On January 17, 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his farewell speech to the nation. Like a prophet out of the Old Testament, this former five-star general, warned of the danger and the subtle power of what he called the American military-industrial complex (U.S. 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.” This military-industrial complex (U.S. Government) is even more complex and endangering today than it was in 1961 and we must be vigilant to insure “that security and liberty may prosper together.”
The Old Testament prophets were the first men in history to regard a nation’s reliance upon force as evil. The prophet Hosea condemned militarism as idolatrous. He proclaimed in the name of the Lord: “I will not deliver them by bow, nor by sword, not by war, nor by horses, nor by horsemen…I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety” (1:7; 2:18). “Not by force shall man prevail” (I Samuel 2:9). “Not by might,…says the Lord of hosts” (Zach. 4:6). “Some boast of chariots, and some of horses,” says the Psalmist, “but we boast in the name of the Lord our God…His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor is His pleasure in the legs of man…But…in those who hope in His steadfast love” (20:7; 147:10-11). Today, we idolize the military in a way as never before in our history. We proclaim our armed forces have set us free. This is a dangerous kind of thinking. (I say this as a 36-year member of the military).
In a world such as ours we need security—but we also want liberty. Eisenhower closed his farewell address with these words: “To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America's prayerful and continuing aspiration: We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.”
|Democracy is a fragile thing. It can topple|
if we the people fail to pay attention.