Ike’s Advice Unheeded — The Clincher

When I started writing entries on the theme of “Ike’s Advice Unheeded” many moons ago, I suggested that millions of people died needlessly because Ike’s advice was not taken by those in power.

The advice I cited, if it had been followed, would have averted the French war in Indochina, the US war in Vietnam and the American occupation of Iraq. So you’re saying, “That’s only a few hundred thousand lives at the most.”

OK you’re right, but here’s the clincher. When I first read it I had to sit back in shock and amazement and consider what would have happened if this bit of advice had been heeded. We would live in a completely different world than the one we know today.

“In 1945 Secretary of War Henry L. Stinson, visiting my headquarters in Germany [Ike was then head of NATO], informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan.

“I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act.

“During his recitation of the relevant racts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives.

“It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of ‘face.’ The secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude, almost angrily refuting the reasons I gave for my quick conclusions.”

Imagine what the world might be like today if Harry S. Truman had had enough working brain cells to ask for Ike’s advice — and follow it.