Eisenhower and the Global Policeman

golbal-policeman-nuclear-warIn the aftermath of the seismic shock surrounding Donald Trump’s success in the US Presidential elections, it seems a good time to explain why his election was a good thing. Nearly all comment has so far devolved to the domestic consequences, within the US itself. However, over 96% of the world’s population didn’t get to vote in that election, but are nevertheless critically affected by it. The US is the Global Policeman; we have an interest.

So let’s look at things from a different perspective, shall we? From that of we non-USicans who yet shiver at its nuclear sabre-rattling.

Before the Second World War, the US had been isolationist. This attitude — that what happened elsewhere in the world was none of Washington’s business — was proposed by politicians, by media moguls like WR Hearst and even by military leaders.

Theodore Roosevelt was one of the greatest US Presidents of all time, and the most loved. He was not an isolationist. Instead he was a classic interventionist, both domestically and overseas. However, the US was so reluctant to embroil itself in the 1939 war that Roosevelt had to ship the supplies, without which the UK would have been starved into submission, by the device of ‘Lend-Lease’.

This was, basically, ‘take now, pay later’. While many in the US railed against this — especially Hearst’s media — Roosevelt stuck to his guns. ‘Britain’ was saved and later was to become the platform for the liberation of Western Europe.

Pearl Harbor

When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, isolationism sank with the battleships. Even Hearst had to back down. However, this was not entirely with good grace.

Truman

The next character to enter the stage was Harry Truman. He became US President on Roosevelt’s death.  For Truman, a younger and more libertarian thinker, the price to be demanded for the US helping to defeat Hitler must be the end of the European Empires, which he regarded as an impediment to modernisation and development. Truman  saw the US as having a global role and had no desire to return to pre-War isolationism; however, his methods were much less muscular than his successor.

Eisenhower

The officer in overall charge of the European liberation was Dwight Eisenhower. He was a career soldier and a good one. He was a brilliant strategist but also a diplomat capable of keeping such implacable and fiery characters as his generals Montgomery and Patton, who loathed each other, from fighting duels at dawn.

(The classic text for insight into this is Chester Wilmot’s The Struggle for Europe.)

In 1952, Eisenhower, still very much in his prime, ran for President and won two terms. Eisenhower was probably the most qualified President that the US had ever elected; his experience as a general not only commanding the most powerful military coalition the world had ever seen, but also overseeing the plans for peace and reconstruction, was unique.

Suez

On July 26, 1956, the Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, announced the nationalisation of the Suez Canal Company. This was the Anglo-French enterprise that had built it and operated it since 1869. Eisenhower warned Britain not to take military action and pursued motions at the United Nations condemning it.

Nevertheless, Britain and France persuaded Israel to attack into the canal zone and then used this as a ruse to send in their own forces. Very shortly thereafter, the Egyptian forces had been crushed.

Eisenhower was incensed. He felt betrayed.

Eventually, the Canal was taken over by a UN force and then returned to Egyptian control. However, the fracas had consequences. Eisenhower had never trusted the French and he hated de Gaulle, whom he regarded as pompous. Far more damaging, he thought that the British had dishonestly played him.

Influential figures in Eisenhower’s administration, like Secretary of State John Dulles, similarly felt betrayed. The ‘special relationship’ between the US and Britain — always more of a myth than a reality — was massively damaged; but more than that, the crisis led to a strengthening of a growing resolve that the US should be a leader in the regulation of the world.

At the time, the Cold War was freezing. The US now regarded the spread of Communism as being likely to fill the vacuum left by the old European Empires that were being dismantled. It did not take a genius to see that China could easily introduce Communism into former Imperial colonies like Indochina and even India.

Korea

Years before, however, during Truman’s Presidency, another event had challenged US strategic thinking and it too, impinged on Eisenhower.

In Asia, the Japanese Empire had been divided, after the war, between the victors. The Soviet Union installed Kim il-Sung in North Korea, while the South became a US protectorate governed from Japan. In 1950, the North, backed by the Soviets, attacked.

Though caught initially by surprise, the US forces quickly rallied and a successful counter-attack was launched at Inchon.

As these forces approached the Manchurian border, however, the Chinese threatened retaliation and then launched an attack in support of the North. The Allied forces were thrown back.

The Chinese had not been seriously involved in World War 2 and until Korea, had not been seen as a threat in the way that the Soviet Union was. That was no longer the case.

Stalemate

By mid-1951, a military stalemate had been arrived at along the line of the artificial border between North and South Korea, the 38th Parallel. An armistice was agreed in 1953, which remains in place today.

