Ike’s Bluff gives the reader an inside look at President Eisenhower’s approach to foreign policy from the perspective of the former Supreme Allied Commander of World War II. It is book that should appease the American history/Cold War buffs out there. In total, the book brings a more accurate, personal look on the 34th President of these United States. This is a quick summary of the thesis of this book.
In short, the author argues that Dwight D. Eisenhower approached his foreign policy with the mindset of a poker player; one with an intense and persuadable poker face. Eisenhower is able to prevent nuclear war by threatening to use his mass arsenal of nukes on the USSR and Red China. His approach is all-or-nothing. In other words, if you’re going to step in a fight, you must go all the way and give them everything you got. However, deep inside,according to his personal writings and archives, the President is only bluffing. He wouldn’t do such a thing since he has experienced war and has seen the destruction of human life for himself during WWI and WWII. He is in fact, a peaceful man who desires disarmament, peace, and security in a free world. Yet, he never reveals his true intentions to his circle of advisers, cabinet members, or the media. He shows his war face to the Soviets and they completely buy it.
Throughout his presidency, he avoids confrontation with the Soviets, and avoids quagmires and proxy wars that will become thematic with subsequent American presidents. He fights endlessly against the political culture of the period, one marked by a lust for unlimited and exorbitant amounts of defense spending. Unlike the presidents of today, Eisenhower was anti-militant, believing that spending so much on defense would lead to a garrison state.
Yet, despite his attempts, he is unable to harness the hawks and Cold War warriors that surround him, each hungry to destroy the Communists. They beg for more cash and more weapons and they eventually get it. They warn the President and the American people that the Russians are catching up (in reality, the Russians are far behind) On his final speech as President, Eisenhower -in the manner of a prophet -warns the U.S of an emerging military industrial complex.
In total, the book is enlightening and gives a new light to the 34th president, whom has been regarded as a do-nothing president by people to this day. In fact, he was far from that. He was the invisible hand that prevented nuclear war during his tenure has president.