21: On the Edge of Armageddon Part I (Dwight D. Eisenhower)


We just wanted to give you an update on our kickstarter campaign to raise money for podcast studio and in short it was a great success. We had a minimum goal of eighteen hundred dollars and we ended up with thirty three hundred. Eighty one dollars and for those who donated. We just wanted to thank you for your generous support and you should have also received an email asking for your information so that we can give you your ward and if you haven't already please fill it out expect to get your merchandise by June of twenty twenty and if you have any questions please email us and this American president at G MAIL DOT COM or. Send us a message through the kickstarter in our previous episode. We covered the first president of the cold. War Era Harry S Truman. It was under President Truman. That America initiated its policy of containment to contain wooded considered the greatest threat to world peace the Soviet Union this new conflict. The Cold War was unlike anything ever before it now. Two nations dominated the globe and with the development of thermonuclear weapons had the capacity to destroy civilization itself. History had entrusted Harry Truman with defense of the free world and he confronted crisis after crisis always with the specter of nuclear war in the background but now Truman's presidency was over and he had left the world's stage in his place was one of the most capable and experienced leaders in American history. His name was Dwight. David Eisenhower the great hero of world. War Two the Supreme Allied Commander who had invaded Normandy defeated Hitler and liberated Europe now Eisenhower or Ike. As his friends called him had the responsibility of leading the free world during this dangerous time. Few people today can recall the major events or accomplishments of Eisenhower's presidency too many. He is Amir transitional. Figure the president who served during the Stale and Cookie Cutter Nineteen fifties between the years of war under FDR and Truman and the social upheaval. Under Kennedy and Johnson but Eisenhower was no mere interlude like Truman. His presidency was one of crises. When American credibility and nuclear war were constantly at stake every decision he made involved delicate balance of terror. That could mean either peace or annihilation. How Eisenhower maintained that piece in avoided? Armageddon is the subject of this episode of this American President Around White. The Eisenhower was a man of humble beginnings he was born in eighteen ninety in Denison Texas. The third of seven boys. His father owned a general store when it failed. He later worked on the railroads mechanic and then at a creamery. His mother was a Mennonite and later a Jehovah's witness she was also an avowed pacifist ironic considering her son Dwight's future career path. The Eisenhower soon moved to Abilene Kansas. Young white had an idyllic childhood. He worked hard at his but he also enjoyed the outdoors. You'd go hunting and fishing for hours like his predecessor Harry Truman. He became an avid reader especially on military history. Something that would serve him well. Throughout his career of his childhood. Eisenhower would later write quote. I have found out in later years. We were very poor but the glory of America is that we didn't know it then. Eisenhower's family lived frugally. When his father's general store failed the family was forced to tighten their belts that lesson? The importance of living within ones means stuck eisenhower for his entire career. As we will see this lead Ike to consider going to either the Naval Academy or West Point since both offered free college degrees. He was beyond the age limit for the Naval Academy so in nineteen eleven. He became a student at West Point at West Point. Eisenhower was an average student but he did well in sports playing for the Varsity football team and taking up fencing and gymnastics after graduating in nineteen fifteen. He married a woman they me doubt soon. America entered World War. One and like many young men of his day. Eisenhower hoped to get in on the action overseas but he would end up being disappointed instead. He was given assignments in the United States. He was stuck training tank. Crews that never even saw combat. He never got to fight abroad during the war which left him feeling. Bitter and depressed throughout the next couple of decades. Eisenhower worked either with or for many of the men who would emerge as the top military figures of world war. Two he collaborated with George. Patton on new ideas for tank warfare ideas that were way ahead of their time. He served under General Fox. Connor who has an intellectual mentor to him? Through Connor I studied Clausewitz and other military classics by then. Eisenhower was a serious student and had come into his own intellectually from nineteen twenty five to twenty six. He attended the command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth and graduated first in his class of two hundred forty. Five Officers Eisenhower. Later worked as general. Douglas MacArthur's military aid in the Philippines. That experience taught him two things. First how to handle relations with foreign ally and second how to handle the man with as massive and ego is General Macarthur when America entered World War. Two in nineteen forty one general. George Marshall Hired Eisenhower as a war. Planner Marshall had an eye for talent and realize that Eisenhower was one of the best many had maybe the best thus began. Eisenhower's meteoric rise. Within a year. He was running the allied operation in North Africa. His success they're impressed. President D Roosevelt. The military began planning for the critical invasion of France to liberate the European continent. From Hitler's rule many observers believed that Roosevelt would put Marshall in charge of the invasion an FDR knew that whoever would lead that invasion if successful would be remembered as the great American military hero of World War Two. He felt Marshall deserve the honor and recognition but he also wanted Marshall by his side and Roosevelt also knew that Eisenhower had considerable skill in military planning in maintaining coalitions by December nineteen forty-three. Fdr had decided that. Eisenhower would command the invasion known as D Day. Eisenhower would now be leading the largest seaborne invasion in world history involving over