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At West Point, Obama likes Ike

For now, I just want to note two striking moments in President Obama’s Afghanistan speech. Did you notice that the president did not choose to quote any of his party’s own giants -- Franklin D. Roosevelt (though FDR got a side mention), Harry S Truman or John F. Kennedy? Instead, he quoted a Republican, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

And the Eisenhower quotation he highlighted was not a call to battle, but a quiet tribute to reason: “Each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs.”

Lord knows, that’s not a line that will get people marching, and it was not particularly eloquent. But it was one of the most revealing lines in the speech. It made abundantly clear, as did the business-like tone of the rest of the speech, that Obama’s choice here came not from his gut, but from a cerebral analysis of the costs and benefits of various alternatives -- an Ike-like balancing test.

I was also struck by how much Obama still yearns to be a consensus president -- again, like Ike -- despite all the evidence that his political foes have no intention of joining him in the effort to build such a consensus. “This vast and diverse citizenry will not always agree on every issue -- nor should we,” he said. “But I also know that we, as a country, cannot sustain our leadership, nor navigate the momentous challenges of our time, if we allow ourselves to be split asunder by the same rancor and cynicism and partisanship that has in recent times poisoned our national discourse.”

He added: “It's easy to forget that when this war began, we were united -- bound together by the fresh memory of a horrific attack, and by the determination to defend our homeland and the values we hold dear. I refuse to accept the notion that we cannot summon that unity again.”

The line drew loud applause from the West Point cadets, who otherwise did not interrupt the speech with much clapping. Obama is right that a moment of great national unity was squandered. But bringing it back any time soon would probably be beyond even Ike’s capacity.

By E.J. Dionne  | December 1, 2009; 10:40 PM ET
Categories:  Dionne  | Tags:  E.J. Dionne  
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Next: Obama's resolve -- and reluctance

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eisenhower: 1961

http://www.h-net.org/~hst306/documents/indust.html

"Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment.

We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development.

Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes"

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$


obama is hostage to the military complex.

Posted by: forestbloggod | December 1, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Eisenhower, unlike Obama, knew first hand the horrors of war. Ike, unlike Obama, was confident in his own judgment. Obama seems unwilling to resist the advice of his many hawkish advisors, whereas Eisenhower, feeing more secure, did so if he thought they were wrong.

Eisenhower considered high military spending wasteful, an inhumane diversion from scarce domestic needs and a threat to the economy. Obama seems oblivious to any of these concerns.

Ike had a successful strategy to end the Korean war, Obama seems to be muddling along in Afghanistan. Obama appears to be subservient to the military-industrial complex, Eisenhower eloquently warned against.

In short, there are no significant similarities in the leadership styles of Eisenhower and Obama in their foreign policies.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | December 1, 2009 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Ike also fired his subservient General MacArthur when he disrespected the chain of command.


we're waiting, Obama.

Posted by: forestbloggod | December 1, 2009 11:27 PM | Report abuse

DUH.


It was TRUMAN. Einstein.

---

Ike also fired his subservient General MacArthur when he disrespected the chain of command.

Posted by: russpoter | December 1, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

E.J., YOU NEVER GET IT


Ike led millions and freed Europe.

Your PR client and his arrogant Chicago THUG pals stapled flyers on telephone poles.

E.J., you never get it. You are a tool for THUGS. Congratulations on reaching your level of incompetence.

Posted by: russpoter | December 1, 2009 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Obama figured that Bush got two terms being a "war" president. He's emulating Junior. What a bad example. Instead of rebuilding this unemployed and economically devatated nation he wants to blow up bombs in Afghanistan and rebuild it. His sucking up to chickenhawks is disgusting and repulsing.

Posted by: Single_Payer | December 2, 2009 12:20 AM | Report abuse

APROGRESSIVEINDEPENDENT WROTE:

".....Eisenhower considered high military spending wasteful, an inhumane diversion from scarce domestic needs and a threat to the economy. Obama seems oblivious to any of these concerns."
..............................

For a progressive, you sure are ignorant.
Especially about POTUS Obama. It's a pity you have never bothered to learn anything about him. You see, Ike may have known first-hand experience about the horror and cost of war. Contrary to your allegation about Obama being oblivious, as a young Illinois Senator, in October 2002, Obama spoke out in a forthright and prescient speech warning against the invasion of Iraq, a dumb war...because of the certain loss of life, length of war and likely high cost, flagging how the Bush administration was ignoring rising US poverty, growing numbers of uninsured and an economy heading towards recession.

Don't believe me, read his words below. Obama was against Iraq, against Afghanistan, but he inherited both along with a Bush-destroyed US economy and $10 trillion national debt. You owe Obama an apology, and some respect.

