I Liked Ike

I liked Ike, but being a pre-teen at the time, I never got to vote for him.  My parents did, however, despite being registered Democrats.  It was hard not to like the man who had commanded all the allied forces in the European theater in World War II, directing the largest assemblage of armed forces that the world had ever seen toward their eventual victory.

Nowadays, the image of Eisenhower is being burnished by, somewhat incongruently, the Democrats and the liberal mainstream media.  Their purpose in doing so is to favorably liken President Obama to President Eisenhower, in that both seemed reluctant to engage in foreign wars, and especially reluctant to expend American blood and treasure in the Middle East.  To a substantial degree, however, these are views seen through rose-colored glasses.  As young as I was, I still remember the many heated discussions between my Dad, his brother, and other family members over Ike’s authorization of the CIA engineered overthrow of Iranian leader Mossadegh in favor of the Shah (1953), his failure to support the British against the Egyptians in the 1956 Suez Canal crisis (which strengthened the hand of Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser, a Soviet acolyte), and his blatant lie to the American people (in a national television address, no less, presaging Bill Clinton by decades) denying the overflights of the Soviet Union by American U2 spy planes after the Russki’s shot down Francis Gary Powers in 1960.

At the online National Review this week, military historian Victor Davis Hanson has up a piece that presents far more detail about the “Eisenhower era” and how it is being reframed.  He writes:

The Eisenhower administration formulated the domino theory, and Ike was quite logically the first U.S. president to insert American advisers into Southeast Asia, a move followed by a formal SEATO defense treaty to protect most of Southeast Asia from Communist aggression — one of the most interventionist commitments of the entire Cold War, which ended with over 58,000 Americans dead in Vietnam and helicopters fleeing from the rooftop of the U.S. embassy in Saigon.

Eisenhower’s “New Look” foreign policy of placing greater reliance on threats to use nuclear weapons, unleashing the CIA, and crafting new entangling alliances may have fulfilled its short-term aims of curbing the politically unpopular and costly use of conventional American troops overseas.  Its long-term ramifications, however, became all too clear in the 1960s and 1970s.  Mostly, Ike turned to reliance on nuke-rattling because of campaign promises to curb spending and balance the budget by cutting conventional defense forces — which earned him the furor of Generals Omar Bradley, Douglas MacArthur, and Matthew Ridgway.

The whole article is instructional and well worth reading, HERE.