Editor’s Notes

Appalled by the monster created under his watch
Eisenhower warned America of the danger it posed

Congratulations to the CBC’s Passionate Eye for last night’s program Why We Fight. In 1961, in his final speech to the nation as President of The United States of America, Dwight D. Eisenhower restated the principles of democracy upon which his country had been founded. During his eight years as president, in response to the Cold War, the U.S. developed a war machine for the first time in its peacetime history. A man with a dialectical sense of history, Eisenhower understood the danger to democracy that lay in the growth of what he called the military-industrial complex. He has been quoted as saying that he dreaded the thought that there should ever be a president who did not understand the consequences of war.

We have seen the consequences of having such a man as president. A president who is surrounded by, and is eagerly allied with, those inspired by narrow aspirations to satisfy financial greed and who daily reflect their contempt for the democracy that President Eisenhower envisioned. All of us have read or heard the section by President Eisenhower on his warning about the military-industrial complex but it would behoove all of us, not just those of us who are committed to the positive development of the democratic experiment, to peruse his entire speech. Herewith provided for you to print and read.

Tomorrow we’ll have a response to the Quebec election results. And a look at the worldwide, all too often deadly, struggle of journalists to fulfill their traditional mandate.

Like I say, read True North, so you won’t be caught in the dark without a flashlight.

Looking Forward

Carl Dow
Editor and Publisher
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1,882 words

Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961

Public Papers of the Presidents, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960, p. 1035-  1040

My fellow Americans:

Three days from now, after half a century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and  solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my  successor.

This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell,  and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.

Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will  labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed  with peace and prosperity for all.

Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential  agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will  better shape the future of the Nation.

My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous  basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point,  have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war  period, and, finally, to the mutually interdependent during these past  eight years.

In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on  most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the national good rather  than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the  Nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the  Congress ends in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been  able to do so much together.

 II.

We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed  four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own  country. Despite these holocausts America is today the strongest, the  most influential and most productive nation in the world.  Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America's  leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material  progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in  the interests of world peace and human betterment.

III.

Throughout America's adventure in free government, our basic purposes  have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement,  and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among  nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious  people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of  comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous  hurt both at home and abroad.

Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the  conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention,  absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology -- global in scope,  atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method.  Unhappily the danger is poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To  meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and  transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to  carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a  prolonged and complex struggle -- with liberty the stake. Only thus  shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward  permanent peace and human betterment.

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or  domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that  some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution  to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our  defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in  agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these  and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be  suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.

But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader  consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national  programs -- balance between the private and the public economy, balance  between cost and hoped for advantage -- balance between the clearly  necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the  individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national  welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack  of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.

The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their  government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded  to them well, in the face of stress and threat. But threats, new in  kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only.

 IV.

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.

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by  any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of  World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no  armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and  as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk  emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to  create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to  this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the  defense establishment. 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 militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced  power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties  or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an  alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the  huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful  methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our  industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution  during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more  formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is  conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing  fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the  fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a  revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs  involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for  intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds  of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal  employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present
•     and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we  should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that  public policy could itself become the captive of a scientifictechnological elite.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate  these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our  democratic system -- ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free  society.

 V.

Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government --  must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own  ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the  loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent  phantom of tomorrow.

 VI.

Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that  this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a  community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud  confederation of mutual trust and respect.

Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to  the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we  are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though  scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain  agony of the battlefield.

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing  imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official  responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment.  As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war --  as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands  of years -- I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.

Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward  our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a  private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the  world advance along that road.

VII.

So -- in this my last good night to you as your President -- I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war  and peace. I trust that in that service you find some things worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in  the future.

You and I -- my fellow citizens -- need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble  with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation's great goals.

To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America's prayerful and continuing aspiration:

We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity  shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may  experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will  understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are  insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges  of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the  earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live  together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect  and love.
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