(HOST) The military challenges that face today’s leaders have inspired commentator Bill Seamans to reflect on the words of World War Two general and post-war President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
(SEAMANS) If Ike were President now, what would he do? He has virtually answered that question himself. Let’s listen again to his words so prescient and so powerful. He said:
"I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity. 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 not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
"As we peer into society’s future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We should guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.
"We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. We must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. 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. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes."
Well, those were Dwight Eisenhower’s words and it’s truly amazing how they describe our situation today but with a major addition…The military-industrial complex has grown into the military-industrial-congressional complex with power over the awarding of billions in military contracts and over too many politicians.
So we ask what would Ike do today?
I think he would start out by shaking up the Army’s general staff and ask why our state-of-the-art forces have been fighting so many years against sandal-clad enemies and he would hold our high officers responsible for what they now call "systemic failures." He would, I think, impose an excess profits war tax as Congress did during both World Wars and the Korean conflict to prevent corporations from profiting from the tragedy of war. And I think he would force the whole country to share the burden of war by activating a military draft no matter what the political opposition. Eisenhower’s own words indicate that he would make the hard decisions needed to balance our civilian and military demands no matter whose turf he stepped on.