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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Birth of A Phrase

What Ike said:

In the final version, the president recalled that until recently the nation had no permanent arms industry, that “American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well,” but said that the country could no longer risk “emergency improvisation of national defense.” An adequate military establishment and arms industry were vital, he said, but their conjunction and “its total influence — economic, political, even spiritual” also had “grave implications.”

In introducing the term "military-industrial complex" Eisenhower, the classic American solider-statesman, could hardy imagine it would become the unthinking catch phrase of a generation of hippies. From the highest to the lowest, so to speak.

I'm with William F Buckley, who in 1956 famously quipped that he preferred, rather than liked, the moderate Republican President. Still, it's hard to imagine a greater contrast between the doped up, unshaven radicals who clogged American streets in the 1960s, warning about a covert coup by the military industrial complex, and the ram-rod straight solider patriot who lead the Allied armies on D-Day.

That foolish young people - then and now - have misused the term, does not make it worthless. Despite being mocked as a know-nothing by 1950s Leftists - ah, the perennial intellectual smugness of the Left - Ike was a highly intelligent, decent and perceptive solider and statesman. No political machiavelli like FDR. No military genius like MacArthur or Patton. He was a man of considerable talents, who served his country faithfully, nearly the whole of his adult life. HIs words, then, should be taken seriously.

In the early 1930s, Eisenhower was military aide to the Army Chief of Staff, one Douglas MacArthur. When called to testify before Congress, Major Eisenhower (a rank he held for sixteen years), would take the Washington public transit. His frequent pleas not to cut defense spending, in the depths of the Depression, were usually ignored. The military was an afterthought in pre-war American politics.

Between the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the holding of the Pusan perimeter, a transformation took hold in American political life. The emerging Cold War was unlikely to have a quick and decisive finish, except in Armageddon. Americans slowly became accustomed to being on a perpetual - albeit moderate-level - war footing.

The creation of a permanent and large scale arms industry - comparable to Europe's Merchants of Death, like Krupp and Vickers & Armstrong - was a new phenomenon to the Republic. Eisenhower understood such an industry was necessary, but that it was potentially dangerous to the traditions of a constitutional republic. It is a pity that the careful thoughts of a reasonable man, uttered with the best of motives, should have been hijacked by semi-literate, middle class barbarians. 


Posted by Richard Anderson on December 22, 2010 | Permalink


Whatever one may think of US armaments manufacturing, Canada has profited handsomely off the same effect.

Posted by: Killer Kane | 2010-12-24 10:31:33 AM

"he emerging Cold War was unlikely to have a quick and decisive finish, except in Armageddon. Americans slowly became accustomed to being on a perpetual - albeit moderate-level - war footing."

The Soviets ambition even as late as the 1980s was a global one world communist empire ruled from Moscow.
Read the excellent book called,
"DUPES: How America's Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century"

In this startling, intensively researched book, bestselling historian Paul Kengor shines light on a deeply troubling aspect of American history: the prominent role of the “dupe.” From the Bolshevik Revolution through the Cold War and right up to the present, many progressives have unwittingly aided some of America’s most dangerous opponents.
Based on never-before-published FBI files, Soviet archives, and other primary sources, Dupes exposes the legions of liberals who have furthered the objectives of America’s adversaries. Kengor shows not only how such dupes contributed to history’s most destructive ideology—Communism, which claimed at least 100 million lives—but also why they are so relevant to today’s politics.

Posted by: StanleyR | 2011-01-04 6:15:00 PM

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