two million men. The president announced the decision in a fireside chat in December of Nineteen forty-three. The commander selected. Leave the combined effect from these points is general. Dwight D Eisenhower his performances in Africa in Sicily and Italy been brilliant. He knows my practical successful experience. The Way to coordinate air sea and land power all of these. We'll be under his control. The world's hopes for defeating Hitler rested on Eisenhower Shoulders. He spoke to his men just before. The invasion began on June. Sixth nineteen forty four soldiers. Sailors airman of the Allied Expeditionary Force. You are about to embark upon the great crusade toward which we have striven these many months the eyes of the world are upon you the hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere March with you in company with our brave allies and brothers in arms on other fronts you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well-trained well-equipped battle-hardened he will fight savagely. But this is the year in one thousand nine hundred forty four much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of nineteen forty forty one. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats in open battle. Man-to-man our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground are home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions war and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned. The Freeman of the world are marching together to victory. I have full confidence in your courage devotion to duty and skill in battle we will accept nothing less than full victory. Good luck and let us all be seats. The blessing of Almighty God upon this brave and noble undertaking at the same time. Eisenhower had a statement prepared in the event of a failure. It read quote our landings in the Cherbourg Harbour area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I've withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do if any blame or fault attached to the attempt it is mine alone thankfully. Eisenhower never had to read that statement. The operation was a great success less than a year later. May Nineteen forty-five Hitler was dead and the Allies were victorious in Europe by the end of World War. Two Eisenhower was a national hero. And it's not surprising that he was immediately being discussed as a presidential candidate. After all victorious generals going back to George Washington and Andrew. Jackson had a good track record for winning. The presidency. Eisenhower was so well respected that even the incumbent President Harry Truman verbally offered him the presidency. Truman told that he would willingly give up his spot on the top of the ticket and run as Eisenhower's running mate in nineteen forty. Eight Eisenhower was taken aback by the comment. He publicly refused to become a candidate but his supporters feared that Eisenhower was missing his one chance for the presidency if he didn't run in nineteen forty eight. The Republicans were heavily favored to win that year. And it was assumed. That New York governor Thomas Dewey would get the nomination after winning in nineteen forty eight. Do we would likely run for reelection. In nineteen fifty two leaving nineteen fifty six as the earliest eisenhower could run by then he would be sixty five years old perhaps too old to run but in the end do he was defeated in nineteen forty eight by President Truman. In one of the greatest upsets in American history history thus left the door wide open for Eisenhower in nineteen fifty two throughout the postwar years Eisenhower wrote his memoirs and served in other leadership capacities. He became the President of Columbia University. And then the supreme commander of NATO in that latter position Eisenhower remained on the world stage. He was the leader of the world's most powerful alliance and basically a head of state in his own right. Few men ever had better preparation to be president but he had to go through the political process at home if he wanted to be president. He revealed that he considered himself. Right of center. More aligning with the Republican Party. But he differed with many Republican politicians that identified with the Old Guard. Those Republicans who hoped to rollback. Fdr'S NEW DEAL. And who supported a more non interventionist foreign policy one leery of too much involvement in the World Eisenhower? The man who had led the allied effort in Europe during the war and was now head of NATO was internationalist. He believed that in the Cold War Era America had to lead the cause of freedom. Although he was conservative in temperament he was not a conservative ideologue. He was what one might consider a moderate conservative in the nineteen fifty two election. Conservative Robert Taft Son of the former President William Howard. Taft was the front runner for the GOP nomination and an old guard. Conservative Eisenhower feared. America would reject internationalism if taft won the presidency. Thus Eisenhower became a candidate and won a close and controversial race for the nomination aches AIDS recommended that he select the young senator from California Richard Nixon as his running mate the thirty eight year old Nixon had made a name for himself as a staunch anti-communist they made for a fascinating pair. Eisenhower was the elder statesmen and military hero. While Nixon was the young attack dog facing them was the wonky Democratic nominee Ashley Stevenson. The election had its controversy the most famous one being allegations that Nixon had a secret slush fund with donations from rich businessmen. Nixon deflected the allegations with his famous checkers. Speech either way. Eisenhower was the most popular man in America so Stevenson didn't have a chance. It was a choice between the victorious. General of World War Two or a guy some labeled as an egghead intellectual. So I'm sure you can see where this is going on election night. Eisenhower won a landslide. Victory winning thirty nine out of forty eight states it was a resurrection for the Republicans. They had lost the previous five presidential elections. Dwight Eisenhower a poor boy from Abilene was now the thirty fourth president of the United States. When people what back in the fifties they generally picture a quiet peaceful time the era of suburbs housewives. Wholesome TV programming like Dobie. Gillis leave it to beaver my three sons. The Donna Reed show to