippi, or BBQ joints in Louisiana — and these companies don't advertise it. Unless you're combing the Pentagon's list of contractors, it's almost impossible to tell how deep the rabbit hole goes."
- On the military and Hollywood: "The military has a very long relationship with Hollywood, that dates back to the silent film era. In recent years they've developed a more sophisticated relationship. It used to be done on an ad hoc basis, and now the military's set up a one-stop shop in Hollywood. This office has liaisons for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. So if you have a script, you bring it into them if you're seeking military hardware like planes and helicopters, or want to film on a base. The military is also a good source for large numbers of movie extras. They'll review your script, and if they like it, they'll let you use their machinery, and their bases, and their people. If they find parts objectionable, they'll note them and give it back to you, and if you make the changes they recommend, they'll give you the equipment you're requesting."
- On the military and the web: "The military operates a tremendous number of websites. They have their own sites, but they're also operating sites that look like civilian sites. They have recruiting sites that look like they're designed to give career advice to teenagers, and they mention asking a guidance counselor to take a certain type of test. What they don't tell you is that it's the armed forces entrance exam. They operate some websites for overseas audiences that look like news portals, but are actually DoD [Department of Defense] propaganda sites. You have to search the fine print in one portion of the site to find that it's created by the Pentagon."
Whether or not the pervasion of the military into the private sector is beneficial to American society, I think it is important to get a clearer picture of how the society actually functions.