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Bronze-level article

Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Reagan ain't got shit on this guy.[1]
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I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity.
—We must have the wrong person, right?[2]
You know, Jim, this bunch of scientists was one of the few groups that I encountered in Washington who seemed to be there to help the country and not to help themselves.
—On his deathbed. No, really, that's what a Republican used to sound like.[3]

General Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (1890-1969) was a war hero (World War II if you fell asleep during history class), the 34th President of the United States and the greatest Swiss-American (after Renee Zellweger of course). He was Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and helped engineer D-Day and the final offensive against Nazi Germany in France and the Vaterland during 1944-1945. In 1952, he was "drafted" by the Republican Party to run against "egghead" Adlai Stevenson. He boosted the political career of then-Senator Tricky Dick by selecting him as a running mate.

It is well known that everyone liked Ike for president.[4]

Ike in the Army[edit]

As the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, Eisenhower is rightfully remembered as the man who crossed the Channel, liberated France, and socked ol' Adolf on the jaw. However, his military leadership in the Second World War got off to a rough start, and his leadership style showed serious flaws. To be frank, he wasn't much of a battlefield commander - but hey, then neither was George Washington.[5] It also should be stressed that Ike's lack of prowess as a soldier did not make him a poor fit for the demands of the war. What made him a valuable Supreme Commander were his organizational abilities and ability to juggle the competing demands and requirements of the various Allied governments. As Jean Edward Smith writes in the biography, Eisenhower in War and Peace,

"No other general officer, British or American, could have dealt as effectively with Washington and London, kept headstrong subordinates working in harmony, and [...] amassed the materiel that ensured ultimate victory. Ike [...] absorbed what was coming down from above, shielded his commanders from higher authority, and allowed them to fight the war without excessive second-guessing."

The early days[edit]

Eisenhower's rise through the military command became quite steep during the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. He was assigned to the War Plans Division and served under General George MarshallWikipedia's W.svg, quickly impressing the man with his organizational skills and his ability to coordinate British and American war efforts.[6] Eisenhower's time with Marshall in Washington also saw him involved with reorganizing the Allied war effort under the newly-established Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS), and he personally drafted the letter of instruction which would be used to define the powers and responsibilities of the Supreme Commanders of each front.[7]

However, as impressive as it was, this post also saw the first major demonstration of Eisenhower's inexperience as a commander. Under instruction by Marshall, Eisenhower put together plan for a cross-channel invasion of France (codenamed BOLERO),[7] which was to take place in late 1942. Unfortunately, such an endeavor would have been completely impossible so early in the war, due to the US military's inexperience, and the Wehrmacht's largely-intact strength. However, Eisenhower's relationships with his British counterparts, his intricate understanding of Allied command structures, and his organizational skills convinced Marshall to appoint him Supreme Allied Commander in North Africa.

Baptism by Torch[edit]

Ike in '42

Operation TORCH, the Allied assault on Northern Africa, was Eisenhower's first real test of his command abilities, and oh boy did it show. Allied planning nearly-catastrophically misread Vichy France's willingness to resist the invasion.[8] Eisenhower's leadership was also deeply flawed, as he stayed hundreds of miles away in Gibraltar during the battle and often gave orders that had no bearing on reality.[9] While the sheer numbers of Allied troops were able to seize Morocco and Algeria, Eisenhower then hesitated and let Axis troops escape to Tunisia. This mistake came under harsh criticism from General Sir Alan BrookeWikipedia's W.svg, who said, "Eisenhower seemed unable to grasp the urgency of pushing on to Tunis before the Germans built up their resistance there. [...] I had little confidence in his ability to handle the military situation confronting him, and he caused me great anxiety."[10]

After an admonishment from Marshall, Ike traveled to the Tunisian front and found that rains had softened the ground, making his planned assault completely impossible.[9] Had he not done so, he would have ordered his troops forward with no knowledge of this complication. This humiliation was quickly followed by another, as during a meeting of the CCS, Eisenhower's proposed plan to take Tunisia (codenamed SATIN), was ripped into by General Brooke and General Marshall, as it would have let the Germans crush the entire Allied front between Libya and Algeria.[9] By this time, Ike was getting jittery, and Patton commented that "He thinks his thread is about to be cut."[11]

Luckily, Eisenhower was never in real danger, as Brooke, Marshall, and the Allied national leaders all respected his unique ability to handle and prioritize the many, many demands of leading such a massive international coalition. Brooke said that Eisenhower "possessed an exceptional ability to handle Allied forces, to treat them all with strict impartiality, and to get the best out of an inter-Allied force."[12]

In other words, as we would later see with his presidency, Eisenhower was much more a leader than a warrior.

