Posts Tagged ‘Eisenhower’

Military spending and Eisenhower’s warning

November 18, 2010

General Eisenhower with the 101st Airborne on the evening prior to D-Day

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. […] Is there no other way the world may live?”

–Dwight David Eisenhower, “The Chance for Peace,” speech given to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Apr. 16, 1953.

via Harper’s Magazine.  [Hat tip to Don Montana]

President Eisenhower, along with many conservative Republican businessmen of his era, feared that U.S. military spending would spiral out of control and that the United States would become a garrison state.  As a former five-star general himself, he was not in awe of the Pentagon, and actually succeeded in getting the military budget under control. As he left office, he commented, “God help this country when someone sits in this chair who doesn’t know the military as well as I do.”

The following chart shows the ups and downs of the U.S. military spending before and after Eisenhower.