Under The Influence

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President-elect Eisenhower visits Korea, c. 1953 / DoD photo

The New York Times featured the following story on its front page 50 years ago today:

VIGILANCE URGED; Talk Bids ‘Godspeed to Kennedy’

— Voices Hopes for Peace —


WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 — President Eisenhower cautioned the nation in a farewell address from the White House tonight to be vigilant against dangers to its liberties implicit in a vast military establishment and a permanent armaments industry unparalleled in peacetime.

This was, of course, his famous talk “against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”

These days, when I awake to WTOP radio here in the nation’s capital, many of the advertisements I hear are from defense contractors speaking of our “heroes,” “war-fighters” and “warriors” (these are the folks we used to call, with justifiable pride before 9/11, “soldiers”). The papers have been filled with ads from such concerns, and the subway is plastered with them. A half-century on, it seems that the military-industrial complex is actively seeking warranted influence.