The Patton problem[edit]

Patton also bashed a subordinate's head in with a shovel during WWI and possibly killed him.[13]

Eisenhower's subordinate during Operation TORCH and Operation HUSKY, George PattonWikipedia's W.svg, ended up being a bit of a problem. Eisenhower's handling of this problem should be acknowledged.

Patton had a bad habit of physically abusing his soldiers, and there were two separate incidents where Patton visited a field hospital and beat a man who he didn't think was wounded enough to be there.[14] On the second occasion, Patton drew his sidearm and threatened to execute his subordinate, causing distress among the medical staff. Striking an enlisted man was a court-martial offense under Articles 95 and 96 of the Articles of War.

Eisenhower's first instinct was to cover it up, and he said "If this thing ever gets out they'll be howling for Patton's scalp, and that will be the end of Georgie's service in the war. I simply cannot let that happen."[15] Eisenhower's immediate response was limited to writing a private reprimand to Patton and demanding an apology be delivered to the soldiers he struck; he did not inform either Marshall or the War Department.[14] When a number of news reporters flew to Sicily to ask Ike about the incident, he convinced them to suppress the story.[16] Eventually, of course, the media broke the story, and things got much worse after Eisenhower's subordinates admitted that there had been no official reprimand over the incident.[14] With the war going on, however, Eisenhower successfully swept the incident under the rug after new and more pressing news stories distracted the press.

Ike later commented to his driver, Kay Summersby, that "Georgie is one of the best generals I have. But he's just like a time bomb. You never know when he's going to go off. All you can be sure of is that it will probably be in the wrong place at the wrong time."[17]

D-Day[edit]

That famous photo of Omaha Beach that everyone in creation has seen at some point.

Eisenhower's most famous moments came after Roosevelt appointed him Supreme Allied Commander in the European Front with Churchill's consent. This placed Ike in command of the massive proposed naval invasion of France (OVERLORD). The invasion planning had a rough start, as British General Bernard MontgomeryWikipedia's W.svg and Ike both saw major flaws in OVERLORD, not least that the invasion front was far too narrow, and the follow-on failed to recognize the importance of capturing a port.[18] Eisenhower was able to notice these flaws primarily because of his involvement in the naval landings at Salerno in Italy, which had been a disaster which almost cost the USA an entire army. Once again, Eisenhower's planning and negotiation skills allowed him to coordinate with Monty and de Gaulle to come up with a finished product.

The landings would go as planned in all areas but Omaha beach, where American forces struggled against bad weather conditions and some glaringly bad command decisions. Low-lying clouds prevented close air support, and a veteran German division straight from Russia was manning the fortifications.[19] Rather than order a naval bombardment, Ike's subordinates pressed the attack, even ordering the assault craft to debark further from shore than normal, meaning that soldiers were horribly seasick when they finally stumbled onto the beach.[19] As a result, the assault regiments were barely clinging onto a hundred yards of beach by noon of the invasion, as they were pinned down by German forts and under constant bombardment. The success on Omaha beach happened despite command decisions, not due to them. It was a near thing, despite Hitler being caught with his pants down (sorry for that image). Eisenhower bears much of the responsibility for this, as he appointed his inexperienced but close friend Gee Gerow to lead on Omaha beach despite knowing this was likely a bad idea.[19]

Directly after issuing the order for the D-Day Landings, he scribbled a few words down on a piece of paper which he discovered in his tunic pocket a few weeks later, written in the event that D-Day ended in disaster[20][21]

Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place were based on the best information available. The troops, the air and navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.

Accepting responsibility? What a wimp! No wonder he never made it to 6-star general!

Alpenfestung: Why Ike went south[edit]

Map of Allied Operations in Germany April-May 1945. See the huge push into Bavaria for seemingly no reason.

What also may be seen as an Allied failure during the war came after the successful landings. Eisenhower's strategy in Europe could have gone in two primary paths: adopt a broad front strategy and push the Germans back everywhere, or just make an overwhelming mad dash for Berlin. Ike controversially took the first option and reoriented his advance into southern Germany and Austria. The people to blame for this decision are the Allied intelligence workers; they had supplied a large amount of intercepted German communications (codenamed ULTRA) which led them to believe that Hitler was planning a last stand in southern Germany.[22] General Eisenhower would write after the war that,

"For many weeks we had been receiving reports that the Nazi intention, in extremity, was to withdraw the cream of the SS, Gestapo, and other organizations fanatically devoted to Hitler, into the mountains of southern Bavaria, western Austria, and northern Italy. There they expected to block the tortuous mountain passes and to hold out indefinitely against the Allies.... The evidence was clear that the Nazi[s] intended to make the attempt and I decided to give him no opportunity to carry it out."

This was the myth of the "Alpine Fortress," or the "National Redoubt." The whole thing was a nothingburger. Himmler proposed the plan, but Hitler never seriously considered it.[23] At any rate, the rumor suckered the Western Allies, and Eisenhower pushed south instead of east to chase a ghost.

