JFK+50: Volume 6, No. 1831PRESIDENT EISENHOWER GAVE FAREWELL ADDRESS 55 YEARS AGO TONIGHT
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty-five years ago this evening, January 17, 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered his Farewell Address to the Nation on radio and television in which he warned of the dangers of the "military-industrial complex."
Just as candidates for the presidency have done in primary debates, President Eisenhower extolled the virtues of the power of the United States of America, but Ike added this caveat...
" (but) we recognize that America's prestige depends on how we use our power in the interests of world peace... A vital element in keeping (it) is our military establishment We have been compelled to create a permanent arm(s) industry of vast proportions."
The President continued...
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large industry is new in the American experience. The total influence--economic, political, even spiritual--is felt in every city, every state house and every office of the Federal government.
We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence...by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misled power exists and will persist. We must never let this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes."
If these words sound familiar, perhaps you have seen the controversial Oliver Stone film "JFK" which included this excerpt in the beginning of the movie. It helped set the stage for a dramatization of a military coup to overthrow a Kennedy administration out of touch with the interests of America's arms manufacturers and military leaders.
Eisenhower's speech was drafted by Ralph E. Williams*, who relied on guidance from Political Science professor Malcolm Moos** and the President's brother, Milton Eisenhower. Several weeks before his farewell, Ike told advisers...
"God help this country when someone sits in this chair who doesn't know the military as well as I do."
*Ralph E. Williams (1917-2009) was born in Pecos, TX & graduated from the University of Texas in 1938. REW served in the US Navy in WWII & became a faculty member of the Naval War College & later assistant to the Secretary of the Navy.
Mr. Williams was on President Eisenhower's staff from 1958-1961 & afterward was Comptroller at the Naval Supply Center in Hawaii.
**Malcolm Moos (1916-1982) was born in St Paul, MN & earned degrees in Political Science at the University of Minnesota where he would later serve as president. MM joined President Eisenhower's staff in 1957 & the following year became his primary speech writer.
Military Industrial Complex, www.militaryindustrialcomplex.com/