Eisenhower And Our Post Cold War Moment
A reader writes:
"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. ... We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."
-Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961
"For some, we now realize, the Cold War was not about democratic values versus totalitarianism, in the Kirkpatrick formulation. It was about American hegemony against any rival power, totalitarian or not, globally expansionist or not. The end of Communism was, for some, a problem. It removed a key rationale for military power."
Surely this is exactly what Eisenhower was talking about.
The hopeful part of me likes to think we are simply in the middle of the process of learning as a country just what he meant by "proper meshing…with our peaceful methods and goals…" It's depressing, though, to think the process could take longer than my lifetime, and could incur great cost, injury, and injustice along the way. Still, that certainly seems to be the case and we must not give up hope. We must fight the Krauthamers and Kristols and Hannitys and Cheneys of the world, even as it seems we're gaining no ground or this great American experiment will surely die.