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Dwight D. Eisenhower
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Dwight D. Eisenhower
cross of iron
A five star general, and a two term president. How far we have strayed. So why listen to a conservative, republican general who tried to create peace?
Here are two of his speeches. His farewell after two presidential terms, and the Chance for Peace address.
January 17, 1961 President Eisenhower delivers his Farewell Address to the Nation warning of the "military-industrial complex."
(For more information visit
the Eisenhower site
Farewell Radio and Television Address to the American People,January 17th, 1961
[Delivered from the President’s Office at 8:30 p.m.]
My fellow Americans: Three days from now, after half a century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor.This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen. Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all. Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the Nation. My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and, finally, to the mutually interdependentduring these past eight years.In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues,cooperated well, to serve the national good rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the Nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.
II.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 istoday 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 useour power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.
III.Throughout America’s adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrityamong people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religiouspeople. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing theworld. 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 usto 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 ourcharted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.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 themiraculous 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 inbasic 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 maintainbalance 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 thecomfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the dutiesimposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and thenational welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their government have, in themain, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of stress and threat.But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only.
IV.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 owndestruction.Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors inpeacetime, 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 society.
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 theproper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peacefulmethods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, hasbeen the technological revolution during recent decades.In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, andcostly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federalgovernment.Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces ofscientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historicallythe fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in theconduct 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 hundredsof 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 alertto the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technologicalelite.It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, newand old, within the principles of our democratic system--ever aiming toward the supreme goalsof our free society.
V.Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society’sfuture, 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 cannotmortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their politicaland spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to becomethe insolvent phantom of tomorrow.
VI.Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, evergrowing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, aproud confederation of mutual trust and respect.Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table withthe same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength.That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agonyof the battlefield.
Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must
learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because
this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this
field with a definite sense of disappointment.
As one who has witnessed the horror and the
lingering sadness of war--as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this
civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years--I wish I could
say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.
Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has beenmade. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what littleI can to help the world advance along that road.
VII.So--in this my last good night to you as your President--I thank you for the many opportunitiesyou have given me for public service in war and peace. I trust that in that service you find somethings worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in thefuture.You and I--my fellow citizens--need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle,confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation’s great goals.To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America’s prayerful and continuing aspiration:
We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand,also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.
Eisenhower's "Chance for Peace" speech.
“The Chance for Peace” Address Delivered Before the American Society
of Newspaper Editors, April 16th, 1953
IN THIS SPRING of 1953 the free world weighs one question above all others: the chance for a
just peace for all peoples.
To weigh this chance is to summon instantly to mind another recent moment of great decision. It
came with that yet more hopeful spring of 1945, bright with the promise of victory and of
freedom. The hope of all just men in that moment too was a just and lasting peace.
The 8 years that have passed have seen that hope waver, grow dim, and almost die. And the
shadow of fear again has darkly lengthened across the world.
Today the hope of free men remains stubborn and brave, but it is sternly disciplined by
experience. It shuns not only all crude counsel of despair but also the self-deceit of easy illusion.
It weighs the chance for peace with sure, clear knowledge of what happened to the vain hope of
In that spring of victory the soldiers of the Western Allies met the soldiers of Russia in the center
of Europe. They were triumphant comrades in arms. Their peoples shared the joyous prospect of
building, in honor of their dead, the only fitting monument-an age of just peace. All these warweary
peoples shared too this concrete, decent purpose: to guard vigilantly against the
domination ever again of any part of the world by a single, unbridled aggressive power.
This common purpose lasted an instant and perished. The nations of the world divided to follow
two distinct roads.
The United States and our valued friends, the other free nations, chose one road.
The leaders of the Soviet Union chose another.
The way chosen by the United States was plainly marked by a few clear precepts, which govern
its conduct in world affairs.
First: No people on earth can be held, as a people, to be an enemy, for all humanity shares the
common hunger for peace and fellowship and justice.
Second: No nation’s security and well-being can be lastingly achieved in isolation but only in
effective cooperation with fellow nations.
Third: Any nation’s right to a form of government and an economic system of its own choosing
Fourth: Any nation’s attempt to dictate to other nations their form of government is indefensible.
And fifth: A nation’s hope of lasting peace cannot be firmly based upon any race in armaments
but rather upon just relations and honest understanding with all other nations.
In the light of these principles the citizens of the United States defined the way they proposed to
follow, through the aftermath of war, toward true peace.
This way was faithful to the spirit that inspired the United Nations: to prohibit strife, to relieve
tensions, to banish fears. This way was to control and to reduce armaments. This way was to
allow all nations to devote their energies and resources to the great and good tasks of healing the
war’s wounds, of clothing and feeding and housing the needy, of perfecting a just political life,
of enjoying the fruits of their own free toil.
The Soviet government held a vastly different vision of the future.
