On Jan. 17, 1961, the outgoing U.S. President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, went on TV to deliver his valedictory address to the American people. Ike had been a relatively uncontroversial president. He had overseen a period of astonishing prosperity and economic growth. He had impeccable military credentials, having been supreme commander of allied forces in World War II. So nobody could have accused him of being a radical.
Nevertheless, in his valedictory address Ike said this: "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 defence; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, 3½ million men and women are directly engaged in the defence 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. ... 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."