We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has
witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these
involved our own country. Despite these holocausts America is today
the strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in
the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize
that America's leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our
unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on
how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human
Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the
conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention,
absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology global in scope,
atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in
method. Unhappily the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite
duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much
the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those
which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without
complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle--with
liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every
provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human
A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment.
Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no
potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.
Our military organization today bears little relation to that known
by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting
men of World War II or Korea.
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.
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 State house, 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
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.
Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our
industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution
during recent decades.
In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes
more formalized complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is
conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been
overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and
testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university,
historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific
discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research.
Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract
becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every
old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal
employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever
present--and is gravely to be regarded.
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we
should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that
public policy could itself become the captive of a
It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to
integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles
of our democratic system-ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our
Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time.
As we peer into society's future, we--you and I, and our
government--must avoid the impulse to live only for today,
plundering for, for our own ease and convenience, the precious
resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our
grandchildren without asking the loss also of their political and
spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations
to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.
Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows
that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a
community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud
confederation of mutual trust and respect.
Dwight D Eisenhower