The Washington Examiner has a worship piece out today on Eisenhower. It’s enough to make your skin crawl. Here’s a taste:
If character is doing the right thing when nobody is looking, World War II Supreme Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower radiated it on the eve of D-Day…
Trusting him to put the national interest before his own, Americans liked Ike, twice electing him president, assuring America’s reliability as a guarantor of peace, prosperity, stability and freedom.
Ok, you get the picture.
Meanwhile, on this very same spinning planet, there exists a wonderful distillation of everyday government worship. It’s Lew Rockwell’s Against the State: An Anarcho-Capitalist Manifesto. This tremendous piece of work is obviously not about Eisenhower, but I will quote
Why, then, did America wage the Cold War if it wasn’t necessary to do so? We can find the answer in what is sometimes wrongly viewed as a protest against militarism, Eisenhower’s farewell speech.
Eisenhower’s farewell speech was a long and nearly hysterical argument for the Cold War. He presented it as more than a military policy against Russia, but rather as a grand metaphysical struggle that should take over our minds and souls, as bizarre as that must sound to the current generation. His words were Wilsonian, even messianic. The job of US military policy is to “foster progress in human achievement” and enhance “dignity and integrity” the world over. That’s a rather expansive role for government by any standard…
Because some crusty apparatchiks are imposing every manner of economic control over Russia and a few satellites, US foreign policy must absorb the whole of our beings? So much for limited government…
It’s true that his farewell speech warned against “unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex,” and this is the part that people remember. But Eisenhower himself entrenched this very machinery in American life, virtually inventing the peacetime armaments industry and imposing military regimentation on the country. His approach was fundamentally un-American; or, another way to put it, he redefined what it meant to be an American. Instead of a free people, he forged a program for the permanent militarization of the country.
A bit of a different take, wouldn’t you say? In other words, if you’re interested in the hard truth, rather than the genuflections and incense that appear in places like The Washington Examiner, get Lew’s book!
If you need more persuading, listen to The Robert Wenzel Show this Sunday. Lew will be Robert’s guest and they’ll be discussing “Against The State“!
Reprinted with permission from Economic Policy Journal.