Home / Forgotten in Iraq: Eisenhower’s Cross of Iron

Forgotten in Iraq: Eisenhower’s Cross of Iron

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Recently, many bloggers have reminded us of President Eisenhower’s 1961 speech wherein he presciently warned us of the need to “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”

But there is another speech by President Dwight D. Eisenhower that is just as timeless, and perhaps just as important. It is known as the Cross of Iron speech.

In that speech, delivered in 1953 to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Eisenhower humanely set forth five precepts which the United States should be governed by:

“First: No people on earth can be held, as a people, to be enemy, for all humanity shares the common hunger for peace and fellowship and justice.

Second: No nation’s security and well-being can be lastingly achieved in isolation but only in effective cooperation with fellow-nations.

Third: Any nation’s right to form of government and an economic system of its own choosing is inalienable.

Fourth: Any nation’s attempt to dictate to other nations their form of government is indefensible.

And fifth: A nation’s hope of lasting peace cannot be firmly based upon any race in armaments but rather upon just relations and honest understanding with all other nations.”

Today, as our military occupies Iraq, and as our government attempts to impose a form of government and economy on the people of Iraq, we must ask ourselves– ‘what happened to these precepts?’ Why have they been so ignored?

Could it be that, as Eisenhower warned us, the military-industrial complex has “acquired unwarranted influence”? Examining current events in light of Eisenhower’s Cross of Iron speech, can there be any other explanation?

“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 are not clothed.

This world in arms in not spending money alone.

It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.

We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

Now that we have already spent approximately $220 billion dollars on the war in Iraq, it bears asking– ‘How many schools could we have constructed?’

How many homes could we have built?

How many bushels of wheat could we have purchased to feed the hungry?

How many hospitals to aid the sick?

“This is one of those times in the affairs of nations when the gravest choices must be made, if there is to be a turning toward a just and lasting peace.

It is a moment that calls upon the governments of the world to speak their intentions with simplicity and with honesty.

It calls upon them to answer the questions that stirs the hearts of all sane men: is there no other way the world may live?”

How do YOU respond? Is there no other way?

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About The Bulldog Manifesto

  • Maddog 20/20

    Dave, In your web site you profess to be a libertairian The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition defines libertarian as:
    1. One who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state.
    2. One who believes in free will.
    How in anyway can you justify the war in Iraq? This country, our country, has waged war in another country. What about the free will of the Iraqi people. If they (Iraqis) wanted Saddam out, they should have put him out. If you believe the lies and spin currently coming from Washington D. C. you’re living in a dream world. They are lies; people like Karl Rove have a track record of lying and dirty politics. Don’t forget that this is the party of Nixon. Many of these people worked with that administration. The public is waking up to George W. and his games, which is why his poll numbers are tanking. From your bio. I feel that you think you’ve been around and you know a thing or two. You’ve been to Syria and Iraq. You’ve stuffed some envelopes for a candidate or two. You’ve taught a course or two at a community college (I currently attend a local CC, if you are like my instructors I’m not impressed.). At you website http://www.elitistpig.com all the front page entries are by you. You have a large list of members but, very few of them have offered entries or comments. Maybe a couple students fed you a line of BS and said you should run for office. They were probably trying to help their grade. It appears you probably need some more work with your many entries at http://www.blogcritics.com it seems you don’t have anything to do. You’re web site says;
    “Federal environmental legislation has been used as a tool by special interest groups to interfere with free trade and force their social agenda on local communities all over our country. Farmers and businessmen have been driven into bankruptcy, private citizens have been denied access to resources and free use of their own property and our entire society has been burdened with the cost of whimsical and unnecessary legislation.”
    It reads to me that you’re just worried about your own selfish dollar. You don’t realize that if we don’t have an environment to live with, nobody lives, not you, not your children, grand children, not me or my children. If you’re worried about your own selfish ideas you won’t be much of a representative. Are the needs of one individual greater than that of society? I don’t know. Here’s an idea though, you should start a new political party. The Dave party then you can dictate what causes or situations that you want to get involved in. Your charter should be a blank page, that way there is nothing holding you to a certain belief, you can be involved in whatever you want or decide to be involved in. Your party symbol could be a yin and yang. This could indicate spin which is all you’re doing. Spinning information.

