Radio and Television Address to the American People by
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 17, 1961
Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) was born in Denison, Texas and graduated
from the United States Military Academy in 1915. He was Supreme Allied
Commander in Europe in World War II, a 5-star General of the Army and
President of the United States from 1953 to 1961.
Three days before President Kennnedy gave his famous "Ask Not"
inaugural speech, President Eisenhower gave his farewell speech. It was
in this speech that the phrase "military-industrial complex"
was first used, and President Eisenhower spoke of the need for "an
alert and knowledgeable citizenry."
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....
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 peace time, 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
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 the proper meshing of huge industrial
and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals,
so that security and liberty may prosper together....
To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America's
prayerful and continuing inspiration:
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.