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President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Farewell Address to the Nation, 17 January 1961 ~ an Analysis of Competing Truth Claims and its Relevance Today

Garrett Lawless and A.G. Dizboni
Major Garrett Lawless, CD, is an Air Mobility pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and is currently a Military Assistant to the Minister of National Defence. He has an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering, and a Master of Arts degree in Security and Defence Management and Policy from the Royal Military College of Canada, as well as a Master of Defence Studies from the Canadian Forces College. Ali Ghanbarpour Dizboni, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Royal Military College of Canada. He is also a Research Fellow with the Centre for International and Defence Policy at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario.
Abstract :

Eisenhower’s farewell address is a polarizing work that finds promoters and detractors throughout the political spectrum. Although its contents cover much more than the one topic for which the speech is most famous, most analyses of this speech focus primarily upon the public-private defence relationship he dubbed the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). Eisenhower’s own handling of this subject within the address is superficial, and on the surface, his warning also appears contradictory to many of the defence related decisions that he made throughout his two terms as president. So it is, then, that over the last half-century, both ‘doves and hawks’ alike have been able to call upon the ghost of Eisenhower to support their opposing defence theses. That the speech is really a protracted call for balance is too often missed or ignored; and when it is discussed, this balance call is frequently only examined as a footnote to the greater MIC debate. This is disappointing. Within the address, what Eisenhower calls for in the specific is a continued balance of cooperation and partisanship within Congress, a renewed balance in national programs (to include the MIC as one among many), and a better balance between the wants of today and the needs of tomorrow. However, what Eisenhower calls for in the general is an alert and knowledgeable citizenry that will be capable of affecting this balance; and this, above all else, is the aspect of the speech most worthy of analysis. Indeed, the fruitfulness of this address for today’s audience lies in the high task of developing our own understanding of what divergent truths led to this call for balance in the first place, so that we may be alert to just how tenuous our knowledge of these great subjects are today, and then perhaps, move us a little bit closer to becoming the ideal citizen Eisenhower envisioned.

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President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Farewell Address to the Nation, 17 January 1961 ~ an Analysis of Competing Truth Claims and its Relevance Today

Date Deposited : 08 Apr 2015 11:20

Last Modified : 08 Apr 2015 11:20

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Volume 14, Number 1, - 2014

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