Talk:Dwight D. Eisenhower

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 Definition (1890-1969) A career soldier who was the top Allied commander in Europe in World War II, and who later served as the 34th president of the United States (1953-1961). [d] [e]
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 Workgroup categories Politics, History and Military [Categories OK]
 Subgroup categories:  United States Army and American politics since 1945
 Talk Archive none  English language variant American English


There's a picture of the famous button at which I am going to email the KSHS to find out what the license information is. I believe that it *might* be public domain. --Robert W King 23:59, 10 September 2007 (CDT)

with rare exceptions pre 1976 buttons were not copyrighted and are in the public domain. Old pre 1976 items had to be registered in copyright office and include the (c) symbol on it. I have collect buttons and have seen hundreds --I have seen only one copyrighted button pre 1976 (and that was a fund-raising device in 1940 for America First, not a campaign button). Richard Jensen 00:29, 11 September 2007 (CDT)

Eisenhower’s Farewell Address

Maybe some of this text might be useful?

President Dwight D. Eisenhower was much loved by the American people during his time in office. Eisenhower was a benign-seeming, grandfatherly figure of whom Ronald Reagan would be an analogue three decades later. Yet, quietly, undemonstrably, Eisenhower was sanctioning covert guerrilla wars, political coups, and clandestine dirty tricks across the world, and was arming America to the teeth. The Eisenhower administration acquired enough atomic bombs to kill every Russian citizen many times over.

In 1953 President Eisenhower signed National Security Council Directive 162/2, a statement of policy which included the chilling line, “in the event of hostilities, the United States will consider nuclear weapons to be as available for use as other munitions.”[1]

In 1954 President Eisenhower set America’s annual defense budget at $34.5 billion. It was $15 billion less than the defense expenditures for 1953, but still far more than the $14.4 billion that had been allocated for 1950. In 1956 Eisenhower allocated $35.8 billion for defense. For the rest of the decade America’s annual military budget would be in the thirty billions. America was insuring for itself, in the words of John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State, “massive retaliatory power.” [2] Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles were being stockpiled. The first Thermonuclear Age was a boom time for the defense contractors of America’s military-industrial complex.

Yet Eisenhower was somewhat of a prisoner of his times. Intelligence estimates delivered to him regularly warned of a major arms build-up in the U.S.S.R. Whether or not the intelligence estimates were proven to be accurate, the White House felt it had no choice but to keep pace with the Russians. Many top brass in the military argued vociferously not for “parity” but “superiority”. The ensuing Arms Race directed many billions of tax dollars annually into a rapidly growing U.S. defense industry.

Speaking at a press conference on March 11, 1959, Eisenhower voiced fears that America was becoming a “garrison state”, in business primarily for war.[3] Time and again, Eisenhower would return to this theme of the garrison state, most famously in his Farewell Address to the Nation, delivered January 17, 1961. First, Eisenhower described the tenor of the times in dramatic terms:

"We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration. . . . A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction."

Yet Eisenhower believed that the conjunction of big business and the military, while a necessary evil, might lead in future years to a situation in which the government is held hostage to the interests of what he is going to term the military-industrial complex:[4]

"Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. . . . 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 State House, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications."

Eisenhower delivered a dramatic warning, one of the most quoted presidential statements of the twentieth century:

"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."

During the eight years of the Eisenhower Administration, the United States spent more than $350 billion on defense. [5] Yet Eisenhower went on to say in his Farewell Address, “Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative.” Jeffrey Scott Bernstein 10:49, 30 October 2007 (CDT)

  1. See Divine, Robert, A., Eisenhower and the Cold War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), p. 36.
  2. Ibid., p. 38.
  3. See Cook, Fred J., The Warfare State (London: Jonathan Cape, 1963), p. 9. ¶ The term “garrison state” was introduced by sociologist Harold Lasswell in his article “The Garrison State” published in the American Journal of Sociology in January 1941.
  4. Synonyms of “military industrial complex” in circulation include “Pentagon capitalism”, “weapons culture”, “warfare state” and “national security state”. See Moskos, Jr., Charles C., “The Military-Industrial Complex”, in Sarkesian, Sam C. (ed.), The Military-Industrial Complex: A Reassessment (Beverly Hills/London: Sage Publications, 1972). , p. 4. ¶ “The military-industrial complex of Eisenhower’s speech was transformed into the military-industrial-educational-labor complex of the late 1960s, an entity so large and nebulous that its convolutions were impossible to trace completely.” Sobel, Robert, The Age of Giant Corporations (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, Inc., 1972), p. 197. ¶ During the Nixon years, Senator William Proxmire described the “military-industrial-bureaucratic-congressional-labor complex.” See Hargreaves, Robert, Superpower: America in the 1970s (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1974), p. 375
  5. See Cook, Warfare State, p. 21; also Mollenhoff, Clark R., The Pentagon: Politics, Profits and Plunder (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1967), p. 416-7.

