Tuesday 24 Nov 2020 | 17:24 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 24 Nov 2020 | 17:24 | SYDNEY

I like Ike


Sam Roggeveen


23 January 2008 13:36

Steve Clemons and Matt Yglesias have each recently hit on a point about US presidential leadership – in fact any kind of national political leadership – that deserves more attention. Namely, that we tend to place higher value on leaders who prevail in a military confrontation than those who avoid getting into one in the first place. This is a point I did not sufficiently appreciate until reading Stephen Ambrose’s biography of Dwight Eisenhower, a president who gave the US eight years of peace, something no other 20th century president can claim. This, despite at least six unanimous staff recommendations during his term of office that he go to war. He also rejected Secretary of State Dulles’ advice to use nuclear weapons against China during the 1955 Formosa crisis.

Eisenhower knew first hand the terrible power of the US military, and recognised that courage could lay as much in restraining it as in unleashing it. The world needs more like him.