Maybe Ike was right

posted at 12:41 pm on June 11, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

It’s been a very long time since I read Dwight Eisenhower’s final presidential address to the nation, televised live on January 17, 1961 — two years before I was born.  Now it’s available on YouTube, based on a poor-quality Kinescope made at the time.  The speech became famous for its warning about the dangers to liberty posed by the “military-industrial complex,” which eventually became almost a cliché. Reading it now, it seems more like prophecy in more ways than one:

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. …

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.

In my column for The Week, I compare Ike’s warning to what we know now about the NSA surveillance program.  In this case, the threat is the intelligence-industrial complex, and the manner in which we had already surrendered to it before the NSA took advantage of the complacency:

The shift predicted by Eisenhower, of course, did not happen in a vacuum. The Cold War held real dangers to America and Americans, and the age of terror does now. The 9/11 attacks shocked the U.S. badly enough to create a huge demand for more security. We passed the PATRIOT Act and amended the FISA law to allow our intelligence and law-enforcement agencies to “connect the dots” before attacks took place, rather than seek evidence while the bodies were stacked afterward.

At the same time, we have culturally devalued privacy, in relationships with commercial as well as governmental entities. The internet companies involved provide the best evidence of this. US News‘ Robert Schlesinger argued that government surveillance on the internet followed corporate surveillance of Americans and others, a surveillance to which we acquiesced with hardly a murmur of protest. “It’s not a given that corporations must collect vast amounts of information from and about us,” Schlesinger writes. “But failing to do so wouldn’t be good for business.” …

This may be why polls don’t exactly show a high level of outrage over the NSA leaks. AWashington Post/Pew Center poll reported that a 56 percent majority of respondents supported the NSA survey of telecom metadata on phone calls, while only 41 percent objected. When it came to surveying internet content, a thin 52 percent majority opposed the NSA PRISM/BLARNEY effort if applied against Americans (a point which has yet to be clarified), but that 45 percent think the government should go further than it claims to do now to watch our online activities. For an electorate that has given up privacy for convenience to the commercial market, surrendering it to the government for security may be a smaller step than Eisenhower might have imagined.

The erosion of that “political and spiritual heritage” of liberty and limited government has other implications, too. Eisenhower presaged that the expansion of the government under pressure of the military-industrial complex would “endanger our liberties or democratic processes.” One cannot help but to draw connections to that expanding and intrusive government and its unaccountable bureaucracies and the targeting of political groups opposed to the current administration by the IRS, the disparate treatment by the EPA on FOIA requests depending on the politics of the requesters, and the overall lack of accountability from an administration whose best defense on these and other scandals has been ignorance of the abuses taking place on their watch. Even if these incidents come from nothing more than a government so large as to be unmanageable, Eisenhower’s admonitions are still prescient.

 Glenn Reynolds warns today that this broad surrender on limited government allows for abuse of power and unchecked corruption on a scale Americans have never before seen:

But, in fact, there’s a common theme in all of these scandals: Abuse of power. And, what’s more, that abuse-of-power theme is what makes the NSA snooping story bigger than it otherwise would be. It all comes down to trust.

The justification for giving the government a lot of snooping power hangs on two key arguments: That snooping will make us safer and that the snooping power won’t be abused.

Has it made us safer? Anonymous government sources quoted in news reports say yes, but we know that all that snooping didn’t catch the Tsarnaev brothers before they bombed the Boston Marathon — even though they made extensive use of email and the Internet, and even though Russian security officials had warned us that they were a threat. The snooping didn’t catch Major Nidal Hasan before he perpetrated the Fort Hood Massacre, though he should have been spotted easily enough. It didn’t, apparently, warn us of the Benghazi attacks — though perhaps it explains how administration flacks were able to find and scapegoat a YouTube filmmaker so quickly . But in terms of keeping us safe, the snooping doesn’t look so great.

As for abuse, well, is it plausible to believe that a government that would abuse the powers of the IRS to attack political enemies, go after journalists who publish unflattering material or scapegoat a filmmaker in the hopes of providing political cover to an election-season claim that al-Qaeda was finished would have any qualms about misusing the massive power of government-run snooping and Big Data? What we’ve seen here is a pattern of abuse. There’s little reason to think that pattern will change, absent a change of administration — and, quite possibly, not even then. Sooner or later, power granted tends to become power abused. Then there’s the risk that information gathered might leak, of course, as recent events demonstrate.

Eisenhower tried to warn us fifty-two years ago about this very outcome.  Maybe it’s time to start listening.

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Ask people like Stacey Dash, Ben Carson, Doreen Borelli, Star Parker, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Shelby Steele, etc, how they are treated by the ‘enlightened’ Progressives.

