Dwight D. Eisenhower

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No people on earth can be held, as a people, to be an enemy, for all humanity shares the common hunger for peace and fellowship and justice.

Dwight David Eisenhower (14 October 189028 March 1969) was an American soldier and politician. He served as Supreme Commander, Allied forces in Europe during World War II, and was later elected the 34th President of the United States. He was also known by his nickname "Ike".

Sourced

The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.
  • This is a long tough road we have to travel. The men that can do things are going to be sought out just as surely as the sun rises in the morning. Fake reputations, habits of glib and clever speech, and glittering surface performance are going to be discovered.
    • Letter to Vernon E. Prichard (27 August 1942), published in The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower (1970) edited by Alfred Dupont Chandler, p. 505
  • When I was a small boy in Kansas, a friend of mine and I went fishing and as we sat there in the warmth of the summer afternoon on a river bank, we talked about what we wanted to do when we grew up. I told him that I wanted to be a real major league baseball player, a genuine professional like Honus Wagner. My friend said that he'd like to be president of the United States. Neither of us got our wish.

Pre-Presidency

  • Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely. But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory! I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory! Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
    • Order of the Day (2 June 1944) Message to troops before the Normandy landings.
  • Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.
    • Notes for an announcement, written in advance of the Normandy invasion, in case of its failure, but never delivered (June 1944)
  • Kinship among nations is not determined in such measurements as proximity of size and age. Rather we should turn to those inner things — call them what you will — I mean those intangibles that are the real treasures free men possess. To preserve his freedom of worship, his equality before law, his liberty to speak and act as he sees fit, subject only to provisions that he trespass not upon similar rights of others — a Londoner will fight. So will a citizen of Abilene. When we consider these things, then the valley of the Thames draws closer to the farms of Kansas and the plains of Texas.
  • I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity.
    • Speech in Ottawa, 10 January 1946, publshed in Eisenhower Speaks : Dwight D. Eisenhower in His Messages and Speeches (1948) edited by Rudolph L. Treuenfels
  • The hand of the aggressor is stayed by strength – and strength alone.
    • A speech at an English Speaking Union Dinner, July 3, 1951. It is currently on display on the wall of Eisenhower Hall at the USMA at West Point in New York. Eisenhower Memorial Commission

Presidency

History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid. We must acquire proficiency in defense and display stamina in purpose.
  • We must be ready to dare all for our country. For history does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid. We must acquire proficiency in defense and display stamina in purpose.
    We must be willing, individually and as a Nation, to accept whatever sacrifices may be required of us. A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.
  • No people on earth can be held, as a people, to be an enemy, for all humanity shares the common hunger for peace and fellowship and justice. ... No nation's security and well-being can be lastingly achieved in isolation but only in effective cooperation with fellow-nations.
  • Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. ... Is there no other way the world may live?
    • Speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, "The Chance for Peace" (1953-04-16)
  • All of us have heard this term "preventive war" since the earliest days of Hitler. I recall that is about the first time I heard it. In this day and time, if we believe for one second that nuclear fission and fusion, that type of weapon, would be used in such a war — what is a preventive war?
    I would say a preventive war, if the words mean anything, is to wage some sort of quick police action in order that you might avoid a terrific cataclysm of destruction later.
    A preventive war, to my mind, is an impossibility today. How could you have one if one of its features would be several cities lying in ruins, several cities where many, many thousands of people would be dead and injured and mangled, the transportation systems destroyed, sanitation implements and systems all gone? That isn't preventive war; that is war.
    I don't believe there is such a thing; and, frankly, I wouldn't even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked about such a thing.
    ... It seems to me that when, by definition, a term is just ridiculous in itself, there is no use in going any further.
    There are all sorts of reasons, moral and political and everything else, against this theory, but it is so completely unthinkable in today's conditions that I thought it is no use to go any further.
    • News Conference of (11 August 1954)
    • Variant: When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war. War settles nothing.
      • Quoted in Quote magazine (4 April 1965) and The Quotable Dwight D. Eisenhower (1967) edited by Elsie Gollagher, p. 219
  • Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.
  • No doubt the strongest and most reliable protector of European civilization is The Turkish Army.
    • Said to the Turkish Brigade for their contributions during The Korean War.
  • … this is something, eh, that is the kind of thing that must be gone through with what I believe is best not talked about too much until we know whatever answers there will be.
    • Response to questions about the investigation of Robert Oppenheimer's supposed Communist sympathies
    • Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States. Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954, p. 435
    • Cited in Brendon, Piers (1986). "The Dawn of Tranquility", Ike: His Life & Times, 1st edition, p. 270 of 478, New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-015508-6.
  • ...if a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power.
    • Remarks at Fourth Annual Republican Women's National Conference (1956-03-06)
  • I tell this story to illustrate the truth of the statement I heard long ago in the Army: Plans are worthless, but planning is everything. There is a very great distinction because when you are planning for an emergency you must start with this one thing: the very definition of 'emergency' is that it is unexpected, therefore it is not going to happen the way you are planning.
    • Speech to the National Defense Executive Reserve Conference in Washington, D.C. (1957-11-14)
  • Oh, goddammit, we forgot the silent prayer.
    • Remark at a cabinet meeting, as quoted in Since 1945 : Politics and Diplomacy in Recent American History (1979) by Robert A. Divine, p. 55
  • I do have one instruction for you, General. Do something about that damned football team.
  • This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience…we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

