“I Like Ike” was the popular presidential-campaign slogan for army general and a World War II hero Dwight Eisenhower, when he won the U.S. Presidency by wide margins in 1952 and 1956. If one thinks back on his presidency, several things stand out. Eisenhower ended the Korean War in Ju1y 1953. There was peace until his presidency ended on January 20, 1961. Just before leaving office, Eisenhower gave his famous and often-quoted farewell address, warning Americans about the “military-industrial complex.”
Since leaving the White House, no president, with the possible exceptions of Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton, has ever been able to stand up to the pressures of the military-industrial complex.
John Kennedy put so-called military advisers — they were really combat troops — into South Vietnam. When Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, there was 17,000 American advisers in South Vietnam. Lyndon Johnson escalated the Vietnam War. When Johnson left office in January 1969, America had 500,000 troops in Vietnam. An end to the war was nowhere in sight.
Richard Nixon continued the Vietnam War, ending it in 1973. Jimmy Carter, in 1980, used military force in a disastrous attempt to free American hostages being held in Iran. Ronald Reagan, in 1981, began one of the largest military build-ups in American history. George H.W. Bush presided over the Gulf War of 1991. His son, George W. Bush, fought two wars: one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. Under Barack Obama, American troops are still dying in Afghanistan.
And since 9-11 we have seen the creation of the Patriot Act and government use of powerful surveillance techniques and technologies as witnessed in the stunning revelations concerning the NSA spying on possibly 75% of cell phone calls in the U.S.
To some Americans, Dwight Eisenhower was not a perfect president. But he kept America at peace and presided over one of the most prosperous eras in American history. It’s too bad that America does not have a Dwight Eisenhower to run for president in 2016.