Tag Archives: president dwight eisenhower

Swords into Plowshares: The Greening of Ron Paul

14 Feb

They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. — Isaiah 2:4

In his farewell address, delivered on January 17, 1960, President Dwight Eisenhower famously warned about what he termed “the military-industrial complex.”

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every Statehouse, 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.

Yet what worried Eisenhower in 1960 is nothing to the behemoth that sprawls across the globe fifty years later and is condemning America to an unending and fiercely wasteful “war on terror.” That military industrial complex is more terrible than any group or nation the Federal Government has designated as an enemy. Indeed, we cannot help but wonder, with Ron Paul, whether or not “our current policies provide incentive for more to take up arms against us.”

Yet however much we admire Paul’s “bring the troops home” stance on defense, we can’t help be wary of his disregard for the environment, as expressed, for example, in his energy policies.

Why not take the money we save from defense/war and put it into restoring the environment and rebuilding our infrastructure? Why not train the troops in the arts, crafts, and trades of sustainable agriculture and green design, construction, and manufacture? Why not turn spears into pruning hooks?