Thought for the Day

Following Bob Herbert’s piece in today’s New York Times, I thought it might be a good idea to post the words of a past President, Dwight D. Eisenhower,

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 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.

Indeed, Mr. President, indeed.


  1. Hey– there are plenty of good things about the MIC. It’s just that, as DDE hinted, there can be problems when the MIC starts driving policy (rather than the reverse). For instance, imagine if after decades of massive spending on MIC to defend against a real threat, said threat– a major state– collapsed and was replaced with (more or less) allies such that there was need to spend less on the MIC.Then, suppose we had a new ligitimate security threat, but that said threat was made up of stateless adversaries with limited technology and force. This threat would probably be best met by non-MIC forces, e.g. intel, international police, better domestic security, etc.What if the people who ran the MIC then came to power and, through some shifty logic and outright lies, managed to get us back in the game of fighting other states, thereby dramatically increasing the spending on the MIC?Trouble.


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