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?