Ike in the Elections[edit]

Due to Eisenhower's hand in the Allied victory in the Second World War, he became immensely popular with the American people. Many politicians, both Republican and Democratic, attempted to recruit him to run for national office on their side.

Election of 1948[edit]

President Truman in the runup to the 1948 election season was fairly unpopular, and he was facing internal divisions within his own party. His hopes for reelection became vanishingly thin after Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrats split from the party after Truman's embracement of civil rights for black Americans.[24] Truman would later go so far as to desegregate the armed forces with an executive order.[25]

Realizing that his political future was in jeopardy (and fearing McArthur's attempt to win the Republican nomination), Truman had a private conversation with Eisenhower where he urged the former general to run for president as a Democrat, with Truman as the vice president.[26] New York Times. JULY 11, 2003</ref> Eisenhower would refuse this offer, and McArthur would fail to receive his party's nomination. Truman's political vulnerability induced the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) to also approach Eisenhower and offer him their support if he sought the nomination.[27][28] Eisenhower, however, had no interest in running for the White House, so he declined this offer as well.

Elections of 1952 and '56[edit]

1952: The kind of election victory you get when you sorta throw your former commanding officer under the bus.

With no Republican having taken the presidency since Hoover, the Republicans were desperate for an execellent candidate. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.Wikipedia's W.svg began pestering Ike to run for office as a Republican,[29] although Ike was resistant and wished to focus on his role as leader of NATO forces in Europe. Senator Robert TaftWikipedia's W.svg would change his mind. Taft led the old-school conservative wing of the GOP, which called for a withdrawal from foreign affairs and a complete reversal of FDR's social programs, both of which Ike found unacceptable.[30]

After a messy open convention floor fight, Taft accused Eisenhower of, God forbid, "delegate stealing." But both the party and the nation survived anyway.[31][32] Ike then chose Tricky Dick as his running mate.[33]

Although nominated for the Republican ticket to lead a "crusade" against his "wasteful and corrupt" predecessors,[34] Eisenhower mostly ran as a liberal. No, really.[35] Much of Eisenhower's success in that election came about because of his personal beliefs; he yanked many progressive platforms right out from under his Democratic opponent Adlai StevensonWikipedia's W.svg. Ike was friendly towards the last decade's labor laws and social programs, to the point that Henry WallaceWikipedia's W.svg of the very left-wing Progressive Party would later support his reelection.[36]

Ultimately, given the two candidates' similar policies, Eisenhower had to take his best chance and win by proving his anti-communist creds. He did this at least in part by shamefully allowing Joseph McCarthy and his ilk to run wild during the election, even standing by silently when he accused freaking General George Marshall of being a commie sympathizer.[37] Ike would win the election in a landslide.

In 1956 Eisenhower wanted to dump NixonWikipedia's W.svg but couldn't get Nixon to go along. Once again, he ran against Adlai Stevenson, and he ran on a similar platform. Interestingly, in 2014, liberals circulated a viral meme about Eisenhower's 1956 election platform, longing for the "good old days."[38]

Ike in the White House[edit]

Domestic Policies[edit]

Ike was a total commie moonbat pragmatic and forward-thinking president. His domestic policies enacted historic change within the US, and many were far more progressive than we might expect from someone with an "(R)" next to their name.

Civil Rights[edit]

He signed the first set of civil rights bills into law since Reconstruction and pushed the desegregation process forward.[39] However, Ike's record on civil rights is a mixed bag.

Federal troops escort the Little Rock Nine to class.

In the "Good Ike" column, we have the Civil Rights Act of 1957Wikipedia's W.svg, which was intended to empower federal prosecutors to crack down on voter suppression in the South. Unfortunately, much of its scope was reduced when it was hamstrung by the Dixiecrats in Congress.[40] Even so, it signaled the federal government's changing attitude towards civil rights, and it was the first piece of legislation of its kind since Reconstruction. Also in the good column were Ike's judges; he nominated a number of liberal judges to the federal courts and they would help offset the segregationists appointed by Kennedy (he'd been arm twisted by the Dixiecrats).[39] His nomination of Earl Warren as Chief Justice is usually seen as one of the most important in the Supreme Court's history.

However, Eisenhower's most famous encounter with the Civil Rights Movement came when he supported the desegregation of schools as mandated by the Supreme Court under the Brown v BoardWikipedia's W.svg decision. Arkansas' governor Orval FaubusWikipedia's W.svg famously used his state's national guard to block nine black children from attending Little Rock Central High School. Ike responded by sending the famous 101st AirborneWikipedia's W.svg to escort the children and later nationalized the National Guard.[41] Enforcing desegregation infuriated the Dixiecrats, and at least one would explicitly compare Ike's troops to Hitler's storm troopers.

