Questions from Eisenhower’s Farewell Address & Kennedy’s Inaugural Address
Eisenhower’s Farewell Speech – January 17, 1961
Important quotes from his speech:
1. According to Eisenhower, what does America’s leadership and prestige depend?
In his January 17, 1961 farewell address to the nation, Eisenhower sounded a cautionary note to his fellow Americans. While taking pride in the prosperity he had helped foster, he made an appeal to reject the lure of materialism and "the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow." As he urged the nation to maintain its vigilant stand against communism, which he termed "ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method," he saved his most forceful words to warn against a force already existing within our borders. The military legend issued a stern warning against "the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex." For years he had battled forces in Congress and within his own administration over increases in defense spending. He preached eloquently about how "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." And he reserved a special disdain for the arms merchants who took advantage of the Cold War paranoia of the day to increase their profit margins. Eisenhower predicted that unless restraints were placed upon these un-elected factions, "the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power" would exist.
The term military-industrial complex (MIC), or "Iron Triangle," usually refers to the combination of the U.S. armed forces, the arms industry, and the associated political and commercial interests that grew rapidly in scale and influence in the wake of World War II and throughout the Cold War.
The term, which is often used pejoratively, refers to the institutionalized collusion amongst the private defense industry, the military, and the United States government. Such collusion includes practices such as the awarding of no-bid contracts to campaign supporters and the earmarking of disproportionate spending to the military. Many observers worry that this alliance is driven by a quest for profits rather than a pursuit of the public good.
In recent decades, the collusion within the "Iron Triangle" has become even more prevalent, putting the United States' economy permanently in "war" mode; instead of building up the military for defense in response to armed aggression, current government policy guarantees "readiness" by maintaining worldwide bases and spending large sums of money on the latest military technology. Furthering the problem is increased regional dependence on the defense industry for jobs and tax revenues. If the government were to drastically reduce its spending on the military, many Americans working in manufacturing plants around the country would lose their jobs; this reality makes it politically unwise for U.S. representatives and senators to vote against unnecessary defense spending.
The increasingly global nature of the U.S. military-industrial complex has led some to charge that the United States has established a new, worldwide empire based on its military might.