Dwight Eisenhower & Thomas J. Watson Sr. NYC 1950 © George S. Zimbel
When I made this photograph of Dwight Eisenhower (l) & Thomas J. Watson in 1950, Mr. Eisenhower was an ex-General who just got a new job as president of Columbia University under the tutelage of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of IBM.
Ike was a decent guy and realized he had to learn to be a civilian, albeit at a very high level. ( He sent sandwiches over to the dorms from his Inauguration party at Columbia. ) Being a civilian didn’t last long and he soon left New York to become the commander of NATO..a step away from becoming President of the United States. When he finished his term as President, he said the following words in his farewell address. He had learned an important lesson .
“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”.
It is now sixty years later, my photographic score is five U.S. presidents and three Canadian Prime Ministers…not to mention the Queen Mother and her daughter Elizabeth. I am now a Canadian citizen and Eisenhower’s words have come back to haunt me big time. Why?
It has to do with the projected acquisition by Canada of F35 Fighter Jets for $6 billion plus billions in maintenance costs. Why Canada needs these killing machines is beyond logic. Why the minority Conservative government of Stephen Harper would make this commitment without tender doesn’t sit right. The whole affair has been downplayed as the Harper government was busy trying to kill the gun registry endorsed by the Canadian police chiefs while at the same time busily loosing the nomination for a seat on the UN Security Council. Oh yes, in case the Canadian Minister of Defense, Mr. McKay says this old photographer doesn’t know anything about the military I served in military intelligence in Germany in 1952 before he was born.
I think I have now shared my thoughts. It’s time for a change….george
ps: A way to usefully employ the aeronautical industry and military pilots would be to build a fine fleet of transport planes that could be available for major emergencies throughout the world.