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Posts Tagged ‘Dwight D. Eisenhower’

KEVIN M. KRUSE   One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America

BASIC BOOKS, 2015
by LILIAN CALLES-BARGER 
New Books in American Studies  Network  MAY 22, 2015

Kevin M. Kruse

Kevin M. Kruse is professor of history at Princeton University and author of One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America (Basic Books, 2015). Kruse argues that the idea that America was always a “Christian nation” dates from the 1930s. In opposition to FDR’S New Deal, businessmen and religious leaders began to promote the idea of “freedom under God.” The post-war era brought new fears of the advancement of domestic communism. In a decisive turn from an earlier social gospel, these leaders established a Christian ethos based on the ideas of private property, capitalism, and individual economic freedom. Adding “under God” to the pledge of allegiance, designating “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the nation, the controversial attempt to institute prayer and bible distribution in American schools were all forerunner to the Christian Right at the end of the century. Kruse’s narrative focuses on how American leaders from different powerful sectors of the nation sought through legislation and public practices to unify a pluralistic nation under a capitalist-affirming Christian framework. The result was not unity but a more fragmented and divided nation. In unfolding the narrative Kruse challenges the often-benign public religious images of men like Billy Graham, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and a multitude of recognizable business leaders. The book opens up a timely conversation on the meaning of religious pluralism and the place of religion in American public life.

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JENNIFER DELTON Rethinking the 1950s: How Anticommunism and the Cold War Made America Liberal

CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2013
by CHRISTINE M. LAMBERSON
New Books in History  APRIL 23, 2015

Jennifer Delton

Conventional wisdom among historians and the public says anticommunism and the Cold War were barriers to reform during their height in the 1950s. In this view, the strong hand of a conservative anticommunism and Cold War priorities thwarted liberal and leftist reforms, political dissent and dreams of social democracy. Jennifer Delton is a professor of history at Skidmore College, and her new book, Rethinking the 1950s: How Anticommunism and the Cold War Made America Liberal (Cambridge University Press, 2013) encourages us–as the title suggests–to rethink that conventional view. She argues that in fact the Cold War and anticommunism promoted and justified many liberal goals rather than stifling them. Her book demonstrates that supposed conservatives championed many liberal causes while many liberals genuinely supported the Cold War and anticommunism. For example, she discusses the liberal beliefs and actions of business leaders and politicians like Dwight Eisenhower, who are often thought of as conservative figures, to show the dominance of liberal political ideas during this period. On the other side, she also argues that liberals, such as many labor activists, were themselves strongly anticommunist because they saw communism as truly damaging to their cause, not simply because they aimed to avoid the taint of a communist label. These sentiments had important effects on policy as well. From high taxes to regulation, civil rights and the continuance of New Deal programs, liberal ideas held sway. They had a powerful effect on policy, not in spite of, but because of the larger Cold War context. In the interview, Delton discusses her book and its importance in reforming both historians’ views of the period and our broader thinking about partisan politics and nationalism.

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The democratically-elected Arbenz government hoped for economic prosperity through economic reform and a highway to the Atlantic.

United States Interventions What For?

By John H. Coatsworth 

Revista Harvard Review of Latin America 

Spring/ Summer 2005

In the slightly less than a hundred years from 1898 to 1994, the U.S. government has intervened successfully to change governments in Latin America a total of at least 41 times. That amounts to once every 28 months for an entire century (see table).

Direct intervention occurred in 17 of the 41 cases. These incidents involved the use of U.S. military forces, intelligence agents or local citizens employed by U.S. government agencies. In another 24 cases, the U.S. government played an indirect role. That is, local actors played the principal roles, but either would not have acted or would not have succeeded without encouragement from the U.S. government.

While direct interventions are easily identified and copiously documented, identifying indirect interventions requires an exercise in historical judgment. The list of 41 includes only cases where, in the author’s judgment, the incumbent government would likely have survived in the absence of U.S. hostility. The list ranges from obvious cases to close calls. An example of an obvious case is the decision, made in the Oval Office in January 1963, to incite the Guatemalan army to overthrow the (dubiously) elected government of Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes in order to prevent an open competitive election that might have been won by left-leaning former President Juan José Arévalo. A less obvious case is that of the Chilean military coup against the government of President Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973. The Allende government had plenty of domestic opponents eager to see it deposed. It is included in this list because U.S. opposition to a coup (rather than encouragement) would most likely have enabled Allende to continue in office until new elections.

