From The Indianapolis Star, March 10, 1959.
To date, no one has accused President Eisenhower of being a deep student of history, but apparently he has delivered himself of a comment which is backed by the weight of a great deal of history.
He is credited by Life magazine with having said at one of his National Security Council conferences, "Damn it, when are you going to learn that national security and a sound economy are the same thing?"
This is a rather crude expression of a profound fact which takes people and nations a long time to grasp. Yet, this simple statement has a great deal of validity insofar as history is concerned.
The communists have fully accepted this as a central point in their attack on the capitalist, or free enterprise, systems of the world. They know that more nations have died from the lack of a sound economy than have ever been killed off by external enemies. In fact, history has recorded that the assaults by outsiders are not successful until the internal structure of a nation has been weakened.
So far, there are some in this country who have refused to believe what history teaches. They insist that national security is purely a military endeavor in which the number, size, and capabilities of arms determine the safety of the State. They refuse to believe that an obsession with military might can be as damaging as direct attack. They are willing to build ever larger armed forces, even at the risk of destroying the system which these instruments of war are designed to protect.
The nation does need military protection and it must have the capability of meeting reasonably anticipated assaults from external enemies. But if the economy which creates these armed forces is destroyed in the process of building them, then what is there left to defend?
The brief history of the Confederate States of America is a capsule case in point. At the outset of the Civil War, the armies of the Confederacy provided it with national security; but as the war wore on, the economy of those states was less and less able to sustain the military effort. Some historians will argue that the Confederacy died not so much on the battlefield as in the failure to achieve a sound, productive economic system.
President Eisenhower’s blunt statement of the interrelationship between national security and a sound economy is one of the most heartening bits of news to come from the nation’s capital in some time.
Ideas on Liberty
War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.