extent this is true especially compared with the upheavals in the previous and subsequent decades. But when Eisenhower took office there was a real sense of fear. Forboding about the future at the eve of the new decade in nineteen forty nine. America's great adversary the Soviet Union attain nuclear capability United States. No longer had the nuclear monopoly. Joseph Stalin the butcher of millions now had the power of the atomic bomb. It's kind of like the fear. People have about Kim Jong. Hoon having nuclear weapons but imagine if Kim Jong UN was in charge of the biggest country in the world and both the Americans and the Soviets racing to build ballistic missiles that could deliver nuclear weapons across the globe in hours. Even minutes people felt that world war three and nuclear holocausts were becoming real possibilities that civilization might actually destroy itself to Americans. Communism was a very real threat at almost the same time that the Soviets got the bomb the most populous nation in the world. China fell to communist leader Mao Zedong that meant that an additional five hundred million people or a fifth of the world's population where now under communist rule for many Americans it seemed as if communism was destined to spread in the same way that Fascism did in the nineteen thirties unless painful sacrifices were made to stop it. That fear wasn't just an external one. There was a genuine threat of Soviet espionage in the United States after all Klaus Fuchs was a German physicist working on the Manhattan project in Los Alamos and was supplying the Soviets with nuclear secrets. The rosenbergs had also been convicted of espionage. Eisenhower's Vice President Richard. Nixon had spent his years in Congress attacking communist infiltration in the United States he especially went after Alger Hiss. A prominent State Department official for being a Soviet spy. The man who define this age of paranoia was the infamous Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin McCarthy who enjoyed high approval ratings from the public claimed several times to have lists of government officials who were communists. He publicly accused officials at the highest levels of government of being Soviet agents usually with little to no evidence. The most absurd example was his attack on George Marshall. Eisenhower's mentor and one of the Great Heroes of World War. Two this era of fear and paranoia defined the early Cold War but the war wasn't always cold. There were times when hot wars breakout at by nineteen fifty. Two America was well into its first hot war of the nuclear age. In nineteen fifty the communist government of North Korea invaded anti-communist South Korea. The Truman administration feared that the fall of South Korea. So soon after the fall of China would mean the spread of communism all throughout Asia. It viewed the conflict as just one theater in a global struggle between the free world and the Communists world and it remembered the lessons of appeasement just before World War. Two that appeasing Hitler only invited further aggression too many Americans. The Communist invasion of South Korea was further proof that communist bloc led by the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China was pursuing global domination. And it was true. That both the Soviets Ama- Chinese were eating the North Koreans so truman lead an international effort under the United Nations to repel the invasion. Although General Douglas Macarthur was able to push North Koreans back. The Chinese intervened invaded the Korean Peninsula. The Chinese succeeded in pushing UN forces. Back South and resulted in a bloody stalemate in just three years. The United States had over thirty thousand combat deaths less than one decade after World War. Two when American citizen wrote the President Truman. Quote in. Heaven's name what are you doing? The blood hasn't dried from World War. Two while running in nineteen fifty. Two Eisenhower announced that he intended to end the war by going to Korea. Those words electrified the nation and gave it hope that peace was around the corner less than a month after his election on December second nineteen fifty. Two Eisenhower arrived in Korea. He inspected the troops and met with American commanders. Some Advice Eisenhower that the war could be won generals Mark Clark and James Van Fleet suggested the use of nuclear weapons in expansion of the war against China could lead to victory now. Might strike you as alarming that anyone would advise the use of nuclear weapons but this was the reality Cold War. It was something that General Macarthur talked about in Korea just before president. Truman fired him and it was something that would come up time and time again as we'll see during Eisenhower's presidency the Cold War was full of unprecedented dilemmas. In Korea American and Chinese forces engaged in combat Americans were confident that they could win after all they had defeated both the Nazis and the Japanese in partnership with the Allies of course China was a third world country. Surely China would be an easy opponent but America was unprepared for the Korean War. Especially since it had demobilized after World War Two and the Chinese had an enormous number of forces bay virtue of Sheer Numbers. They pushed back. And that's how the stalemate happened the. Us Now faced a dilemma. In order to win American might have to intensify the war effort sending more forces to fight but some wondered well if we have nuclear weapons. Why don't we use them? I mean otherwise. What's the point of having them? And as the body bags piled up more Americans kept wondering. Why are we letting our soldiers get killed if we have a weapon that could end the war once and for all nuclear weapons were the most terrifying weapons ever devised by man? But you can see why some people might at least be tempted to think this way to think about using the bomb especially if you fear the spread of communism and if you're sick and tired of a bloody stalemate but of course there were fears for what this would mean if we use nuclear weapons against North Korea or against China. The world could be revolted by their use. America's prestige could be damaged forever. The fallout from nuclear warfare could lead to unprecedented collateral damage. And what if the Soviet responded given their relationship with China in North Korea they had hundreds of thousands of soldiers