The 41 cases do not include incidents in which the United States sought to depose a Latin American government, but failed in the attempt. The most famous such case was the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of April 1961. Allvadorso absent from the list are numerous cases in which the U.S. government acted decisively to forestall a coup d’etat or otherwise protect an incumbent regime from being overthrown.

Overthrowing governments in Latin America has never been exactly routine for the United States. However, the option to depose a sitting government has appeared on the U.S. president’s desk with remarkable frequency over the past century. It is no doubt still there, though the frequency with which the U.S. president has used this option has fallen rapidly since the end of the Cold War.

Though one may quibble about cases, the big debates—both in the public and among historians and social scientists—have centered on motives and causes. In nearly every case, U.S. officials cited U.S. security interests, either as determinative or as a principal motivation. With hindsight, it is now possible to dismiss most these claims as implausible. In many cases, they were understood as necessary for generating public and congressional support, but not taken seriously by the key decision makers. The United States did not face a significant military threat from Latin America at any time in the 20th century. Even in the October 1962 missile crisis, the Pentagon did not believe that the installation of Soviet missiles in Cuba altered the global balance of nuclear terror. It is unlikely that any significant threat would have materialized if the 41 governments deposed by the United States had remained in office until voted out or overturned without U.S. help.

In both the United States and Latin America, economic interests are often seen as the underlying cause of U.S. interventions. This hypothesis has two variants. One cites corruption and the other blames capitalism. The corruption hypothesis contends that U.S. officials order interventions to protect U.S. corporations. The best evidence for this version comes from the decision to depose the elected government of Guatemala in 1954. Except for President Dwight Eisenhower, every significant decision maker in this case had a family, business or professional tie to the United Fruit Company, whose interests were adversely affected by an agrarian reform and other policies of the incumbent government. Nonetheless, in this as in every other case involving U.S. corporate interests, the U.S. government would probably not have resorted to intervention in the absence of other concerns.

The capitalism hypothesis is a bit more sophisticated. It holds that the United States intervened not to save individual companies but to save the private enterprise system, thus benefiting all U.S. (and Latin American) companies with a stake in the region. This is a more plausible argument, based on repeated declarations by U.S. officials who seldom missed an opportunity to praise free enterprise. However, capitalism was not at risk in the overwhelming majority of U.S. interventions, perhaps even in none of them. So this ideological preference, while real, does not help explain why the United States intervened. U.S. officials have also expressed a preference for democratic regimes, but ordered interventions to overthrow elected governments more often than to restore democracy in Latin America. Thus, this preference also fails to carry much explanatory power.

An economist might approach the thorny question of causality not by asking what consumers or investors say about their preferences, but what their actions can help us to infer about them. An economist’s approach might also help in another way, by distinguishing between supply and demand. A look at the supply side suggests that interventions will occur more often where they do not cost much, either directly in terms of decision makers’ time and resources, or in terms of damage to significant interests. On the demand side, two factors seem to have been crucial in tipping decision makers toward intervention: domestic politics and global strategy.

Domestic politics seems to be a key factor in most of these cases. For example, internal documents show that President Lyndon Johnson ordered U.S. troops to the Dominican Republic in 1965 not because of any plausible threat to the United States, but because he felt threatened by Republicans in Congress. Political competition within the United States accounts for the disposition of many U.S. presidentions

nts to order interventions.

The second key demand-side factor could be called the global strategy effect. The United States in the 20th century defined its strategic interests in global terms. This was particularly true after World War II when the United States moved rapidly to project its power into regions of the earth on the periphery of the Communist states where it had never had a presence before. In the case of Latin America, where the United States faced no foreseeable military threat, policy planners did nonetheless identify potential future threats. This was especially true in the 1960s, after the Cuban Revolution. The United States helped to depose nine of the governments that fell to military rulers in the 1960s, about one every 13 months and more than in any other decade. Curiously, however, we now know that U.S. decision makers were repeatedly assured by experts in the CIA and other intelligence gathering agencies that, in the words of a 1968 National Intelligence Estimate, “In no case do insurgencies pose a serious short run threat…revolution seems unlikely in most Latin American countries within the next few years.” Few challenged the idea that leftist regimes would pose a secutiry threat to the United States. threat…revolution seems unlikely in most Latin American countries

Thus, in a region where intervention was not very costly, and even major failures unlikely to damage U.S. interests, the combination of domestic political competition and potential future threats—even those with a low probability of ever materializing—appear to explain most of the 20th century US interventions.