Eisenhower was no longer a serving officer by then and, indeed, by the armistice, he was already President. But a note he made while still President-elect is telling.

‘President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower went to Korea on December 2, 1952. After visiting the troops, their commanders and South Korean leaders, and receiving briefings on the military situation in Korea, Eisenhower concluded, “we could not stand forever on a static front and continue to accept casualties without any visible results. Small attacks on small hills would not end this war.”‘ (My italics.)

Eisenhower, as a theatre commander and as a President, thought big. He followed a military tradition that asserted that the best way to defeat an enemy was to outnumber him and outsmart him because, in the end, that would reduce his own casualties. This quality — which had unquestionably been critically valuable in the Battle for Europe — had other consequences on his thinking. He believed in thorough preparation, intensive planning, having adequate resources and being able to act decisively.

Communism

The common factor between the Soviets and the Chinese, to the US, was Communism. The US regarded Communism as a scourge. This was in part the consequence of Hearst’s continual promotion of an extremist right-wing message, in the most colourful terms. But as well as this, most USicans saw it as contradictory to the freedoms that they, as a frontier nation, considered themselves to have. With European imperialism in decline, the US saw Communism as the most immediate threat to the establishment of a new World Order based on its own values.

Korea showed them that fighting Communism was not just a matter of containing the USSR; now China was also a threat.

Suez, five years later, demonstrated to Eisenhower that the British and the French were fair-weather friends, slippery and devious allies who would always serve their own interests first, rather than that of the ‘Free World’ — by which the US has always meant, ‘the world where the US is in charge’.

Eisenhower’s second term

The consequence of these, along with other less high-profile events, was that by the second term of his Presidency, Eisenhower had cast himself — and the US — as the Global Policeman. This was the role he was to hand forward to Kennedy in 1961; and it has been a role espoused, with more or less enthusiasm, by every President of the US since.

That Eisenhower should have seen the world and both his and the US’ role in it, in this way, was inevitable. He was a just, warm, intelligent and humble man who believed absolutely in the chain of command that democracy established. He believed that he had a duty to serve the US, but also the cause of world peace.

Very few senior soldiers like war. In reading their memoirs one is often struck, indeed, by how many hate it. Yet they see it as a necessary duty; that while the threat of war is always more desirable than the reality, if the shooting breaks out, you have to be ready to commit. And it is pointless to do so unless you can win.

Soldier’s soldier

Eisenhower encapsulated this thinking perfectly. He was a soldier’s soldier, used to dealing with fractious subordinates and to inspiring his troops. Like Montgomery, he hated to waste life; this is probably why he was so sympathetic to the irascible English Field-Marshal.

His comment to the troops in Korea showed that he had little taste for indecisive actions. Eisenhower, in a tradition of soldiery from Alexander the Great and before to Stormin’ Norman, believed that the best way to win a fight was to focus, to prepare, and to hit the enemy with devastating force.

Like many other ranking US soldiers, he thought the use of atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki had saved lives. He believed that the demonstration of military might, that they could not possibly stand against, had forced the Japanese to concede. US forces had fought a bloody and exhausting war, slogging island by island across the Pacific. Their enemy was determined and would fight to the death; indeed their word for suicide attacks, ‘kamikaze’ is still in our lexicon. US generals were keen not to have to fight across Japan itself, village by village .

There is evidence, now, that Truman knew that the Japanese were preparing to surrender even before the atomic attack, but he was under pressure to ‘drop the bomb and show them what it can do’. In this case, however, ‘them’ may have been less an already broken Japan, but an increasingly confident Stalin.

Massive retaliation

‘Massive retaliation’ proposed to do the same thing to the USSR, should it try to break out from behind the so-called ‘Iron Curtain’.

So, by the time that Eisenhower entered his second term as President, the USSR was a nuclear power and flexing its muscles anywhere it could. China was not only a significant and growing military threat, but also a vector for Communism. The old European imperial nations were devious, slippery and untrustworthy. Meanwhile their history tends to make USicans think that if something needs to be done, they have to do it; and there was a belief that the use of overwhelming force was not only effective and justifiable, but also would save lives.

Global Policeman

All of these influences intersected at the Oval Office under Eisenhower,  as the US became the Global Policeman. The adoption of this position, which obtains today, has had consequences which Eisenhower could not, surely, have foreseen.

