As the Senate gets ready to vote on Chuck Hagel’s confirmation to be Secretary of Defense, I found in my reading of history, courtesy of Harvard historian Jill Lepore, quotes from President Eisenhower and Senator Taft. I thought these historic Republicans would have been opposed by Senators Cruz R-Tx) and Inhofe (R-Ok).
Everyone knows Eisenhower’s famous warning about the military-industrial complex driving our security policy. It was a memorable warning, like that of George Washington warning against the United States being ensnared ” in entangling alliances.”
What deserves to be remembered is Eisenhower’s speech delivered to theAmerican Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE)on April 16, 1953 at the height of the Cold War, when Joe McCarthy ran rampant and Eisenhower had had a brutal confirmation fight for Charles Bohlen to be Ambassador to the Soviet Union, harshly fought by the Republican right.
Here is what Eisenhower said to the ASNE.
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 not clothed. This is a world in arms.
This world in arms is not spending money alone; it is spending the
sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its
children…. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under
the clouds of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross
Robert Taft gave a speech during World War II in 1941 before Pearl Harbor
Frankly, the American people don’t want to rule the world, and we are
not equipped to do it. Such imperialism is wholly foreign to our ideals
of democracy and freedom. It is not our manifest destiny or our
Cruz’s personal attacks, and Inhofe’s twisted reasoning that appointees are
held responsible for those they have no control over (Iran commenting on
Hagel) takes these Senators off the wall. It makes them champions of
It also tells me that Hagel stands as a Eisenhower Republican who is skeptical
of the excesses of what Taft rightly described as “manifest destiny.”
February 13, 2013