The "Bad Ike" column is largely due to his reluctance to use overt federal power; Ike was no crusader, and he preferred to be as slow and deliberative as possible with his racial reforms.[39] His racial beliefs were far from modern, and he had an unfortunate tendency to attempt to endear himself to the segregationist South with his rhetoric and many of his actions.[42]

Education, Infrastructure, and Science[edit]

When you drive on the Interstate Highway System, you can thank Ike for starting that. Shortly after WWI, the US Army sent 81 of its vehicles across the country from Washington DC to San Francisco in order to evaluate how easy it would be to move an army through the countryside.[43] Eisenhower accompanied this expedition, and the interest in roads it instilled with him would only be emphasized once more when he experienced the vastly superior autobahn highways of Germany during the Second World War. As President, Ike would go on to sign the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956Wikipedia's W.svg, which mandated the construction of at least 41,000 miles of the Interstate Highway System and financed it through the newly-established Highway Trust FundWikipedia's W.svg.

He also created NASA,[44] instituted the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and the expansion of Social Security was one of his signature domestic policies. Eisenhower also established ARPA (now DARPA), which was eventually responsible for inventing and building the Internet.[45]

Eisenhower saw public education as an urgent national security concern, saying,

"Our immediate national security aims--to continue to strengthen our armed forces and improve the weapons at their command--can be furthered only by the efforts of individuals whose training is already far advanced. But if we are to maintain our position of leadership, we must see to it that today's young people are prepared to contribute the maximum to our future progress. Because of the growing importance of science and technology, we must necessarily give special--but by no means exclusive--attention to education in science and engineering."

Ike's views on education became even more urgent and popular with the American people after the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik 1Wikipedia's W.svg, humanity's first successful artificial satellite.[46] With fears over ballistic missile warfare already high, the event increased public demands for science education and space expenditures.

Ike vs. McCarthy[edit]

The face Ike makes when he's preparing to help destroy a man's political career and send him to an early grave.

Eisenhower entered the White House at the height of Joseph McCarthy's power, and the two did not get along. McCarthy quickly began using his Senate seat to interfere with the President's executive appointees, most notably holding up Eisenhower's ambassador to Moscow which left the seat empty during the aftermath of Stalin's death.[47] Unfortunately, McCarthy also had a sizable number of Senators supporting him; these were Robert Taft's friends, here to take revenge. The 1952 election would also haunt Ike in another way: he had previously stood by silently after McCarthy began accusations against his former commanding officer, George Marshall, losing his chance to establish a record of public confrontation.[37]

McCarthy also managed to force the President to the right. To prove his anti-communist beliefs, Ike would support legislation to expand espionage and surveillance laws, and also empowered the FBI to expand its efforts to root out the "Reds."[48] Eisenhower would receive broad criticism from the media over his "appeasement" of McCarthyism.

Ike hated McCarthy and his anti-communist campaign, seeing that he was treading the line between thorough investigation and overt persecution. Ultimately, though, Eisenhower would restrain himself to only criticizing the man in private; he believed that getting embroiled in a public feud would be a national distraction and would only serve to harm the image of the presidency as a whole.[49] If only he knew...

Eventually, McCarthy overstepped. He began going after this military, and this naturally pissed Ike right off. Over the course of the hearings, Eisenhower stealthily worked to sabotage McCarthy. First, he had his aides uncover proof that McCarthy had engaged in his own shady dealings with the Army, then he invoked executive privilegeWikipedia's W.svg when McCarthy demanded to know how Ike got that information.[48] The Senate Subcommittee on Investigations then held its own hearings over the accusations against McCarthy. The whole affair essentially broke down at this point, and the resulting hash of unfounded and often verbally abusive bullshit claims resulted in a successful vote to censure McCarthy for abuse of a Senate committee.[50] This event shattered McCarthy's power, and he died several years later.[51] It is generally accepted that McCarthy's death was a result of alcoholism; he developed an addiction to multiple drugs after his fall from grace.[52]

Religious stuff[edit]

Unfortunately, the "In God We Trust" national motto, as well as the "under God" addition to the Pledge of Allegiance, occurred under Eisenhower's tenure.[53] Ike saw religion as the crucial factor which defined Anglo-American culture and prevented the evils of the Soviet Union from taking hold in the United States. It wasn't just Christianity that Ike liked. He was persuaded by a lengthy 1954 National Security Council (NSC) memorandum, "The Religious Factor" by Edward P. Lilly to cultivate Islamist sentiment as an ideological weapon in the Cold War.[54] (How could something like that ever come back to haunt you?)