well the debate on the time was whether Ike was spending too little to defend the country (covered in the text and note on Taylor). As for dirty tricks and all that, they successfully prevented the death of 200+ million people. Richard Jensen 11:03, 30 October 2007 (CDT)
So you don't think the quotes from the Farewell Address are important enough for inclusion?Jeffrey Scott Bernstein 11:07, 30 October 2007 (CDT)
Greenstein says the "complex" became a slogan used by Ike's enemies, esp the antiwar left in the Vietnam era. Richard Jensen 13:34, 30 October 2007 (CDT)
I did some more checking and almost all the cites are from the far left (the term was popular in the old Soviet Union and among anti-American theorists in Canada). 13:52, 30 October 2007 (CDT)

I'll fix it.

I read about the problem, hold on a sec. --Robert W King 15:35, 30 October 2007 (CDT)

The problem has to do with HTML comments and whitespace in the metadata template. The temporary fix is to delete all the comments and whitespace on the /metadata page until it gets fixed. --Robert W King 15:37, 30 October 2007 (CDT)


Similar to the recent addition to the JFK page, should mention be made in the Legacy section to The Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas? Home page is here: [1] Jeffrey Scott Bernstein 17:24, 30 October 2007 (CDT)

yes, whu don't you add it? Richard Jensen 19:14, 30 October 2007 (CDT)
Hmm, it now seems to my minuscule brain that the brute fact of a reference to the Eisenhower Library wouldn't precisely fit with the tone of the "Legacy" section. So my new idea is . . . to make it an external link? I suppose I can add it now, and if it's offensive, someone more distinguished than I can revert back and then determine how best to insert the reference into the "Legacy" section. Jeffrey Scott Bernstein 20:19, 30 October 2007 (CDT)


I have included a short "further reading" list as part of the main article; it is distinct from the main bibliography which has a separate page and is intended as a quickie guide to users. One reason is that we have lots of footnotes here but these are NOT the places a beginner should start. The Bibliog is pretty long and it does not tell beginners where to start either. Hence the Firsther Reading section. Richard Jensen 21:14, 30 October 2007 (CDT)

Ike vs. Tailgunner Joe; plus Marshall

I know there are interpretations in which Ike, the supremely clever politician, decided to give Joe enough rope to hang himself over the years, apparently a winning strategy. On the other hand, there is (was) a lot of bitterness over the fact that Ike did *not* denounce McC.'s denunciations of Ike's mentor, George C. Marshall, in spite of the fact that Ike apparently was about to do so, in Wisconsin, then backed down at the last minute. A lack of guts, his detractors have always said, as well as a betrayal of "the greatest living American".

Moreover, I see no mention of Marshall here -- the man who reached deep, deep down into the ranks to pull Ike out of obscurity and made him the hero he was to become.

I realize that this article is not yet finished, but shouldn't both of these concerns be written up somewhere? Hayford Peirce 23:45, 30 October 2007 (CDT)

the article does mention Marshall (" Eisenhower became the protegé of chief of staff George C. Marshall, serving....") There is an issue of how much to talk about personal attacks by partisan Democrats in a heated election--The McCarthy issue in 1952 was a matter of ridicule by Ike's Democratic opponents. They were very upset because they thought Ike had been fostered and brought along by New Dealers and that Ike betrayed that heritage. They also ridiculed Ike as a dangerous militarist and man on horseback in 1952. It is not true that Marshall reached deep in the ranks to find Ike--Ike was a general when Marshall met him and had spent 5 years at the highest levels of the war department as aide to the Secretary of War and to the Chief of Staff.Richard Jensen 08:12, 31 October 2007 (CDT)
Hmmm, it's very strange: I did a "Find on this Page" search for Marshall and it didn't show anything. Maybe I mistyped the name. Sorry. Obviously I wouldn't have said there was no mention of Marshall had the search shown it. You obviously know, but I thought Ike was a colonel when Marshall plucked him out of the ranks. Best, Hayford Peirce 12:10, 31 October 2007 (CDT)
I believe Ike was a brigadier general when Marshall called him to Washington right after Pearl Harbor. Richard Jensen 12:15, 31 October 2007 (CDT)

...New Left in the 1960s to attack American capitalism?

