What did James Madison, Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman, and Martin Luther King have in common? They all pointed out the dangers and adverse consequences of America’s national-security state governmental structure. Yet, oddly, the critiques and admonitions of all four of them have been disregarded by modern-day Americans.
James Madison was the person who crafted the Constitution. He was also the fourth president of the United States. Here is what he said about “standing armies,” which was the term used for “national-security states” at that time:
A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.
What Madison was pointing out is that a large permanent military establishment and a free society are contradictory concepts. If a society has a large, permanent military establishment, the citizens of that country will not be free, even if they are convinced that they are free. That’s because a large, permanent military establishment destroys the freedom of the citizenry.
Madison was also pointing out the propensity of large, permanent military establishments is to stir up foreign wars and crises as a way to enslave the citizenry at home, in the name of defending them from the foreign danger that the military establishment has provoked.
Dwight Eisenhower was a graduate of West Point and a career military man. He was a five-star general who served as supreme commander of Allied forces in World War II. He was the 34th president of the United States.
In his Farewell Address in 1961, Eisenhower issued a warning to the American people about the “military-industrial complex,” which was the term he used for a “national-security state”:
“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. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. 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. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted.”
Harry Truman was the 33rd president of the United States. It was under Truman in 1947 that the federal government was converted from its founding governmental system of a limited-government republic, where governmental powers were limited and tightly constrained, to a national-security state, where the military-intelligence establishment wields omnipotent, dark-side powers, including assassination.
Thirty days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Truman wrote an op-ed that was published in the Washington Post, in which he stated:
For some time I have been disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas. I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations…. We have grown up as a nation, respected for our free institutions and for our ability to maintain a free and open society. There is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position and I feel that we need to correct it.
The timing of Truman’s op-ed could not have been a coincidence. As the president who bought the CIA into existence, he had a full understanding of how it had come to operate. In his op-ed, Truman was conveying to the American people the grave threat to our democratic system posed by the CIA, as demonstrated by the national-security establishment’s assassination of President Kennedy.
Martin Luther King was the leading civil-rights leader in the 1960s. He was also a fierce public opponent of the draft and the national-security establishment’s war in Vietnam. In 1967, in a speech at Riverside Church in New York City, King pointed out that the United States was “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”
The national-security establishment deemed King to be a secret agent of the communists and, therefore, a grave threat to national security. In 1999, a jury found that the national-security establishment was involved in King’s assassination, after attempts to blackmail him into committing suicide had failed.
So, there you have have it: four individuals who are held in high esteem by most Americans describing the dark nature and adverse consequences of America’s conversion to a national-security state. Nonetheless, many modern-day Americans continue supporting this dark-side governmental structure while, at the same time, deceptively singing to themselves, “Thank God I’m an American because at least I know I’m free.”