Wednesday 2011-05-04

Eisenhower -- Soldier and President by Stephen Ambrose

Ambrose's Eisenhower would have some choice words for the United States of today.

"There's no more active political organization in the world than the armed services of the US. As a matter of fact, I think I am a better politician than most so called politicians."
When Smith asked why, Eisenhower explained, "Because I don't get emotionally involved. I can accept a fact for what it is, and I can also accept the fact that when you're hopelessly outgunned and outmanned, you don't go out and pick a fight."
-- Between the Wars
The greatest experience of Eisenhower's tour as chief of staff to the Third Army was the Louisiana maneuvers, held in August and September 1941. These were the largest maneuvers held y the US Army before American entered the war. They pinned Krueger's Third Army against General Ben Lear's Second Army. Krueger, with 240,000 men was "invading" Louisiana, while Lear, with 180,000 men, was "defending" the United States. ...
Krueger's Third Army, operating under plans Eisenhower had helped draw up, outflanked Lear's Second Army, forcing it to retreat.
-- Between the Wars
By most standards, he had failed to take the advice. Instead of taking opportunity, he had given his life adn his talents to the Army. he was fiftey-one years old; only the coming of war had saved him from a forced retirement and a life with no savings and but a small pension to live on.
-- Between the Wars
( he would have retired as a lieutenant colonel )
On March 10, David Eisenhower died. His son could barely take the time to record the fact in his diary. The following day, Eisenhower wrote that "war is not soft, it has no time to indulge even the deepest and most sacred emotions."
-- Preparing the First Offensive
Throughout the war, Eisenhower manipulated the press, for his own purposes and for the good of the Allied cause. He was more aware of the importance of the press, and better at using it, than any other public figure of his day.
-- Preparing the First Offensive
( I guess that makes MacArthur #2 )
Further, Eisenhower learned which of his subordinates could stand up to the strain of battle, and which could not. Had it not been for Torch, had Roundup been launched in 1943 instead of Overlord in 1944, the Allies would have gone ashore iwht an insecure Eisenhower in command of inexperienced troops led by Lloyd Fredendall. The idea of Fredendall in charge at Omaha Beach during the crisis is by itself enough to justify the Mediterranean campaign.
-- North Africa, Sicily, and Italy
Eisenhower then turned to the problem of the occupation of Germany. He told the President that the plan to divide Germany into three zones, one for the Americans, one for the British, and one for the Russians, was a mistake. Germany, he declared, should not be divided into zones; the military government ought to be conducted by a coalition of the Allied forces, under a single commander.
-- D-Day and the Liberation of France
( sounds like we learned something by V-J Day )
This extreme threat (as with Eisenhower's relations with the press, what a contrast with the American Army leaders in Vietnam) brought Churchill around.
-- D-Day and the Liberation of France
( angry at Allied prima donna generals, Eisenhower threatens to quit )
To Eisenhower's associates, the men were soldiers; to Eisenhower, they were citizens temprorarily caught up in a war none of them wanted, but which they realized was necessary.
-- D-Day and the Liberation of France
The figures give an indication of the scope of Overlord. it was as if a city the size of Madison, Wisconsin, or Baton Rouge, Louisiana, or most of the state capitals in the United States, had been picked up -- vehicles, buildings, people, everything -- and moved sixty to one hundred miles in one night, against determined opposition.
-- D-Day and the Liberation of France
"Civilian leaders talk about the state of morale in a given country as if it were a sort of uncontrollable event or phonomenaon, like a thunderstorm or a cold winter," he complained in his diary, while "the soldier leader looks on morale as ... the greatest of all his problems, but also as one about which he can and must do something."
-- Columbia, NATO, and Politics
Taken all together, 1952 is recalled as one of the bitterest campaigns of the twentieth century, adn the one that featured the most mudslinging. Few, if any, of the participants could look back on it with pride.
-- Candidate
Eisenhower, relieved to have escaped the need to denounce FDR in public for Yalta, privately told his Cabinet that American unpreparedness was a "striking example of what has not been done" by the Democrats while they held power. Since 1946, he said, there had been much talk about what would happen when Stalin died, but the net result of seven years' talk "is zero. There is no plan, there is no agreed-upon position."
-- The Chance for Peace
"Ladies adn gentlemen," he said, "there is no amount of military force that can possibly give you real security, because you wouldn't have that amount unless you felt that there was almost a similar amount that could threaten you somewhere in the world."...
There could be no security, he told Dulles, without a sound economy, which was dependent upon a balanced budget.
-- The Chance for Peace
Eisenhower told Hazlett that he could run a blue pencil through the Pentagon requests for more money becuse he knew the Pentagon game so well, "but some day there is going to be a man sitting in my present chari who has not been raised in the military services and who will have little understanding of where slashes in their estimates can be made with little or no damage."
-- Chinats and Chicoms
Eisenhower's handling of the Quemoy-Matsu crisis was a tour de force, one of the great triumphs of his long career. The key to to his success was his deliberate ambiguity and deception. ... "the beauty of Eisenhower's policy is that to this day no one can be sure whether or not he would have responded militarily to an invasion of the offshore islands, and whether he would have used nuclear weapons."
-- Chinats and Chicoms
Eisenhower criticized "extremists" on both sides, and offered this advice: "If ever there was a time when we must be patient without being complacent, when we must be understanding of other people's deep emotions as well as our own, this is it.
-- The Geneva Summit and a Heart Attack
Similarly, the complacency had always been fragile, as was demonstrated when one Russian stellite, weighting less than two hundred pounds adn carrying no scientific or military equipment, broke it down. Democrats cashed in on the shame, shock and anger...
Almost all Americans wanted to be "number one" in everything
-- Little Rock and Sputnik
It is doubtful if any other man could have done what Eisenhower did. The demands for shelters, for more bombers, for more bombs, for more research and development of missiles and satellites, was nearly irresistible. Only Ike could have gotten away with saying no. His unique prestige among his countrymen made him unassailable on the question of national defense. The Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller brothers, the JCS, Congress, indeed almost all of what would be called in the sixties, "The Establishment" clamored for more defense spending.
-- Little Rock and Sputnik
"The Communist objective is to make us spend ourselves into bankruptcy."
-- A Revival