Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Why We Fight

Dwight Eisenhower delivered the speech that inspired "Why We Fight," the new documentary that critiques the military-industrial complex (a term that Eisenhower invented). I haven't seen the doc yet, but the special about it on PBS tonight made me curious enough that I looked up the speech. The basic argument (of the speech and the film) is that the military-industrial complex has become a self-perpetuating entity that deeply affects U.S. foreign policy. As Madeline Albright once creepily said, "what's the point of having such a magnificent military if we're never going to use it?"

The old warhorse Ike is not exactly Noam Chomsky (the beginning of the speech is all about defeating atheist communism), but he has the seriousness of someone who does not take war lightly (unlike a certain other U.S. president):

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.

This map actually depicts the physical locations of some of the key components of our current military-industrial complex (though it is of course global in scope, which is the point):

And I can't help but cite these other incredibly relevant passages:

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.
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.

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  • At 12:33 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…


    Schemes to subvert the liberties of a great community REQUIRE TIME to mature them for execution. An army, so large as seriously to menace those liberties, could only be formed by progressive augmentations; which would suppose, not merely a temporary combination between the legislature and executive, but a continued conspiracy for a series of time.

    How's fifty years sound to ya?

    It has been said that the provision which limits the appropriation of money for the support of an army to the period of two years would be unavailing, because the Executive, when once possessed of a force large enough to awe the people into submission, would find resources in that very force sufficient to enable him to dispense with supplies from the acts of the legislature. But the question again recurs, upon what pretense could he be put in possession of a force of that magnitude in time of peace?

    How's permanent war sound to ya?

  • At 11:29 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

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