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Words to Debate Iraq By

by Robert Stein

This morning evokes thoughts of our 34th President, Dwight David Eisenhower. He died on this day, March 28, 1969, thirty-eight years ago.

Not much of an anniversary, but in this time of Bush, Cheney, Rove and Gonzales, the man everybody called Ike is more and more a reminder of a lost American decency.

I met the general-turned-politician one night in 1964 when he invited half a dozen editors to dinner in Gettysburg, Pa. He had had a bad day, taking phone calls from friends about whether or not he should speak out against the nomination of Barry Goldwater for President.

Besieged with advice, Eisenhower asked wistfully, “Why is the will of God known to so many people but not to me, when I’m the one who needs it most?”

Unlike Bush, Ike was a devout man but did not presume to get his marching orders from a “Higher Power.” Unlike Bush and Cheney, he knew war intimately and hated it as only a soldier can.

As the White House and Congress begin their battle of words over bringing our young people back from Iraq, they may want to remember some of Eisenhower’s:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”

He said this soon after taking office in 1953. Eight years later, in his farewell address, he put it more simply:

“People want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of the way and let them have it.”

4 Responses to “Words to Debate Iraq By”

  1. Robert:
    This kind of historic perspective – history you actually lived and participated in – is a touchstone for all of us. It shows us how far we as a nation have strayed and how far to the “right” the nation has shifted its politics. If there’s an afterlife, maybe Ike and Paul Wellstone are soulmates.

    Always enjoy your posts.

  2. No wonder “I like Ike” was the theme of the time.

    Bush is the antithesis of Eisenhower IMO.

    Ike was a soldier, Bush a spoiled brat.

    Ike had humility, Bush has arrogance.

    Ike had a humanity about him, Bush none.

    Ike prevailed over a budget conscious time, Bush has a “devil may care” disregard for anything remotely resembling fiscal responsibility.

    Ike created optimism, Bush created despair.

    Ike engendered the new America after the horrors of World War 2.

    Bush laid the groundwork for World War 3.

    Ike made Americans proud and garnered the respect of the world.

    Bush has brought shame upon our country and the alienation of the populace.

    My fathers America was a far different landscape than mine. I envy him.

    Could it possibly be any more obvious?

    Tom

  3. Kudos to ironx184!! Just a great blog. I know that I could not have said it any better.
    Buzz

  4. Robert,

    Thank you for putting up my favorite Ike quote. And sharing a wonderful story of the man behind the images.

    Our legislators definitely need to consider those words in the current debate. I wanted them to be remembered when they were debating whether to go to war.

    I suppose we can’t get them engraved in the hall for all future considerations of war and military appropriations. Maybe someone in Congress could start a tradition of reading it into the record at the beginning of each bill that contains some aspect of war or military laws.

    Hopelessly optimistic, that or no hope.