Presidential Candidate John Kerry boasted in his first debate that General John Eisenhower, the son of President Eisenhower, had endorsed him. Having seen his support slipping among military veterans and even among women voters, this endorsement must have given an inner sense of global warming to Kerry.
President Eisenhower is something of an Ike-con to older Republicans. He symbolized a great success, a pinnacle, a bit of light in midst of political darkness. After all, Ike was the only bright spot at the Presidential level during the seventy-two years between Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. (This would be the standard judgment, not mine. I find much to admire in Calvin Coolidge and even think some good things can be said of Taft, Harding, Hoover, Ford, and even Nixon.)
General John Eisenhower has not just rested on the laurels of his famous father, has established his reputation as a writer of military histories. He has also written about his father in a time when sound historical revision has been sympathetic to the strengths of the Eisenhower Administrations. John Eisenhower’s family name and credentials, his near identical face and expressions inherited from his father, and his scholarly talents give him some weight and reputation. Hence the swift boat captain’s name-dropping in the debate.
Eisenhower the younger has written an article somewhere out there in Internet-land explaining why after fifty years of being a Republican and the son of a Republican president, he changed his party registration to independent and will vote for the globalistic coalition builder to be America’s commander in chief.
Perhaps the younger Ike’s endorsement reveals a family character flaw. His father really was an outstanding man. His colleagues, like George Marshall and Douglas McArthur, recognized his gifts and strengths. Ike brilliantly assembled and led the Allied coalition across Europe during World War II. He amazingly held together a band of egotistical, stubborn, prima donnas, who we remember as famous generals; the most famous pair being the American General George Patton and the British General Bernard Montgomery. His organizational work in leading the Normandy invasion puts Ike in that small class of the world’s greatest generals, like Alexander, Hannibal, and Napoleon, and also into that even smaller band of successful great generals, like Washington and Wellington.
But General Eisenhower is responsible for one of the most costly, shortsighted errors during World War II. At the point when the Allied armies could have easily captured Berlin, Eisenhower diverted the troops. His decision and his alone kept the British and Americans out of Berlin and let the Russians raise the Hammer and Sickle over Berlin. Eisenhower’s rationale was that Berlin had ceased to be a military target. He focused on defeating the old men and boys of the broken Wermacht instead of the capturing the capital city.
Short term, Ike was right. Bagging the German army was needed to win the war at hand. Berlin did not have the military resources or industrial capacity to affect the war. The capture of the industry rich Ruhr pocket yielded much greater rewards. Short term, in terms of World War II, in terms of defeating Hitler’s Third Reich, Ike was right.
But World War II in Europe was, for all practical purposes, over. The Nazi armies were at that juncture either dead or in Allied prison camps or in a state of disintegrating disorder. The glory days of the blitzkrieg were long gone. What Eisenhower never figured out while commanding from his many desks was the political and strategic positioning needed for the next phase of the conflict. Ike was not alone; President Roosevelt was foolishly oblivious to the upcoming Cold War also. Churchill saw it long before his “Iron Curtain” speech; Gen. Patton figured it out quickly; President Truman caught on quite quickly, as well.
The capture of Berlin by the Russians gave a great psychological and geographical advantage to the Russians. The opening shots of the Cold War took place in the streets of Berlin as the Communists wrested control of that city. The ideology of Communism bested her sister ideology of Nazism. Red shirts replaced brown shirts. The hammer and sickle replaced the swastika. A generation and a half of conflict, later symbolized by the Berlin Wall, began with the ball in the Soviet court.
It must be a family problem. John suffers the same faulty vision, the same reactionary thinking, and the same inability to see. He has what President Bush referred to as a September 10th mentality. No doubt, like John Kerry, John Eisenhower lives in a dream world of coalitions. Such thinking goes back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries when seven different coalitions were organized to defeat Napoleon. Coalitions were successful in winning (and causing) World War I. The grandest time of the coalition was World War II, when the Big Three and a host of allied countries banded together to rid the world of Fascism, Nazism, and Japanese Militarism, which subsequently made it safe for Communism. By the end of the war, a last great dream of Franklin Roosevelt came to fruition with the establishment of the United Nations, a body devoted to coalitions.
