President Eisenhower took this opportunity, by way of addressing The American Society Of Newspaper Editors, to announce his proposal to reorganize The Pentagon, describing it as a “blueprint for safety and solvency” – below is a text excerpt of the speech you’re going to listen to:
President Eisenhower: “Five years have passed since as President I last met with your Society. I discussed then what is still the world’s paramount need–an enduring, just peace.
In early 1953, you recall, the world was deeply troubled. Two wars were in progress. One had cost the lives of thousands of our own youth. It promised to go on indefinitely. The other menaced all southeast Asia. There was daily possibility of more trouble–in the Formosa area, the Middle East, Western Europe–even in the Western Hemisphere.
Many of the goals I then presented to your Society are now achieved:
In Korea and Vietnam, the wars are ended.
In Formosa–Guatemala–Iran–the Communist threats are blocked.
In Trieste, the age-old struggle is resolved.
Austria is liberated, the Red Army withdrawn.
Germany–at least West Germany–is once again sovereign and today reinforces European unity.
“Atoms for Peace,” so meaningful to mankind, is at last under way.
The stature of the United Nations is appreciably raised; free world nations are more united in collective defense.
And slowly but significantly the Iron Curtain has started to lift. Behind it the personal security and intellectual freedom of oppressed peoples gradually increase–another development not without promise.
Such gains are with us. Yet the problems remaining are many and grave.
Communist imperialism persists in striving to master the world. Germany remains divided. Eastern European nations remain enslaved.
Turmoil and bitterness plague North Indonesia, the Middle East, and parts of North Africa.
France, our historic ally, has major difficulties.
New weapons of fantastic power appall the world. Humanity now threatens its own existence.
Dependable disarmament remains but a hope–a hope we still ardently cherish and will continue striving to realize.
So today we find, despite our progress, that peace, national safety-survival itself–demand of America strength in its every aspect–spiritual, intellectual and scientific, as well as economic and military.
Now this brings me to my main topic–our military strength–more specifically, how to stay strong against threat from outside, without undermining the economic health that supports our security.
It is hard to grasp the enormity of our own military expenditures. In only five years, they are almost 200 billion dollars. This colossal expenditure has cost us far more than dollars alone. In a less threatening world, how much it could have meant to us. In private or public spending, this 200 billion dollars could have bought:
–of highways, the entire, nation-wide interstate system;
–of hydro-electric power, every worth-while project in America;
–of hospitals, our needs for ten years to come;
–of schools, our next decade’s requirements, including catching up on present shortages.
And even had we additionally allocated 10 billion dollars a year for security, some 50 billion dollars would still have been left over to reduce the national debt.
So, clear it is that this armaments race–so terrible, so utterly wasteful–has imposed tragic penalties upon America and on all mankind.”
Needless to say, it was a bold move that immediately drew criticism. But Eisenhower knew the writing was on the wall and he would reiterate that during his farewell address three years later.