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Eisenhower’s “Military-Industrial Complex” Speech Origins and Significance

I come to you with a message of leave-taking
and farewell. The speech did not get very much attention. When a new president is coming
to power, as John Kennedy was, the spotlight was not on Dwight Eisenhower. We have been
compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. There was a
feeling at the time that this must have been written by some speech writer who just sneaked
it into the speech. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted
influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. About three
months ago we got contacted by a family up in Minnesota saying that we have documents
from Malcolm Moos. He was responsible in part for drafting the “military-industrial complex”
speech. These new papers give us written evidence that this was not just some caprice of Eisenhower’s
or something by some speech writer. You see the evolution of the speech, from May 1959
to 1961. And he wanted to give this speech for a long time, two years. Our military organization
today bears little relation to that known of
any of my predecessors in peacetime, or, indeed, by the fighting men of World II or Korea.
There was one person in Dwight Eisenhower’s life whom he really confided almost everything
to and that was his brother Milton. There’s one particular document where the speechwriters
had already drafted their version of his speech only to see Milton come along and totally
revamp what had already been written. When Milton Eisenhower was taking notes and writing
things on the drafts of these speeches the speech writers knew that it wasn’t Milton
talking, it was Ike. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists
and will persist. He would see magazines with advertisements for some, you know, new warplane
or some bomb, and he got so angry he’d take the magazine and throw it into the fireplace
of the Oval Office. Because he felt that defense spending should not be something that would
be encouraged by companies who are seeking commercial gain. We must never let the weight
of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. There is an interesting
document. It shows that the farewell speech would be made to Congress. But yet President
Eisenhower decided, no, he was going to address the people. 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.
One test of how well a president speaks is how long the speech lives. Here we are 50
years later, we’re still talking about this speech. Now, on Friday noon, I am to become
a private citizen. I am proud to do so. I look forward to it. Thank you, and good night.

Tony wyaad