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A Bold Plan Military Nuclear War

I have ONE simple question.

While sportscasters like to review the “10 Plays of the Day,” historians like to rate Presidents. In 2021, C-SPAN had 142 observers of the Presidency rank the U.S. Presidents.

While sportscasters like to review the “10 Plays of the Day,” historians like to rate Presidents. In 2021, C-SPAN had 142 observers of the Presidency rank the U.S. Presidents. 

The top 5 were:

  1. Abraham Lincoln
  2. George Washington
  3. Franklin Roosevelt
  4. Theodore Roosevelt
  5. Dwight D. Eisenhower

The surprise on the list comes in at Number 5—Eisenhower.  

Ike gave the Nation the Interstate Highway System, ended the Korean War, and established NASA. He did quite a bit, but I think he saved his best act for last when he delivered his farewell address. In that address, Eisenhower the military hero from World War II, warned the nation of a growing military-industrial complex:

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence—economic, political, and even spiritual—is felt in every city, every state, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

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.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Dwight D. Eisenhower
Farewell Address

In retrospect, everything that Eisenhower feared has come to fruition. We have a vast military-industrial establishment that spends more than $800 billion a year. We spend more money on defense than the next 10 nations combined. The United States makes up 4.3% of the global population, and yet we spend 38% of the global military dollars. We consistently overspend on massive projects. 

Two examples:

  1. The F-35 project cost at $1.7 trillion was the largest weapons project of all time and was 7 years behind schedule and almost twice the original estimate.
  2. The Zumwalt class destroyer was originally planned to be a 32-vessel program for $9.6 billion, but in the end the taxpayer received 3 vessels for $22.5 billion. 

I asked this to a friend who works in the military: “Could we spend $200 billion less on defense and achieve the same level of security?” The answer was, “Yes, but you would have to break a lot of glass.”

Back to our friend President Eisenhower who said, “Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”  

There is a simple question to be asked. 

Are the leaders of our Government making decisions in the best long-term interest of the United States, or have our leaders lost control of this decision-making capability, and is instead, the military-industrial complex that has gained immense influence and is now driving the train?  

The numbers would say that everything that Eisenhower feared in his farewell address has come to pass. We have an immense military that outspends the next 10 nations combined, and we are spending money hand over fist while we are $34 trillion in debt. At the root of this problem are defense companies who care more about the profit and loss statement of their companies than they do about the long-term interest of the United States.  

If Eisenhower were alive today, I think he would expand his concerns about the Military- Industrial Complex to our health care system and to other areas of our government. We now have a system that spends $4.3 trillion on health care, which translates to 18.3% of GDP. We have the most expensive health care system in the world, by far, and yet we rank 55th out of 57 countries for overall health as surveyed in the Bloomberg 2020 Health-Efficiency Index. If you live in Italy, you will live 7 years longer than if you live in the United States.  

Why are our health care costs so high, and our results so poor? It is because of the Health Care-Industrial Complex. Just like with the Military- Industrial Complex, we have leaders in government prioritizing their reelection over the health of the country; and we have leaders of health care companies making a fortune as their industry delivers almost the worst results in the western world, at the highest costs. Everything that Eisenhower warned about with the Military-Industrial Complex has come true in the Health Care-Industrial Complex. In the time period from 1998-2022, the Military-Industrial Complex spent $2.9 billion to influence government officials. In that same time period, the Health Care Industry spent $11.2 billion lobbying.  

There is an old story that someone once visited Eisenhower in the Oval Office and asked him how he dealt with the difficult decisions of the Presidency. Eisenhower responded that he asked himself one simple question, “What is in the best long-term interest of the United States?”

As a nation, I believe that our leaders make short-term decisions regarding our most pressing issues in order to make campaign contributors happy and get reelected. Our leaders should learn from Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States, and ask themselves the most important question when facing our biggest challenges.  

What is in the best long-term interest of the United States?  

Then do that!

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