Tuesday, July 22, 2014

WWID (What Would Ike Do?)

I missed Jill LePore's Article The Force when it appeared in the January 28, 2013 New Yorker - I recently caught up with it.

The article is about funding for our bloated military, and part of it describes the first of the 2011 House Armed Services Committee hearings on the future of the military.

Dwight Eisenhower famously said in his farewell address:
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. 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.
and at the hearing Congressman John Garamendi read part of Eisenhower's first major address as president :
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 is a world in arms. 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.... This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
Garamendi invited Air Force General Richard Myers to comment on what Eisenhower said.  Myers's response:  "I wonder what President Eisenhower would have done in New York City on 9/12/2001."

Well, I do not wonder.  President Eisenhower, who had been supreme allied commander in World War ll, was well aware of the limits of military power, and the horror of warfare, and the two paragraphs above show his skepticism about the value to the country of its excessive militarization.  I'm fully confident he would have acted as another president did when there was a monstrous and murderous attack on a large building: President Clinton recognized that the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building was a criminal act, and directed the FBI to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.  So too was the attack on the World Trade Center a criminal act (though on a much larger scale), and the appropriate response was to identify who was behind the crime, arrest and try them.

And I believe that is the prudent and sensible course that President Eisenhower would have followed were he president in September 2001.

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