Part 1 – From Warrior to President
The path to the White House for Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the foremost military hero of World War II on the European front, began when Allied troops under his command successfully landed on the beaches of Normandy, France on June 6, 1944. Eleven months later the Nazi empire of Adolph Hitler was destroyed. Western Europe was once again free.
Eisenhower did not aspire to be a politician. A West Point graduate in the early years of World War I, Eisenhower was a military man "by the book" in the years that followed. Most of his military colleagues did not know whether he was a Republican or a Democrat – or neither. Coming out of World War II as the symbol of America’s new military might, "Ike" was pursued by both parties who were seeking attractive candidates to run for President in the post-war years.
Until the Cold War turned "hot" in Korea in 1950, Eisenhower brushed off the offers made to him to enter the political arena. But the pressure to run for President intensified due to the invasion of democratic South Korea by communist North Korea. But, he responded promptly to President Truman’s call for him to become the first Supreme Commander of NATO forces in Europe. Finally, in the election year of 1952, it became too difficult for him to ignore the political option. It was not until the beginning of the primary season in January of 1952 that he aligned with a party – the GOP. Six months later – and one month before the nomination convention – he finally resigned his position in the Army and at NATO where he was organizing another Allied army – this time to counter posed to Europe by the Soviet Union.
At a time when he could have been enjoying the pleasures of retirement, Ike accepted the challenge of seeking the presidency because he knew that once in the Oval Office he could provide leadership for the "Free World" in its worldwide battle vs. communism and set a sane course for a world under the constant threat of nuclear destruction. As President, he organized a relentless, but largely covert campaign of "seeking peace" rather than "waging war" of any kind. As he noted in his Farewell Address, he was disappointed that his goal of an assured peace had not been realized during his two terms in office, but that, happily, we were not at war either. And, as he noted, "that didn’t just happen."
Part 2 – Building Weapons, Talking Peace
With both the United States and the USSR in a position to use nuclear weapons in any conflict, the possibility of "mutually assured destruction" was entirely feasible. To think that the world as we know it could have ended in the 1950s may sound farfetched, but it was in fact a reality for those controlling nuclear weapons at that time.
Using his military experience, a knowledge of science and technology, and diplomatic sensitivity, President Eisenhower played his "hidden hand" wisely, successfully positioning the United States economically and militarily as the strongest country in the world.
You can learn more about President Eisenhower’s quest to keep the world at peace in Part Two of Eisenhower’s Secret War: Building Weapons, Talking Peace. To request more information about Part Two of this series, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.