Dwight Eisenhower was born on this day in Denison, Texas. He was the third of seven sons and his mother said lightning struck the ground the moment he was born, meaning she knew he was destined to be a warrior.
(Photo from Pinterest and gettyimages)
Ike has been my political hero since I was fifteen. That he led a multi-national coalition through all of the West’s successful campaigns against the Nazis across North Africa and Western Europe caught my attention. I originally ranked him as a top 10 President, but Evan Thomas’ Ike’s Bluff ignited my obsession with his legacy on nuclear weapons. I spent years trying to articulate a succinct way to describe it and finally settled on “stabilizing the nuclear era,” which links his keeping the peace through multiple crises with setting the nuclear taboo and designing the triad. I now view it as one of the greatest achievements in human history and one of the three greatest achievements of any political leader. When combined with his generalship, I believe that he did more good for the world than any other military or political leader in human history.
His domestic legacy is impressive too, particularly his advancement of civil rights and his huge investments in science and infrastructure, including the Interstate Highway System, NASA, and DARPA. His centrist politics, both in domestic and foreign policy, are an almost perfect guide for the 21st century, although they’d need to be updated in some places. Above all, his philosophy of duty provides a moral framework that anyone can follow to make this a better world. Perhaps his birthday can be a chance to reflect on this great man and commit ourselves to his vision.