Eisenhower’s Farewell Address
Monday is the 50th anniversary of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell address to the nation. This is the speech in which he warned of the influence of the Military Industrial Complex. Please take a few minutes to read it. (http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/ike.htm)
It is telling that as we read it today, we live in a country on a permanent war footing, with U.S. troops stationed in over 150 countries around the world, with a defense budget larger than that of all other countries combined, spent on defense contractors located in every congressional district in the nation.
A companion speech is his 1953 “Cross of Iron” speech where he says:
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
This world in arms is not spending money alone.
It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.
It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.
It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.
It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.
We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat.
We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.
This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.
This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”
NPR had one of my favorites, Boston University Professor Andrew Bacevich on to talk about IKE’s farewell address. Here’s some;
"Our political institutions demonstrate an unwillingness, or an inability, to really take on the big questions," Bacevich says. "And the American people – many of them distracted by all kinds of concerns, like having a job when there's almost 10-percent unemployment — aren't paying attention."
Bacevich insists that its time for Americans to review the belief that the United States needs to maintain a global military presence to safeguard national security.
"There was a time, I think, in the Eisenhower era, military presence abroad was useful," he says. No longer.
"Maintaining U.S. military forces in the so-called 'Greater Middle East' doesn't contribute to stability — it contributes to instability," Bacevich says. "It increases anti-Americanism. So why persist in the belief that maintaining all these U.S. forces scattered around the globe are necessary?"
If Americans could challenge that assumption, Bacevich says, then maybe it would be possible to have "a different and more modest national security posture that will be more affordable — and still keep the country safe."