The Essentials: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness – The more things change…

old-pictures_02-11_0183_edited-1.jpgI guess you could call that a “wry” smile. Note Sisyphus pushing his stone on the desk. Thus, my acceptance of, a healthy accommodation made to my trudge through the United States Army.

What follows is, perhaps, prophetic. Maybe not.

Dug up something from 1973 that was printed in the Army Times. I was then stationed at Little Creek, Virginia, a Navy base near Norfolk which–if I remember correctly–was a training station for Navy Seals and other amphibious-related training endeavors. My “commentary” in the Army Times did, of course, raise the hackles of more than a few…including the Command Sergeant Major of the Army for whom I worked.

The Army Times (December 12, 1973)

COMMENTARY – Presidential Priority: Detente or Defense?
By ME

In response to “An Assessment: Nixon as Commander-In-Chief,” written by Lt. Gen. Ira C. Eaker (November 21 issue) this writer cannot help but suggest that General Eaker’s reasoning is, at least, archaic.

Eaker makes an off-had assumption that “…the conduct of foreign affairs and command of the armed forces must be the most decisive roles…” the President plays.

This writer recalls that when he was younger many Americans were extremely excited about the “nuclear threat” that was precipitated by the Cold War.

Indeed, many Americans, in their ignorance or naivete, believed that their existence depended necessarily upon how quickly they could construct bomb shelters dug ten feet deep into their front lawns. There is a suspicion here that this same kind of fear that prevailed during the Cold War period concerning the inevitability of nuclear holocaust is the same attitude that spurs Eaker to believe that the President’s most vital functions are in the area of foreign affairs and command of the armed forces.

Simply, it appears that Eaker is scared of what he believes to be the war-mongering tendencies of the Soviet Union. I believe that such an attitude is reminiscent of what caused the plethora of distrust which characterized the Cold War era at its inception which, incidentally, was presided over, in large part, by another military man, Dwight Eisenhower. [Methinks, today, we can read “McCain.”]

Those of us who are young enough not to have been affected by the grandfatherly austerity of Eisenhower and who remember with a special fondness the youthful dynamism and idealism of the 1000 short days of the Kennedy Administration can only suggest that Eaker’s apparent skepticism of detente–(if he is not skeptical then he would not believe the marriage of foreign affairs and command of the armed forces to be the most important function of the American presidency)–is the product of the archaic notion that “might makes right.” [Read “Obama?”]

He also demonstrates that he believes that one negotiates with his adversary while holding a spiked club to the other’s head.

There is a new generation of Americans who profoundly believe that the primary responsibility of the American presidency is to provide for the democratic essentials that the people of this great country are entitled to enjoy.

These essentials are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” And, in this era of detente, it is extremely difficult to believe that these essentials can only be realized by a presidency whose most important function is the concomitant activity of conducting foreign affairs and commanding the armed forces.

Okay. For what is was worth then (and now) may I just observe–as I have so often in the past–the more things change, the more they stay the same.

P.S. Nah, nothing I had to say more than thirty years ago can be encapsulated in the word “prophetic.” What can be wrapped in that particular word is a portion of Dwight Eisenhower’s Farewell Address to the nation:

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 Statehouse, 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. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

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