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 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 alone more than the net income of all United States corporations.
Now 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 Statehouse, 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.
fortunately, for the purposes of this how-to guide, we do not have an “alert and knowledgeable citizenry”, and are not going to suddenly get one.
Next: Step 3: Let the civilian government turn into crap – the rise of julius caesar, and the fall of the roman republic
President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell address, known for its warnings about the growing power of the “military-industrial complex,” was nearly two years in the making. This Inside the Vaults video short follows newly discovered papers revealing that Eisenhower was deeply involved in crafting the speech, which was to become one of the most famous in American history. The papers were discovered by the family of Eisenhower speechwriter Malcolm Moos and donated to the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. Eisenhower Library director Karl Weissenbach and presidential historian and Foundation for the National Archives board member Michael Beschloss discuss the evolution of the speech.