[A-List] Fwd: [R-G] Fwd: Eisenhower’s Lament | Cato @ Liberty
Suzanne de Kuyper
suzannedk at gmail.com
Mon Dec 27 04:35:46 MST 2010
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From: Sid Shniad <shniad at gmail.com>
Date: Sat, Dec 25, 2010 at 2:29 AM
Subject: [R-G] Fwd: Eisenhower’s Lament | Cato @ Liberty
To: Suzanne de Kuyper <suzannedk at gmail.com>
by Christopher Preble <http://www.cato.org/people/christopher-preble>
Spurred on by a new release of documents from the
past few weeks have witnessed a renewed interest in the military-industrial
complex (MIC), the term forever associated with Dwight David Eisenhower.
Or, at least, that *should* be the case. Eisenhower – the West Point
graduate, career military officer, and hero of World War II – was one of the
first to ever use the phrase, in a televised Farewell Address to the
January 17, 1961. Over the years, however, the MIC has become a
mantra for progressives and left liberals, usually used in tandem with an
assault on private enterprise, writ large, or as part of an elaborate
conspiracy theory that equates crony capitalism with market economics. The
left’s capture of the term has enabled too many on the right to dismiss it
out of hand.
That is unfortunate. Dwight David Eisenhower was no liberal; far from it.
And though the neoconservatives have attempted to expunge Ike from our
collective memory, it is appropriate that his legacy is enjoying yet another
revival <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/14/opinion/14ledbetter.html>. For
what it’s worth, I’ll be doing my small part, at a half-day conference next
month <http://www.cato.org/event.php?eventid=7604>, and throughout 2011, to
offer a perspective on the military-industrial complex that might appeal to
devotees of limited, constitutional government.
This work will focus not just on Ike’s farewell address, but also on one of
his first public addresses, the Chance for Peace
delivered before the American Society of Newspaper Editors in April 1953.
Taken together, the speeches highlight two of Eisenhower’s enduring
concerns: opportunity costs, money spent on the military cannot be spent
elsewhere; and the political and social costs of the United States becoming
a garrison state, the creation of a permanent armaments industry, Ike
feared, had already precipitated major changes in the nation’s economy, and
threatened to change the nation itself.
Speaking in January 1961, during one of the darkest periods of the Cold War,
Eisenhower viewed the MIC as a necessary evil. He viewed the threat posed by
the Soviet Union and its sometime communist allies as sufficient
justification for maintaining a large standing army, and a vast and
technologically advanced Air Force and Navy. He also presided over a
dramatic expansion of the nation’s nuclear arsenal, and realized (belatedly)
that he had far too little control over those weapons and the men tasked
with using them.
But I suspect that the permanence of the MIC would be most disturbing to
President Eisenhower, were he with us now. Twenty years after the collapse
of the Soviet Union, Americans today spend more on the military than at any
time since World War II, and more than twice as much — in inflation-adjusted
dollars — than when Ike left office. The general-president clearly failed
to convince his fellow Americans of the need to limit the military’s growth.
For all practical purposes, the MIC won.
Here’s hoping that many Americans will rediscover Eisenhower, and take heed
of his warning, starting in 2011. They could start by supporting
efforts to refocus
our military on a few core objectives and reduce the Pentagon’s
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