November 7, 2012

Word: What the military really costs

Dwight Eisenhower, 1953 - 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. 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 plane 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.

4 comments:

Enon said...

That's a great quote, but did you read the entire speech?

It throws down the gauntlet to the USSR and claims the USA is a law abiding nation which would never interfere with the internal affairs of other nations. Later that same year the Dulles brothers sent Kermit Roosevelt to Iran to successfully organize the overthrow of the government.

Taken in its entirety, it's an extremely militaristic and hypocritical speech.

The way people only quote this part of the speech reminds me of the way people only quote the ending of Lincoln's Second Inaugural (the 'with malice toward none' part) and leave out Lincoln's great moral lecture that precedes it (the 'woe to that man by whom the offense cometh' part).

Kevin Carson said...

Ike's comment is entirely accurate. What he didn't mention was why we have the heavy bomber instead of all those other things. Given the chronic tendency of capitalism to overaccumulation and underconsumption, those are all wheat, homes, hospitals, and power plants that nobody would be able to buy. That's WHY the permanent war economy exists -- to soak up excess productive capacity by (in the words of Emmanuel Goldstein) blasting it into the stratosphere or sinking it to the bottom of the ocean.

Anonymous said...

Dear old Ike.

This out-of context paragraph and its littermates sounded good to me for years, and then I read Richard Nixon's memoirs.

Anonymous said...

One of the things we need to remember, I believe, is that even an out-of-context paragraph can contain truth. And it wouldn't have survived the editing process if the speaker, in this case Ike, didn't want it there.