La Dolce Vita

A few thoughts from Steven Rockford
JANUARY 16, 2013 2:32PM

Ike warned us.

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The Military Industrial Complex


52 years ago this week, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned America of the dangers presented by the Military Industrial Complex (MIC).  He said: 


[The} 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 was President Eisenhower’s farewell speech.  He warned of the potential “misplaced power” that could result due to the expanding partnership of our military and business leaders.  This was spoken by a Republican president and a decorated military leader. 

Today, the revolving door that exists between our military, government and the defense industry represents the “meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery” threat that Ike addressed.  In addition, the massive campaign funding currently provided by the defense industry reflects the “acquisition of unwarranted influence” that he warned us about. 

Over a half century later - what have we learned?




UpdateJanuary 17, 2013  

In comments, Bill Beck and Abrawang brought up two good points.   

First, Bill noted that the original version of Ike’s speech warned of the impending dangers of the “Congressional Military Industrial Complex.”  The word “Congressional” was subsequently dropped in Ike’s January 1962 farewell address.  I think we’d all agree, however, that the original wording more accurately describes the organization that has taken over our political processes. 

Second, Abrawang correctly noted that there was considerable public debate on the MIC issue in the years following Ike’s speech, but that it has since become a non-issue even though the entity that Ike warned us about grew to be more menacing, more anti-democratic and more controlling than what Ike envisioned.  The MIC, according to Abrawang, is now “mostly treated as just part of the landscape.” 

He’s right.  Today, when the contemporary CMIP (Congressional Military Industrial Complex) recognizes a potential public policy that may threaten their power and profits, they feel that they now have the ability to shut it down, no matter how vocal and popular the opposition may be. 

Unfortunately, these are the same people who are behind the climate change denial organizations of today.  As with the anti-MIC concerns which were expressed by a majority of the population a half century ago, the threat of climate change has rightfully risen to a very high level of public concern today.  The CMIP feels that, though they represent a small minority, they have money, political control and time on their side.  Through their Orwellian control, they expect the public to eventually treat climate change as “just part of the landscape” in the very near future. 

They won the MIC debate.  We can’t let them win on Climate Change! 




Update II – January 21, 2013  

It was very encouraging to hear President Obama say the following statement about climate change in his 2nd Inaugural Address: 

“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.”


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Ike also told them. They listened.
Yes, apparently the rest of us didn’t listen.
outgoing political leaders commonly warn of looming internal dangers, dangers they did nothing about while pursuing their career. better than nothing, but nothing to wax sentimental about.

there is only one cure for most of america's problems, that is the transfer of decisive power from the elite to the electorate. brought up to be 'watchers' of the political process, americans simply do not have the knowledge or character for even non-violent revolution, and even people who imagine they are 'progressive' never progress. they just watch, and wring their hands.

so they drift into servitude, accepting dimunition of privileges from the 'good' party because grateful to escape the greater assault of the 'bad' party.
This is one of my favorite moments from history. In Eisenhower's original version of the speech, he called it the "Congressional Military Industrial Complex." He was persuaded to remove "congressional" from the title before delivering the address.
That is an interesting historical observation Bill. Actually, the term would be more accurate today if the word “Congressional” was left in it.
I remember from the late 60s/early 70s that this was an issue that actually got talked about as a real concern. Nowadays it's mostly treated as just part of the landscape - it's just there and not much can be done about it.

Interesting tidbit from Bill B. The full name would have been apt.

Ike brought this to the nation’s attention. As you said, there was considerable discussion for a decade or so. Now the Military Industrial Complex is considered to be “part of the landscape.” Nothing was done to stop it.

One has to wonder if the same thing will happen with climate change.
Steven, it won't happen with climate change. The MIC means much higher than necessary military expenditures and no doubt a concurrent temptation to militarily intervene around the world. But in a sense it's a steady state system.

Global warming will only get worse and acceleratedly so when when the tundra thaws and trapped methane gets released. It is by no means steady state.
“Global warming will only get worse and acceleratedly so.”

I hate to say it Abrawang, but based on what I’ve seen in the makeup of the “Only people who can prevent this from happening” category these days, you’re probability right.
The longer I live in this country, the more fearful I become. We need to be more fearful of an inside job, than of any outside terrorist threats!
Thanks for sharing this interesting info.
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