in Europe. What if they retaliated by invading our allies in Europe? What if they blockaded and attacked our presence in Berlin and now that they had the bomb what if they used it against us or our allies while most people shuddered at the thought of starting a nuclear war with the Soviets. Some felt that this was the time to do in the cold. War was relatively new. Soviets did have the bomb but they were few years behind the United States in nuclear firepower in the development of the hydrogen bomb in the means to deliver it. Why allow them to catch up. Why not hit them now with everything? We had so that the Soviets would never get to the point of competing with us after all. Didn't the West wait too long to stop? Hitler wouldn't more lives been saved if we had taken on. Hiller earlier was stolen that much different than Hitler and wasn't stolen even more dangerous than Hitler. Now considering he had the bomb of course the situation was more complicated than that. Hitler installing were both totalitarian tyrants ruthless killers but their circumstances weren't exactly the same still. Most people feared what Stalin could do especially since he had successfully imposed his grip on Eastern Europe and supported communist movements around the world. They also feared the worst case scenario in all of this that the Soviets would respond in kind to nuclear attack against itself or its allies with a nuclear attack of its own and then a nuclear war might ensue. The specter of nuclear Holocaust hovered over everything. These were the debates that were raging on in the early cold war in Korea would be the first decision for the new president despite the advice from Generals Clark and Vanfleet. Eisenhower refused to expand the effort in Korea. He rejected their request and move forward with negotiations for now. America's president would not go anywhere near using nukes in Korea but the temptation to use them or to threaten their use with continued to rise throughout. Eisenhower's administration on January Twentieth Nineteen fifty-three Dwight D Eisenhower. At the age of sixty two took the oath of office in became the thirty fourth president of the United States fully aware of the immense burdens. He was undertaking. The new president began his inaugural address with a prayer. My friend before I begin the expression of those thought that I deem appropriate to this moment. Would you permit me the privilege of uttering a little private prayer of my own and I asked you? Bow Your Head Almighty got as we stand here at this moment my associates in my future associates in the executive branch of government. Join me BESIKCI. That foul will make full and complete dedication to the service of the people in this throng and their fellow citizens everywhere give us we pray the power to discern clearly right from wrong and allow all our words and actions to be governed thereby and by the laws of this land especially we pray that are concerned shall be for all the people regardless of station race are calling may cooperation be permitted and be a mutual lane of those who under the concepts of our constitution whole to differing political faith. Show that Oh may work for the good of our beloved country and glory. I'm in in the weeks. After HIS ELECTION EISENHOWER SKETCHED OUT AGENDA FOR HIS ADMINISTRATION. There were two overriding concerns. One immediate and the other long-term the immediate concern was the Korean War in the plan to negotiate an end to that war. The long term concern was the Cold War and how to contain the Soviet Union. Things are right for change. America wanted to move past the stalemate of the Korean War but there was also big news. Out of the Kremlin Joseph Stalin. The totalitarian dictator of the Soviet Union the Godfather of the Communist Movement for almost three decades died of a cerebral hemorrhage on March fifth nineteen fifty-three there would be a new Soviet leader. Although it would take some time to figure out who won the power struggle with new leadership in the White House and the Kremlin. There might be a new way forward in the Cold War in our previous episodes. We covered president. Harry Truman and his containment strategy. It was summed up by George Kennan. Who said that quote? The main element of any United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be that of long term patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tenancies. It was a middle ground between those who just wanted to negotiate with the Soviets and coexist with them and those who wanted to roll the Soviets back pushing them from where they were already established. Originally Truman headed here to what was called a strong point defense strategy. He felt that it would be too expensive and difficult to stop the Soviets everywhere as powerful as America was it cost too much to defend giant. Swath of international territory encounter the Soviets wherever they expanded whether it was by military force or aid to communist groups around the world and it would also give the Soviets the initiative to allow them to bogs down in conflicts around the world. They would be able to decide where the conflicts would start if we promised to stop them wherever they expanded they could start them in areas or arenas that played to their strengths and our weaknesses. The strong point defense strategy called for providing economic assistance to allies at certain points around the world so that those allies could become centers of military and economic strength that way those allies could stand up on their own feet and share in the burden of containing Soviet expansion. This strategy was made manifest in the Marshall Plan and the Truman doctrine which provided economic aid to Greece and Turkey. It also meant that. America wasn't on the hook for defending every country threatened by the Soviets or the Chinese and it would detract from the Soviets ability to dictate where a conflict or competition would occur while the Korean War changed all of that although Korea was not originally considered a strong point the possibility of millions more falling under the orbit of communism called into question America's commitment to its allies. The Truman Administration. Now believe that the defeat of South Korea meant a victory for the Communists and decided to commit forces to save it by then a new strategy document known as NFC sixty eight had been in circulation. It rejected strong point