FROM THE ANTHOLOGY: Essays for the Presidency

November 1952: Imperatives of Foreign Policy

General Dwight Eisenhower during his visit in Warsaw, Poland, 1944. Central Photographic Agency

FOR the student of foreign affairs, the most important part of the campaign of 1952 ended in Chicago in July. The choice which remains is as nothing compared to the choices that were made in the nominating conventions. Differences exist between General Eisenhower and Governor Stevenson and between their parties, but at least in the first few weeks after the conventions these differences seemed esoteric in comparison with those which might have been expected on the basis of what was being said and done by party leaders on both sides in the Washington of the 82nd Congress. To men of sober opinion this result was deeply satisfying; even earnest partisans were able to agree that both parties had chosen with distinction. Only the heartiest haters were disappointed.

Contemplating this remarkable result, many were tempted simply to thank their lucky stars; but it was not all luck. These two nominations were not accidental. They were not even the result primarily of the managerial skill of those whose manœuvres were so closely followed by the nation in the alternating boredom and fascination of the television proceedings. Behind these nominations lay a widespread and solid recognition of certain great national imperatives, not the least of which were in the field of foreign affairs. Whatever might be honestly believed by partisans of Senators Kefauver and Taft, it was agreed by uncommitted observers that the two nominees were the strongest candidates their respective parties could have found, and in each case a significant part of this strength was related to foreign policy.


The fundamental meaning of the Eisenhower candidacy can best be understood by considering the nature of the forces he was drafted to stop--for fundamentally he was the stop-Taft candidate and would almost surely have remained in Europe if the pre-convention Republican front-runner had been a Dewey or a Vandenberg. This is not to deny that General Eisenhower was and is a candidate of great attraction and power in his own right, but merely

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