Hence the more specific and formal description of contemporary America as a "militaristic, theocratic oligarchy." Each of the terms in this phrase deserves scrutiny.
From Merriam Webster Online:
Main Entry: mil·i·ta·rism
1 a : predominance of the military class or its ideals b : exaltation of military virtues and ideals
2 : a policy of aggressive military preparedness
- mil·i·ta·rist /-rist/ noun or adjective
- mil·i·ta·ris·tic /"mi-l&-t&-'ris-tik/ adjective
- mil·i·ta·ris·ti·cal·ly /-ti-k(&-)lE/ adverb
Fortunately, the military class does not predominate in this country. And while many Americans respect military virtues and ideas, they hardly "exalt" them (and they shouldn't). But we have had a policy of aggressive military preparedness for a long time. America has, in essence, been on a wartime footing since World War II. This from President Dwight Eisenhower's 1962 farewell speech (italics are mine):
A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction...
...we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions... We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.
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.
Ike's dire prediction about the "disastrous rise of misplaced power" has come to pass. Regional economies and political careers are wholly dependent on the military industrial complex; it dominates every aspect of US foreign and domestic policy.
We'll explore the influence of the military industrial complex on US policy tomorrow. Till then...