Post-Presidency

  • In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.
  • Secretary of War Stimson, visiting my headquarters in Germany, informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act. ...the Secretary, upon giving me the news of the successful bomb test in New Mexico, and of the plan for using it, asked for my reaction, apparently expecting a vigorous assent.
    During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of 'face'. The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude...
    • The White House Years: Mandate for Change: 1953–1956: A Personal Account (1963), pp. 312-313
  • I am convinced that the French could not win the war because the internal political situation in Vietnam, weak and confused, badly weakened their military position. I have never talked or corresponded with a person knowledgeable in Indochinese affairs who did not agree that had elections been held as of the time of the fighting, possibly 80 per cent of the population would have voted for the Communist Ho Chi Minh as their leader rather than Chief of State Bao Dai. Indeed, the lack of leadership and drive on the part of Bao Dai was a factor in the feeling prevalent among Vietnamese that they had nothing to fight for. As one Frenchman said to me, "What Vietnam needs is another Syngman Rhee, regardless of all the difficulties the presence of such a personality would entail.
    • The White House Years longer passage quoted at Montclair State University
  • Un-American activity cannot be prevented or routed out by employing un-American methods; to preserve freedom we must use the tools that freedom provides.
    • The White House Years, p. 331
  • I was against it on two counts. First, the Japanese were ready to surrender, and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing. Second, I hated to see our country be the first to use such a weapon.
    • On his stated opposition to the use of the atomic bomb against the Japanese
    • Newsweek, 1963-11-11
  • Character in many ways is everything in leadership. It is made up of many things, but I would say character is really integrity. When you delegate something to a subordinate, for example, it is absolutely your responsibility, and he must understand this. You as a leader must take complete responsibility for what the subordinate does. I once said, as a sort of wisecrack, that leadership consists of nothing but taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong and giving your subordinates credit for everything that goes well.
    • On military character
    • Edgar F. Puryear Jr., 19 Stars: a Study in Military Character and Leadership
  • It is my personal conviction that almost any one of the newborn states of the world would far rather embrace Communism or any other form of dictatorship than acknowledge the political domination of another government, even though that brought to each citizen a far higher standard of living.
    • Cole C. Kingseed, Eisenhower and the Suez Crisis of 1956, p. 27
  • One circumstance that helped our character development: we were needed. I often think today of what an impact could be made if children believed they were contributing to a family's essential survival and happiness. In the transformation from a rural to an urban society, children are — though they might not agree — robbed of the opportunity to do genuinely responsible work.
    • At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends (1967); also quoted in Childhood Revisited (1974) by Joel I. Milgram and Dorothy June Sciarra, p. 90
  • We are so proud of our guarantees of freedom in thought and speech and worship, that, unconsciously, we are guilty of one of the greatest errors that ignorance can make – we assume our standard of values is shared by all other humans in the world.
    • John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Post-war American National Security Policy (Oxford University Press, 1982)

Unsourced

I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it.
  • And when he goes to heaven, to St. Peter he will tell: One more soldier reporting, sir. I've served my time in hell.
  • From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city, every village, and every rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty.
  • Peace and Justice are two sides of the same coin.
  • The United States never lost a soldier or a foot of ground in my administration. We kept the peace. People asked how it happened — by God, it didn’t just happen, I’ll tell you that.
  • An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows.
  • Being shot at focuses the mind wonderfully.
    • This is very similar to a statement attributed to Winston Churchill: "There is nothing as exhilarating as being shot at and missed."
  • Do not needlessly endanger your lives until I give you the signal.
  • Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and the sacrifices of his friends.
  • I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it.
  • If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking... is freedom.
    • Variant: If all that Americans want is security, they can go to prison. They'll have enough to eat, a bed and a roof over their heads. (1949)
  • Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.
  • May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.
  • Only strength can cooperate. Weakness can only beg.
  • The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.
  • The sergeant is the army.
  • There is no victory at bargain basement prices.
  • Things are more like they are now than they ever were before.
  • Neither a wise man or a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.
  • In his case, there seems to be no final answer to the question, "How stupid can you get?"
    • Commenting on the Senate Republican leader
  • What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight — it's the size of the fight in the dog.
  • God help any man who sits behind this desk who doesn't know the military like I do.
  • Like the export of the Spanish Inquisition, the American Inquisition too has been taken to the far flung corners of the earth.[1]
  • This operation is being planned as a success, We can not afford to fail.
    • Referring to to the importance of Overlord
  • The only way to win World War III is to prevent it.


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