Hell, black conservatives should get purple hearts for even coming out as such.

You cannot complain that the ‘conservative movement’ isn’t genuinely integrated when you demonise the few black conservatives that do try to speak out and invite more African-Americans to join them.

It’s almost on the level of a defendant pleading ‘being an orphan’ after he has killed his parents.

You say it isn’t ‘integrated’ and then do everything you can to ensure that it stays that way…including vilifying people for doing nothing other than supporting a Republican over a Democrats (again, see Stacey Dash for a perfect example).

Resist We Much on June 11, 2013 at 4:00 PM

If there was a true belief in different voices, people such as these above wouldn’t be accused of being “Uncle Tom”‘s which I have to imagine must be the most offensive term I could think of. It means you are a traitor to your race, to who you are. Yet I hear liberals use these words with impunity.

Might as well use the N-word for its offensiveness.

itsspideyman on June 11, 2013 at 4:06 PM

Schadenfreude on June 11, 2013 at 4:02 PM

Nevertheless, it was hijacked almost immediately to unrelated topics. The favorite topics of the Marxist socialist race-baiting fax-intellectual previously banned retread whose almost every post here drips with self-righteous leftist arrogance and contempt for almost everyone on HA.

farsighted on June 11, 2013 at 4:08 PM

Here’s a question for you. What “conservative” voices opposed eugenics in the early 20th century?

Once again, you want to vilify the right for failing to strongly enough oppose ideas and actions from the left. Eugenics was a wholly leftist/progressive movement.

What liberal voices opposed fascism rather than supported it prior to the U.S. joining WWII? Most U.S. leftists were very fond of Hitler through 1940.

What liberal voices opposed the USSR or Mao or Fidel and their autocracies? Almost none. Instead liberals mostly cheered for those regimes and covered for them (and still do for Cuba).

You want to go round and round pinning crimes of the past against a current political party. The libs/dems will lose that game every time.

Monkeytoe on June 11, 2013 at 4:08 PM

Nevertheless, it was hijacked almost immediately to unrelated topics. The favorite topics of the Marxist socialist race-baiting fax-intellectual previously banned retread whose almost every post here drips with self-righteous leftist arrogance and contempt for almost everyone on HA.

farsighted on June 11, 2013 at 4:08 PM

In some fairness to the leftist, the civil rights issue was first brought up by one of our own pointing out that Eisenhower first proposed civil rights but the dems voted it down. then it spiraled out of control from there.

But, almost any debate with a leftist will inevitably devolve into arguments related to race, because the only argument they have is their claim that “conservatives are racist”.

Monkeytoe on June 11, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Eisenhower’s speech was not limited to the MIC. Immediately following the MIC warning, he warned against the government-technology-academia complex and that it could be used to severely limit the rights of Americans.

Resist We Much on June 11, 2013 at 4:05 PM

Hence my final statement…

He may or may not be concerned about PRISM, depending on what it actually is and is not.

farsighted on June 11, 2013 at 3:32 PM

farsighted on June 11, 2013 at 4:11 PM

autocracies = atrocities

Monkeytoe on June 11, 2013 at 4:11 PM

O/T:

Gallup: Former President George W. Bush’s Image Ratings Improve. Views of Bush more positive than negative for first time since 2005

While Obama’s approval numbers might not be taking a hit over these scandals and snooping, Americans may be reevaluating Bush through the prism of Obama, especially with his continuing and expanding much of the Bush apparatus that they were told by Democrats like Obama back then were the worst things possible.

Just musing here, but Obama may be rehabilitating Bush without even meaning to do so.

Resist We Much on June 11, 2013 at 4:12 PM

In some fairness to the leftist, the civil rights issue was first brought up by one of our own pointing out that Eisenhower first proposed civil rights but the dems voted it down. then it spiraled out of control from there.

Monkeytoe on June 11, 2013 at 4:10 PM

The hijack started with this.

You’re quoting Ike? Public highway system, FHA loans, GI Bill, and other welfare provisions Eisenhower? Massive public housing construction Eisenhower? Huge federal grants to urban development Eisenhower? Critic of corporate greed Eisenhower? So the right’s new heroes are a marxist (greenwald) a paulnut (Snowden) and the RINOist of RINOS (Ike). If it gets any more progressive around here I may stop posting….

libfreeordie on June 11, 2013 at 12:59 PM

The only thing it has in common with the OP is “Ike”.

farsighted on June 11, 2013 at 4:14 PM

“military-industrial complex”

I think Eisenhower was holding a grudge. The real threat is and was the office he held and congress. They pull the strings, first and foremost.

rickv404 on June 11, 2013 at 4:17 PM

farsighted on June 11, 2013 at 4:08 PM

Ridicule it, or ignore.

