In his farewell address, delivered on January 17, 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower famously warned against what he termed the "military-industrial complex." But what exactly was he warning against? If you listen to the spin of liberals, or the rantings of the conspiracy crowd, you may have missed his real warning.
Eisenhower was not warning against having a strong military or against an armaments industry (indeed, he thought both to be necessary and vital). Nor was he predicting the creation of fake wars for profit. Nor was he alluding to some new world order, the Illuminati, or any other secret societies or conspiracies.
"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." -- Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his Farewell
What concerned Eisenhower was the military-industrial complex leading to an expansion in the size, scope, and power of government. Eisenhower did not like or trust big government, and wanted to keep government in check. This concern - an increase in the power of government - was the real root of Eisenhower's warning.
John McAdams, an associate professor of political science at Marquette University, has this to say on his website:
So was Ike a 60s leftist like Oliver Stone? Note some key elements of Ike's thinking:
- Eisenhower didn't believe the Military Industrial Complex was to blame for the Cold War. He laid the blame on communism: "a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method."
- Eisenhower felt the Military Industrial Complex was necessary.
- Eisenhower felt the influence of the Military Industrial Complex might be "sought or unsought." For 60s leftists, "unsought" power for the Military Industrial Complex was inconceivable.
- A principled Republican, Ike was also skeptical of agricultural and research programs fostered by the federal government. He did not consider military industrial interests uniquely insidious, but rather he distrusted government expansion generally.