Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New Book On Eisenhower Praises His Foreign Policy – Omits Biggest Blunder

A Blunder That Impacts U. S. Foreign Policy Today

Evan Thomas is a former Newsweek editor who now teaches at Princeton and writes history.  He has just published another book on Dwight Eisenhower, (not yet read by this author) and President Eisenhower gets a generally favorable review in the New York Times.

Eisenhower and Secretary of State Dulles
Why Couldn't They Have Left Iran Alone?

The big accomplishment of Mr. Eisenhower, he kept the United States out of a major war, despite a number of opportunities for the U. S. to enter a major war.

Evan Thomas’s “Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World” is an examination of Dwight Eisenhower’s record that seeks to understand how he successfully kept the United States out of a major war during the eight years of his presidency. 

President Eisenhower could have involved the U. S. in the Suez crisis in 1956,

Eisenhower’s handling of the Suez crisis in the same year as the Hungarian uprising was an impressive example of this quality. Britain, France and Israel had invaded Egypt with the intention of toppling the dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser after he had seized the Suez Canal, but Eisenhower did not confuse backing allies with reflexive support for their mistakes, especially when thoughtless solidarity could draw the United States and the Soviet Union into open conflict. The crisis over the Suez was successfully resolved in part by Eisenhower’s refusal to provide assistance to America’s friends, which forced them to bear the costs and consequences of their blunder without any hope of being bailed out by Washington. Meanwhile, Eisenhower made sure that the Kremlin knew he strongly opposed any Soviet attempt to exploit the crisis.

And his refusal to help the French in Vietnam is a well documented policy that, temporarily, kept the U. S. from being bogged down in a useless, unwinnable war in Southeast Asia.

But from the review the book apparently spends little time on the colossal error of the Eisenhower administration.  That error was to precipitate the overthrow of the elected government of Iran and install the Shah as a supreme dictator.  History will show that policy was an unmitigated disaster, and even worse, the shelf life of that error is many decades, and maybe even a century or two.  It is because of that policy error that the strident Islamic fundamentalists now control Iran, and it is because of that policy error that the U. S. faces the possibility of a nuclear Iran and the possibility of being involved in another war in the Mideast

Eisenhower was very successful in keeping America out of war during his Presidency.  But after his Presidency the U. S. did engage in the useless war in Southeast Asia, and the legacy of his policy may yet doom America to a war in the Mideast with Iran.  If so, then the Eisenhower legacy will yet be re-written again, and not in a favorable way to DDE. 

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