Fifty-one years ago today, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued his final, prescient warning about the rising power of the military industrial complex. More than half a century later, we find ourselves in a political system which has ignored Eisenhower’s sound advice as the influence of the war industry on our society reaches a crescendo. Nowhere is this “disastrous rise of misplaced power” more apparent than in the debate about the Pentagon budget taking place in Washington, D.C.
Eisenhower’s final speech is worth quoting at length:
“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 military-industrial 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.”
“[I]nfluence…sought or unsought” is certainly a generous description of activity of war industry giants, which was already under way as Ike gave his speech. Were he in office today, Eisenhower likely would have foregone this nod to the possibility of naive goodwill from war profiteering companies. In the first three quarters of 2011, the military aerospace sector spent more than $46 million on lobbying, with war profiteering giant Lockheed Martin accounting for almost a quarter of that spending. In no way can we imply that today’s war industry is acquiring “unsought” influence. They’re working to buy our elected officials outright. Read the rest of this entry →
I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan…To abandon this area now – and to rely only on efforts against al Qaeda from a distance – would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies.
But, take note of this:
The 30,000 additional troops that I am announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010 – the fastest pace possible – so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday ruled out shrinking the Afghanistan war to a counterterrorism campaign. Yet he did not signal whether he is prepared to send any more troops to the war zone — either the 40,000 his top commander wants or a smaller buildup, according to several officials.
Obama said the war would not be reduced to a narrowly defined counterterrorism effort…[S]uch a scenario has been inaccurately characterized and linked to Vice President Joe Biden, and…Obama wanted to make clear he is considering no such plan.
So, contrary to all the propaganda, the White House Afghanistan Huddle is only considering a very narrow set of options, all apparently within the counterinsurgency domain. What’s been hyped as wide-ranging debate challenging fundamental assumptions turns out to be a chat in the minivan about whether or not to SuperSize the value meal. Go, team.
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