  • Shark

    Nalle: “…we didn’t dictate Iraq’s form of government to them, we let them design it themselves. That’s why there’s a constitution full of islamic law that they got to vote on…”

    Dear Pollyanna Nalle,

    glad to see you’re still hallucinating positive crap about Vietna… um, Iraq.

    Good news: our $200+ billion allowed the Iraqis to “design” their own constitution.

    Bad news: it’s created an Iran-friendly Islamic Theocracy.

    American Public: “DOH!”

    PS: Shark’s Prediction —

    Future bad news: Iraqi civil war

    Future good news: Hey, we get to reinvade!

    American Public: “DOH!”

  • >>These reporters in Baghdad can’t get ice cubes for their drinks, and assume that means the US destroyed the infrastructure.<< I've been in a lot of countries in the region and even when there's not a war on ice cubes are few and far between. I remember breaking into the closed kitchen of the one hotel restaurant in Samarkand that had an ice machine one hot summer evening just to get a few icecubes. The expectations westerners have of infrastructure in Iraq and that part of the world are totally unrealistic. Yeah, electric service sucks there now. It still sucks at least a little less than it did before the war. Dave

  • Baronius

    Dave – great reply. These reporters in Baghdad can’t get ice cubes for their drinks, and assume that means the US destroyed the infrastructure. What infrastructure? Water and power are more reliable nationally than they’ve ever been. There are schools and hospitals where there never were before. Baghdad is still rebuilding, which makes sense: we had to hit Baghdad hard because it was the command and control center.

    Eisenhower knew how to use the output of the military-industrial complex. He knew that it had to be used sometimes. And, duh, he hated using it. That means he wasn’t insane.

  • RJ

    “Without doing extensive research, I would say that the safest countries in the world are the ones with the smallest military budgets.”

    Now which way do you suppose the cause-and-effect flows in that example?

  • practical joe

    Without doing extensive research, I would say that the safest countries in the world are the ones with the smallest military budgets.

  • practical joe

    “$820,000 per minute for the Military Budget in general.”

    That’s what Eisenhower warned us about.

    When (or will) the country wake up?

  • I’m glad you got this info out there, Bulldog.

    I’ve been out for 1107 days in a row with my Teach Peace sign. I just take it with me when I go downtown to the postoffice or the book store or whatever. The most effective figures I’ve used in the quick moment I have to talk to people who ask me questions are $200,000 per minute & an additional $820,000 per minute for the Military Budget in general.

    The ‘minute’ figures work better than ‘billions.’ I’ve tried out most all the figures & these figures stick on the street. And, except for the real lunatics, these figures shock conservatives as well as progressives. Nobody wants to waste that much money in the quagsand of ‘Raq or on the fantasy Missile Nonsense program aka Star Wars ($14,000 per minute).

  • practical joe


    You got to second base wthout touching first.

  • PJ, we didn’t dictate Iraq’s form of government to them, we let them design it themselves. That’s why there’s a constitution full of islamic law that they got to vote on.


  • practical joe

    “Fourth: Any nation’s attempt to dictate to other nations their form of government is indefensible.”

    Clearly, Eisenhower would never have invaded Iraq.

  • RogerMDillion

    Psst, MCH. That’s your cue.

  • practical joe

    Eisenhower… “I hate war as only a soldier can hate war.”

    Chickenhawks need not apply.

  • practical joe

    Eisenhower was great because he was the least politicized president of any president since George Washington.

    Eisenhower could have had the presidency in 1948, but he declined it — similar to the way Washington did not seek it, and did not hold on to it.

    That humble quality alone makes Eisenhower great among presidents.

    Eisenhower did not seek the presidency, it sought him.

    Eisenhower accepted a nomination only when it was clear that Truman had botched the Korean War and had no plan to get us out of it. Eisenhower got an end to the fighting soon after taking office.

    The sniping at Eisenhower’s record is ill-founded and displays either political malice or ignorance by those disposed to downgrade his accomplishments during WWII.

    Considering the debacles we have gotten into since then, planning and bringing the war to an end in Europe after D-Day in less than a year was a major accomplishment.

