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October 05, 2007

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Beau Heart

"We look upon this shaken earth, and we declare our firm and fixed purpose--the building of a peace with justice in a world where moral law prevails.
The building of such a peace is a bold and solemn purpose. To proclaim it is easy. To serve it will be hard. And to attain it, we must be aware of its full meaning and ready to pay its full price...in toil patiently sustained, in help honorably given, in sacrifice calmly borne....
For one truth must rule all we think and all we can do. No people can live to itself alone...No nation can longer be a fortress, lone and strong and safe. And any people, seeking such shelter for themselves, can now build only their own prison......
We honor the aspirations of those nations which, now captive, long for freedom.....We honor, no less in this divided world than in a less tormented time, the people of Russia....We wish them success in their demands for more intellectual freedom, greater security before their own laws, fuller enjoyment of the rewards of their own toil. For such things to come to pass, the more certain will be the coming of that day when our peoples may freely meet in friendship.
So we voice our hope and our belief that we can help to heal this divided world. Thus may the nations cease to live in trembling before the menace of force. Thus may the weight of fear and the weight of arms be taken from the burdened shoulders of mankind....
May the turbulence of our age yield to a true time of peace, when men and nations shall share a life that honors the dignity of each, the brotherhood of all."

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Second Inaugural, Jan 21, 1957. From the memoir of James R. Killian Jr: "Sputnik, Scientists, and Eisenhower", the MIT Press, 1977
RESPONSE
Stirring stuff- maybe we should clone his speechwriter.

Beau Heart

Killian's is a fine book, as is a biography of V. Bush, Endless Frontier: engineer of the American century. Both men were practical, optimistic, and humble.

A few Killian excerpts:
"Eisenhower preferred his staff to have a passion for anonymity...Activism in the public arena by members of such [scientific advisory] panels tends to inhibit presidents from using this highly valuable advisory process. This has been a significant loss to defense policy making at the White House level."

Eisenhower remarked "the strength in government lies in its ability to mobilize the best abilities that exist throughout the country."

"PSAC members sought always to be nonpartisan, whatever their private political beliefs might have been....They did not consider themselves part of an 'establishment.' They were motivated primarily by a feeling of obligation to make their specialized learning and skills available to the government in time of need, and by a confident feeling that they had important contributions to make....They were a creative elite, rather than a power elite, and in the successful exercise of their influence, this made all the difference."

"They were a collegium of scholars, intellectuals all, but their experience had tempered or kept in bounds any excessive sense of elitism or intellectual arrogance...Perhaps it was the tempering effect of their World War II experience, coupled with the discipline of science, that kept Eisenhower's scentists from fallng into the potholes of arrogance that marked some of the 'best and brightes' officers in later administrations."

"In the ups and downs of my career, I have clung, in George Meredith's line, to 'the rapture of the forward view'. This attitude is quite different from simplistic optimism; it is a feeling of joy in the challenge of battling against odds, a conviction that large problems are sometimes solved by small efforts of individuals whose collective efforts move mountains....We are confronted with great problems, but they will not be solved by indulging in defeatism or apocalyptic forecasts."

Quoting V. Bush: "He who struggles with joy in his heart stuggles the more keenly because of that joy...We are not the first to face problems, and as we face them, we can hold our heads high."

Climateer

Back to Eisenhower, the lesser known part of his farewell:

...The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite."

Climateer

Back to Eisenhower, the lesser known part of his farewell:

...The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite."

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