Dwight D. Eisenhower was undoubtedly one of the heroes of World War II. Campaigning under the slogan, “I Like Ike”, the old general won a landslide election to become president of the great land he had helped to defend. Despite being a military man, Ike was also quite prudent when it came to national defense. Before leaving office, he warned, “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.”
His advice is even more prescient today. The communists gave us a reason to keep military spending high, but with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the defense budget was cut out of necessity under Clinton. Now that the war on terror is going poorly, Bush and company are in need of a justification for Cold-War levels of defense spending. Hurricane Kartina has provided this justification.
The reasoning goes that if FEMA couldn't repsond quickly enough after Katrina, the military could. This is all well and good, except for one thing: the military was never meant for this role. It is entirely probable that military men and women could do as good a job as FEMA did. It is equally as probable that most firefighters could deliver the mail adequately. The difference is, of course, that firefighters do not carry guns.
It may seem benign to allow the military to help with natural disasters under the guise of homeland security. Yet, as the military takes larger and more intrusive roles in our affairs, we may wonder how wise it was to grant the military more power. If Ike was right, it will not be so easy to get the men with guns to give it back.