The Ike Nobody Mentions

In a few short days, it will be 50 years since President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address (Jan 17, 1961), truly world-famous for its criticism of the “military-industrial complex“. However, a few moments later Ike moved on to a different “complex“, eerily predicting the rise of organizations like the IPCC, and of scientists just too eager to be useful to politicians:

[…] The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.[…]

As expected, he had no time for those that put science/technology/whatever else ahead of the democratic system:

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system — ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

President Eisenhower even mentions the problem of dwindling resources (Andy Revkin must have heard him as a toddler)

As we peer into society’s future, we — you and I, and our government — must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

One should note though, that the currently fashionable scaremongering had no space in Ike’s worldview either

this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect

Finally, what were the enemies to be fought? Why, “scourges of poverty, disease, and ignorance“. Perhaps one day a former NYT journalist will recognize how fundamental these are…