    We need more leaders like Eisenhower.

    Our problem is we don’t have any.

  • WTF

    There’s no “good” answer. After WWII Eisenhower starved Germany, resulting in many (millions) of deaths. The Goverment still stonewalls that information, but I’ve seen it come out in varying degrees, in multitudes of articles. But no one cared, because the propaganda mills had painted a biased picture of Germans, that exists to this day.

    Eisenhower in speech and in later day print was in the atonement mode, guilt had risen deeply into his being, and as such, as he faced the end, he didn’t want those decisions to weigh in the balance.

    Patton was very vocal and wrote a number of entries in his journals that have just recently begun to surface in print.

    Eisenhower and LeMay made some very tough decisions, all helped along with the negative portrayal of the enemy, which in many cases may have been justified. Germany lost millions, killed millions, Japan lost 10s of millions and killed an estimated 50 million. Russia losts millions and killed 60 million of their own during various purges, not to mention the millions put under the thumb of the CCCP after the war… yet the press was rather benign about the whole affair.

    What’s my point? That Eisenhower was overrated, and made a myraid of descisions that haunted him to the grave. That Hussain is a killer, not unlike Stalin, Hitler, and Tojo… but has escaped the propaganda associated with his acts. Why? Perhaps because the press considers the “sons of Ishmael” less than human, of little consequence… I don’t know, certainly Hussain was a ruthless dictating tyrant, who killed, tortured, yet everyone seems to either be out to protect the “savior of Iraq” or everybody just hate Bush enough to lambast him, no matter what the circumstance, perhaps a bit of both.

    I don’t take Eisenhower’s speech to heart, because I understand his Psyche’ and he was ruthless, yet appeared congenial about the whole affair. It took as much killing instinct to make war on Germany as Germany used to make war on Europe. So Eisenhower was a killer, a General and did what General’s do best, order destruction, without remorse.

    But in Eisenhowers end, he sought solace and the press (at the time) bought into it, afterall Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Truman, MacArther and several others brought peace to the planet, and ushered in the “new age” of spoiled children, who are now running things. Kurt Vonnegut said one time that “the thing that scared him most was that now all the people he went to High School with, were running the country” I will be saying the same thing in 5 or 10 years. Bush and Clinton have proven that ugly statement and the overall worth of Vonneguts ruminating quote.

    Personnally, the money we spend in Iraq, could be used HERE, in America fixing our problems, tightening ship up, it’s leaking, we know it, yet do nothing to stop Congress or the UN or the Administration from going off on tangents. It’s sickening. And what’s more… MY TAX DOLLARS ARE PAYING FOR IT!!! Which boils my blood!

  • troll

    how to be the good guy:

    bomb the crap out of Iraq – destroy much of the country’s infrastructure

    embargo the country enforcing economic stagnation for years

    bomb the crap out of the country again destroying much of the remaining infrastructure and occupy it

    contract to build 200,000 houses

    now you’re the good guy


  • Ike made some damned fine speeches, and we always ought to keep them in mind.

    However, our activities in Iraq don’t violate a single one of his points in the Cross of Iron speech, anymore than he did when he played a major role in nationbuilding efforts in Korea, Japan and Germany. Look at the Iraqi constitution. Does that LOOK like a document the US would impose on anyone? Give me a break.

    >>How many homes could we have built?< < At last count we had built or contracted the rebuilding of over 200,000 homes in Iraq. >>How many bushels of wheat could we have purchased to feed the hungry?< < Food aid to Iraq is in the hundreds of millions of dollars at last count. >>How many hospitals to aid the sick?<< Last I checked we had 34 hospitals up and running in Iraq. Oh, and if you were talking about the United States, we don't need more state funded hospitals, bags of wheat for the poor or - until very recently - new housing. We've already got those things covered with existing programs. Dave

  • Bulldog,

    Nicely written! Now I know why my Dad kept that I LIKE IKE button all those years. I certainly underestimated him as a statesman. He wrote well but in common sense terms.

    Since Bush is NOT well read (by his own admission), perhaps someone should forward this to him. Of course, it’s much too late for it to be of any value.