The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 24th, 2015: “I Like Ike”

Two score, fourteen years and one week ago, on January 17th, 1961, President Dwight David Eisenhower gave his farewell address to the nation. Although made famous by Ike’s coinage of the term “military-industrial complex”, his speech also contains commentary that, IMHO, is just as relevant today about other issues, and helps to demonstrate just how far today’s Republicans have strayed from reason and responsibility. The over-religious tone of several of Ike’s comments is off-putting for many of us, but those sections reflect how Republicans have twisted the ‘in god we trust’ idea into the unrecognizable form we see today. While lengthy, here is the entire speech:

“My Fellow Americans:

Three days from now, after half a century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor.

This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.

Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.

Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the Nation.

My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and, finally, to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years.

In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the national good rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the Nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.II

We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts America is today the strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America’s leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.III

Throughout America’s adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.

Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology-global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle-with liberty at stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small,there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research-these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we which to travel.

But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs-balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage-balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between action of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.

The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of stress and threat. But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only.IV

A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peace time, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

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 State 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 huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades. In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been over shadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system-ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.V

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.

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose difference, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war-as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years-I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.

Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.

So-in this my last good night to you as your President-I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and peace. I trust that in that service you find somethings worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.

You and I-my fellow citizens-need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation’s great goals.

To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America’s prayerful and continuing inspiration:

We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.”

This is today’s Open Thread. Have at it!

29 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 24th, 2015: “I Like Ike”

  1. Ike’s “military-industrial complex” thesis did indeed become a reality. I’ve always figured that it was based on this simply-stated thesis from a 1944 Internal Memo written by Charles E. Wilson, president of General Electric (1940-42, 1945-50) and (Eisenhower’s first) Secretary of Defense (1953-57):

    “The revulsion against war . . . will be an almost insuperable obstacle for us to overcome. For that reason, I am convinced that we must begin now to set the machinery in motion for a permanent wartime economy.”

    Unfortunately for all of us (and for the world) the MIC became and remains a reality, one that essentially has pissed away trillions upon trillions of US dollars in the 75 years that have passed since the end of WWII. There have been, during that span, further wars and/or UNNECESSARY military actions in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Persian Gulf/Kuwait, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Syria-ISIL — all useless incursions that have wasted trillions, killed millions, and accomplished nothing other than the redistribution of tax dollars into private pockets.

    And then “they” dare to call Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid ‘Socialism’ and a ‘redistribution of wealth.’

    I have to wonder one thing: if we had spent those trillion upon trillions of death/war dollars on a global project to help people, to wage peace, what would have been the consequences (other than the fact that the MIC would have been grounded from its day one)?

    War is childish. If you don’t believe that, take a look at, say, Cheney, Dubya, Rumsfeld, McCain, Petraeus, . . . the list is endless.

  2. There is a new Russian offensive getting started in Ukraine. This time the ‘pro-Russian’ rebels are attacking the port city of Mariupol along the coast. The EU has asked that the Russians stop – I do not know if they said “pretty please” or not. The lame western media continues to report that these are ‘rebels’ and ‘pro-Russian separatists’ and do no facts checks just ‘he-said-she-said’ reporting – which when one side lies its ass off, gives weight to the lie.

    I will write to Tanya here in a minute and see what she knows in Kyev.

  3. The Kochs Call In Their Chips

    At the National Press Club yesterday, AFP president Tim Phillips and several officers with the group laid out their agenda. The group is calling for legalizing crude oil exports, a repeal of the estate tax, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, blocking any hike in the gas tax, a tax holiday on corporate profits earned overseas, blocking the EPA’s new rules on carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants, and a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, along with a specific focus on the medical device tax.

    I’m amazed at how their agenda is clearly an attempt to aid the middle class only. And here I thought they never had anything other than their own interests in mind. Silly me. I should pay more attention. Prolly. 😯

        • Putin’s puppet regime in Donetsk announced they were going to take Mariupol as a reaction to the Donetsk fighting, refused to adhere the Minsk agreement and any cease fire and immediately shot a barrage of Grad missiles into a residential area of east Mariupol – 30 civilians dead.

          A simple brutal terror attack – designed to scare the crap out of the city’s residents and force them out. Russia is saying nothing, the OCSE has blamed the ‘pro-Russian rebels’ (which is total shite – its the fucking Russian army with a handful of local thugs – the Western media is so fucking lame and refuses to call it what it is a Russian invasion).

          Meanwhile nothing happens. This is makes perfect sense to me. Putin is using the ‘cease fire’ to grab more Ukrainian land, forcing the Ukrainians to respond and when they do, Putin cries foul and stuffs more troops and tanks into Ukraine to take more land. The Ukrainians are in a dreadful position, they have not enough military strength to beat the Russian army so when they resist the encroachment by the thugs and gangsters in the DPR and LPR they are pushed further back.

          And the West doesn’t do a fucking thing.

        • I’m talking to a blogger in the next city along the coast from Mariupol, Berdyansk – it’s a neat little seaside town by the looks of it. She is scared stiff. She is planning to escape to Kyev to her estranged husband at any moment. The map seems to suggest that the Russians may try to encircle Mariupol by breaking through to the north, in which case they will be trying to take Berdyansk in order to besige Mariupol.

        • The cease fire was only designed to put the West back to sleep. And it worked beautifully. During the ceasefire the Russian-backed puppets took 500km2 more territory…. and still the lies keep coming from Russia.

  4. Putin is a pathetic excuse for almost anything. If he were to leave Russia and come to Amurka, however, that shallowness indicates that he’d instantly be the topic of an amendment to allow immigrants to become president, and right away he’d poll better than Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney combined — all of which suggests that Amurka is definitely on the steepest part of her down-slope.

    • Bees and flowers! I needed bees and flowers, everything else is just depressing. Oxfam predicts that in 2016 the top 1% will own more than the entire rest of humanity.

  5. Apparently, Sarah Palin is giving one of her worst speeches ever right now. The live tweets are great.
    “Would love to see the word cloud for this @SarahPalinUSA speech. Wait, the speech was the word cloud… ‪#‎IAFreedomSummit‬”

    @jameshohmann 2m2 minutes ago
    Sarah Palin: “The man can only ride you when your back is bent…”

    Ana Marie Cox was live tweeting it and retweeting some great stuff. Consensus is Palin had to be drunk or high.
    Rod Thorn @rodthorn 8m8 minutes ago
    @Mobute When #Palin speaks it’s like she’s on acid and riding a unicorn through a huge corn maze inside a snow globe.

    @anamariecox 6m6 minutes ago
    Sarah Palin is Andy Kauffman?

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