President Dwight D. Eisenhower was prescient not only about the “military-industrial complex” but also about what was edited out of his farewell address: his concerns about a divided, paralyzed government.
Both are warnings that Congress and President Obama should heed.
Eisenhower gave his farewell address 50 years ago next month. It is considered one of the 20th century’s most important speeches because of its bold warning about the “conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry.”
The former army general from Kansas said that the country must “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex,” and that “the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
That remains a concern today. One reason the Pentagon budget keeps increasing is that military bases and defense contracts are deliberately spread among the states in order to garner support from members of Congress — just as Eisenhower warned.
But newly discovered drafts of the farewell speech indicate that Eisenhower also was concerned about a polarized, impotent government. The drafts were found in a cabin of Eisenhower’s former speechwriter and were sent to the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, which released them last week.
The original speech noted that Eisenhower, a Republican, had faced Democratic control of Congress for six of his eight years as president. Yet “we did not fall out into bitter, unreconcilable factions which in other nations have paralyzed the democratic process.”
To read the complete editorial, visit www.kansas.com.