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This morning, I was introducing someone to President Dwight D. Eisenhower's warning about the "Military Industrial Complex."  The warning was given on January 17, 1961 in President Eisenhower's farewell address to the nation.  The quote above was also from the address and deals with research.

I've never listened to the address before today.  That was my mistake.  The address lasts about 16 minutes and it is important.

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Sixty years later, so much of what he says remains true. A little more religiousness than we are used to hearing from that office these days but clear illustration that we have been fighting the same issues for a damn long time.

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4 hours ago, bob7947 said:

I've never listened to the address before today.  That was my mistake.  The address lasts about 16 minutes and it is important.

Kudos to you Bob for sharing and the frank admission - too many people pretend and just regurgitate the headline summaries they've heard ("See! Didn't Ike warn us about the military industrial complex!"), without reading or listening to the original speech for the complete context (this one and many others).

My favorite excerpt of his farewell speech is this:

Quote

"Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research--these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.

But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs-balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage--balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration."

There are no easy answers to important challenges (or crises) - no "innovation" will suddenly rescue us. We need a sober understanding of the tradeoffs, good judgment to make the right decision, and hard work to execute the decision competently.

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We are blessed with so much information at our fingertips now.  As President Eisenhower read his address, I noticed him looking at something to his right.  I wondered if he was using a Teleprompter.  Here is the answer from wikipedia.org -

"On January 4, 1954, Dwight Eisenhower was the first President to use a teleprompter for a State of the Union address. Jess Oppenheimer, who created I Love Lucy and served for its first five years as its producer and head writer, developed the first "in-the-lens" prompter and was awarded U.S. patents for its creation."

So, he may have been using a Teleprompter.

Then I began wondering if President Eisenhower added his own personal notes and changes to his transcript.  Was there something he felt was important enough to change?  We have that too.

President Eisenhower's Annotated Farewell Address

 

 

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41 minutes ago, bob7947 said:

We are blessed with so much information at our fingertips now. 

Are we using it to make better decisions?

A Boeing V-22 Osprey just crashed killing four more Marines. Before the latest accident the V-22 had 13 crashes with 51 fatalities. The Boeing KC-46 is still not fully operational. And yet we're actually considering giving them more contracts. They've moved their HQ from Chicago to Crystal City in order to be closer to the spigot.

Any chance of bringing Ike back from the dead?

 

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1 hour ago, Vern Edwards said:

Any chance of bringing Ike back from the dead?

Next best thing is to learn from him - I just finished reading “How Ike Lead” which was written by his granddaughter. Not the best biographical book, but it is written in a way that highlights what she felt were Ike’s principles & leadership strengths.

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  • 3 months later...

Thanks for sharing, Bob. I'm on the final chapter of The Government-Industrial Complex: The True Size of the Federal Government 1984-2018 by Paul C. Light, so seeing the speech was fascinating, both as a contracts professional and a history buff.  

It makes me wonder what Ike would say about not only the FAR, but of Silicon Valley, which operates outside the influence of federally-backed R&D.  Would he view that as a blessing or curse of the military-industrial complex? 

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A excellent bio on Eisenhower is "Eisenhower In War and Peace" by Jean Edward Smith.  It's deep. Discusses the loss of his child from scarlet fever, frustrations missing out on WWI, relationships with Gens McArthur, Marshall, and Clark and then later post-war years. Our European allies were impressed by his measured, calm leadership style. We owe a great debt to Eisenhower and the greatest generation. 

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President Eisenhower dedicated a new bridge spanning the Mississippi River between Wisconsin and Minnesota at Red Wing, Mn on October 18, 1960. It was named after Chief Hiawatha of the Iroquois Tribes.

I was an 11 year old Boy Scout from our nearby town in the same County. Our B.S. troop was invited with other troops to act as “Honorary Deputy Sheriffs” , performing “crowd control”.  We stood in a line in front of the rope barriers that “restrained” the reported 20,000 spectators who attended the dedication and listened to Ike’s speech.

Richard Nixon, was Ike’s VP and the Republican Nominee.  This was just before the 1960 Presidential Election. Ike’s primary reason for the visit to Minnesota was to support Nixon.  He referred to him briefly in his bridge dedication speech for his involvement in establishing the relatively young National Interstate Highway System Program.

He did a nice job of tying the bridge and Chief Hiawatha’s establishment of a League of Iroquois Indian Tribes to the failed League of Nations after WWI and to the Post World War II United Nations.

There were both Democrat and Republican members of Congress there with him. Our Governor, Freeman (D), Senator Hubert Humphrey (D) and Representative Al Quie (R) were there. My parents knew all three of them. That was back when members of opposite parties could work together.

Below is a link to the “Remarks”  he made. I think it was a very interesting brief speech, based upon the historical perspective of the times and then current issues. It was not highly politically charged but very positive and uplifting. 

https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/remarks-the-dedication-the-hiawatha-bridge-red-wing-minnesotahttps://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/remarks-the-dedication-the-hiawatha-bridge-red-wing-minnesota

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's worth noting that the portion of the GDP devoted to defense spending has dropped since Eisenhower's warning.  A lot: U.S. Military Spending/Defense Budget 1960-2022 | MacroTrends

Also, as a grad of the GWU Public Policy program, I can also add that there was a sea change during and after WWII whereby the Government moved from being a maker of things to a buyer of things, which was viewed with great trepidation at the time.

Doesn't discount anything he had to say of course, but context is important.  (Ike had zero combat experience at the time he was appointed Supreme Allied Commander. I didn't know that until a couple days ago.)

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Presidential scholars once considered Ike to have been a mediocre president. Today he is ranked very highly.

No president since him has had the same level of executive experience. Not even close. America was generally prosperous during his two terms. He kept us out of direct participation in the French Indochina War and prevented a war in the Middle East.

JFK and LBJ got us into Vietnam; LBJ got us into the Dominican Republic; Reagan and the Bushes got us into the Middle East; Reagan got us into Libya and Grenada; Bush I got us into Panama; Clinton got us into eastern Europe; and Biden has gotten us into Ukraine.

Since Ike, only three presidents have had combat experience—JFK, LBJ (sort of), and George H. W. Bush.

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