>how Europeans denegrate the military-industrial complex
Actually, the term was coined by Eisenhower, a Republican president, serving at a time of unprecedented Soviet threat.
" In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex."
I don't necessarily always think badly of US military endeavors. And I don't think that there, at least for now, no need for weapon systems development and acquisition. But, with some of the massive gravy train and spending, you can't help but think that, maybe, just maybe, some of it isn't quite as efficient, including to the detriment of US armed forces themselves, as it could be.
Obviously, a certain VSTOL fighter-bomber comes to mind. Fancy-butt destroyers. There are even more blatant ones, when defense base closures, requested by the armed forces, is vetoed by pork-happy congressmen.
The case you make for military => civilian research synergy isn't totally unwarranted. But your rather rosy presentation reminds me of the (mostly leftish) advocates of more government spending, where they always claim that "for X dollars spend on Y, the economy grows by cX". Where c is, of course, >1.
With its very long development cycles, will military technology always lead civilian? I rather doubt it. If you really wanted to make a better point, you'd argue for transferring more $ into DARPA, rather than just claiming military spending in general is an economic multiplier.
Remember what happened to the Soviet economy. Odd that it didn't bloom with so much useful military spending, no? At that point, Reagan was correct to push on the military budget pedal. Is it really required to that extent now?