In the world of its design, security was to be found, not in mutual trust and mutual aid but in
force: huge armies, subversion, rule of neighbor nations. The goal was power superiority at all
cost. Security was to be sought by denying it to all others.
The result has been tragic for the world and, for the Soviet Union, it has also been ironic.
The amassing of Soviet power alerted free nations to a new danger of aggression. It compelled
them in self-defense to spend unprecedented money and energy for armaments. It forced them to
develop weapons of war now capable of inflicting instant and terrible punishment upon any
It instilled in the free nations--and let none doubt this--the unshakable conviction that, as long as
there persists a threat to freedom, they must, at any cost, remain armed, strong, and ready for the
risk of war.
It inspired them--and let none doubt this--to attain a unity of purpose and will beyond the power
of propaganda or pressure to break, now or ever.
There remained, however, one thing essentially unchanged and unaffected by Soviet conduct: the
readiness of the free nations to welcome sincerely any genuine evidence of peaceful purpose
enabling all peoples again to resume their common quest of just peace.
The free nations, most solemnly and repeatedly, have assured the Soviet Union that their firm
association has never had any aggressive purpose whatsoever. Soviet leaders, however, have
seemed to persuade themselves, or tried to persuade their people, otherwise.
And so it has come to pass that the Soviet Union itself has shared and suffered the very fears it
has fostered in the rest of the world.
This has been the way of life forged by 8 years of fear and force.
What can the world, or any nation in it, hope for if no turning is found on this dread road?
The worst to be feared and the best to be expected can be simply stated.
The worst is atomic war.
The best would be this: a life of perpetual fear and tension; a burden of arms draining the wealth
and the labor of all peoples; a wasting of strength that defies the American system or the Soviet
system or any system to achieve true abundance and happiness for the peoples of this earth.
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 are not clothed. 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.
The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.
It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.
It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.
We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.
We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.
This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.
This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is
humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
These plain and cruel truths define the peril and point the hope that comes with this spring of
This is one of those times in the affairs of nations when the gravest choices must be made, if
there is to be a turning toward a just and lasting peace.
It is a moment that calls upon the governments of the world to speak their intentions with
simplicity and with honesty.
It calls upon them to answer the question that stirs the hearts of all sane men: is there no other
way the world may live?
The world knows that an era ended with the death of Joseph Stalin. The extraordinary 30-year
span of his rule saw the Soviet Empire expand to reach from the Baltic Sea to the Sea of Japan,
finally to dominate 800 million souls.
The Soviet system shaped by Stalin and his predecessors was born of one World War. It survived
with stubborn and often amazing courage a second World War. It has lived to threaten a third.
Now a new leadership has assumed power in the Soviet Union. Its links to the past, however
strong, cannot bind it completely. Its future is, in great part, its own to make.
This new leadership confronts a free world aroused, as rarely in its history, by the will to stay
This free world knows, out of the bitter wisdom of experience, that vigilance and sacrifice are the
price of liberty.
It knows that the defense of Western Europe imperatively demands the unity of purpose and
action made possible by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, embracing a European Defense
It knows that Western Germany deserves to be a free and equal partner in this community and
that this, for Germany, is the only safe way to full, final unity.
It knows that aggression in Korea and in southeast Asia are threats to the whole free community
to be met by united action.
This is the kind of free world which the new Soviet leadership confronts. It is a world that
demands and expects the fullest respect of its rights and interests. It is a world that will always
accord the same respect to all others.
So the new Soviet leadership now has a precious opportunity to awaken, with the rest of the
world, to the point of peril reached and to help turn the tide of history.
Will it do this?
We do not yet know. Recent statements and gestures of Soviet leaders give some evidence that
they may recognize this critical moment.
We welcome every honest act of peace.
We care nothing for mere rhetoric.
We are only for sincerity of peaceful purpose attested by deeds. The opportunities for such deeds
are many. The performance of a great number of them waits upon no complex protocol but upon
the simple will to do them. Even a few such clear and specific acts, such as the Soviet Union’s
signature upon an Austrian treaty or its release of thousands of prisoners still held from World
War II, would be impressive signs of sincere intent. They would carry a power of persuasion not
to be matched by any amount of oratory.
This we do know: a world that begins to witness the rebirth of trust among nations can find its
‘way to a peace that is neither partial nor punitive.
With all who will work in good faith toward such a peace, we are ready, with renewed resolve, to
strive to redeem the near-lost hopes of our day.
The first great step along this way must be the conclusion of an honorable armistice in Korea.
This means the immediate cessation of hostilities and the prompt initiation of political
discussions leading to the holding of free elections in a united Korea.
It should mean, no less importantly, an end to the direct and indirect attacks upon the security of
Indochina and Malaya. For any armistice in Korea that merely released aggressive armies to
attack elsewhere would be a fraud.
We seek, throughout Asia as throughout the world, a peace that is true and total.
