Michael Moore: Eisenhower was right!

by on October 6, 2010 · 21 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Election, History, Military, War and Peace, World News

Eisenhower farewell

Dwight D Eishenhower during his infamous farewell address. Have his warnings of the dangers of the "military-industrial complex" gone unheard?

by Michael Moore / OpenMike blog

o … it turns out President Eisenhower wasn’t making up all that stuff about the military-industrial complex.

That’s what you’ll conclude if you read Bob Woodward’s new book, Obama’s War. (You can read excerpts of it here, here and here.) You thought you voted for change when you cast a ballot for Barack Obama? Um, not when it comes to America occupying countries that don’t begin with a “U” and an “S.”

In fact, after you read Woodward’s book, you’ll split a gut every time you hear a politician or a government teacher talk about “civilian control over the military.” The only people really making the decisions about America’s wars are across the river from Washington in the Pentagon. They wear uniforms. They have lots of weapons they bought from the corporations they will work for when they retire.

Michael MooreFor everyone who supported Obama in 2008, it’s reassuring to find out he understands we have to get out of Afghanistan. But for everyone who’s worried about Obama in 2010, it’s scary to find out that what he thinks should be done may not actually matter. And that’s because he’s not willing to stand up to the people who actually run this country.

And here’s the part I don’t even want to write – and none of you really want to consider:

It matters not whom we elect. The Pentagon and the military contractors call the shots. The title “Commander in Chief” is ceremonial, like “Employee of the Month” at your local Burger King.

Everything you need to know can be found in just two paragraphs from Obama’s War. Here’s the scene: Obama is meeting with his National Security Council staff on the Saturday after Thanksgiving last year. He’s getting ready to give a big speech announcing his new strategy for Afghanistan. Except … the strategy isn’t set yet. The military has presented him with just one option: escalation. But at the last minute, Obama tells everyone, hold up – the door to a plan for withdrawal isn’t closed.

The brass isn’t having it:

“Mr. President,” [Army Col. John Tien] said, “I don’t see how you can defy your military chain here. We kind of are where we are. Because if you tell General McChrystal, ‘I got your assessment, got your resource constructs, but I’ve chosen to do something else,’ you’re going to probably have to replace him. You can’t tell him, ‘Just do it my way, thanks for your hard work.’ And then where does that stop?”

The colonel did not have to elaborate. His implication was that not only McChrystal but the entire military high command might go in an unprecedented toppling – Gates; Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Gen. David H. Petraeus, then head of U.S. Central Command. Perhaps no president could weather that, especially a 48-year-old with four years in the U.S. Senate and 10 months as commander in chief.

And, well, the rest is history. Three days later Obama announced the escalation at West Point. And he became our newest war president.

But here’s the question Woodward doesn’t answer: Why, exactly, can’t a president weather ending a war, even if he has to fire all his generals to do it? It’s right there in Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution: The President’s in charge of the military. And so is Congress: the army can’t just march over to the Treasury Department and steal the money for wars. Article I, Section 9 says Congress has to appropriate it.

In the real world, though, the Constitution’s just a piece of paper. In the real world, a President who fired his top military in order to stop a war would be ruined before you could say “bloodless coup.” The Washington Post (filled with ads from Boeing and Northrop Grumman) would scream about how he was the reincarnation of Neville Chamberlain. Fox and CNN (filled with “experts” who work for think tanks funded by Raytheon and General Dynamics) would say he was a girly-man who had to be impeached. And Congress (which experienced its own escalation in lobbying from defense contractors just as the Afghanistan escalation was being decided) might well do it. (By the way, if you want to listen to Lyndon Johnson talk in 1964 about how he might be impeached if he didn’t follow the military-industrial complex’s orders and escalate the war in Vietnam, just go here.)

Eisenhower farewell 02So here’s your assignment for tonight: Watch Eisenhower’s famous farewell speech. (Go here for the video – you’ll have to scroll down some.)

And then start thinking about how we can tame this beast. The Soviet Union had its own military-industrial complex, which is one reason they got into Afghanistan … which is one reason there’s no more Soviet Union. It happened to them.

Don’t think it can happen to us?

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Justin October 6, 2010 at 10:53 am

United Arab Emirates?


avatar bodysurferbob October 6, 2010 at 11:44 am

Justin, huh?


avatar Patty Jones October 6, 2010 at 8:09 pm

It was begin with a “U” and an “S.”



avatar bodysurferbob October 6, 2010 at 11:48 am

ike was right on this. i believe he coined the phrase ‘military-industrial complex’. here’s the freakin president on his way out trying to impart some knowledge to the american public about the pitfalls of allowing our ‘democracy’ to be ruled by the pentagon and their corporate partners. hello? sound familiar? it’s still going on according to bob woodward in his new book. so for the last 50 years – at least – the executive branch has been at the mercy of the military. do you recall the problems jfk had with the military around the cuban missile crisis? they were constantly trying to end run kennedy. even he had trouble standing up to them. now we have obama, young, inexperienced, trying to keep an administration afloat, trying to figure out where to go in afghanistan, and he’s being told to either go with the generals’ plan or prepare for a wholesale resignation of the military brass. hmmmmm, what would you call that if we were simply observing such in another country?


avatar Ernie McCray October 6, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Another thing about Ike: when he ended his tour in World War II he made it clear that war was hell and we should avoid it whenever we can.
The big problem is presidents worry more about the next election than doing the right thing. I wish I could be president for however long it takes to have all those brassy dudes snapping to in their spit shined shoes. I wouldn’t sign their resignation papers until they brought everyone of our teenagers home. Getting the kids out would be my motivation to stand up to the generals and admirals because they are an IMPOSING bunch – I’ll give them that.


avatar Shane Finneran October 10, 2010 at 11:20 pm

Anyone catch the new military recruitment commercial during today’s NFL games?

