Teen View: Mousa Alshanteer - Obama, Eisenhower comparisons aren’t valid

Jan. 23, 2013 @ 03:01 AM

As early as two years prior to the date he left office, President Eisenhower began writing a farewell address that would be remembered by many for years to come. In it, he aimed to caution a nation “giddy with prosperity” and “infatuated with youth and glamour” of hard times ahead.
Despite increasing tension due to the Cold War, as well as the construction of the Interstate Highway System, Eisenhower oversaw a period of relative peace, considerable economic expansion during which no inflation occurred, the balancing of three national budgets, and a decrease in the national debt. Thus, it should surprise the majority of Americans to hear of one of the nation’s most successful presidents being inaccurately compared to President Obama by many political analysts and commentators.
Eisenhower was much more accomplished than Obama in his economic, foreign and social policy.
What many analysts do not realize is that the year Eisenhower delivered his speech, our national debt constituted merely half of our GDP. This is very significant, especially considering that we were compensating for World War II and the Marshall Plan, and that our defense spending comprised more than half of our national budget at the time. Under Eisenhower’s administration, the economy had considerably developed, with the Dow Jones Industrials stock market index more than doubling. This past year, our national debt exceeded our annual productivity by about $1.36 trillion – a number that is likely to increase in light of the many programs that President Obama has introduced and amplified throughout his first term.
Not only was Eisenhower more successful than Obama in economic policy, but in foreign policy as well. Though Eisenhower decreased the defense budget by 27 percent during his tenure, he did so at a time during which our national security wouldn’t have been affected. Furthermore, Eisenhower balanced the budget cuts by increasing funding for the research, development, and assessment of weaponry to ensure that United States could maintain its military and technological edge over the Soviet Union.
On the other hand, Obama’s proposed sequestration, which will decrease our defense budget by over $487 billion in the next decade, is unequivocally opposed by our military leaders. While Eisenhower decreased our defense budget in a time of peace, Obama is willing to compromise our national security in a time when the events that occurred in Algeria and Libya seem to be multiplying ever so resiliently. As if “leading from behind” isn’t enough, President Obama plans to appoint Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense so as to negligently reduce defense spending regardless of strategic considerations. Obama has further pursued a policy of appeasement in the Middle East, thereby allowing for al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood to gain influence in the region.
In contrast, Eisenhower compelled the USSR to surrender in the Cuban Missile Crisis, ousted the corrupt leaders of Iran in the 1953 coup d’état, utilized nuclear threats to settle the Korean War with China, and sent American troops to Lebanon to counteract the rise of a Nasser-inspired revolution.
Eisenhower’s social policy was no different. According to the New York Times, while Obama presides over the most polarized congressional session in history, Eisenhower led our nation when Congress was least polarized. While Obama divides us, Eisenhower unified our country by administering federal court orders to desegregate public schools, defending the right to vote, and executing the desegregation of the armed forces.
Whether it is economic policy, foreign policy, or social policy, it’s clear that Eisenhower greatly differs from Obama and that the latter president is incomparable to the former. Even though Obama is the first president since Eisenhower to win 51 percent of the popular vote twice, Obama never was, and never will be, “like Ike” unless he heeds the following message stated in Eisenhower’s farewell address years ago: “We must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage.”
After all, “we want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”

Mousa Alshanteer is a freshman at Duke University and a 2012 graduate of High Point Central High School. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author. Contact him at mousa.alshanteer@duke.edu.