Saturday, September 3, 2011

I Like Ike

Rachel Maddow recently said that if Dwight Eisenhower were alive today, he'd been considered a strong liberal.  yesterday I got a mailing from the American Friends Service Committee, which included a remark of Ike's that backs up her statement.  It's not the famous phrase warning us of the military-industrial complex, a prophesy long since shown true, but an even more amazing one.

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.


The Republicans have fallen a long way since then.  And not a few Democrats with him.  

9 comments:

Ken Goldstein said...

Great quote! Ike was sure one pinko rat, alright.

Jim said...

And in his farewell address, the "military-industrial complex" speech, note the following:

Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without asking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.

Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war – as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years – I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.

Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.

Bob Lamm said...

Yes, Ike's farewell address was memorable and admirable. But it's important not to forget that Ike was president of the U.S. during some of the worst years of the McCarthy era and did little to stand up against the McCarthyite redbaiting hysteria.

I'm 64 years old and Ike is the first president I remember. In a crucial moment in his presidency, Ike insisted that the United States was NOT flying spy planes over the Soviet Union. But it was proven that he was lying. So the great Dwight D. Eisenhower is the first U.S. president I remember--but not the last--who publicly lied to the country.

karen lindsey said...

great quote, jim....
bob, i'm even older than you [s], and i grew up with a highly liberal father who was an avid supporter of stevenson and an avid hater of mccarthy. so it was news to me years later that there was ANYTHING admirable about ike. i can't imagine at this stage of my life any US president [probably any world leader] i would trust or fully admire. there's FDR, who was cool if you didn't happen to be japanese-american.........

and one who doesn't lie to america? well there's---well, the cherry tree story turns out to be invention, so there we are.

what amazes me with ike now is the contrast with anyone we know of or have lived thru....either as president or potential president. and he was president thru the ghastly, pasty 1950s!

Bob Lamm said...

Franklin Delano Roosevelt--so beloved by Jews in the United States--wasn't so wonderful if you were Jewish and living in Europe. The Roosevelt administration maintained tough U.S. immigration policies that kept out desperate Jews trying to flee from the Nazi terror. And the Roosevelt administration refused to bomb the death camps or the railroad lines leading to those camps--despite explicit pleas from European Jews to do so. The blood of the six million Jews who died isn't solely on the Nazis and their many allies all over occupied Europe. It's also on FDR and his administration.

It is obviously important to remember the outrageous treatment of Japanese Americans by the Roosevelt administration. But FDR's complicity in the Holocaust should not be forgotten.

karen lindsey said...

you know, i think i never put together the jews on the boats being turned away and the idea that it would be the roosevelt administration that would be responsible. didn't know about the plea to bomb the death camps--might part of the reluctance have been that this would kill the jews in them? not that they wouldnt have died in any case at the camps. and he'd certainly have known that...


so fdr is even worse that i was thinking.....and he was one of our better presidents!

Jim said...

Am I the only one who thinks it's naive to look for any sort of saintliness from ANY president? They're human beings, after all.

To me, it is more whether there is any sort of real heartache or turmoil over the difficult decisions they made. I would like to think the answer with Ike was "yes." I KNOW the answer with W was "no."

karen lindsey said...

hi jim--'saintliness', no. actually i expect far less. whatever good qualities you have, there's something about the ambition to rule a country--especially a large and powerful country--that must include a high dose of meglomania. and a willingness to murder, however 2nd hand, a lot of people. one of my favorite parts of utopia [and what an unsaintly saint thomas more was!] is how leaders are chosen. if you want the office and make an effort to get it, you're automatically disqualified.

anyway as a wannabe anarchist with no faith in the human moral capacity to retain anarchism, i assume that anyone wanting power that much is not only human like all of us, but far more grasping, arrogant, and unprincipled than the rest of us. i suppose the closest to saintly a major leader can get is to have a bit of leftover conscience. my father was a big admirer of truman, but i can never get past the notion that you could order the deaths of thousands of people in hiroshima and nagasaki and feel fine about it in the aftermath.

Baysage said...

@Jim . . . I'm a professional historian, a card-carrying member of the ACLU, and a wild-eyed liberal. I can attest that there is no unsullied president in our history. Society tends to sanctify some presidents after they are dead. Lincoln is a prime example, JFK is another.

So Ike was certainly a wise and thoughtful president in some areas, and a far-from-guiltless Cold Warrior. But he was no venal pretender such as we have no aspiring to the office. He was honest and wise, so therefore nobody heeded his parting advice.