The commercial showed a conversation between a teenager and her mom (both women with olive complexions that left their ethnicity open-ended), and to paraphrase, the mom says, “I know you want to join the military. I’m not comfortable with it, but I’m willing to discuss it with you and think it over.”

Seems like the military’s recruitment strategy has evolved with this ad… now they’re not just convincing the kids to join, but convincing parents who know better to let the kids do it.


avatar Old Hermit Dave October 6, 2010 at 6:29 pm

We should add that marriage just before Gulf War One between World Corporate Media and the MIC. This made it possible for criminals in government to engage in even worse illegal wars than during IKE’S time. Those darn reporters used the TV to show American soldiers with blood on them during the evening news, upsetting so many Americans that they finally shut down the Vietnam MIC gravy train. The marriage replaced blood with Ollie North “IN BED WITH” the troops, and now we have a cute blond lady in a steel pot telling us how tough it is in the Afghan crusade, with actual TV shots of soldiers in clean uniforms pointing big guns at things. The MEDIA has made WAR into a cool Video Game.


avatar annagrace October 6, 2010 at 6:55 pm

OHD- I can remember sitting at the dinner table watching the 5 o’clock news in black & white, direct from Viet Nam. As a teenager, I found the news horrifying, in ways that it should be horrifying to any sentient human being. Fast forward to the sanitized version of the news that reaches us today from Iraq, Afghanistan & Pakistan. I don’t even want to think about that disgusting piece of work- Oliver North- who tried to convince us that you could be a good citizen AND a good businessman while exchanging guns for drugs in an ill advised (non)war in Central America.

It’s a drag getting old. I remember all this shit.


avatar Old Hermit Dave October 6, 2010 at 8:54 pm

I will never shut up about the ghastly marriage. The masses will never have sense enough to figure out what has been done to them without the help of an hones MEDIA. Something we no longer have.


avatar Goatskull October 6, 2010 at 10:17 pm

You should spend some time in the recreation room at Balboa Nanal hospital. You’ll hear some pretty disturbing stories (and appaling) from some young Marines and sailors. They have been through the most horrific expierences anyone can go through. I over heard some even admit to taking part in the killing of innocent people and are now trying to come to grips with that and how they will explain themselves later on in their life. Very heartbreaking. Some of these kids are not even old enough to legally drink yet.


avatar Frank Gormlie October 7, 2010 at 8:22 am

Goatskull – how did you end up in the rec room at Balboa? Thanks for sharing. War is hell and when we send young people out to kill other people, we all lose in the end – unless somebody is actually attacking our country or trying to take over the world (Hitler).


avatar Goatskull October 7, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Balboa was my last duty station when I retired from the Navy. I currently live in Hillcrest on Park blvd right up the street from the hospital. As a retiree I have life time privileges to military exchanges, commissaries, rec facilities, etc so I use the gym and pool over there since I live right up the street. The gym is in the same building as the rec room (includes a computer room). During a period when I was job hunting I used the computer room for job searching because at home we have unsecured wireless internet. That very same building also houses hospital staff military member’s who don’t live out in civilians housing and also patients going through treatments of various sorts. While spending time in there I overheard some of the Marines (and some Navy personnel) who are going through treatment from war injuries talking to each other.


avatar Goatskull October 6, 2010 at 8:03 pm

While 60 Min did their thing to make entertaining TV, I do know some people who’ve been out there and IT IS pretty bad.


avatar Old Hermit Dave October 6, 2010 at 8:56 pm

WAR should never be presented as entertainment.


avatar Goatskull October 6, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Never said it should. That wasn’t my point.


avatar Old Hermit Dave October 6, 2010 at 10:16 pm

I know I understood your point, I should have made mine in a separate comment, not a reply.


avatar Goatskull October 6, 2010 at 10:19 pm

No worries


avatar Chris Moore October 6, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Excellent post.

It is amazing how many otherwise incisive intelligent people have been suckered into this idea that unless we maintain a defense budget 6X the next biggest country and maintain permanent bases in 3/4 of the countries on the planet, the entire human race will be spontaneously combust in an orgy of random totalist violence.

And apparently, despite all appearances, we are NOT an Empire, because we have no Emperor… duh.

This country needs to do a bit of soul-searching, even (especially) the most idealistic among us.


avatar Frank Gormlie October 7, 2010 at 8:23 am

Great points, Chris!


avatar Old Hermit Dave October 7, 2010 at 9:03 am

I just posted this all over the www.

Afghan War Enters Year 10 as Air Strike Kills 8
Reconciliation with Taliban Militants Emerges as Key Theme in Fight to Stabilize Country

The CEO’s and super rich owners of the Multi National Corporations want to take this time to wish Cheney/Rummy/Blair a HAPPY NINTH ANNIVERSARY for their money making “WAR ON TERROR”. The New World Order, New Pearl Harbor SCAM went beyond our wildest dreams. We would never have made all this money if some incompetent leaders had allowed the CIA/MOSSAD/MI5 gang to simply pick up their former friend Osama Bin Laden and his gang of Muslim Masterminds. There is no profit in putting humans on trial for crashing planes into buildings. Another clever idea was to bring our good friends in World Corporate Media into our group.


avatar tj October 8, 2010 at 8:25 am

Of course Ike was right.

And “Change” – was just another lie, from just another politician/ lawyer, seeking his own personal fortune, & spot (stain) in history.

Too bad.


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