Friday, July 01, 2005

EISENHOWER PART 4

4. A list of selected world events that occurred during Eisenhower's administration

Reading how obsessively Eisenhower-Dulles tried to micro-manage the Israel-Arab conflict, one might be led to the conclusion that nothing else of significance occurred during the Eisenhower administration. Nothing is further from the truth.

Overall, such mega trends as the Cold War and decolonization of Asia and Africa were in progress. At the top of the agenda were such crucial questions as the future of Germany, Berlin and Austria - still occupied when Eisenhower began his term - the future of NATO, disarmament and detente.

Among the specific events that took place at the time were the death of Stalin and the subsequent changes in Soviet leadership (March 1953); strikes and insurrection in East Germany (June 1953); the end of the Korean War (July 1953); the USSR announcement that she has developed the H-Bomb (August 1953); riots in Trieste (September-November 1953); the cease-fire agreement signed by France and the Vietmin (July 1954); fire exchanges between China and Formosa (September 1954); Germany becoming an independent state and member of NATO, and the USSR establishing the Warsaw Pact (May 1955); the fall of Peron in Argentina (September 1955); attempts to settle the East-West disputes in meetings of the four major powers (Geneva, October 1955); Anti-government uprisings in Hungary and Poland - especially in Poznan (June 1956); Hungarian anti-Soviet revolt (October 1956); official annexation of Kashmir by India, in violation of UN resolutions (January 1957); Sputnik and the space race (October 1957); A Tibetan revolt against the Chinese occupation (March 1959); War between China and India (October 1959); US-France dispute about NATO (December 1959); riots in S Korea against Singman (Syngman) Rhee (April 1960), The crisis of the U2 piloted by Francis Gary Powers (May to August 1960); the Castro subversion in Guatemala and Nicaragua (November 1960); the Communist invasion in Laos, the Lomumba crisis in the Congo, and the US breaking off relations with Cuba (January 1961).

One has to wonder about the dedication of the Eisenhower-Dulles Goliath who, in the midst of all this international turmoil, found the time, energy and resources to clobber one little David.
5. Eisenhower, Nixon regret - when it's too late

There are two indispensable sources that report about the after-the-fact regrets that both Eisenhower and Nixon (as Vice President at the time) showed with regard to forcing Israel, France and the UK to withdraw from Egypt.

The first of these sources is Nixon's own memoirs. The relevant passage, written in first person by Nixon himself, reads as follows:
[O]n October 29, Israel invaded Egypt after several months of dispute over access to the Suez Canal. On November 5, the day before our election, British and French paratroops landed in Egypt to support the Israeli invasion and to protect their own rights there.
Eisenhower and Dulles put heavy public pressure on Britain, France, and Israel to withdraw their forces from Suez. In retrospect I believe that our actions were a serious mistake. Nasser became even more rash and aggressive than before, and the seeds of another Mideast war were planted. The most tragic result was that Britain and France were so humiliated and discouraged by the Suez crisis that they lost the will to play a major role on the world scene. From this time forward the United States would by necessity be forced to "go it alone" in the foreign policy leadership of the free world. I have often felt that if the Suez crisis had not arisen during the heat of a presidential election campaign a different decision would have been made.
Quoted from p. 179 of
Nixon, Richard. The Memoirs of Richard Nixon. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1978.
The second source is the "authorized biography" of Max Fisher. The relevant text is quoted below in full, to preempt the accusation of "quoting out of context". The setting was a meeting Max Fisher held with Eisenhower shortly before Eisenhower died:
[A]s Fisher's conversation with him [with Eisenhower] drew to a close, the former president wistfully commented: "You know, Max, looking back at Suez, I regret what I did. I never should have pressured Israel to evacuate the Sinai."

Fisher was astonished by the statement, but apparently he was not the only one to whom Eisenhower had divulged this information."Eisenhower," says Nixon, "many years later, in the 1960s, told me -- and I'm sure he told others -- that he thought that the action that was taken [at Suez] was one he regretted. He thought it was a mistake."
Fisher started to say goodbye to Eisenhower; it was then, almost as an afterthought, that Eisenhower revealed another startling facet of his reconsideration. Although the former president did not live long enough to witness the results -- in doing so he clarified the course of Fisher's political career.

"Max," Eisenhower said, "if I'd had a Jewish adviser working for me, I doubt I would have handled the situation the same way. I would not have forced the Israelis back."
Quoted from pages xviii to xix of:
Golden, Peter. Quiet Diplomat - A biography of Max M. Fisher. New York: Cornwall Books, 1992.

It would be useful for the sake of Israel and the West if the current Eisenhower would reflect on these regrets before he, too, blunders.

Posted by Joseph Alexander Norland at June 9, 2005 08:03 AM

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