Eisenhower Was A Very Courageous President

By John J. Duncan Jr.


President Dwight Eisenhower was one of our greatest presidents. The eight years he was in the White House were years of peace and prosperity.

Inflation averaged 1.3% a year, and growth was nearly double that. He ended the Korean War and refused tremendous pressure to get into a war in the Middle East.

All over the world, it has been proven that a powerful federal or central government is good at only one thing – wiping out the middle class.

Big government socialism ends up with a very small percentage at the top, huge numbers at the bottom, and a rapidly declining middle class. It does expand one thing – the gap between the rich and the poor.

Eisenhower made sure that the federal government remained small by issuing 181 vetoes, only two of which were overturned by Congress. The middle class exploded in growth.

The national debt went up by only $20 billion during the eight years of the Eisenhower administration. From 2021 to 2022 it went up that much in less than four days.

Three things fascinate me about Eisenhower’s presidency.

First, in spite of or perhaps because of spending most of his career in the military, he was probably the most anti-war president we ever had.

In what he may have regarded as his most important speech, his farewell address on Jan. 17, 1961, he spoke of the “grave implications” of our “immense military establishment and a large arms industry” and then added these famous words:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”

However, in his first major address as president on April 16, 1953, he gave possibly the most anti-war speech ever given by an American president.

Speaking to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, he said: “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.”

He talked of the cost of bombers, fighter planes, and warships and all the good homes, food, hospitals, etc. that could be bought with this money and said, “The world in arms…is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

In a summary of a book called “Ikes Bluff” by Evan Thomas, it says though Eisenhower was “viewed by many as a doddering lightweight, behind the bland smile and simple speech was a master tactician.”

To end the Korean War, Thomas wrote, Eisenhower would take a “colossal risk by bluffing that he might use nuclear weapons against the Communist Chinese, while at the same time restraining his generals and admirals who favored the strikes.”

Second, every president since Eisenhower has allowed Israel and its very powerful lobby here to control U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Eisenhower not only resisted tremendous pressure from Israel to join it, France and Great Britain in a war against Egypt in 1956, he did it on national television one week before the presidential election.

Mitchell Bard wrote in The Times of Israel in 2014: “Eisenhower went on television to criticize Israel’s failure to withdraw from Egypt and warned that he would impose sanctions if it failed to comply. Eisenhower was prepared to cut off all economic aid, to lift the tax-exempt status of the United Jewish Appeal, and to apply sanctions on Israel.”

Third, there was a worldwide pandemic in 1957-58 called the Asian Flu that killed possibly as many as four million people. It led to a worldwide recession in 1958.

According to Wikipedia, recovery began in May of 1958, but it is generally accepted you are six months into a recession before most people really feel it, and six months out of it before most realize it.

The Wikipedia article said, “As 1958 ended, the economy was heading toward new high levels of employment and production.”

However, during the election in November of 1958 many people felt we were still in a recession and Democrats won victories all over the country, including most of the courthouse jobs in Knox County.

Eisenhower was wise and courageous enough not to overreact to the pandemic and shut down schools and businesses, and the U.S. recovered more quickly than any other country in the world.