During an interview with Politico this past Monday, former Vice President Dick Cheney stated, “That [defense spending] ought to be our top priority for spending. Not food stamps, not highways or anything else.” I could not help but be reminded of a Republican president not so long ago who seemed to have the completely opposite view. I am referring to Dwight Eisenhower.
After leading the Allies to victory in Europe in World War II, President Eisenhower came to believe that, “War is mankind’s most tragic and stupid folly.” President Eisenhower is also known for his famous quote from a 1953 speech that “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.” The quote is lengthy but it is worth noting that he goes on to list many priorities more worthy than piping tax dollars into weapons and warfare. One of them is highways. “The cost of one modern heavy bomber … is some 50 miles of concrete highway.” In his 1961 farewell speech, Mr. Eisenhower warned of the “military-industrial complex.”
Dick Cheney, perhaps more than any other one person, personifies the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned America to be on guard against.