Out of this can grow a still wider task--the achieving of just political settlements for the other
serious and specific issues between the free world and the Soviet Union.
None of these issues, great or small, is insoluble--given only the will to respect the rights of all
Again we say: the United States is ready to assume its just part.
We have already done all within our power to speed conclusion of a treaty with Austria, which
will free that country from economic exploitation and from occupation by foreign troops.
We are ready not only to press forward with the present plans for closer unity of the nations of
Western Europe but also, upon that foundation, to strive to foster a broader European
community, conducive to the free movement of persons, of trade, and of ideas.
This community would include a free and united Germany, with a government based upon free
and secret elections.
This free community and the full independence of the East European nations could mean the end
of the present unnatural division of Europe.
As progress in all these areas strengthens world trust, we could proceed concurrently with the
next great work--the reduction of the burden of armaments now weighing upon the world. To
this end we would welcome and enter into the most solemn agreements. These could properly
1. The limitation, by absolute numbers or by an agreed international ratio, of the sizes of the
military and security forces of all nations.
2. A commitment by all nations to set an agreed limit upon that proportion of total production of
certain strategic materials to be devoted to military purposes.
3. International control of atomic energy to promote its use for peaceful purposes only and to
insure the prohibition of atomic weapons.
4. A limitation or prohibition of other categories of weapons of great destructiveness.
5. The enforcement of all these agreed limitations and prohibitions by adequate safeguards,
including a practical system of inspection under the United Nations.
The details of such disarmament programs are manifestly critical and complex. Neither the
United States nor any other nation can properly claim to possess a perfect, immutable formula.
But the formula matters less than the faith--the good faith without which no formula can work
justly and effectively.
The fruit of success in all these tasks would present the world with the greatest task, and the
greatest opportunity, of all. It is this: the dedication of the energies, the resources, and the
imaginations of all peaceful nations to a new kind of war. This would be a declared total war, not
upon any human enemy but upon the brute forces of poverty and need.
The peace we seek, rounded upon decent trust and cooperative effort among nations, can be
fortified, not by weapons of war but by wheat and by cotton, by milk and by wool, by meat and
by timber and by rice. These are words that translate into every language on earth. These are
needs that challenge this world in arms.
This idea of a just and peaceful world is not new or strange to us. It inspired the people of the
United States to initiate the European Recovery Program in 1947. That program was prepared to
treat, with like and equal concern, the needs of Eastern and Western Europe.
We are prepared to reaffirm, with the most concrete evidence, our readiness to help build a world
in which all peoples can be productive and prosperous.
This Government is ready to ask its people to join with all nations in devoting a substantial
percentage of the savings achieved by disarmament to a fund for world aid and reconstruction.
The purposes of this great work would be to help other peoples to develop the undeveloped areas
of the world, to stimulate profitable and fair world trade, to assist all peoples to know the
blessings of productive freedom.
The monuments to this new kind of war would be these: roads and schools, hospitals and homes,
food and health.
We are ready, in short, to dedicate our strength to serving the needs, rather than the fears, of the
We are ready, by these and all such actions, to make of the United Nations an institution that can
effectively guard the peace and security of all peoples.
I know of nothing I can add to make plainer the sincere purpose of the United States.
I know of no course, other than that marked by these and similar actions, that can be called the
highway of peace.
I know of only one question upon which progress waits. It is this:
What is the Soviet Union ready to do?
Whatever the answer be, let it be plainly spoken.
Again we say: the hunger for peace is too great, the hour in history too late, for any government
to mock men’s hopes with mere words and promises and gestures.
The test of truth is simple. There can be no persuasion but by deeds.
Is the new leadership of the Soviet Union prepared to use its decisive influence in the
Communist world, including control of the flow of arms, to bring not merely an expedient truce
in Korea but genuine peace in Asia?
Is it prepared to allow other nations, including those of Eastern Europe, the free choice of their
own forms of government?
Is it prepared to act in concert with others upon serious disarmament proposals to be made firmly
effective by stringent U.N. control and inspection?
If not, where then is the concrete evidence of the Soviet Union’s concern for peace?
The test is clear.
There is, before all peoples, a precious chance to turn the black tide of events. If we failed to
strive to seize this chance, the judgment of future ages would be harsh and just.
If we strive but fail and the world remains armed against itself, it at least need be divided no
longer in its clear knowledge of who has condemned humankind to this fate.
The purpose of the United States, in stating these proposals, is simple and clear.
These proposals spring, without ulterior purpose or political passion, from our calm conviction
that the hunger for peace is in the hearts of all peoples--those of Russia and of China no less than
of our own country.
They conform to our firm faith that God created men to enjoy, not destroy, the fruits of the earth
and of their own toil.
They aspire to this: the lifting, from the backs and from the hearts of men, of their burden of
arms and of fears, so that they may find before them a golden age of freedom and of peace.
Note: The President’s address was broadcast over television and radio from the Statler Hotel in
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