"What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

"What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income, to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.

"I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda."

SENATOR OBAMA SPEECH, CHICAGO FEDERAL PLAZA, OCTOBER 2002



Posted by: TruthFairy | December 2, 2009 2:29 AM | Report abuse

RUSPOTER WROTE:

"E.J., you never get it. You are a tool for THUGS. Congratulations on reaching your level of incompetence."

Russpoter, you are obviously psychotic, unbalanced. Anti-social. A cowardly bully...so bravely throwing undeserved insults at a reasonable author & fine elected POTUS, from the safe anonymity of your computer screen.

Your thug comment is stupid.

I feel sorry for you.

These comments are not supposed to be

Posted by: TruthFairy | December 2, 2009 2:38 AM | Report abuse

Yawn!!! This was the "SPEECH GIVER'S" worst sermon of them all. It was given with NO passion or emotion what so ever. It looked like it was a big pain in the butt for him to even be there.

This was supposed to be about the war and the "Speech Giver" always has to mention the things HE has done,the economy and other things that had NO business being in this speech.

We are going to PHASE in the troops to Afghanistan and as soon as we get them all in, start pulling them out!!

Al Qaeda,the Taliban and all the foreign JIHADISTS are loving this. They will sit back,stop fighting for eighteen months,re-arm and then come back with a vengence on anyone and everyone who even talks to the INFIDELS.

Posted by: 79USMC83 | December 2, 2009 6:20 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if the hatred of the commander-in-chief by wingnuts, critical of everything and anything he does, undermines the morale of our troops?

Posted by: orange3 | December 2, 2009 6:49 AM | Report abuse

By expending more American lives, instead of fewer, this surge will allow the United States to "save face" by leaving Afghanistan under improved conditions, rather than under deteriorating conditions.
And, no matter how well or poorly we do in the coming months, WE WILL HAVE TO RETURN to this battleground of global Jihad, in some form or fashion.
Then, we will be asking ourselves, "What were all those lives, all those years and a mighty effort...for?"
Whatever answers our leaders give, whatever the lessons learned, will soon be forgotten. The Pentagon's collective memory has a half-life of only ten years. Politicians will forget at the next election. Since most Americans never remember, they will have nothing to forget.
We will have done everything we could really afford.

Posted by: elfraed | December 2, 2009 7:00 AM | Report abuse

"Obama is right that a moment of great national unity was squandered."

Yes, by the Angry Left, that agrees with our enemies that the US and Israel are the villains in the world in general and the Mideast in particular. We saw the Angry Left clearing its throat a few short weeks after 9/11, when overthrowing the Taliban seemed elusive - dragging out their buzzwords of "quagmire", "Vietnam", "imperialism", etc.

They were shamed into silence by our triumph weeks later, but slithered back out from under their rocks to rally for "peace" in Iraq. None protested Saddam's brutal tyranny, his 12 years of violations of the Gulf War ceasefire, or his war brinksmanship. None, once the long-overdue liberation at last began, protested the fighting of the enemy - only of America. If they were genuinely anti war, rather than anti-American, would they not condemn all violence equally - indeed, would they not condemn genuine an obviously genuine bigoted, warmongering, terrorist, torturing, aggressor and tyrant rather than hurling such terms at the President of the United States?

Michael Moore, honored with a prominent seat at the Democratic convention near a former president, called our enemies in Iraq the equivalent of the Minutemen.

Thus we see that the "anti war" crowd is not actually "anti war" - but anti - American.

Yes, the unity was squandered. Shame on those who ruined the mood of togetherness with their bitterness, hatred, and treason.

Posted by: LStarr3 | December 2, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

It is back in the hands of the people.

If we want this war to end,
we will have to take to the streets.

It is the only real lesson of VietNam.

Posted by: simonsays1 | December 2, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

— James Madison, Political Observations, 1795

Posted by: francis4 | December 2, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I could not wait to get up this morning and read how the star crossed lover of Obama would play this one. And true to form Dionne decided to whistle past this cemetery instead of calling out his lover. I love how the lefties are twisting on this one. Dionne talks about a single line in the speech and completely disregards the consequences of Obama's decision. This is like Tiger Woods saying it was interesting how the wheels on his smashed car got all bent and never mentioning the problems he is having with his wife.

Dionne is such an apologist for this president I expected no less from him. He will continue to kick this can down the road for as long as Obama is in office. Nice Dionne, here you are a true liberal, always against "George Bush's war" but now when it is a liberal's war you get all gooshy and talk about meaningless dribble. You are the reason I will still read newspapers. I just love to see the hypocrisy day in and day out.

Posted by: tomb5 | December 2, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Wow...the anti-Obama bunch here are really a mentally unstable crew.

