Oct 24, 2012

The Most Recent Book, "Ike's Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Struggle to Save the World," by Evan Thomas and the Presidential Election

 The most important decision either President Obama or another President like Romney want to make in the next future is  to bomb Iran and its nuclear facilities.
  Dwight Eisenhower was the first president to ponder his pre-emptive strike against a rising nuclear power. Immediately after Eisenhower became president, the Soviets detonated their own crude H-bomb, code named Joe IV (after Stalin) . Nine months  before this, the United States had set off its own first H-bomb, code named Mike -- 500 times more powerful than those that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. At a secret national security meeting on September 24, 1953, the president Eisenhower gathered his closest advisers and asked: ''Would it be morally wrong not to attack the Soviets before it was too late?''  In the end,Eisenhower and his advisers  concluded  not to strike first, disregarding the wishes of  the Strategic Air Command's Gen. Curtis LeMay. Eisenhower  wanted to use nuclear weapons to stop communist aggression. He used the threat of their use to get America out of Korea in 1953, and similarly threatened during crises in Vietnam in 1954, with Red China in the Formosa Straits in 1954-55 and again in 1958, during the Suez crisis in 1956 and in Berlin in 1958-59. Ike knew how to hold his cards, even if doing so hurt him politically.
In 1958, when he was under tremendous pressure to build more missiles to catch up the Russians, who had just launched the first satellite, Sputnik,  Ike seemed strangely passive. He knew that the CIA's spy plane, the U-2, had not found any Soviet ICBMs, but he wanted to keep the existence of the spy plane a secret.
 In the winter of 1958, Eisenhower was visited by the poet, Robert Frost, who gave him a book of his poems inscribed with the notation, "The strong are saying nothing until they see." These words became Ike 's  "favorite maxim."
Usually,Eisenhower was  carrying his great responsibility in
 the breast pocket. On D-Day, he carried this note , "The responsibility is mine alone," . On his first day as president in 1953, Ike wrote in his diary, "Plenty of worries and difficult problems. But such has been my portion for a long time."
 The most recent  book , "Ike's Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Struggle to Save the World," by Evan Thomas was published last month by Little, Brown and Company.
Now,  both Obama and Romney have said that containment is not an option when it comes to Iran getting the bomb.
Obama will no doubt try to reinforce foreign-policy campaign themes that his supporters feel are among his strongest credentials. But Mitt Romney will almost certainly try to lay out the narrative that Obama has weakened America and left it more vulnerable.
Republicans have  sought to present themselves as the party of foreign policy competence and national strength and  to portray Democrats as weak, anti-military and too inclined toward multilateralist mumbo jumbo.
The most resonant of the President Obama foreign policy achievements was the killing of Osama bin Laden ,this way dramatically weakening al Qaeda.  But Benghazi provided palpable evidence that terrorists targeting Americans  were still a reality .Combined with the continuing violence by the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan and by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, it is hard to make the case that the threat has been reduced .
Certainly the president  ended America's long and costly involvement in Iraq. He has America on track to exit Afghanistan by 2014. He not only got bin Laden, but the U.S. military and intelligence community under his leadership also got a broad array of top al Qaeda lieutenants, such as Anwar al-Awlaki, and Moammar Gadhafi.
 Obama's doctrine of fighting terror and enemies such as Iran through the use of covert means, cyberwarfare, special operations and unmanned drone operations seemed a more cost-effective.

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