Levees Not War
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Eisenhower on the Opportunity Cost of the War Machine

09/16/10

“Humanity hanging from a cross of iron”

“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 is 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 fifty miles of concrete pavement. 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. This is, I repeat, 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. . . . Is there no other way the world may live?”

Dwight D. Eisenhower, “The Chance for Peace,” speech given to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953

Click here for the text of President Eisenhower’s famous farewell address (1961) in which he warned, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” Click here for a series of YouTube videos of the address.

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