• U.S.

National Affairs: I Shall Go to Korea

6 minute read

Dwight Eisenhower’s campaign was stepped up to a new level of intensity last week.

“We Must Have a Leadership . . .” On Boston Common he drew a crowd which police said was as large as those that turned out for Al Smith or F.D.R. Ike concentrated on the threat of “godless Communism,” which “strikes at the jugular vein of freedom.”

“If we are to win this deadly struggle with Communism, we must have a leadership that can unite us behind great objectives—a leadership morally and spiritually strong …”

That night, back in Manhattan at the Herald Tribune Forum, Eisenhower returned to the Communist theme. In a crisp analysis of the recent Red Party congress in Moscow, Ike held that Russia was aiming especially at wrecking the free world.’s economy. “Annual handouts” to U.S. allies, he argued, are no long-range defense. He proposed a “new look” at the problem, in concert with U.S. allies and directed at “reviving free-world economies and trade as a whole . . .”

“Inflation, the Thief.” Next day, after a breakfast (doughnuts & coffee) with a Negro group at Harlem’s Theresa Hotel, the Republican candidate entrained for western Connecticut and Massachusetts, upstate New York and southern Michigan.

Ike said it over & over again, from Hartford to Pontiac: his campaign’s “simple purpose is to provide—in lieu of shopworn, bad government—to provide good government and good leadership for America .. .” At Troy, N.Y. he dealt with one example of “bad government”: “Inflation, the thief that robs you every day.”

“The inflation we suffer is not an accident: it is a policy . . . The Administration’s controls over prices are nothing but weak stopgaps. The really effective controls—those over money and credit—were ignored by the Administration . . .”

To back his argument, Ike quoted the Democrats’ Senator Paul H. Douglas of Illinois, who has criticized the Administration’s fiscal policy as “lax, confused and imprudent.” The Fair Deal, charged Eisenhower, had bullied the Federal Reserve Board whenever the board tried to check the inflationary program.

At Buffalo, after noting that his audiences had included a group of housewives brandishing brooms, Ike pleaded especially for the women’s vote to sweep away “bad government”: “I know what can be done with a good broom in the hands of a morally indignant woman …”

“No Demonic Destiny . . .” The big blow of the week, the opening of the campaign’s last grand assault, was delivered from Detroit’s Masonic Temple before a nationwide radio and TV audience. The subject: Korea, which Eisenhower and his aides believe to be the campaign’s No. i issue and the U.S. people’s No. i concern.

In a formidable documentation, taken from official records (see box), Eisenhower raked the Truman Administration for failing to avert the “tragedy” of the Korean war, despite Republican forewarnings.

“The biggest fact about the Korean war is this: it was never inevitable, it was never inescapable. No fantastic fiat of history decreed that little South Korea—in the summer of 1950—would fatally tempt Communist aggressors as their easiest victim. No demonic destiny decreed that America had to be bled this way in order to keep South Korea free and to keep freedom itself self-respecting.

“We are not mute prisoners of history. That is a doctrine for totalitarians, it is no creed for free men.

“There is a Korean war—and we are fighting it—for the simplest of reasons: because free leadership failed to check and to turn back Communist ambition before it savagely attacked us. The Korean war—more perhaps than any other war in history—simply and swiftly followed the collapse of our political defenses. There is no other reason than this: we failed to read and to outwit the totalitarian mind . . .

“World War II should have taught us all one lesson. The lesson is this: To vacillate, to hesitate—to appease even by merely betraying unsteady purpose—is to feed a dictator’s appetite for conquest and to invite war itself. That lesson—which should have firmly guided every great decision of our leadership through these later years—was ignored in the development of the Administration’s policies for Asia …”

When the Communists invaded South Korea, the U.S. did respond in the only honorable way, with “sheer valor—valor on all the Korean mountain sides that, each day, bear fresh scars of new graves.”

“Where do we go from here?” asked Eisenhower. Then he made the campaign’s most dramatic pledge: if elected, he will take a “simple, firm resolution: To forego the diversions of politics and to concentrate on the job of ending the Korean war . . . honorably . . .

“That job requires a personal trip to Korea . . .

“I shall go to Korea . . .”

Eisenhower promised other means toward “a just peace”: i) a step-up in training and arming South Koreans, so they can bear the chief brunt of their defense, with U.N. forces in reserve; 2) a sharpening of psychological warfare “into a weapon capable of cracking the Communist front”; 3) no appeasement—”in the words of the late Senator Vandenberg, appeasement … is only surrender on the installment plan . . .”

Said Ike, in his indictment of the Democratic record: “A nation’s foreign policy is a much graver matter than rustling papers and bustling conferences. It is much more than diplomatic decisions and trade treaties and military arrangements.

“A foreign policy is the face and voice of a whole people. It is all that the world sees and hears and understands about a single nation. It expresses the character and the faith and the will of that nation. In this, a nation is like any individual of our personal acquaintance: the simplest gesture can betray hesitation or weakness, the merest inflection of voice can reveal doubt or fear.

“It is in this deep sense that our foreign policy has faltered and failed . . .”

“In the American Way.” At Philadelphia this week, in the final swing of his campaign, Eisenhower firmly stated his position on subversion in Government:

“Our Government must be constituted … of such incorruptible character that subversion cannot creep in … And if there be an erring man or woman, who having gotten into . . . Government, shows the signs of disloyalty, we have ample, just and American methods of getting rid of them. We have to destroy the reputation of no innocent man. We can do it and must do it promptly, but in the American way.”

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