Eisenhower's religious beliefs also led him into conflict with the Warren Court, as Ike publicly disapproved of the 1963 decision to ban required Bible readings from public schools. According to his son, Ike thought that “Warren Court’s bias against the church undermined its promotion of equal rights because sociology was no substitute for moral teaching.”[55] Sounds a lot like those damn fools today who think Christians suffer persecution, don't it?

After Ike signed the bill that modified the Pledge of Allegiance, he gave the following statement:

""From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty. To anyone who truly loves America, nothing could be more inspiring than to contemplate this rededication of our youth, on each school morning, to our country's true meaning. Especially is this meaningful as we regard today's world. Over the globe, mankind has been cruelly torn by violence and brutality and, by the millions, deadened in mind and soul by a materialistic philosophy of life. Man everywhere is appalled by the prospect of atomic war. In this somber setting, this law and its effects today have profound meaning. In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource, in peace or in war."[56]

War for the GOP[edit]

Although Eisenhower's presidency is often portrayed as benefiting a calm political climate, the reality is pretty different. The GOP, however, was embroiled in a bitter contest to determine the path for its future. McCarthy's wing of the party (also supported by Ike's own VP, Nixon), publicly believed that the GOP's east coast moderates should be viewed with suspicion, that large government was an existential threat, and that America's greatest threat was its own left wing.[57] These were the people Theodore White discovered while writing his article "Texas: Land of Wealth and Fear," who believed that McCarthy was America's greatest patriot, organized labor would destroy Texas, and that both political parties had traitors in their ranks.[58]

Eisenhower was always a believer in his "middle way" politics, which he saw as meaning calm leadership that de-emphasized America's constant feeling of crisis.[59] Ike governed from the middle, and he earned the permanent hatred of the right-wing of the party, which wanted him to do away with the New Deal and attack the cultural left. The current far-right leadership in much of the GOP is the heir of Ike's opposition, the people who eventually gave America Barry Goldwater.[60] Ike beat McCarthy, but his attempt to push the GOP to the center backfired horrifically.

Foreign policy[edit]

Ike's foreign policy was commie appeasement a hybrid of dove and hawk. Ike had run for the Republican nomination against Robert Taft, who ran as a non-interventionist, on the platform of both ending the Korean War and fighting communism. Eisenhower was critical of Truman's handling of Korea and he popularized the "domino effect" concept of foreign policy, believing that communism would spread like falling dominoes. However, he quickly withdrew from Korea and left a South Korea that could (with some help that continues to today) defend itself from the North.

Korean War[edit]

Eisenhower visiting Korea, back when presidents actually felt a need to fulfill campaign promises.

The 1952 election and Ike's first year in office happened against a backdrop of a dramatically soured public opinion towards the Korean War. About 70% of Americans wanted an armistice and less than a third viewed the war as worth fighting.[61] Close to the election date, and in response to challenges from Truman and other Democrats to outline a better Korea policy, Eisenhower made a dramatic campaign promise to personally visit the front lines in Korea to evaluate the course of the war.[62] This was likely a major tipping point in the election in Ike's favor, as voters had every reason to be convinced that the man who defeated the Nazis would know what to do in Korea.

Shortly after his election victory, Eisenhower visited Korea and spent three days touring the front lines, noting the rugged terrain and fortified enemy positions. The whole thing reminded him of Tunisia, where he had his first major military humiliation.[63] He concluded that "small attacks on small hills" would not bring any victory, and that "we could not stand forever on a static front and continue to accept casualties without any visible result.”

The visit convinced Ike that the war had to end, and to accomplish this aim, he began to threaten the Communists with increasing intensity, insinuating that he might involve the Nationalist Chinese and possibly deploy nuclear weapons.[64] Negotiations began in earnest, and both sides finally reached a settlement on the status of POWs, and eventually armistice terms which granted the South additional territory and mandated a demilitarized zone between the two nations.[65] After the war, Eisenhower focused on training the South Koreans to defend themselves with only minimal assistance. In 1954, he controversially withdrew many American troops from the peninsula, defending hismelf by saying this show of faith in South Korea's strength would do more to ward off the North than any show of American force.[66]

Cold War tensions[edit]

Eisenhower made multiple attempts to deescalate tensions during the Cold War. He famously gave the Chance for Peace speechWikipedia's W.svg, where he spoke against increased military spending, along with the famous quote,

"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 are 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."

The B-47 bomber, a centerpiece of US New Look deterrence.

He also, in 1955, made presented his "Open Skies" plan, which proposed that the Soviet Union and the United States could allow each other's surveillance planes to monitor their missile sites in order to reduce fears of a surprise attack.[67] Khrushchev rejected it out of hand as an "espionage plot."