This same United Nations later passed a resolution and approved the fielding of a U.N. army in Korea during the war fought there. It was a coalition, but the United States, not the other United Nations, bore the brunt of the fighting and, of course, the casualties. But even the United Nations coalition had a few missing players. The Soviet Union boycotted the resolution vote and instead supported the communist North Korean government.
More coalitions promised to save the world. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was a grand idea. This coalition would protect the Free World. This coalition would guarantee that the Iron Curtain would be kept in place and not moved westward. It was opposed by another coalition, the Communist Bloc nations of Eastern Europe. And even though the western European countries had a combined population greater than the U.S. and a combined wealth greater than the U.S., it was American troops, American missiles, and American naval and air forces located in Europe that made the coalition work. Not in the wildest imagination did anyone expect Belgium and the Netherlands to play the key roles in stopping Soviet Tiger tanks. The Russian Bear faced the American Eagle; the rest of the players on our side were mere songbirds.
The last supposedly great coalition was former President George H.W. Bush’s New World Order, assembled in the early 90s to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait. Many nations were represented, but the U.S. again shouldered the overwhelming bulk of the task. The objective the coalition reached was limited—a third world army was driven out of a small postage-stamp country. Saddam Hussein suffered a tactical setback, not a strategic defeat at the hands of this New World Order.
All of that was before September 11, 2001. Many American (and most European) leaders and thinkers are as blind to the nature of this new war as the 1930s American Communist party members were to Stalinism. Even President Bush and company fall short when they describe the war as one against terrorists who hate America. The terrorism that caused 9-11 was not simply caused by a group of real hateful scamps. The terrorism is ideological, or philosophical, or to be more direct, religious. The Islamic Worldview is at the heart of the problem. A whole library can be cited to prove this point; my book of choice is George Grant’s Blood of the Moon.
We will grant that there are peaceful Mohammedans who reject the violent Islamic worldview. Just as there are pietistic Christians who do not see the worldview dominion mandate of Christianity, so there are Muslims who are less than consistent. The 9-11 terrorists, the Chechnya terrorists, Saddam Hussein, the Iranian terrorists, and others are united in a religious brotherhood. Just as Calvinists join with Roman Catholics and charismatics on many issues, so different Islamic groups are allied in their brotherhood of death. Psalm 2 describes the bonds of unity of those opposed to Christian civilization.
President Bush understands something of the nature of the problem; that is, the real nature of the real problem. He sees the links between Hussein and Bin Laden. He knows that we do not need love letters between the two to see the link. There is something in that west Texas upbringing and that New Birth experience that has given President Bush a vision of the problem. To my surprise, British Prime Minister Tony Blair of the Liberal Party, who is a theologically liberal churchgoer, sees a glimmer of the same truth. This war is for Christendom. The United States stands virtually alone in having a remnant of a theological consciousness. The United States stands virtually alone in having both an advanced capitalist economy and an evangelical church. The United States is the only superpower and the coalition is that of our fifty states. Other countries might and should join us, but most lack the theological vision to see. Does anyone take comfort in having France, Germany, and Saudi Arabia standing side-by-side with us? Russia had institutionalized terror in its Communist regime for seven decades; they will not see the issue apart from a great spiritual awakening. Summits and coalitions are dead and gone. Prince Metternich and Woodrow Wilson are dead and gone.
This is a new war. John Eisenhower, like his father, would have us abandon the goal of capturing a major stronghold. The younger Ike, like the elder, would put us at a supreme disadvantage at this stage of the war. The older Ike had such power and influence so that his mistaken judgment cost the Free World dearly. The younger Ike has little such power and influence. Our hope is that John Kerry never has the chance to cost us the next Berlin.