11 January 2011

Bombers or Hospitals?

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 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 50 miles of concrete highway. 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, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. 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.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower


  1. But this quote isn’t about “bombers or hospitals.” Stalin had recently died; Ike was telling the new Soviet leadership it was their choice: they could join the free world or oppose it. He was spelling out the cost for them. In that regard, your title is a false dichotomy.

    Also, this quote is sometimes taken out of context to make a more serious supposition, that questions of justice, peace, freedom, right, etc, should be decided on economic – rather than moral – grounds. I hope you see the grave error in that line of thinking.

  2. Yet the gist of the quote rings true, doesn't it? Also, President Eisenhower uses the term "we" several times. So I think, even today, even for America, it's true - money spent on war can't be spent on humanitarian aid.

    And I agree that such questions shouldn't be decided on an economic basis. But isn't there a moral commitment to use God-given resources to help the poor? As an engineering instructor here at USAFA once told me, "People in third-world countries don't need airplanes. They need houses." And possibly MAF.