In an attempt to decrease federal spending, Eisenhower adopted the "New Look" policy toward military spending. This called for decreasing ground forces in favor of air force strategic arms, hoping to deter any attacks through Mutually Assured Destruction.[68] This policy would be replaced with "Flexible Response" by President Kennedy, which called for a focus on Special Forces.[69]

Trouble in the Suez[edit]

One of the most serious crises of the Eisenhower administration was the Suez affair. Egyptian President NasserWikipedia's W.svg, infuriated by British military presence in his nation, American refusal to fulfill its obligations in funding the Aswan River Dam, and by Western support for Israel, ordered the nationalization of the Suez canal. The major motivating factor was the Aswan Dam, however, which impelled Nasser to seek another source of funding: taxes on shipping through the Suez.[70] The nationalization greatly surprised and angered the British and French governments, as the canal was theoretically theirs.[71]

The initial Anglo-French assault on Port Said.

Eisenhower's immediate response was to warn his allies away from military action, and to do so publicly. His main interest was in proving America's credibility as an anti-imperialist power [72] (to show newly-liberated nations that they didn't need to stand with the Soviets to stand against colonialism). His State Department attempted to mediate the situation, but none of the proposals attracted full support, and the French and British were increasingly eager to invade Egypt.

British Prime Minister Anthony EdenWikipedia's W.svg was perfectly aware that he was on uncertain legal ground for an invasion, and his solution was Israel. The Israelis viewed Nasser as a threat, and the British and French approached them with the following plan:[72]

  • Israel would "preemptively" invade Egypt and (appear to) attempt to take the canal.
  • The British and French would demand a cease-fire, which Israel would refuse.
  • The British and French would respond by deploying a "peacekeeping" force to "temporarily protect" the Suez canal, "guarantee free shipping," and "separate the Israelis and Egyptians."

Israel, the UK, and France proceeded to carry out the plan in full, and Israel invaded through the Sinai, and Britain and France landed at Port Said. Eisenhower, who had not been informed of this plan, was furious, and proceeded to join the Soviets in voting for UN resolutions condemning the invasion.[73]

While a military success, the invasion was a political disaster for the British. Antiwar protests broke out, junior ministers resigned, and many who stayed on expressed deep reservations over the whole thing.[74] Matters became much worse when the Soviets threatened nuclear war to protect Egypt.[75] The final straw, came, however, when Eisenhower threatened sanctions against Israel, withheld loans from the UK, and suggested he might destroy the value of the pound by selling off British bonds.[75]

The Suez crisis ended British and French superpower status, and the Anglo-American "special relationship" became characterized by American dominance.[76] The Soviets and Americans both came to view the Middle East as a new front in the Cold War, which had some horrific consequences as detailed below. And this would also mark the first and final time an American president would make a serious and dangerous threat against Israel.

CIA adventures[edit]

On the downside, he started the trend of allowing the CIA to dick around in foreign countries to support dictatorships. Ike caught the "commies under every bed" bug for a few brief moments in his presidency. The first time was in 1953 when Winston Churchill convinced him that Mohammad MosaddeghWikipedia's W.svg, the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, was turning Red. This was actually bullshit as Mosaddegh himself was anti-communist, albeit his chicanery while in office[77] also wouldn't lead one to confuse him with a great guy either — Churchill was just pissed because he nationalized Iran's oil industry.[78] The Brits and Americans took out Mosaddegh and replaced him with the Shah. This came back to bite the US in the ass in 1979. Ike also sent contingents of "military advisors" to Vietnam, and although it was really barely anything at that point, it paved the way for JFK, LBJ, and Nixon to completely fuck it up.

He also let the CIA take out Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala, another democratically elected leader. At the time, Guatemala had been completely fucked over by US railroad and fruit monopolies. Arbenz enacted land reform to allow farmers to use the fallow land owned by the United Fruit Company (UFC, later Chiquita). The CIA then cooked up some bogus connections between Arbenz and the Soviet Union to intervene on behalf of the UFC. Ike signed off on it and professional propagandist Edward Bernays then spread this bullshit conspiracy through one of the first big PR campaigns in history. The fact that the Arbenz thing "worked" so well, convinced the CIA that they could easily topple unwanted governments if they so chose and inspired their confidence to go forward with a plan that would become known as the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba under JFK.

Military-Industrial Complex[edit]

Ike's farewell speech in 1961 is arguably the most famous in US history behind George Washington's farewell speech. Andrew J. Bacevich in Washington Rules says Eisenhower "offered the American people a glimpse of the powerful forces that lay behind and beyond presidential control."[79] Eisenhower warned the American people of the growing influence of a "military-industrial complex."

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. 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.[80]

Too bad no one listened to him. Perhaps he should not have waited until his last days in office to raise the objection.

Legacy[edit]

Ike's presidential portrait

Despite his CIA screw-jobs, religious apologizing and failure to publicly fight McCarthyism (though he hated Joseph McCarthy in private and worked to undermine him in secret), Ike is remembered as one of the more practical and competent, if not outstanding, presidents of the 20th century. However, today's Republicans seem to have forgotten he even existed.[81] Probably because, as the John Birch Society claimed at the time, he was a total war hero RINO pinko commie.

