Lens of History (23)

STEC Archives, Print Document Division
Curator signature: Jer
Format: Textual Record
Object: Personal communications of Dwight D. Eisenhower
Location (if known): Versailles, France
Time (if known): December 15th, 1951

Dear Iowa,

Thank you for your warm message of concern. Mamie and I are doing fine, and I have spoken to many others regarding that subject we spoke over a month ago.

Even now Our Friend work relentlessly to draw me into the fray. It is a difficult choice for me personally. I do not make decisions easily. I know you understand that, but nonetheless I feel compelled to articulate these thoughts.

All men feel the call towards greatness. That much is certain. Some of us feel the tug more keenly than others. Some of us indeed desire the “laurel and honors” of higher office, as you read recently in Joe McCarthy’s opinion piece attacking me.

I reluctantly admit that it is having some effect on my thoughts. I feel a great deal of indignation at the baselessness of his accusations, but the greater part of my mind boils with pent-up frustration at my inability to respond in turn. There are few things I value more than my good name, but for the sake of our country, I shall carry on. Any reaction from a personal perspective on my part would only fuel the chaos back home and would create too many unnecessary difficulties.

The purpose of NATO, in my view, is the preservation of peace. Its secondary mission was to defend Western Europe should our efforts to maintain peace fail. The President publicly declares that we will support any country against Communism. I said nothing at the time, but I wished then to ask him: towards what end?

The total accumulation of human history is on the brink of annihilation, and we worry about Soviet aggression. This is preposterous. The Russian took horrendous losses during the World War and suffered widespread damage. I do not see any situation where the Soviets would attack, especially if one takes into consideration our very capable nuclear arsenal.

If change is to come outside of America, it will come politically. I believe there is considerable possibility of Communist political advances, particularly in less developed countries where the appeal is significant or countries currently undergoing poor leadership such as that of France. Nonetheless, I believe our role should be one of deterrence, not anti-communist. We should not embark on a campaign of straight anti-Communism around the world. Rather, we must encourage independent nations to fight for their independence against aggression of any type.

We cannot be a modern Rome guarding the far frontiers of our empire with the legions. We are allies and partners of Europe, but in the end, the role of Europe’s defense will have to fall on European shoulders.

In this, the President and I do not exactly see eye to eye, and our differences domestically are too great for me to seek a Democratic nomination. While I did vote for Dewey, I am uncomfortable with the direction that the Taft-McCarthy wing wants to take the country. Already they have deeply damaged the integrity of many of our institutions. The recent investigation into the Army only adds fuel to the fire, severing old friendships and preventing new ones alike. Personally, if you ask me, I think the best evidence that McCarthy is chasing shadows is the abject surprise that the Soviets exhibited when you visited them earlier in the year.

That aside, my current responsibilities lie with the fledgling NATO, and the character of job is such that I will not seek out another post while I am responsible for one now.

After all, the seeking is never so popular as the sought.