Who said this about the price we pay for a massive military?


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.

It was not some leftist hippie. It was in fact president Dwight D. Eisenhower in his “cross of iron” speech on April 16, 1953. It just shows how far the politics of this country has gone to the right that even most top Democrats would not say things like that today.

And Republicans? They have become so unhinged that even a former top Republican intellectual like Norman Ornstein who works at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute says that it has ceased to be a conservative party and has become more like a paranoid apocalyptic cult, “an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

Comments

  1. grumpyoldfart says

    It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

    And one day it will have control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    Even Ornstein succumbs to the political fact that calling anyone “anti-intellectual” no longer carries the meaning it did – because of the anti-intellectual crusades of his partisan colleagues.

    Being a meanie, I would love to see him try to discuss this with, say, Bobby Jindal or Ted Cruz or …

  3. Just an Organic Regular Expression says

    Just might note that the Mann/Ornstein essay is from 2012. And while it mentions GOP opposition to any Obama initiative as a result of the GOP decline, it does not mention it as a cause. But in my opinion what was then three years, and is now 6, of carrying out an intentional, articulated, determined policy to oppose whatever Obama was for regardless of any other consideration (including good governance), has had at least as much effect on the Republican ethos as had Gingrich’s deliberate pandering or Fox’s conspiracy-mongering. “Ideology above all” is an attitude that feeds on itself; and the Republicans whole-heartedly adopted it and wallowed in it, in large part, I think, out of elementary racism.

  4. says

    It just shows how far the politics of this country has gone to the right that even most top Democrats would not say things like that today.

    It still amazes me that the majority of Americans “think” there are only two points of view and that US politics has a “broad range of views”. Yeah, it’s broad all right, if you mean it ranges from Batista to Peron.

    The rest of the world sees two parties, the far right leaning near-fascist democrats and the full-on fascist republicans. Angela Merkel is a traditional conservative and she looks like a communist compared to Hillary Clinton.

    It’s a nation of reactionaries who have nary a reaction to the loss of personal freedoms. How dumb are people that they “think” the US is in danger after parts of the “patriot act” expired?

  5. Sean (I am not an imposter) says

    “It just shows how far the politics of this country has gone to the right that even most top Democrats would not say things like that today.”

    Which is precisely why liberals and leftists should abandon the Democratic party and anyone running under its banner. It is truly sad that people who fancy themselves liberals are willing to tolerate DP candidates who are far to the right of people like Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater or even Richard Nixon.

    We keep playing this game of “lesser evilism” even as the lesser evil grows more and more evil and the gap between “lesser” and greater evil continues to narrow. We have two corporatist, fascist parties. War, plutocracy and gun rights on the one hand versus war, plutocracy and abortion rights on the other is about the only difference I can discern.

    The fact the republicrazies are more comfortable with the working class being heavily armed than the fake liberals makes me wonder who we should fear more.

  6. mnb0 says

    A former good friend of mine – we lost track many years ago – and an old school conservative once said to me that armament is destruction of capital in the most literal meaning of the word. Because kaboom.

  7. says

    I agree with the general sense of President Eisenhower’s comments, but what he said is only literally true under a set of economic assumptions which no longer hold. When Eisenhower said those words, the international community was operating under the Bretton Woods system of currency exchange, a system of fixed-exchange rates in which currencies were pegged to the dollar, and the dollar was convertible into gold. So every country’s money supply was ultimately limited to its supply of gold. That is no longer the case. When Eisenhower was speaking, the amount of money any nation could spend was strictly limited. In order to spend money, a government had to raise it via taxation or borrowing. Under such a system, every dollar spent on defense meant one less dollar available to be spent on other priorities.

    We are no longer operating under that system. The dollar can no longer be converted into gold, and the US maintains a floating exchange rate with other currencies. There is no limit on how much Congress can spend. There is no trade-off between defense spending and domestic spending. We should spend less on defense and we should spend more on infrastructure, public housing, education, and everything else Eisenhower was concerned about, but cutting defense spending doesn’t “free up” dollars for other uses the way it would have done when he gave that speech. That’s just not the way money works anymore.

  8. says

    @7 drewvogel

    That’s some impressive logic you’re using there. You seem to be suggesting that Eisenhower’s conclusion is necessarily false because the premises he was operating under are no longer true. Sorry, but that’s not how logic works. (You would seem to essentially be committing what is known as the “fallacy fallacy.”) At best you can say that the conclusion is no longer guaranteed to be true; you cannot suggest it is false.
    And, frankly, you also seem to be giving this suggestion that the way money works has changed drastically: “When Eisenhower was speaking, the amount of money any nation could spend was strictly limited.” OK? So, I suppose it’s not “strictly” limited (whatever “strictly” means), but it is most certainly not limitless, right? Oh, except you seem to think that’s true: “There is no limit on how much Congress can spend.” That’s just bogus. Now your premise is false. So, based on what I said in my last paragraph, do you know what that means? Your conclusion cannot be guaranteed to be true (again, it’s not fully clear what your conclusion even is). So we’re done here unless you can present a better case.

  9. says

    Leo, I agree with Eisenhower that we should spend less on defense and more on the other priorities he lists. I disagree with his reasoning, which is no longer applicable under the current monetary system, which is drastically different. Taking the country off of the gold standard did indeed have some drastic implications. Here’s a transcript of an interview of economist Stephanie Kelton by Harry Shearer a couple years ago that nicely lays out the major points: http://harryshearer.com/transcript-stephanie-kelton-interview/

    We should spend less on defense because what we are spending on defense doesn’t contribute to the public interest. We should spend more on domestic infrastructure, education, social welfare, public housing, national health care, and so on, because such additional spending in those areas would contribute more to the public interest. But how much we spend on one thing has literally nothing to do with how much we spend on anything (or everything) else.

    And yes, Congress can spend without limit. That’s how we paid for Bush’s wars. That’s how we paid for the bank bailouts. That’s how we financed three rounds of “qualitative easing”, which required the creation of trillions in new money. Your rebuttal (“That’s just bogus!”) is oddly unpersuasive.

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