In the section about his farewell address, it says "New Left in the 1960s to attack American capitalism". Is the New Left inherently against capitalism? Also the complex sounds more relevant to foreign policy rather than domestic economic policy. I thought the New Left was mainly libertarians or anarchists. Yi Zhe Wu 15:36, 31 October 2007 (CDT)

yes the New Left in the 1960s was strongly opposed to capitalism. They admired Ho, Castro, Che, Mao. They did not like Ike but used his slogan. (libertarians? not then; anarchists? yes, some) Richard Jensen 16:35, 31 October 2007 (CDT)


Wow, there are simply gobs and gobs of unrestricted images of Eisenhower, enough to make the gallery here something of "a history in pictures" of him, if anyone is interested. Stephen Ewen 23:38, 31 October 2007 (CDT)

pledge of allegiance

Richard, my daughter informed me that she was taught in school that it was during Dwight D. Eisenhour's administration that the line 'under God' was added to the american Pledge of Allegiance. Is it reasonable to find a place for that in this article? --D. Matt Innis 08:31, 14 December 2007 (CST)

It should be in the Pledge article I think. (Ike had little to do with it, I believe). Richard Jensen 16:18, 14 December 2007 (CST)

National security policy

At first glance, some of this is either wrong or needs much more clarification.

Eisenhower rejected the policy of limited war and use of tactical nuclear weapons to the strategic menu of ways to deal with the Communist threat, and instead adopted a new strategy of "massive resistance" whereby a small war with the Soviet Union would immediately turn into a major nuclear war. He knew the U.S. had substantial nuclear superiority. The effect was to deter both sides from any action that might escalate tensions into a small war. Eisenhower thus avoided World War III.

I'm not even sure "massive resistance" is the right term; there was an evolution in which he asserted strong control over nuclear planning and overkill (see George Kistiakowsky), which became the basis for Kennedy's first Single Integrated Operational Plan in 1962.

At the time there were no intercontinental missiles, and the American air defense system was considered strong enough to fend off any Soviet air attack. American progress in rocketry was upstaged by the Soviets in 1957, as they launched Sputnik, the first earth satellite, and kept their lead in space for several years. Everyone realized that gave the Soviets a lead in long-range missiles as well.

Ummm...this is rocket science. While the Soviets indeed launched the first artificial satellite in 1957, it did not use an operational ICBM. At best, the 1957 technology for the U.S. and U.S.S.R. was IRBM, not ICBM. There was a distinct U.S. technology lead by the Cuban Missile Crisis. I want to think about some very tightly held information about the lack of capability of Soviet long range bombers.

Eisenhower kept a tight leash on involvement in revolutionary wars, as with the French request for assistance at Dien Bien Phu with Operation VULTURE. He did put the first forces into Laos in 1959, and into Guatemala in 1954. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:10, 23 May 2009 (UTC)

On "massive resistance" -- I've never heard it used for anything other than the southern response to Brown v. Board of Education. It probably should be "massive retaliation," which I'm pretty sure is the term Eisenhower/Dulles used. Shamira Gelbman 16:36, 23 May 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I was just about to say the same thing -- I grew up hearing that phrase (massive retaliation) all the time. Hayford Peirce 16:48, 23 May 2009 (UTC)

Related Articles

I'd like to get rid of the list of all presidents in the related articles subpage; I don't think it belongs there (in fact, I seem to recall an article already devoted to that list). Any objections? Shamira Gelbman 01:33, 24 May 2009 (UTC)

Related articles, sure. Related Presidents? Certainly Adamses and Bushes...are the Roosevelts close enough? Howard C. Berkowitz 01:47, 24 May 2009 (UTC)


I'm not sure that the WWII intelligence section is worth keeping in the main article. Eisenhower had competent intelligence staff officers, and did not, as did Churchill, immerse himself in raw reports. If there's an intelligence aspect to his career, I'd put it more in his presidency, certainly the CIA but also military. It may be worth having one or more WWII intelligence articles, perhaps by theater, but Eisenhower simply was not the key player any more than he was the key logistician or trainer. Howard C. Berkowitz 05:04, 24 May 2009 (UTC)

A few comments on the presidency section

Just from a quick skim; I'll probably have more later: 1. The lack of any discussion of civil rights developments (especially Brown, Little Rock school integration, Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960) during his presidency is a pretty glaring absence. 2. It might be worth pointing out that 1952 was the first presidential election to feature TV advertising, and that the Eisenhower team was basically responsible for the innovation of spot advertising in political campaigning. On that note, is there a way to incorporate a video clip of the "I like Ike" ad as we do with images? 3. The discussion of his leadership style and historians' rankings of his presidency in the "first term politics" subsection might be better placed either at the summation of the presidency section or in the one on his legacy. Shamira Gelbman 21:30, 24 May 2009 (UTC)