Will Hitchcock, the Miller Center’s new director of research and scholarship, was interviewed by CNN this week for an article comparing Barack Obama’s national security policy to that of Dwight D. Eisenhower. According to Hitchcock, Obama would like to keep the United States out of war, “pursue peace through strength and cut defense spending. Those are all things that Eisenhower would have approved.” Eisenhower also understood the devastating effects of war. According to Hitchcock, the former general “didn't want to be drawn into a conflict whose outcome he couldn't predict. He is not a guy who says avoid war at all costs; he would say pick your fights and make sure you can win them completely.” Although he has not had any military experience, Obama has turned to people, such as Chuck Hagel and John Kerry, with similar beliefs and positions as Eisenhower.
One of the biggest differences between Eisenhower and Obama is in their approach to cutting military spending. Hitchcock noted that Eisenhower entered the White House as an expert in world affairs and knew the military establishment well. According to Hitchcock:
That is a big deal. Eisenhower almost felt that he knew how to push around the military establishment. He told them he was going to cut the military budget and he did and they complained, but he wouldn't let them boss him around.
But Obama has yet to follow suit, Hitchcock said:
Obama is not a budget hawk; maybe his hands are tied, but he hasn't been a budget hawk. He wants to cut the defense budgets now that the wars are coming to an end, but it is not as if the defense spending is driving the war strategy.
Read the full article, “Obama's national security policy resembles Eisenhower’s,” on CNN.com. For more on Eisenhower’s foreign and national security policy, be sure to join us at the Miller Center on March 21st for The Gordon and Mary Beth Smyth Forum on American History featuring Evan Thomas, who will discuss his book, Ike’s Bluff.