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Paul and Supporters Misunderstand Eisenhower's 'Military-Industrial Complex' Warnings

Paul and Supporters Misunderstand Eisenhower's 'Military-Industrial Complex' Warnings


Ron Paul has attracted Oliver Stone and Gore Vidal’s support exclusively for his attacks on “the military-industrial complex.”

Stone used this theory of war profiteers (big business, the armament’s industry, and the Pentagon) desiring an eternal Cold War to identify the assassins of the dovish JFK. Gore Vidal predated JFK, sermonizing since the 1960s on why, because of the draconian control this partnership has over our life, America is a “fascist security state.”

To wrap themselves in the flag and prove that they are not totally allied with the Democratic Party, both Vidal and Stone and even Paul point to the original coiner of this term, Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Eisenhower used this term in his farewell address to the nation in 1961. Leftists and even libertarians like Paul are fond of citing the following quotation from the speech:

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.

They then conclude with this quote:

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.

But careful editing has taken place here. Eisenhower was advocating “an alert and knowledgeable citizenry” to guard against this entity. But he accepted that this “complex” was needed to preserve the very liberty Paul and company claim is under siege:

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.

Far from portraying America as a fascist security state a la Stone and Vidal (who claimed he wrote the speech), Eisenhower stressed the need for an equal balance of “security and liberty,” the argument that conservatives and realistic libertarians support.

For those who want to dismantle the military, reducing it according to Vidal’s wishes to the kind of isolationist America he desired as a member of America First (which did have some honest-to-God Nazis) and desires now, Eisenhower saw its need in a phrase eerily prescient for today:

We face a hostile ideology — global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger is poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle — with liberty the stake.

Eliminate only the term “atheistic” and you have the kind of struggle that is now waged on the War On Terror.

It is easy to see why Paul attracts such types. He is the kind of libertarian unable to understand that it is America’s missile defense systems as much as the Bill of Rights that assures individual liberty.

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