defense and called for a dramatic increase in the defense budget. Truman had originally requested thirteen billion dollars for defense in nineteen fifty. Nfc Sixty eight called for increasing that number to forty or fifty billion almost triple what was originally requested. It called for increasing both conventional and nuclear capabilities and replace strongpoint defense with perimeter defense now. America committed defending large parameter as opposed to merely supporting certain key locations with the Korean War. American foreign policy was now guided by NFC sixty eight by nineteen fifty to the defense budget reached sixty billion dollars. Some feared that America couldn't afford this increase in the defense budget and might bankrupt itself by overspending betray and believed that the American economy could sustain it when he was a senator. He was a loyal new dealer and believed that government's spending could stimulate the economy classic Keynesian economics but instead of domestic spending as a stimulus it would now be defense spending many. Are you'd that economic growth in world? War Two was proof of this theory since government spending had increased to build American tanks. Ships planes in ammunition. Besides Truman believed that spending now to prevent the communist advance would be less expensive than fighting a war with the Communists after they expanded. And we're in a stronger position as Truman said in. Nineteen fifty to quote the real threat to our security. Isn't the danger bankruptcy? It's the danger of Communist Aggression. If Communism is allowed to absorb the free nations one by one then we would be isolated from our sources of supply and detached from our friends. Then we would have to take defense measures which might really bankrupt our economy and change our way of life so that we wouldn't recognize it was American any longer. President Eisenhower sharply disagreed with President. Truman and the premise of NFC sixty eight. I mentioned earlier in the episode about. Eisenhower's frugal background. Well this would come to define his cold war policy perhaps more than anything else in the truth episodes. I discussed the paradox of the Cold War. Both sides felt compelled to outdo the other every time when one side built a tank. The other side built a better tank. Same thing for planes and for ships. When America built the atomic bomb the Soviets were compelled to do the same thing when the Soviets got the bomb the Americans built even more powerful hydrogen bomb and so on and so forth but there was a potentially self-defeating logic to all of this did out doing the other side necessarily mean superiority or greater security. What if those weapons had diminishing returns? What if there are cheaper alternatives to achieving safety than matching our ponant? What if spending all this money potentially bankrupting yourself and destroying your nations credit win that be self-defeating would America really win the Cold War if it destroyed its own fiscal health? Eisenhower set as much. When he said of the Soviets quote it is more than merely a military threat it has been coldly calculated by the Soviet leaders for by their military threat. They have hoped to force upon America and the free world an unbearable security burden leading to economic disaster but even with all that said to some extent. The United States had to spend money to counter the Soviets or at least deter them the US had to be able to defend itself against the communist by some measure. We had to be able to backup containment with some amount of force if containment were to mean anything. But what was the right balance? How do you maintain superiority against the other side without overextending yourself? Her busting your on budget. Eisenhower saw the Cold War primarily in terms of economics while his Secretary of State John Foster Dulles believed the Cold War was essentially a moral conflict. Eisenhower wrote quote. We are a product and a representative of the Judeo Christian civilization and it does teach some concern for your brother and I believe in that but Eisenhower added quote. The minimum requirement is that we are able to trade freely in spite of anything. Russia may do with those areas from which we obtain the raw materials that are vital for our economy. Dulles summarized this view when he said quote if economic stability goes down the drain. Everything goes down the drain. Eisenhower obsessed over the cost of the Cold War. He saw defense spending in terms of what it costs. The American people just three months into his term Eisenhower delivered a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors that outlined that cost a nation of lasting peace cannot be firmly based upon any reason armaments but rather upon just relations and honest understanding with all other nations. What can the world or any nation in it for you know turning is found on this dread the worst to be feared and the best to be expected can be simply statement. The worst is a comic rule. The best would be this. A life of perpetual fear intention a burden of arms draining the and labor of all people a wasting of strength. That defies the American system on the Soviet system or any to to achieve true abundance and happiness for the people of this earth. Every gun that is made every warship launched every rocket fire signifies in the final from those hunger are not fit those who are cold and are not this world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers. The genius of its violence the hoops of his children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber. Is this a modern brick school? In more than thirty said it is to electric power plants each serving town of sixty thousand population it to find fully equipped hostile fifty miles of three. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels a week. We pay a single destroyer with new homes. That could have housed more than eight thousand people this is. I repeat the best way of life to be found on the road. The world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all. Then he puts them under. The cloud. Threatening warranted is humanity hanging from across the via. Eisenhower did not see defense spending as a stimulus to the economy. He saw it as a burden. Something that took away from American prosperity and the thriving of American civilization after all increased defense spending meant higher taxes on the American people and it could also mean higher national debt. It's fascinating than a military man. A man who spent his career rising in the army was talking about the defense budget in negative terms. Perhaps Eisenhower was the last president who could do this. He wasn't a professional politician nor was he insa political ideology. He was a national military hero and therefore he had the clout to espouse policies. That contradicted the desires of either party and could combine aspects of both to this day. There are many who agree with. Eisenhower's warnings on Defense Meeting and hope to reduce the defense budget. Eisenhower would have counseled us to be wise about what we spend money on. But this didn't mean. He didn't recognize the Soviets as a threat. The whole point of his frugality was so that the US could compete with the Soviet Union and more cost effective way. There was no moral ambiguity for Eisenhower. He believed that America was a positive. Moral force and the Soviets were an immoral totalitarian government. In Eisenhower's is it was the Soviets who are responsible for the Cold War starting in the first place. Eisenhower stated Soviet government yelled at vastly different vision of the future in the world of its design. Security was to be found not in mutual trust and mutual aid but in force you. Jeremy Subversion Rule of neighbor nations. The goal is power superiority and all costs security was to be sought by denying it to all of the result has been tried to for the world and for the Soviet Union. It has also been running. The imagining of Soviet power alerted free nations to a new danger of aggression. It compel him in Self-defense. To spend unprecedented money and energy for women's it forced them to develop weapons of war now capable of inflicting incident terrible punishment upon any restaurant in August of nineteen fifty. Four Eisenhower would say that quote. The central core of the great world problem is the aggressive intent of international communism. So while Eisenhower feared the cost of the Cold War he still maintained that the American people had a job to do. He may have disagreed with troms methods of containment. The increase spending the perimeter defense but not with its goal the Soviet Union had to be contained. But how how do you reconcile the paradox of spending in the Cold War with the goal of winning it to answer that question? Eisenhower decided to explore all possible options. While making use of the best minds he could find to that end. He initiated a project Alarium and it was named that because it was hatched out in the Celerion Room at the White House. It involved convening a group of brilliant men from the federal government and academia and it happened in the summer of nineteen fifty three as a critical exercise. In that exercise. The men were divided up into three teams with each team. Exploring three major strategies under consideration team was led by George Kennan considered by many to be the father of containment. They were tasked with defending. Truman's current policy. Containment team be was tasked with taking a tougher line against the Soviets and focusing more on using US nuclear weapons as a deterrent and team. C was also tasked with taking tough line and the Soviets with a focus on an aggressive policy called rollback. Instead of merely containing Soviet expansion. The team would look into whether it would be possible to push them back for more. They were the entire. Solarium project was so secretive that it remained classified until the mid nineteen eighties. Out of the project came a new strategy. That would replace an AC- sixty eight. The new document was NFC. One sixty two and the new strategy was called the new look and it was a dramatically different view of containment. The goal now. The Cold War was to win by not bankrupting ourselves. This meant getting America's fiscal house in order through major cuts in defense spending. This was a time when defense spending took about two thirds of the entire federal budget. Compare that to now. Were defense is less than about fifteen percent which by the way includes both discretionary and non discretionary spending so that was the first element of new look. The new strategy also meant staying away from foreign wars as much as possible like the kind truman got us into in Korea. After all are very expensive it was kind of like a race to frugality where the most cost. Effective side wins. But how are we to maintain deterrence encounter the Soviets if we were reducing defense spending? The answer came into words massive retaliation. Nfc One sixty two said that the United States would maintain quote a strong military posture with emphasis on the capability of inflicting massive retaliatory damage by offensive striking power. But if the military budget was slashed. Were would that power come from again? An Se 162 reported that the United States quote will consider nuclear weapons as available for use as other munitions essentially the Eisenhower Administration called for greater reliance on nuclear weapons rather than conventional forces like tanks ships planes and personnel as a way to deter communist aggression whether it came from the Soviet Union or the People's Republic of China adding to the credibility of this shift. Eisenhower early in his presidency had taken control of the nuclear stockpile away from the Civilian Atomic Energy Commission and gave it to the military again to some. This was terrifying prospect. Did this mean that. The United States threatened to use nuclear weapons whenever Russia or China acted aggressively. So if another career happens somewhere. Did this mean that this time we would respond with nuclear weapons and if we really were using nuclear weapons to deter adversaries were we actually willing to use them and what would happen if we did use them. What about the international blowback what about radiation poisoning and the damage to the environment? And what if we weren't really willing to use them? What would happen if we threaten to use them in a crisis? Either against the Soviets of the Chinese but they were willing to call our bluff. Wouldn't our credibility diminished then to Eisenhower. The policy of massive retaliation was about reducing costs in fact in nineteen fifty-five. Eisenhower would cut four point. Eight billion dollars from the defense budget. Four point one billion of those cuts came from the