Posted by: kchses1 | December 2, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

orange3 wrote:
I wonder if the hatred of the commander-in-chief by wingnuts, critical of everything and anything he does, undermines the morale of our troops?

-----------------------
I think the bigger question is, I wonder if the extended lack reinforcements has lowered troop moral?
answer: it has and has been previously reported as such.

Posted by: axxionx12 | December 2, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Ask yourself - -

If you were among the young cadets sitting in the audience; would you take a bullet for THIS guy?

Honestly? No.

Posted by: CCPony1001 | December 2, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Let's see if the news gives us a nightly body count toll like they did for Iraq while Bush was President? P. S. Obama gave a nearly identical speech March 2009 minus the July 2011 pullout. Mr. Dionne, "Concensus Presidents" probably have a better chance of getting re-elected - ya think?

Posted by: star_key2 | December 2, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

The U. S. spends less than 5% of GDP on the military (currently). Check the numbers. Many other contries spend more - Google it. We spend 17% on healthcare by comparison. The "evil military industrial complex"????

Posted by: star_key2 | December 2, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Yes Eisehower warned us about the military industrial complex and the time has come to heed it. The privatization of war is only making it an even more profitable business and in the long run we cannot guarantee that one day we maybe become the subject of some country's and industries profit motive. Better to act now as an aexample of reducing war profiteering off of the suffering of others.
Afghanistan is just another Cold War relic draining our blood and money,leftover from a proxy war with Russia and now we are warming up the CIA designer Vietnam and headed for more indigestion.

Posted by: Wildthing1 | December 2, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

The U. S. spends less than 5% of GDP on the military (currently). Check the numbers. Many other contries spend more - Google it. We spend 17% on healthcare by comparison. The "evil military industrial complex"????

Posted by: star_key2
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
And it's not taking as great a portion of the GDP as it ever did except under Std. Ronald.

It's also a misleading figure because no one knows how much we spend on defense. The Iraq and Afghan Wars are funded through supplementary budgets. All the money for anything nuclear goes through the Department of Energy, the intelligence budgets are secret, the payment on war debt goes through Treasury, Veterans cost through still another agency etc. etc. etc.

And it still does not alter the fact that we spend more on war/defense than the rest of the world combined. Obscene and immoral.

Posted by: francis4 | December 2, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Ike was a five-star general and was not that big on consensus building. His biggest flaw was delegating to the wrong people... like Omar Bradley instead of Patton.

Ike let John Foster Dulles and his CIA brother Allen Dulles install a coup in Iran - which is why they still hate us after all these years. When will they ever learn?

Every bomb we drop on Afghanistan is going to come back and bite us on our rear end.

Posted by: alance | December 2, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Ike also fired his subservient General MacArthur when he disrespected the chain of command.


we're waiting, Obama.

----------------------------------

Sorry, but that was Truman not Ike.

Posted by: sr31 | December 2, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Ike also fired his subservient General MacArthur when he disrespected the chain of command.


we're waiting, Obama.

----------------------------------

Sorry, but that was Truman not Ike.
_____


as GWB would say, history has yet to decide who fired whom...

(i may just fire myself!

Posted by: forestbloggod | December 3, 2009 12:00 AM | Report abuse

He probably invoked Eisenhower because he was giving the speech in Eisenhower "Ike" Hall (it's the only indoor venue large enough to hold the entire Corps).

Go Army, Beat Navy!

Posted by: persons8 | December 3, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Pairing Obama and Ike may seem odd to today's generations but this first-hand account of an evening with Eisenhower in 1964 suggests otherwise:

http://ajliebling.blogspot.com/2009/12/liking-ike-memory.html

Posted by: connectdots | December 3, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Obama "yearns" to be a consensus President? Then maybe he and his Chicago thugs should stop demonizing those who disagree with them - now more than 1/2 the American people.

Dionne is mind numbingly stupid.

Posted by: manbearpig4 | December 3, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I want Osama Bin Laden dead.

I want to see him hang at the half time of next year's Super Bowl.

I want his head thrust on a tall pike in Times Square and let the birds gnaw away the flesh.

I'm angry with the right for squandering the opportunity to kill Bin Laden (such tough talk and no action -- next time put YOUR money where your mouth is and leave mine alone)>

I'm angry with the left who would allow this monster to run free and kill our wives, husbands, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, children and cousins die again. Will you on the left just stand up and scream "NO! Kill me first! I wanted this to happen. KILL ME!"
Will you?

I agree with the President of the United States of America.

Shame on those who do not think the job can't be finished in 18 months. FDR beat Mussollini, Hitler and Tojo in four years. And this war as lasted a lot longer than that.

Posted by: colonelpanic | December 3, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

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