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Eisenhower’s Warning

Fifty years ago, Dwight D Eisenhower warned America about the growing power of “the military-industrial complex”. His words were unfortunately prophetic:

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.

UPDATE: Read this article in the New Yorker about new information recently uncovered about this important speech.



  1. PatriotSGT wrote:

    IK – are you suggesting that the military could potentially lead a coup? I think that is what Eisenhower was cautioning against.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 10:06 am | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    I don’t think that’s what Eisenhower was cautioning about. He was cautioning against giving too much political power to the military/industrial complex. They don’t have to lead a coup — they are already in charge.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Permalink
  3. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Good point. The defense industry is huge with alot of lobbyists and campaign contributions.

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 9:10 am | Permalink
  4. Dana wrote:

    If you’re interested, the New Yorker just did a little article on the speech:

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 11:41 am | Permalink
  5. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Thanks Dana!

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink
  6. Iron Knee wrote:

    Yes, thank you Dana, I added that link to the original post. Fascinating. I wonder what Ike would say about our current situation…

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Permalink