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that U.S. interventions did not serve U.S. national interests well. They generated needless resentment in the region and called into question the U.S. commitment to democracy and rule of law in international affairs. The downward trend in the past decade and half is a positive development much to be encouraged.

CHRONICLING INTERVENTIONS

U.S. DIRECT INTERVENTIONS 
Military/CIA activity that changed governments

COUNTRY YEAR EVENT SUMMARY
Cuba 1898-1902 Spanish-American War
1906-09 Ousts elected Pres. Palma; occupation regime
1917-23 U.S. reoccupation, gradual withdrawal
Dominican Rep 1916-24 U.S. occupation
1961 Assassination of Pres. Trujillo
1965 U.S. Armed Forces occupy Sto Domingo
Grenada 1983 U.S. Armed Forces occupy island; oust government
Guatemala 1954 C.I.A.-organized armed force ousts Pres. Arbenz
Haiti 1915-34 U.S. occupation
1994 U.S. troops restore constitutional government
Mexico 1914 Veracuz occupied; US allows rebels to buy arms
Nicaragua 1910 Troops to Corinto, Bluefields during revolt
1912-25 U.S. occupation
1926-33 U.S. occupation
1981-90 Contra war; then support for opposition in election
Panama 1903-14 U.S. Troops secure protectorate, canal
1989 U.S. Armed Forces occupy nation

U.S. INDIRECT INTERVENTION
Government/regime changes in which U.S. is decisive

COUNTRY YEAR EVENT SUMMARY
Bolivia 1944 Coup uprising overthrow Pres. Villaroel
1963 Military coup ousts elected Pres. Paz Estenssoro
1971 Military coup ousts Gen. Torres
Brazil 1964 Military coup ousts elected Pres. Goulart
Chile 1973 Coup ousts elected Pres. Allende.
1989-90 Aid to anti-Pinochet opposition
Cuba 1933 U.S. abandons support for Pres. Machado
1934 U.S. sponsors coup by Col. Batista to oust Pres. Grau
Dominican Rep. 1914 U.S. secures ouster of Gen. José Bordas
1963 Coup ousts elected Pres. Bosch
El Salvador 1961 Coup ousts reformist civil-military junta
1979 Coup ousts Gen. Humberto Romero
1980 U.S. creates and aids new Christian Demo junta
Guatemala 1963 U.S. supports coup vs elected Pres. Ydígoras
1982 U.S. supports coup vs Gen. Lucas García
1983 U.S. supports coup vs Gen. Rios Montt
Guyana 1953 CIA aids strikes; Govt. is ousted
Honduras 1963 Military coups ousts elected Pres. Morales
Mexico 1913 U.S. Amb. H. L. Wilson organizes coup v Madero
Nicaragua 1909 Support for rebels vs Zelaya govt
1979 U.S. pressures Pres. Somoza to leave
Panama 1941 U.S supports coup ousting elected Pres. Arias
1949 U.S. supports coup ousting constitutional govt of VP Chanís
1969 U.S. supports coup by Gen. Torrijos
John H. Coatsworth is Monroe Gutman Professor of Latin American Affairs. Coatsworth’s most recent book is “The Cambridge Economic History of Latin America,” a two-volume reference work, edited with Victor Bulmer-Thomas and Roberto Cortes Conde – See more at: http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/157958#sthash.I6nAx9Oq.dpuf

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En este interesante artículo publicado por la History News Network (HNN) el  historiador norteamericano Keith W. Olson (University of Maryland) examina la presidencia de Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike). Olson concluye que en estos momentos en que el Partido Republicano –derrotado por Barack Obama en noviembre pasado– busca reiventarse, Eisenhower debería ser el modelo a seguir por los Republicanos. Para ello destaca el caracter moderado del que es, sin lugar dudas, el presidente Republicano más importante de la segunda mitad del siglo XX.

Republicans Should Like Ike | History News Network.

469px-Dwight_D._Eisenhower,_official_Presidential_portrait

Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Ike”

As Republican leaders continue to try to redefine their party identity they would do well to review the legacy of Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, arguably, the most successful president since World War II. As president he faced crises and challenges both foreign and domestic, different from those of today but equal in magnitude, as well as the need to maintain national leadership.

