Thursday, June 07, 2012

President Obama steps up: The importance of the Eisenhower memorial

By Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 6/ 8/12

The model for the proposed Eisenhower memorial looks now like toy soldiers preparing to mount for D Day. And there is no telling what the final result will be with trickster architect Frank Gehry making the decisions. There is a riddle here: Why is a general who ranks with Lord Nelson, with Grant, being treated with such light-handedness? Two things today: As the Washington Post reports, The Eisenhower Memorial Commission, a bipartisan body tasked with creating a memorial to the 34th president of the United States, has agreed to delay a critical design hearing tentatively scheduled for July. And most important, President Obama has entered. As  AP reports, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has expressed interest in viewing models of architect Frank Gehry's design with the key parties involved. No meeting has been set, but Salazar could hold discussions about how the memorial project could move forward.

Are Congress, the press and the people fully aware of what is going on here? Is someone trying to edit General Eisenhower out of history? In 1956, Eisenhower ordered the British out of the Suez, making no friends with Israel’s David Ben-Gurion but establishing American dominance in the Middle East. “Over to you,” Macmillan telegraphed back, acknowledging American’s dominance. But that all changed when the George W. Bush administration brought England along on its invasion of Iraq to establish international credibility on a mission universally believed to be based on a hoax. When we hear of World War II nowadays from Bush conservatives it always seems to be about Winston Churchill. The British sent a bust of Churchill to President Bush to affirm the new relationship. Obama sent it back. What he should do is put a bust of Eisenhower in its place.

Would Dwight Eisenhower have approved an invasion of Iraq patently and obviously based on a fiction of the presence of weapons of mass destruction? At the beginning of the invasion of Iraq a very few prominent women and men of the highest character came forth to oppose George W. Bush and his supporting congress. They included Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, General  Wesley Clark, Colonel Larry Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s chief of staff, and Eisenhower’s son John Eisenhower. Ike’s granddaughter Susan Eisenhower also left the Republican Party to endorse Barack Obama in  2008.

Concern registered about the proposed Ike memorial seems to be coming mostly from Democrats like Jim Moran, Congressman from Virginia. Concerned calls and emails I received after several articles have also been from prominent Democrats. Are the neocon movement and Bush conservatives hoping to mock Ike or trivialize and minimize his influence with a novelty monument by an aging hipster who made a hat for Lady Gaga? Are conservatives attempting to edit Eisenhower out of history to supplant him in a false hierarchy since WW II? So it goes with them now, Churchill, Reagan and George W. Bush and you never hear a mention of their most honorable warrior. But it won't hold up to time.

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