Ike and the Generals
By Evan Thomas Published December 16, 2012FoxNews.com
I like Ike more every time I read about him, I seems to me that he may well be the most under rated president of the modern era. Many will say that he’s remembered for his glory in WWII and that this has covered up the fact that he was past it when it came time to be president and just yucked and golfed his way through eight years with no real threats. And yet its was this period in the 50’s that was probably the most risky insofar as the chances of nuclear war went, because of Soviet Military Weakness and US Military Arrogance. Evan Thomas’ argument is that Ike bluffed both sides into quiescence by essentially posing an all or nothing threat over everyone’s head.
Warning, my interpretation of what I’ve read in the above article and elsewhere: Why would he have had to hold something over the head of his own generals? Because they had developed their own power base (military industrial complex, remember) and were if not out of control, then out to control the narrative regarding the Red menace and the solution to said menace. Ike realized that he did not have enough direct control over his generals to stop an accidental or ‘accidental’ escalation from taking place. So he put forth a strategy of massive retaliation and pulled US forces back to positions where they were not in direct confrontation. He then supported the technology that would give the president the best and most immediate information about the enemies capabilities and to some extent intentions (spy planes, spy satellites, the NSA etc) so he and future presidents would have the tools to keep the generals flights of fancy (missile gap, bomber gap, etc) in check. He also started the process of professionalization of the nuclear triad that essentially created a grand strategy / strategic viewpoint that made it harder for high-octane hot heads like Le May etc to become threats to peace and human survival.