Ike was a fiscal conservative, but he continued the 90% top tax rate to maintain a balanced budget (and was the last Republican to do so, and ironically, it was then cut by a Democrat). This is, of course, social liberalism social democracy socialism. Never mind that he oversaw the post-war economic boom, which would later be called "The Golden Age of Capitalism." Ike also totally trashed those calling for a repeal of New Deal programs, saying:

Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H.L. HuntWikipedia's W.svg (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.[82]

He also said some other pretty socialist things, such as:

No people on earth can be held, as a people, to be an enemy, for all humanity shares the common hunger for peace and fellowship and justice... No nation's security and well-being can be lastingly achieved in isolation but only in effective cooperation with fellow-nations.[83]
I believe that the United States as a government, if it is going to be true to its own founding documents, does have the job of working toward that time when there is no discrimination made on such inconsequential reason as race, color, or religion.[84]
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 are 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... 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.[83]
A preventive war, to my mind, is an impossibility today. How could you have one if one of its features would be several cities lying in ruins, several cities where many, many thousands of people would be dead and injured and mangled, the transportation systems destroyed, sanitation implements and systems all gone? That isn't preventive war; that is war. I don't believe there is such a thing; and, frankly, I wouldn't even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked about such a thing... It seems to me that when, by definition, a term is just ridiculous in itself, there is no use in going any further.[85]

Goddamn Red.

