25 January 2011

"Humanity hanging from a cross of iron"

The Chance for Peace speech was an address given by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower on April 16, 1953, shortly after the death of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Speaking only three months into his presidency, Eisenhower likened arms spending to stealing from the people, and evoked William Jennings Bryan in describing "humanity hanging from a cross of iron."...
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. . . .
This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
The full text of the speech is at this link.


  1. I remember studying this speech in university. Truly prescient, in so many ways. He saw more clearly than many others what 'a world is arms' really meant. And so shockingly different in tone and spirit from the banal, bland platitudes we hear delivered by our "leaders" today.

  2. FWIW, historian David Greenberg had an interesting piece in Slate recently about how Eisenhower's farewell address, with his warning about the military-industrial complex, has been seriously misinterpreted:


    Don't know whether Greenberg's thesis also applies to the "Chance for Peace" speech, but he makes what sounds like a solid case for the farewell address having acquired an undeserved reputation.

    --Swift Loris

  3. An interesting read. Thanks, Swift.

  4. To tout Ike as some kind of prehippie peacenik because of that statement is indeed ridiculous. And to portray certain individuals or groups as doing just that is, in fact, the gross distortion. Various people have simply pointed out that even a man of war is not blind to the abuses repeatedly and increasingly perpetrated by what he originally chose to call "the military industrial congressional complex."


  5. My God. Eisenhower was a raving, flaming liberal ...

    Right? ;)


  6. This is so true. You can't plow a feild with a M1 tank. On the other hand, if you made a tractor instead, you use the tractor to creat more wealth.

  7. THIS INTERFACE SUCKS. Every time I come here, it asks me for some log-in that doesn't work the first time, so I lose what I typed in. WHY does it not remember who I am? I have LITERALLY never been able to log in on the first try. Which means if I don't copy-clip my text, I lose it, because when I come back after a failure, it is GONE.

  8. I don't have any way to control the Google/Blogger "interface," but one thing you might do to ease your frustration is, rather than trying to "sign in," just click on the Name/URL or the Anonymous buttons when writing your comment, and then sign it with ....TD


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