Just musing here, but Obama may be rehabilitating Bush without even meaning to do so.

Resist We Much on June 11, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Checkmarked already. The leftists hate that Obama is “Bushhitler” and “Bushchimpey”, on steroids.

Schadenfreude on June 11, 2013 at 4:22 PM

Former Vice President Al Gore lamented on Tuesday that scientists “won’t let us yet” link tornadoes to climate change.

Gore alluded to last month’s devastating twister in Moore, Okla., saying that shoddy historical statistics are preventing a connection between “these record-breaking tornadoes and the climate crisis.”

The former vice president made the comments at Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s (D-R.I.) annual Rhode Island energy and environment conference at the Capitol.

Scientists won’t ‘let’ him tie tornadoes to AGW?

Who’s ‘anti-science,’ again?

Resist We Much on June 11, 2013 at 4:27 PM

farsighted on June 11, 2013 at 4:08 PM

Ridicule it, or ignore.

Schadenfreude on June 11, 2013 at 4:22 PM

I occasionally point out what the troll is up to. This was a very successful hijack.

I usually ignore the troll. But I was interested in the OP topic, so I started reading the comments.

farsighted on June 11, 2013 at 4:30 PM

Maybe Ike was right

He would know…he was part of that same structure. The bankers of the West financed Hitler. The U.S. sold the steel to Japan that they used to make warships to attack Pearl Harbor, the Philippines, China and other Western holdings in Asia. The Nazis and Japs didn’t become evil until we went to war with them…then overnight they became evil…but we still did business with at least the Nazis.

The companies that supplied war materiel in Germany, Japan and Italy are still around today, but why wouldn’t they be? Some were “tried” in Allied kangaroo courts, but the fact of the matter is that they’re still around today and still hugely profitable. No doubt that WW II really helped them to get there.

There is no record that I.T.T. made direct payments to Hitler before the Nazi grab for power in 1933. On the other hand, numerous payments were made to Heinrich Himmler in the late 1930s and in World War II itself through I.T.T. German subsidiaries. The first meeting between Hitler and I.T.T. officials — so far as we know — was reported in August 1933,3 when Sosthenes Behn and I.T.T. German representative Henry Manne met with Hitler in Berchesgaden. Subsequently, Behn made contact with the Keppler circle (see Chapter Nine) and, through Keppler’s influence, Nazi Baron Kurt von Schröder became the guardian of I.T.T. interests in Germany. Schröder acted as the conduit for I.T.T. money funneled to Heinrich Himmler’s S.S. organization in 1944, while World War II was in progress, and the United states was at war with Germany.4

Through Kurt Schröder, Behn and his I.T.T. gained access to the profitable German armaments industry and bought substantial interest in German armaments firms, including Focke-Wolfe aircraft. These armaments operations made handsome profits, which could have been repatriated to the United States parent company. But they were reinvested in German rearmament. This reinvestment of profits in German armament firms suggests that Wall Street claims it was innocent of wrongdoing in German rearmament — and indeed did not even know of Hitler’s intentions — are fraudulent. Specifically, I.T.T. purchase of a substantial interest in Focke-Wolfe meant, as Anthony Sampson has pointed out, that I.T.T. was producing German planes used to kill Americans and their allies — and it made excellent profits out of the enterprise.

http://www.reformation.org/wall-st-ch5.html

“General Motors was far more important to the Nazi war machine than Switzerland,” said Bradford Snell, who has spent two decades researching a history of the world’s largest automaker. “Switzerland was just a repository of looted funds. GM was an integral part of the German war effort. The Nazis could have invaded Poland and Russia without Switzerland. They could not have done so without GM.”

Both General Motors and Ford insist that they bear little or no responsibility for the operations of their German subsidiaries, which controlled 70 percent of the German car market at the outbreak of war in 1939 and rapidly retooled themselves to become suppliers of war materiel to the German army.

But documents discovered in German and American archives show a much more complicated picture. In certain instances, American managers of both GM and Ford went along with the conversion of their German plants to military production at a time when U.S. government documents show they were still resisting calls by the Roosevelt administration to step up military production in their plants at home.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/daily/nov98/nazicars30.htm

And how much money was made off of the “Cold War”? Where are all these ships and planes and bombs and uniforms and ammo and mess kits and gas masks, etc. that were manufactured in the millions over fifty years? How many billions upon billions were the American taxpayer bilked for during that time period? Where did all that money go?

Dr. ZhivBlago on June 11, 2013 at 4:48 PM

bayam is incredibly anti-science. She hates science and has refused to learn foundations it well enough to participate in any scientific discussion.

