"The most significant threat to our national security is our debt," Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, August 27,2010


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Lessons learned - and abandoned

A brief history lesson contrasting two view points; one from a successful general; one from a successful politician.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 17, 1961:
  • Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.
  • But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs -- balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage -- balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking 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.
Lyndon B. Johnson, May 22, 1964:
  • The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents. It is a place where leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect, not a feared cause of boredom and restlessness. It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community. It is a place where man can renew contact with nature. It is a place which honors creation for its own sake and for what is adds to the understanding of the race. It is a place where men are more concerned with the quality of their goals than the quantity of their goods.
  • It will be the task of your generation to make the American city a place where future generations will come, not only to live, but to live the good life.
  • A second place where we begin to build the Great Society is in our countryside.
  • A third place to build the Great Society is in the classrooms of America.  In many places, classrooms are overcrowded and curricula are outdated. Most of our qualified teachers are underpaid and many of our paid teachers are unqualified.
  • These are three of the central issues of the Great Society. While our Government has many programs directed at those issues … we are going to assemble the best thought and the broadest knowledge from all over the world to find those answers for America.
  • Will you join in the battle to build the Great Society, to prove that our material progress is only the foundation on which we will build a richer life of mind and spirit?
The America of General Eisenhower was one of massive accomplishment – discipline – common goals.  Four years later, the new leader had a vision – unattainable but so grandiose as to refute every principle of the General.  Every principle was abandoned – in a four or five year period and to this day, we chase unattainable visions of comfort and mythology at great cost to our financial condition and devastating cost to our societal community.
One politician – blathering about greatness – forgetting every lesson the man who actually attained it taught us all.

 

 

2 comments:

Patrick Flynn said...

America has often turned to military men for presidential leadership; Washington, Jackson, Grant(ugh!) and Eisenhower and others.
How fortunate these men were able to resist the lure of power of both politics and military might and in so doing avoid dictatorship.
Indeed, when George III heard Washington would reject being named king he said that Washington was the greatest man who ever lived!
Compare these men to Roosevelt,
Johnson, Clinton, and Obama, all who seek to bend free people to their will, force us to heed their commands, and impel us into abject misery by imposing communism with themselves as the sole arbitrator of every single aspect of our lives.
All this time we feared military men as those who would impose dictatorship. OOPS!

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