I continue to read Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Lyndon Johnson wanted to provide education and medical care to all, but he also knew if he let the Communists take over South Vietnam, he would be seen as a coward and the nation as an appeaser and then we couldn’t accomplish anything for anyone around the globe. He believed, as did my father at the time, in the Domino Theory, that if we’d stepped in sooner, we might not have had to fight World War II.
My father died before he might have changed his mind on that, but being a pilot of a B-17, he certainly knew what it was to be in a war. After innumerable missions, his plane was shot down on the border of Austria and Germany. After parachuting out and being captured, he was placed in a prisoner of war camp. He never judged the guards. They were all caught up in something bigger than themselves.
Johnson said, “Oh, I could see it coming all right. History provided too many cases where the sound of the bugle put an immediate end to the hopes and dreams of the best reformers: the Spanish-American War drowned the populist spirit; World War I ended Woodrow Wilson’s New Freedom; World War II brought the New Deal to a close. Once the war began, then all those conservatives in the Congress would use it as a weapon against the Great Society.”
He goes on to state his suspicion of the military, of “how they’re always so narrow in their appraisal of everything”. Of course, Eisenhower who knew the military inside experience warned of the “military-industrial complex”
On January 17, 1961, in his farewell address of less than ten minutes, President Dwight Eisenhower warned against the establishment of a “military-industrial complex.” It’s worth reading the transcript here. Yes, we need defense, and we need oversight and balance too.
I’ve stayed away from politics as much as is possible these last six weeks, but now I feel stepping stones emerging. May we balance on appreciation of this world we share.