army but it was also more than that again. He feared that the alternative would be to outmatch the Soviets everywhere countering their every move whether it meant building better tanks or confronting them wherever they acted aggressively as we said earlier. This was the path to national bankruptcy at least potentially and it gave the Soviets the initiative to choose where geographically or figuratively fight but eisenhower had a different strategy in the words of Vice President. Richard Nixon quote rather than let the Communists Nibble us to death all over the world and little wars we would rely on the future primarily on our massive mobile retaliatory power which we could use in our discretion against the major source of aggression. At times and places we choose instead of countering the Soviet strength we would try to offset those strengths by hitting their weaknesses. This took the initiative away from the Soviets and gave it back to the United States but it was risky some claim that it was defense on the cheap also. It meant that we would be accepting vulnerability in one area while trying to counter them in another area. Many felt eisenhower was playing dice with the security of the country. Others including Eisenhower's own former army colleagues felt that he had betrayed them because he was slashing the defense budget specifically the army budget in favor of nuclear weapons but Eisenhower believed the risk outweigh the potential cost. There was another paradox to the Cold War. Many Americans were disgusted by what they considered the immorality of nuclear weapons. But it seemed that to Eisenhower as evil as these weapons were. There was something self-reinforcing about them. The very purpose of nuclear weapons was to deter the actual use. He had no illusions about their destructive power. In fact Eisenhower had opposed their use at the end of World War Two against Japan and lamented that America was the first and only country to use them but it appears that he felt that piece was actually more attainable through relying on nuclear weapons. He seemed to feel that relying on a lesser deterrent like conventional weapons or even smaller tactical nuclear weapons made war more likely. Political leaders would be more tempted to use those weapons because they didn't seem to threaten the destruction of civilization. If the threat of nuclear weapons hovered over every decision they would be far less likely to use force he also appeared to believe that those who advocated relying more on lesser weapons. Were deluding themselves. In this new era almost every conflict or event had implications for the broader geopolitical situation. Anything could spark general war among the powerful nations. That's what had happened in World War One. The killing of one man archduke. Franz Ferdinand led to a broader conflict. Eisenhower felt that it was just a reality that in the cold war small could spark bigger ones if you relied on conventional forces or tactical nukes. You might forget that and in doing so accidentally provoke a confrontation or crisis between the Americans and the Soviets. If you knew nuclear weapons were always a threat. You no longer had that delusion. You would be deterred from taking hasty action. In Eisenhower's is it appears the irony was that the most destructive weapon in history might lead to the most stable situation among the superpowers. So the question was how to establish credibility that you were really willing to inflict massive retaliation and part of this came from tough talk. President Eisenhower in future crises would issue public statements that hinted the United States was willing to use nuclear weapons. At least considering it sometimes his administration with let it be known through back channels that military plans were being drawn up involving the hydrogen bomb and remember an a c one sixty two itself said that in the event of war with the Soviets are the Chinese quote the United States will consider nuclear weapons to be as available for use as other munitions and some deterrence also involved unpredictability. The American nuclear arsenal was being expanded into what is now known today as the nuclear triad the US could now deliver nuclear weapons not just with bombers but with ballistic missiles from silos and from submarines with multiple nuclear options. The Soviets wouldn't necessarily know where we might hit them and the triumph also gave America a greater sense of security. If the Soviets tried to attack our silos in bombers. We would still have nukes in. Our subs left Eisenhower. And Dulles were embracing what has been called brinksmanship the willingness to go to the brink of nuclear war as part of National Security Policy. To these cold warriors. Brinksmanship was an art. It was a form of dealmaking with the highest stakes possible there is a certain swagger here a willingness to play a massive geopolitical game of chicken to go to the edge of Armageddon Eisenhower. Was Willing to go to the brink in part because he had the credibility to do so remember. This was the victorious general from World War Two. Who had taken on and vanquished Hitler's forces? He was the most respected man in the world. No one could question whether he was soft. Maybe he was the only one that could have done it. He came into office with far more prestige than most of his predecessors and his successors those presidents who came after Eisenhower. Just didn't have the same clout America's adversaries couldn't take the mysteriously as they would generalize power. In addition a massive retaliation new look highlighted the importance of allies as a means to enhance deterrence. Alliances would help serve as a trip wire. If the enemy was encircled by American allies. It might know that any form of expansion would risk conflict because Russia would then be encroaching on nations. America was obligated to defend so under Eisenhower. You saw the creation of CTO. It's basically NATO but in Southeast Asia and Santo. Same thing but in the Middle East and host of bilateral treaties. This also meant that. American allies could contribute their own forces in the event of a regional conflict as Eisenhower said. The idea was quote to develop within various areas in regions of the Free World Indigenous Forces for the maintenance of order the safeguarding of frontiers and the provision of the bulk of ground capability. This would make it less necessary for