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For example, in another article entitled "Eisenhower or Dulles? Who Made the Decisions?" (1979) about Eisenhower's years as president with Dulles, Immerman states that the overwhelming consensus among analysts of United States foreign policy during the Eisenhower administration is that Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was the dominant force. Such writers agree "that Dulles' forceful personality, lengthy preparation, and keen intellect enabled him to control and even manipulate the congenial but bland and passive President Eisenhower." Yet Immerman revisited this argument by looking at public records from the time, journalism reports and appraisals of those who were in President Eisenhower's inner circle either in the White House or State Department. In addition, he reread the Whitman File in the Eisenhower Library that contains thousands of transcript pages of the president's daily phone conversations, formal and informal meeting minutes, memoranda and other written communications, as well as Eisenhower's private diary. With the use of such informational material in addition to Eisenhower's wartime papers, interviews with White House and State Department insiders and studies of Eisenhower's pre-presidential career, and concluded that "the standard view of Dwight Eisenhower on the leading strings of John Foster Dulles is highly problematic."
There are others who also fault Eisenhower for trying to be too conciliatory and retaining his popular stance by finding a middle road. Piers Brendon, in his book IKE: His Life and Times (1986) criticized Eisenhower for "caving in to the demoralizing witch hunt of McCarthyism," since he was completely aware that Senator Joseph McCarthy was spreading a debilitating "pall of fear" throughout the Government and teaching professions, libraries, publishing and Hollywood. "Yet he steadfastly refused to confront the evil: "It would be completely wrong [for me] to challenge a single man..'
Brendon (1986) credits Eisenhower with extraordinary perceptions and sound instincts, but is disappointed that he did not necessarily act on them in the war, "at least three times - during Kasserine, after the Ardennes, and at Remagen - his hunches were correct. But he lacked the will or the courage to play them to the full, opting instead for safety first." He was "not so much flexible as malleable," for his passion was consensus. A large part of his career, particularly his leadership of the wartime coalition, can be seen as "a selfless endeavor to realize his vision of the golden mean." After he gained the Presidency, it can also be read as "a selfish effort to do nothing that might jeopardize his popularity."
Given the moderate conservatism of the country after World War II and the beginning of the Cold War, Eisenhower's middle of the road tactics were a way to keep him in good stead with the voters. The father figure of Eisenhower was what the country was looking for after the turmoil of the earlier decades and the fear of how the world was now changing overseas in Russia as well as with growing racial unrest in the United States. Impressions that Eisenhower was a passive president were due to his approach to resolving the conflict between what Americans expect from a president in his dual role of head of state and principal national political leader. In fact, it is said that he did not see his leadership style as weak.
What does this mean to today's leader in a highly competitive environment -- much more global, fast-paced and competitive than during Eisenhower's administration? Today's leaders in organizations have the same challenge as Eisenhower. They have to be strong enough to bring about needed change to keep their organization successful. However, they also have to give other individuals and team efforts the ability to develop their own results and group decisions, so they know that their abilities and talents are being appreciated. Even more so now, it is imperative for companies to break away from the earlier top down management style that values employees for their innovation and unique talents.
According to Professor of Politics Emeritus at Princeton University Fred I. Greenstein, Eisenhower will be remembered for the following traits:
In seeking to downplay the political side of his role, he frequently exercised political influence through intermediaries rather than directly or otherwise concealed his part in the cut and thrust of leadership.
Similarly, he was studiously artful in employing language. His private communications to close associates are models of analytic clarity and contain informed, realistic accounts of his political strategies. But in press conferences he often was evasive or professed ignorance of matters that he felt were best not discussed, doing so in a homely, idiomatic way that enhanced public affection for and confidence in him. And in his public addresses, he worked with his speechwriters seeking to find language that was dignified yet, as he once put it, simple enough "to sound good to the fellow digging a ditch in Kansas."
Eisenhower also took pains never to criticize an adversary by name, lest he demean his own role and arouse underdog sympathies for the opponent. By refusing to (as he put it) "engage in personalities," he also acted on the premise that impugning the motives of others engenders ill feeling that undermines the basic leadership task of welding political cooperation.
Although he did not discuss personality publicly, much of his private reasoning and discourse involved sizing up what he called the "personal equation" of other political actors. He did this in order to use aides where they would be most effective and to anticipate how best to exercise influence. His preoccupation with personality analysis helped him to keep the political side of his leadership inconspicuous.
He was a vocal proponent of generous delegation of authority, but he varied the magnitude of delegation according to his sense of his associates' capacities and of the likelihood that their actions would be consistent with his desires. Thus, his much publicized commitment to delegation did not lead to abdicating presidential power to subordinates. Nevertheless, by emphasizing this commitment he was able to reward associates by giving them credit for popular administration politics and, more important in terms of protecting himself from controversy, to allow them to take the blame for unpopular administration policies.
Overall, Greenstein concluded, Eisenhower used his personality and indirect leadership techniques to defuse potential sources of discontent, quietly resolving matters that, if left unsettled, would have made him vulnerable to criticism.
Brendon, P. (1986). Ike: His Life and Times. New York: Harper and Row
Ganoe, W.A. (1962). MacArthur Close-Up: Much Then and Some Now. New York: Vantage.
Greenstein, F.I. Dwight D. Eisenhower. 8 September 2007 http://www.presidentprofiles.com/Grant-Eisenhower/Eisenhower-Dwight-D.html
Holsti, O.R. (1974-75). "Will the real Dulles Please stand up," International Journal 30, 34-44.
Immerman, R.H. (1979) Eisenhower and Dulles: Who Made the Decisions?
Political Psychology, 1(2) 21-38.
Publication Information: Book Title: American Generalship: Character Is Everything the Art of Command. Contributors: Edgar F. Puryear Jr. - author. Publisher: Presidio. Place of Publication: Novato, CA. Publication Year: 2000. Page Number: xiii.
Publication Information: Book Title: Eisenhower, His Life and Campaigns. Contributors E.K.G. Sixsmith - author. Publisher: Combined…[continue]
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