When premonitions become a reality

Were he alive today, former President Dwight Eisenhower would be angry about a report this week that some Navy SEALs have to share rifles. But “Ike,” who also was supreme military commander of Allied forces during World War II, probably would not have been surprised.

Just days before he left the White House in 1961, Eisenhower gave the famous farewell speech in which he warned of the perils of the “military-industrial complex.” He also cautioned of the “danger that public policy could … become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

He was right on both counts, but left one villain – politics – out of his speech.

Supported and sometimes prodded by politicians eager to brag about jobs in their districts and to curry favor with big corporate campaign donors, the Pentagon always seems ready to spend billions of dollars on high-tech weaponry such as warplanes, ships and tanks.

Meanwhile, the men and women who fight often are sent into battle without adequate gear. More than a decade ago, many troops going to war in Iraq lacked body armor. Vehicles capable of protecting them from roadside bombs were virtually nonexistent.

Now, it is being reported the Pentagon requires that when some SEALs come home from deployment, they turn their rifles over to comrades going to war. There are not enough rifles – at less than $5,000 each even with sophisticated sights – to go around.

The military-industrial-political complex is running amok, having become slaves to the scientific-technologial elite. Eisenhower would have been appalled that Americans, warned half a century ago of the danger, have allowed his premonitions to become reality.