By Yaël Ossowski | Florida Watchdog

TAMPA— In the decades following World War I, a widespread consensus existed in the United States that armed conflicts were not pursued for defense, protection or necessity, but rather for the opportunity of profitable investment enjoyed by the captains of industry.

According to the Senate Historical Office, the 1920s and ’30s played host to “widespread reports that manufacturers of armaments had unduly influenced the American decision to enter the war in 1917,” and that they would once more “reap enormous profits” by convincing lawmakers to enter the ongoing conflict in Europe, what we know today as World War II.

The reports’ momentum was strong enough to spark an official Senate investigation by the Senate Munitions Committee in 1934, chaired by U.S. Sen.Gerald Nye, R-North Dakota, a staunch non-interventionist.

Four Democrats and three Republicans were on what is now known as the “Nye Committee.” Its final report in 1936 issued a scathing condemnation on the collusion between arms manufacturers and political powers — later described as the “military-industrial complex” by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his 1960 farewell address:

“The committee finds, further, that any close associations between munitions and supply companies on the one hand and the service departments on the other hand, of the kind which existed in Germany before the World War, constitutes an unhealthy alliance in that it brings into being a self-interested political power which operates in the name of patriotism and satisfies interests which are, in large part, purely selfish, and that such associations are an inevitable part of militarism, and are to be avoided in peacetime at all costs.”

That conclusion, drawn in 1936, later inspired four neutrality acts and restricted the sale of arms to foreign nations in war — measures which were repealed once the U.S. entered World War II in 1941.

Nye Committee of the 21st century

In the modern era, it is impossible to tell if the Nye Committee‘s conclusion is still regarded as truthful.

The United States remains active in five theaters of war — IraqAfghanistan,PakistanYemen and Libya — and has almost 1.5 million active duty soldiersstationed on overseas bases, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Military spending in 2012 exceeds $1 trillion and arms industries receive up to a quarter of that every year for weapons, tanks and planes they sell to the Defense Department, as outlined by the Federal System for Award Management, the contracting vendor for the federal government.

What the Nye Committee never envisioned, however, was just how large the arms manufacturing industry would grow in the 21st century.

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