Many liberals hate both math and science, and resist learning it throughout their lives.

blink on June 11, 2013 at 4:43 PM

When liberals and lefties talk about “science”, and they aren’t talking about Climate Change, about 95% of the time they are talking about “social” science. In particular they are talking about left biased, and often arguably and only marginally statistically based, “social” science used to support their Marx derived socialist economics and their socialist social engineering schemes — the ones they use to make entire populations and nations their guinea pigs.

Their “social” science even trumps and attacks hard science when it doesn’t support their socialist PC fantasies.

For instance, in the field of genetics they out-of-hand reject and attack any notion that there are substantive genetic based differences between groups of people. They immediately move to charges of racism and/or bigotry and/or misogyny. Unless the topic is sexual preference. Then based on spotty and inconsistent evidence, or no evidence at all, they will claim there is no doubt it is always entirely genetic. The common thread here is if you disagree with them on what they claim is “science” you are a racist, bigot, misogynist, etc.

farsighted on June 11, 2013 at 5:06 PM

I liked Ike back in the ’50′s and I Still Like Ike!

Herb on June 11, 2013 at 5:41 PM

I was just watching Atomic Cafe on Amazon Prime and this part of the speech is in there (good quality too!). Interesting, scary movie.

TeaTrekkie on June 11, 2013 at 5:49 PM

Eisenhower understood the need of preserving a society whereby the more intrusive needs of government could be kept at a minimum. He purged all the illegal aliens from the country, for instance. It’s kind of naive to even mention Eisenhower’s warnings when we live in a society that is on the verge of destruction. We’ve let the door open into the henhouse and then worry that we’ll be offending the hens’ privacy as we look to spot the fox that walked straight in.

Buddahpundit on June 11, 2013 at 7:09 PM

Excellent post! If only we had such wise men and women in the WH now, when we need them so badly. Sigh.

scalleywag on June 12, 2013 at 8:12 AM

Ike used the 101st Airborne to integrate a high school. The products of the so-called “military industrial complex” had become part of his thinking as much as anyone else’s.

What Ike denounced was the thought that defense contractors might wind up driving our society. That’s not what happened here — it was a war which drove our society. Defense contractors provide a product, and the product is driven by demand just as every other product is. Look at the F-22 and F-35 programs for understanding.

Ike wouldn’t much recognize air travel in the United States, but he certainly would recognize need for the intrusion of Government into the process, given the type of war underway. He would recognize the acts of government tracking movement of information — for during WWII the censors were quite active in the United States Post Office.

Those who are in favor of this whistleblower’s actions are fools. Personally, I think the Chinese have him now, since he announced that he knows the people and the connections in the US intelligence community. He called attention to himself, and I doubt the Chinese are being kind to him. It is probably undeserved unkindness from their standpoint, for he did them a big service by in essence giving them a propaganda weapon with which to justify their repressive techniques as just being another variant of what we do here — which it most certainly is not. But they want everything he claims he knows — so I think he’s getting the bamboo under the fingernails treatment right now.

unclesmrgol on June 12, 2013 at 10:53 AM

Where did all that money go?

Dr. ZhivBlago

I dunno, maybe we should ask someone from the former East Germany…

Knott Buyinit on June 12, 2013 at 10:58 AM

lol, Ed… I think you mean RON PAUL WAS RIGHT. AGAIN.

iamse7en on June 12, 2013 at 11:46 AM

And all you so-called conservatives would mostly defend it if it were switched: e.g. program began under democrat and expanded under republican. Sheep. All of you.

RƎVO⅃UTION 2016!

iamse7en on June 12, 2013 at 11:48 AM

All this is like a tornado. If you can hear it, it’s too late.

jake49 on June 12, 2013 at 12:09 PM

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.

Ike’s warning here has always been omitted in academic studies of the dangers of the MIC.
Wonder why?

AesopFan on June 12, 2013 at 12:53 PM

We’ve let the door open into the henhouse and then worry that we’ll be offending the hens’ fox’s privacy as we look to spot the fox that walked straight in.

Buddahpundit on June 11, 2013 at 7:09 PM

See the post earlier about the reason the IRS won’t let NOM see the records on the illegal release of their application to HRC.

AesopFan on June 12, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Don’t forget that early drafts of that Eisenhower speech are still available to us.

Before the speech was ‘politically vetted’ he referred to the “military-industrial-congressional complex.”

ElRonaldo on June 12, 2013 at 1:08 PM

lol, Ed… I think you mean RON PAUL WAS RIGHT. AGAIN.

iamse7en on June 12, 2013 at 11:46 AM

Ron and Rand are living proof of the maxim that when you’re taking the most flack you’re right over the target. And Rand is desperately doing all he can while the GOP sits on its flabby white arse when they aren’t bending over for the golden rivet.

MelonCollie on June 12, 2013 at 11:20 PM

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