Opposition to Ike's moderate agenda led to a backlash in which ultraconservatives largely took over the Republican Party in the 1960's - or more precisely 1964. They have solidified their power ever since.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. One example
  2. Nope.
  3. Hansen on Pres. Eisenhower and his scientists, ThinkProgress
  4. Ike for President
  5. Washington even had the advantage of not having those insubordinate egomaniacs Montgomery and Patton under his command.
  6. A Military Profile of General Dwight D. Eisenhower
  7. 7.0 7.1 Smith, Jean Edward. Eisenhower in War and Peace, 2012 Random House Publishing. "With Marshall in Washington".
  8. Operation Torch: Allied Invasion of North Africa
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Smith, Jean Edward. Eisenhower in War and Peace, 2012 Random House Publishing. "Baptism by Fire".
  10. Bryant, Turn of the Tide. p430
  11. Blumenson. Patton Papers. 154-5
  12. Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hoptkins. 667
  13. WWII made George Patton a hero, but the ‘Great War’ made him a commander Washington Post.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Smith, Jean Edward. Eisenhower in War and Peace, 2012 Random House Publishing. "Sicily".
  15. Ambrose, Supreme Commander 229.
  16. Axelrod, Alan (2006), Patton: A Biography, London, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 978-1-4039-7139-5
  17. Kay Summersby Morgan, Past Forgetting 145.
  18. Smith, Jean Edward. Eisenhower in War and Peace, 2012 Random House Publishing. "D-Day".
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Smith, Jean Edward. Eisenhower in War and Peace, 2012 Random House Publishing. "The Liberation of France".
  20. Keegan, John (1992). Five Armies in Normandy. Pimlico. p. 66. ISBN 0-7126-5579-4. 
  21. D-Day In case of failure letter, Business Insider
  22. ULTRA AND THE MYTH OF THE GERMAN "NATIONAL REDOUBT" Meek, Marvin L. All World Wars.
  23. The German National Redoubt That Wasn’t Ottens, Nick. Atlantic Sentinel. 3.JUN.16
  24. Strom Thurmond Britannica
  25. Text of Executive Order 9981
  26. Truman Wrote of '48 Offer to Eisenhower
  27. HARRY S. TRUMAN: CAMPAIGNS AND ELECTIONS Alonzo L. Hamby. Miller Center
  28. Michael Gardner. Harry Truman and Civil Rights (SIU Press, 2002), 92.
  29. DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER: CAMPAIGNS AND ELECTIONS Alonzo L. Hamby. Miller Center
  30. What The 1952 Republican Primary Teaches Us About Today’s Primary Kori Schake. Hoover Institution. SEP.2.15
  31. The First Republican Contested Convention, Face the Nation, CBS News.
  32. United States presidential election, 1952 § Republican ConventionWikipedia's W.svg
  33. Eisenhower Nominated on the First Ballot; Senator Nixon Chosen as His Running Mate; General Pledges 'Total Victory' Crusade W.H. Lawrence. New York Times Archive. July 12, 1952
  34. Full Text of Eisenhower's Address Accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Republican National Convention in Chicago
  35. Vincent P. DeSantis, “Eisenhower Revisionism.” The Review of Politics 38, no. 02 (1976): 191. JSTOR (1405936), http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1405936.pdf.
  36. Who Was Henry A. Wallace?
  37. 37.0 37.1 Eisenhower’s Campaign and the Election of 1952 Winston Du. Vanderbilt Historical Review.
  38. Viral meme says 1956 Republican platform was pretty liberal Nai Issa, Louis Jacobson. Politifact. OCT.28.14
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 Why don’t we remember Ike as a civil rights hero?, MSNBC
  40. Civil Rights Act of 1957 Civil Rights Digital Library
  41. Eisenhower was key desegregation figure Kasey S. Pipes. Politico. 09/18/2007
  42. Sympathy for the South: Eisenhower Resists Desegregation
  43. Ike's Interstates at 50 David A. Pfeiffer National Archives "Prologue Magazine". Summer 2006, Vol. 38, No. 2
  44. Eisenhower on Encyclopedia Astronautica
  45. A Quick Look at the Early History of the Internet, Elon University
  46. Eisenhower Sputnik Conference Memo: Background
  47. Who Stopped McCarthy? The Atlantic
  48. 48.0 48.1 Eisenhower and McCarthy PBS "The American Experience."
  49. Eisenhower criticizes McCarthy History Channel "On this Day in History"
  50. The Censure Case of Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin (1954) United States Senate.
  51. On this day: The Senate censures Joseph McCarthy National Constitution Center
  52. Oshinsky, David M. (2005) [1983]. A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy. New York: Free Press. pp. 503–504. ISBN 0-19-515424-X.
  53. Though he could probably be excused for this as it's nearly fucking impossible to get rid of even today. Seriously, 396 to 9?
  54. Ian Johnson, 2011. A Mosque in Munich. New York: Mariner Books. Pp. 69-75. ISBN 978-0-547-42317-3.
  55. Eisenhower’s Religion MARK TOOLEY, American Spectator.
  56. God in the White House PBS. "Eisenhower."
  57. Who Stopped McCarthy? The Atlantic.
  58. [http://www.unz.com/print/Reporter-1954jun08-00030/ Text of "Texas: Land of Wealth and Fear"
  59. Eisenhower's 'Middle Way' is lesson for our times
  60. [https://newrepublic.com/article/101442/dwight-eisenhower-memorial-controversy Why Won’t the GOP Stick Up For Dwight Eisenhower?]
  61. Public opinion on the Korean War, 1953. Memorandum on recent polls, June 2, 1953. Eisenhower Presidential Library.
  62. Presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower makes 1952 campaign pledge, “I shall go to Korea.” Speech, October 24, 1952 Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Speech Series, Box 2, Oct 23, 1952 to Nov 3, 1952 and Dec 1952 (1); NAID #12012607
  63. How to End a War, Eisenhower’s Way Smith, Jean Edward. New York Times. 4.11.09
  64. Eisenhower goes to Korea History Channel
  65. Armistice ends the Korean WarHistory Channel
  66. President Eisenhower on his administration's post-Armistice policy toward Korea. Staff note, January 5, 1954. Records of the White House Staff Secretary, L. Arthur Minnich Series, Box 1, Miscellaneous - K
  67. Eisenhower presents his “Open Skies” plan History Channel
  68. New Look Britannica
  69. President Kennedy: Berlin, Laos, and “Flexible Response” The History Reader. 5.4.12
  70. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/united-states-withdraws-offer-of-aid-for-aswan-dam History Channel
  71. Eayrs, James (1964). The Commonwealth and Suez: A Documentary Survey. Oxford University Press.
  72. 72.0 72.1 An affair to remember The Economist 7.26.06
  73. The Suez Crisis, 1956Department of State Office of the Historian.
  74. 1956: Suez and the end of empire Brown, Derek. The Guardian.
  75. 75.0 75.1 In 1956, Russia Almost Launched a Nuclear War against Britain, France and Israel The National Interest
  76. [http://www.mariapalasinska.com/sanpietro/eng/anno1/n5/problemi/dunneeng5.pdf The Suez Crisis and the Politics of the Anglo-American Special Relationship]
  77. https://books.google.com/books?id=qh_QotrY7RkC&pg=PA274
  78. Including the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company - in 1954, renamed British Petroleum (BP).
  79. Bavevich, Andrew J., 2010. Washington Rules - America's Path to Permanent War. New York: Metropolitan Books. P. 32. ISBN 978-0-8050-9141-0
  80. Eisenhower's "Military-Industrial Complex" Speech: Origins and Significance, National Archives
  81. Forgotten in Republican campaign, Eisenhower rises in stature, Reuters
  82. Ike says they're stupid
  83. 83.0 83.1 American Presidential Address on "The Chance for Peace", Sherbrooke University
  84. Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower, Wagner College
  85. This wasn't the first or last time he attacked the concept.
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