Professor Jeffrey Avants
4 December 2013
The U.S. war on Iraq is the consequence of the military-industrial complex and everything President Eisenhower warned us about in his farewell speech to the nation. In a speech of less than 10 minutes, on January 17, 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower delivered his political farewell to the American people on national television from the Oval Office of the White House. As President of the United States for two terms, Eisenhower had slowed the push for increased defense spending despite pressure to build more military equipment during the Cold War's arms race. Nonetheless, the American military services and the defense industry had expanded a great deal in the 1950's. Eisenhower thought this growth was needed to counter the Soviet Union, but it confounded him. Though he did not say so explicitly, his standing as a military leader helped give him the credibility to stand up to the pressures of this new, powerful interest group.
He eventually described it as a necessary evil.
A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be might, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience, yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist (Eisenhower 1037).