American forces to police the entire world and it would achieve cost savings for the United States. The strategy also embrace something more aggressive that containment and that was rollback. Remember containment was a compromise between those who advocated for negotiations with the Soviets and those who advocated for rollback. While Eisenhower supported containment. He also believed that the United States might be able to take an aggressive posture and push back against the communists. Perhaps ejecting them from where they were. But how could he do this without sending in ground forces or starting a major conflict the answer involved covert operations now president? Truman deftly dabbled in covert ops. But as we'll see eisenhower took it to the next level under Eisenhower the CIA and other US. Government agencies employed propaganda gave aid to anticommunist guerrillas and other underground resistance movements and use other methods of deception. Some of the more controversial tactics involved government overthrows and plots to assassinate foreign leaders while many consider these actions heavy-handed examples of American imperialism of unjust interference in the affairs of other nations. The Eisenhower Administration believe they were justified. As part of winning the Cold War and far less costly than over at military action or diplomacy but even if Eisenhower and Dulles embrace brinksmanship it didn't mean that he didn't understand the destructive power of nuclear weapons nor was he opposed to peaceful overtures. Our negotiations with the Soviets in that same speech he gave to the American Society of newspaper. Editors Eisenhower called for working with the Soviets to reduce the weapons of war quote as progress. All these areas strengthens World Trust. We would proceed concurrently with the next great work. The reduction of the burden of armaments now weighing upon the world to this end we would welcome an enter into the most solemn agreements. These could properly include I the limitation by absolute numbers or by agreed international ratio of the sizes of the military and security forces of all nations. Second a commitment by all nations to set and agreed limit upon that proportion of total production of certain strategic materials to be devoted to military purposes third international control of atomic energy to promote its use for peaceful purposes only and to ensure the prohibition of atomic weapons forth a limitation or prohibition of other categories of weapons of great destructiveness and fifth the enforcement of all these agreed limitations and prohibitions by adequate safeguards including a practical system of inspection under the United Nations. These were lofty words that looked forward to international cooperation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. They would be echoed by future presidents who sought disarmament and a new understanding in the cold. War this was not some naive vision of president who believes that arms limitation agreements could end the Cold War or fundamentally changed the nature of the Soviet Union but Eisenhower believed that such agreements might help stabilize cold-war competition. There was also a real hope that nuclear weapons could be a major source of energy and if arms agreements could lead to cost reductions. Perhaps by warding off inexpensive arms race all the better. Eisenhower made a specific proposal for using nuclear power for peaceful purposes in December of nineteen fifty. Three he gave a speech at the United Nations where he discussed the horrors of nuclear war. Atomic bombs. Today are more than twenty five times as powerful as the weapon with which the Atomic Age dawn while hydrogen weapons are in the range of millions of tons of TNT equivalent. Today the United States stockpile of atomic weapons which of course increases daily seeds by many times the totally equivalent of the total of all bombs and all shells that came from every plane and every gun in every theater of war in all of the years of World War. Two a single air group whether afloat or land based can now deliver to any reachable target a destructive cargo exceeding in power all the bombs that fell on Britain in all a World War. Two but he added that nuclear weapons could be used peacefully under the auspices of an international agency. The morning responsibility of the Atomic Energy Agency would be to devise message whereby this fishing material would be allocated to serve the peaceful pursuits of mankind. Experts would be mobilized to apply atomic energy to the needs of agriculture medicine and other people activity a special would be to provide abundant electrical energy in the power starved areas of the world but the contributing powers would be dedicating some of their strengths to the neath rather than the fear of mankind. This speech would lay the foundation of an international body that would regulate nuclear power for peaceful purposes the International Atomic Energy Agency. It would be one of his major international legacies regardless with the new look policy. Eisenhower had set forth his vision of containment. Essentially it meant restoring. America's fiscal health through massive defense cuts and reliance on the threat of nuclear weapons a willingness to engage in brinksmanship and lessening of these risks through alliances covert action and engagement with the Soviet Union and it also included a little bit of rollback. How this strategy played out in the messy reality of the cold. War will be the subject of the next episode of this American President We have a special announcement. We are quite excited to be joining the Evergreen podcast family. Evergreen is a rapidly. Growing podcast publisher. And they're working crate network of PODCASTS. Their network members create original content on a range of subjects from history and philosophy to pop culture and business. And we're really excited about this partnership because Evergreen love telling stories and that's what we love doing. We're passionate about stories and it's perfect thing proud to join evergreens network and look forward to working with them so that we can give you the best content possible. This American President is produced by myself. Richard Lamm and Michael. Thanks to my dad. Virtue the music in this episode is by Blue Dot session. I'm Richard Back next time with more impressive.

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