In making the US the Global Policeman with the US President its commander and its military force its authority, Eisenhower, at a stroke, destroyed the democracy he was so keen to not only protect but also to expand across the planet. Effectively, he created a system whereby 96% of the world’s population, at present time, would be policed by 4%; but that 96% would have no say whatsoever in the actions of the Global Policeman. The policed would have no vote; the policeman, no accountability.

US voters would have authority over how many babies would die in Vietnam or Kabul, how many union organisers in Chile would be assassinated, how many mothers in Iraq made homeless, which nations would survive and which would be utterly destroyed. The US would use its economic power to force on everyone else ‘trade deals’ that essentially empowered its corporations to defy the sovereignty of any other government. Secret courts would decide how much peoples would be fined for making laws that hampered corporations’ ability to rob them in their own nations. A system of ‘globalisation’ would be forced through, using USican military and economic muscle, that would drain wealth from the poorest and pump it to the richest.

Standing Rock

To make an appalling situation worse, the US would maintain the policy of ‘massive retaliation’ such that it could justify the use of effectively unlimited amounts of force, even against civilians. They even do this at home; just look at Standing Rock.

Democracy, in global terms, was struck its death-blow. The US became not the world’s ‘Global Policeman’ but, increasingly, its imperial overlord.

Divine Wind

Eisenhower, along with his successors, reckoned without the fact that even massive military force will not necessarily destroy the enemy. Or that a small number of determined combatants, prepared to die for their cause, cannot be defended against by such force, save with the total abdication of democracy and civil liberty. The lesson of kamikaze, the Divine Wind, seemed to have escaped them.

This has, inevitably, meant that the US’ role as Global Policeman has become increasing brutal and widespread. Every time it launches one of its ‘interventions’, and fails to kill the entire population it visits this upon, it creates more insurgents. So there are more and more insurgencies and more and more ‘interventions’ in a spiralling cycle of killing.

No objectives

The world is not Europe 1944; there is no clear objective, no common goal, no defined target any more. Just killing and destruction and more killing and destruction.

They have even turned it into an industry; how USican. Their military will destroy your home, your town, your country and kill all your friends and family, and then their construction companies will rebuild it all, at a price. Too bad they can’t bring back the dead, or put back arms and legs ripped off by bombs and shells. But democracy is always worth other people dying for, isn’t it? Even when they don’t get to share it.

The US is a tiny minority of the world and it has no right to behave as it does. It has no right to wield the power of life and death over the entire planet.

That it does so means that it is not a policeman or a campaigner for freedom, but a well-armed thug. A criminal. A warlord, nothing more. Our indignation might be ineffectual against thermo-nuclear weapons, cruise missiles and stealth bombers, but we owe it to ourselves and to our children to shatter the US’ smug assumption that the world belongs to it, or that it enjoys the luxury of moral justification.

Legitimate comment

So it is legitimate for us to comment on the election of the US President. That person becomes Commander-in-Chief of the imperial forces. Becomes the general who wields the force of massive retaliation; the executioner whose sword hangs over the neck of every person on the planet, whether they had a vote or not. Massive retaliation is in the President’s hands to mete out, and they have shown no disinclination to do so. Huge areas of the world are in flames directly because of it.

Outside the US, the election devolved to a simple question: how did we want the US to destroy us, kill the ones we love and put an end to our culture? By warfare, or by ruining the planet’s ecology? Simple choice. All the nonsense about ‘intersectional rights’ and the other things that seemed so important to the 4% of the world’s voters who actually got to choose, is just hogwash to the rest of us. It doesn’t matter. We don’t care. We’ll deal with those things here, in our own countries.

We do care how the US intends to kill us.

At the end of the day, Trump probably means that we will be destroyed though climate change while Clinton would have meant that it would be through the employment of ‘massive retaliation’, to a stage-managed provocation; that was the trick the US used in Vietnam and countless times since. Obama has been orchestrating just such an opportunity with Russia.

Die slowly, through starvation and social collapse, or quickly, by being raised to 20,000 degrees in a fraction of a second. Thanks for this choice, USica. Thank you. I won’t forget your consideration. And I didn’t even get to vote. But I do get to say, and it is this:

I prefer Trump. At least it gives us a little more time. Further, he has promised to call back the policemen, to reduce what is euphemistically called ‘overseas intervention’. That sounds better than ‘slaughtering people who don’t agree with you’, doesn’t it?

You never know, Trump might even ruin the US economy and save the planet; how cool would that be? Failing such a serendipitous result, however, I shall be happy if the new President orders all of the Global Policeman’s killing machines back home and keeps them there.

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Copyright 2016 Rod Fleming's World

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