Excerpt from Modern Times on Eisenhower:
“Eisenhower concealed his gifts and activities because he thought it essential that the autocratic leadership, which he recognized both America and the world needed, should be exercised by stealth. He had three quite clear principles. The first was to avoid war. Of course if Soviet Russia was bent on destroying the West, resistance must be made, and America must be strong enough to make it. But the occasions of unnecessary war (as he judged Korea) must be avoided by clarity, firmness, caution and wisdom. In this limited aim he was successful. He ended the Korean conflict. He avoided war with China. He stamped out the Suez war in 1956, and skillfully averted another Middle-Eastern war in 1958. Of Vietnam he said: ‘I cannot conceive of a greater tragedy for America than to get heavily involved now in an all-out war in any of those regions.’ Again: ‘There is going to be no involvement … unless it is as a result of the constitutional process that is placed upon Congress to declare it.’ Congressional authorization; Allied support–those were the two conditions he laid down for American military involvement anywhere, and they were reflected in the Middle Eastern and South-East Asian systems of alliance he added to Nato.”
“Eisenhower’s second and related principle was the necessity for constitutional control over military endeavour. He used the CIA a great deal and was the only American president to control it effectively. He skillfully presided over the CIA operations in Iran and Guatemala without any damage to his reputation. The 1958 CIA coup in Indonesia failed because for once the work was delegated to Dulles. It is hard to believe Eisenhower would have allowed the 1961 Bay of Pigs operation to proceed in the form it took. He had in 1954 created a civilian Board of Consultants on Foreign Intelligence Activities, under a wily old diplomat, David Bruce, and this was one of a number of means he employed to keep the military establishment under his authority. He disliked generals in politics. The 1952 Chicago Republican convention, which selected him to run for the presidency, was so thick with generals, supporters of Senator Taft and MacArthur, that Eisenhower kept his chief aide, Colonel Bob Schultz, and his doctor, General Howard Snyder, out of town.120 Eisenhower was always aware of his need to steer a difficult path between isolationism and over-activism in world affairs. He used Dulles to satisfy the activists of the Senate. For Dulles, who was Wilson’s Secretary of State Robert Lansing’s nephew and had been at Versailles, the Senate’s rejection of the 1919 Treaty was the never-to-be-forgotten lesson. He was always, wrote Kennan, ‘intensely aware of the dependence of a Secretary of State on senatorial support for the success of his policies’. Under the guidance of Eisenhower, who carefully vetted his statements in advance, Dulles used what sometimes appeared to be inflated language (‘rollback’, ‘go to the brink’, ‘agonizing reappraisal’) to marry legislative support to military and political realism. Only the two men knew which of America’s overseas commitments were real or rhetorical.”
“Eisenhower’s chief fear, in the tense atmosphere engendered by the Cold War, was that the government would fall into the grip of a combination of bellicose senators, over-eager brass-hats and greedy arms-suppliers—what he termed the ‘military-industrial complex’. For his third principle, reflected in his diaries and other personal documents, was that the security of freedom throughout the world rested ultimately in the health of the American economy. Given time, the strength of that economy could duplicate itself in West Europe and Japan. But the US economy could itself be destroyed by intemperate spending. He said of the brass-hats: ‘They don’t know much about fighting inflation. This country could choke itself to death piling up military expenditures just as surely as it can defeat itself by not spending enough for protection.’ Or again: ‘There is no defense for any country that busts its own economy.’ But Eisenhower was equally fearful of reckless spending in the domestic field. He was not opposed to Keynesian measures to fight incipient recession. In 1958, to overcome such a dip, he ran up a $9.4 billion deficit, the largest ever acquired by a US government in peacetime. But that was an emergency. What Eisenhower strove mightily to avoid was a huge, permanent increase in federal commitments. He put holding down inflation before social security because he thought it was ultimately the only reliable form of social security. He loathed the idea of America becoming a welfare state. He was in fact deeply conservative. He admitted in 1956: ‘Taft was really more liberal than me in domestic matters.’ His real nightmare was a combination of excessive defense spending combined with a runaway welfare machine–a destructive conjunction that became reality in the late 1960s. While he was in charge, federal spending as a percentage of GNP, and with it inflation, was held to a manageable figure, despite all the pressures. It was a notable achievement and explains why the Eisenhower decade was the most prosperous of modern times. And that prosperity was radiating through an ever-increasing portion of the world.”
Excerpt From: Johnson, Paul. “Modern Times.” HarperCollins, 1983. iBooks.
This material may be protected by copyright.
Check out this book on the iBooks Store: https://itun.es/us/Z2RFv.l
I may take exception about the wisdom of the CIA operation in Iran in 1953 and what it led to. Johnson contends Eisenhower was much more involved in the job than many of his critics contend. He may be a much better role model for Republicans than Reagan