During the 1950s the containment of the nuclear-armed Soviet Union dominated all other concerns. From the Truman administration, Eisenhower also inherited a limited war in Korea. A year later he faced a French request for military aid to save their colonial empire in Southeast Asia. Also in 1954 — and again in 1958 — he confronted tense relations with the People’s Republic of China over territorial claims and policies in the Formosa Strait.

In October 1956 three of the nation’s closest allies — the United Kingdom, France, and Israel — invaded Egypt without informing Eisenhower. The war soon involved threats from the Soviet Union. Simultaneously, the Soviets invaded Hungary to crush the Hungarian Revolution, which had overthrown the communist government in that country. A year after the Suez crisis the Soviets launched the world’s first human-made satellite, called Sputnik, to orbit the earth. While not a military threat, Sputnik sparked serious public discussion about America’s ability to compete with the Soviets.

To all of these crises Eisenhower sought non-military resolutions.

In Korea he completed a negotiated settlement, a policy the Truman administration had started. Eisenhower likewise successfully negotiated with the People’s Republic of China and aggressively pressured Britain and France into withdrawing from the Suez.

Eisenhower’s political, and economic achievements reflected stability, continuity, and moderation. As president he favored an increase in the minimum wage and extended unemployment benefits to an additional four million workers. In 1956 he broadened Social Security to include new categories of occupations and thereby added 10.5 million wage earners, including public school teachers.

Two initiatives illustrated Eisenhower’s commitment to infrastructure. The first was the St. Lawrence Seaway Act, which provided construction of locks that linked the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. In 1956 Congress enacted his proposed Federal Aid Highway Act, the largest public works project in American history. He wanted the project to finance itself through a federal tax on gas and oil with states contributing ten percent of construction cost in their states. In 1958 the National Defense Education Act provided the first major aid to higher education since 1862. Under Eisenhower the budget of the National Science Foundation more than doubled.

For Eisenhower the economy, especially the federal budget, directly related to military strength and domestic prosperity. He inherited a budget deficit of approximately $10 billion. By 1956 he balanced the first of his balanced budgets. Steadfastly he maintained high federal income tax to uphold economic health. For incomes over $400,000, the federal income tax was 91 percent (albeit with deductions). Eisenhower also systematically reduced the military budget in actual dollars as well as in percentage of the total budget through his New Look policy.

The congressional elections of 1954, 1956, and 1958 returned Democratic majorities to both houses of Congress. His 1956 re-election meant that he faced Democratic control of Congress for the last six years of his presidency.

In his farewell address Eisenhower wanted “to share a few final thoughts with you my countrymen.” After this beginning, he immediately reported that “Our people expect their president and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the nation.” He referred to this relationship as “mutually interdependent” and continued that “In this final relations, the Congress and the administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the national good rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the nation should go forward.” He concluded that “my official relationship with the Congress end[s] in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.”

The American voters responded enthusiastically to Eisenhower’s leadership. In 1952 he won election by more than 6.5 million votes. Four years later he won reelection by more than 9.5 million votes. Another measure of evaluation was approval rating. Harry Truman left office with a rating of 23 percent, the lowest of any post-World War II president (until George W. Bush, that is). In Eisenhower’s last year 61 percent approved of Americans approved of his performance. His eight-year average approval was 65 percent. The trust American had in their government to do what was right all or most of the time constituted yet another category of evaluation. In 1960 the trust in government reached 70 percent.

The more scholars have researched about Eisenhower and his administration the higher their assessments. Consistently in polls he now merits eighth, ninth, or tenth rank among all presidents. In 1996, for example, The Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. poll of historians placed Eisenhower tenth. The Siena College Institute found that “experts” listed him in the top ten in its 1994, 2002, and 2010 surveys. C-SPAN’s 2009 analysis by “sixty-five historians and professional observers of the presidency” placed Eisenhower eighth.

With hindsight, of course, not all of Eisenhower’s decisions, actions, and policies win applause — but the total record is overwhelmingly favorable. In terms of legislation, international relations, and economics he left solid achievements. Voters overwhelmingly supported his presidency and scholars admire his record. During his presidency Eisenhower’s achievements and his public image contributed to high public trust in government, belief in the role of government, and ability to form bipartisan coalitions to advance the national interest. Eisenhower’s record is one Republican leaders should celebrate, not ignore.

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