In his speech about cutting the military, Obama savored again quoting President Eisenhower about maintaining balance in and among national programs, while confidently assuming no one remembers the thrust of the Military-Industrial Complex Speech. Eisenhowers theme warned about maintaining proper balance between the private and public economies.
Eisenhowers concern would now be the astronomical growth of social programs that remain sacrosanct ever since Johnson introduced Medicare and Medicaid. In contrast Defense has undergone real spending reductions; reductions placing Defense at 19% of the budget now from 47% in 1962. In contrast, HHS and SS have tripled to nearly half todays budget.
He would be astounded Obama proclaims a receding tide of war. Eisenhower understood Eleanor Roosevelt initiated us into unending international conflicts when proclaiming her Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Ronald Reagan gave practical expression to this ideal when defeating the Evil Empire, and the last three presidents have prosecuted the GWOT.
Bin Ladens death or crippling of al-Qaeda hardly constitutes victory. Victory requires seeking out and supporting anonymous, selfless individuals and constituencies willing to endanger their lives and those of their families for durable economic models and representative governments. Such governments bring GWOT victory by frustrating plans, breaking alliances and fracturing terrorist organizations into ever less effective units.
However, Obama can rely upon a morbidly obese Pentagon bureaucracy as exampled by a Navy, which has more Admirals than commissioned ships. Washington will enthusiastically follow Obama to gut the ground forces, which provide an environment where potential leaders can experience deliverance from lives dominated by assassins stalking them and their families.
I suppose I could go with reorganization directed to more trigger pullers and fewer ticket punchers, but I would not favor any reduction in force. Somewhere in an old letter I did, I was able to calculate that if the active forces had incurred only the reductions Bush #1 proposed, our later reliance on reserve and National Guard forces would be about one third of that experienced.
The only way to reduce forces now is to abandon the principle in place since the end of WW II that the military must be able to fight two conventional wars at the same time. The war plan analyses that validate such a future world have got to be Ivy League fantasies.
His ignorance could be interpreted as a human failing, if it were not driven by passionate arrogance.
Bureau of Economic Analysis: Table 3.16 Government Current Expenditures by Function
Remarks by the President on the Defense Strategic Review
Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961
Thanks for your analysis and for sharing that history. I’ve wanted to re-read Eisenhower’s “MIC” speech, and as you say, he and those of his generation would I’m sure be flabbergasted at what has happened in terms of social spending. We’ve got much bigger problems to worry about than an expansion of the military-industrial complex today.