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Intro: "Who came up with 'military-industrial complex'? In the papers of Malcolm Moos, missing drafts of one of the twentieth century's most important addresses."

Malcolm Moos, speech writer to President Dwight Eisenhower. (photo: LIFE)
Malcolm Moos, speech writer to President Dwight Eisenhower. (photo: LIFE)

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+15 # GeraldT 2010-12-12 00:30
President Eisenhower was one of the few and the very last President who acted more concerned about the United States than his own or his party's dogma and PR standing. His face should be on the $20 bill, at the very least - dump Jackson.
 
 
+4 # Francis Mickus 2010-12-12 03:09
It's times like this that make me wonder if after all there is a benevolent God sending us urgent messages.

If that is case, could He help us find complete versions of Welles' Ambersons, Von Stroheim's Greed and Livy's History?
 
 
+19 # Daniel Fletcher 2010-12-12 03:16
It is gratifying to learn that Eisenhowers famous farewell speech was the product of actual genius and not mere whimsy. He evidently worked very hard to end up with a speech that was precise in his meaning, worded carefully to convey what he exactly meant to convey, and it remains as one of the most prescient Presidential speeches in our history.

It's almost hard for me to conceive of a Republican conservative coming up with the speech he did. His words transcend partisan ideology. His life is proof that being a conservative that actually strives to conserve a value is actually possible. He would be regarded an absolute fool in our current conservative culture if you regard Republicans as conservative, and Eisenhower would have been horrified with the current Republican Party. I have no doubt he would have repudiated contemporary Republicanism in a heart beat. I believe his farewell address transcends above any presidential address given since he spoke and the present party that he was a member of, to be a disgrace to his name.
 
 
+16 # Harry Piotrowski 2010-12-12 10:25
Eisenhower’s speech was twenty years overdue. But it was by someone who was there at the complex’s creation and then witnessed - and oversaw - its relentless growth. As a five star general, commander of NATO and president, he had a ring-side seat of what the complex was doing. Wasn’t it in the 1950s that the complex first tapped into the Social Security trust fund which, we are now told, we don’t have the money to repay? Stalin was correct when he said that a man’s (or an organization’s) appetite grows with eating.

That raises the question why he waited until he was the lamest of lame duck presidents, out of the White House for all practical purposes, his belonging already shipped off to Gettysburg and the Kennedys moving in. I don’t want to sound ungrateful for an historic speech that needed be made, but why did he wait until the end? Why not give it after the 1956 election? And then have a national discussion?

As it turned out, few people watched the speech and fewer still wanted to discuss it. It has been nearly fifty years hence, and have there been any politicians (let along presidents) who have uttered the phrase “military-indus trial complex?”
 
 
+6 # wdgamble 2010-12-12 12:29
I agree with Harry Piotrowski. Did he suddenly wake up in 1960 after years with the Dulles brothers. The arms/nuclear race is very much on his desk regardless of these swan songs. Carter and Clinton are not much different. And Bush is managing humanitarian aid in Haiti at the behest of (gasp) Obama. It seems to be characteristic of ex-presidents.
 
 
+6 # John Lewis 2010-12-12 17:09
Warnings are one thing and as good and useful as they may be, they are close to being useless unless actions follow. And then when actions do follow...Look what happened to his successor who for all practical purposes wanted to do something about it?
 
 
+8 # Daniel Fletcher 2010-12-12 19:00
We all should bear in mind that while his speech at the time was heard by few...was late in the game and could arguably be considered peculiar apologia in it's own right, and a warning that did not say much about actions that could be taken...
It is priceless and treasured by many, correctly reprinted in many books that have collected the best speeches of the 20th century simply because it was THE warning, the only one ever made by a man in his position that clearly foresaw a great horror bound to grow. That he was not heeded is not a weakness of the speech. That he did not detail actions was not the point of the speech. What he had to say at the time had gone completely unsaid before and should have been the premier precursor to action which did not follow...this being no fault of his. Like Assange revealing truth, it is up to those who followed to act and neither will have ever mattered if we do not finally act on the truth. What we CAN do is vigorously communicate to our representatives that the military budget needs to be slashed significantly in recognition of the fact that it's size alone is a theft from the mouths of the hungry, a theft from the common good.
 

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