Evan Thomas

  • Aired:  10/15/12
  •  | Views: 5,787

Journalist Evan Thomas describes President Eisenhower's moderate Republicanism, bluffs with nuclear weapons and relationship with the CIA. (7:17)

>> WELCOME BACK, EVERYBODY.

MY GUEST TONIGHT HAS A NEW BOOK ON AMERICA'S ATOMIC ARSENAL IN THE 1950s.

SO IT WAS A SIMPLER TIME.

BEN WE COULD BLOW UP ITS WORLD ONLY NINE TIMES.

PLEASE WELCOME EVAN THOMAS.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> HEY, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

OKAY, SIR, THANK YOU FOR COMING ON HERE.

YOU'VE GOT A NEW BOOK.

IT'S CALLED IKE BLUFF PRESIDENT EISENHOWER'S SECRET BATTLE TO SAVE THE WORLD.

NOW I GOT A BEEF WITH IKE THAT I DIDN'T KNOW I HAD.

BECAUSE I LIKE IKE, YOU LIKE IKE, EVERYBODY LIKES IKE.

TURNS OUT IKE WAS A HUGE APPROXIMATES USSY.

(LAUGHTER)

>> NO, HE WASN'T.

>> Stephen: HE WAS.

HE WAS.

HE WAS AFRAID OF GOING TOE-TO-TOE WITH THE RUSSSKIES IN NUCLEAR ANNIHILATION.

>> HE WAS NOT, HE WAS BRAVE, HE WAS A BRAVE SOLDIER.

BUT HE DIDN'T WANT TO FIGHT WARS.

HE WANTED TO BLUFF THE RUSSIANS.

1950s.

COMMUNISM WAS ON THE MARCH AND HE DIDN'T WANT TO FIGHT A NUCLEAR WAR.

HE DIDN'T WANT TO FIGHT ANY KIND OF WAR BUT HE BLUFFED WITH NUCLEAR WEAPONS.

>> Stephen: HE WAS THE ALLY.

HE KNEW THAT WE WON WORLD WAR II WITH NUCLEAR BOMBS, DID THAT ESCAPE HIS ATTENTION.

>> HE DIDN'T WANT IT TO DO HIROSHIMA OR NAGASAKI AT HOME OR IN RUSSIA.

HE SAW WHAT NUCLEAR BOMB KOS DO AND DIDN'T WANT TO USE THEM.

>> Stephen: BUT YOU SAY HE WAS UNWILLING TO DO FIRST STRIKE.

>> WELL, HE DIDN'T-- YES, HE DIDN'T WANT TO GO FIRST.

HE THOUGHT ABOUT IT.

HE ACTUALLY, INTERESTINGLY, HE THOUGHT ABOUT GOING FIRST AND TRYING TO KNOCK OUT THE SOVIET DOWNBEFORE THEY COULD

KNOCK US OUT.

HE THOUGHT WE HAD RAY MORAL DUTY TO AT LEAST CONSIDER THAT BUT THOUGHT ABOUT IT AND THOUGHT IMMORAL, BAD,

WRONG, SO THEY DIDN'T DO IT BUT THEY DID THINK ABOUT IT.

>> OKAY, BUT WHY IS THE GENERAL, WAS HE SO HESITANT TO USE MASSIVE MILITARY SUPPORT.

>> BECAUSE HE USED IT HE HAD SEENS IT, HE HAD SEEN THE EFFECTS OF IT HE FLEW AFTER WORLD WAR II HE FLEW IN A

SMALL PLANE FROM BERLIN TO MOSKOW AND OVER THE ROOFS, THE GERMAN ARMY AND RUSSIAN ARMEE, AND HE DIDN'T SEE A

SINGLE BUILDING LEFT STANDING.

HE KNEW WHAT WAR COULD DO.

HE KNEW HOW HORRIBLE IT WAS BECAUSE HE HAD RUN A WAR.

SOW WANTED TO AVOID WAR.

>> IS THIS WHY WE SHOULDN'T ELECT GENERALS ANY MORE?

>> WELL, WE-- .

>> Stephen: GUYS LIKE ROM KNOW AND GEORGE W. BUSH WITHOUT DIDN'T ACTUALLY SERVE IN I WAR, YOU KNOW,

STILL HAVE THE BALLS TO SEND OTHER PEOPLE TO GO IN TO FIGHT.

SOMETIMES THE POST DANGEROUS GUYS.

>> ARE THE ONES WHO HAVEN'T BEEN TO WA, THEY CALL THEM CHICKEN HAWKS.

>> Stephen: PROUD ONE RIGHT HERE.

>> UNFORTUNATELY, I AM DEAF THIS ONE YEAR BUT OR I WOULD HAVE SERVED IN MANY, MANY WARS.

>> MILITARY GUYS WHO HAVE SEEN WAR SOMETIMES KNOW ENOUGH TO TRY TO STAY OUT OF IT.

>> Stephen: OKAY.

BUT YOU SAY THAT HE WAS A POKER PLAYER.

>> HE WAS.

>> Stephen: WHAT HAND WAS IKE HOLDING?

>> BECAUSE IF IT'S A BLUFF THAT MEANS HE DIDN'T ACTUALLY HAVE THE CARDS.

WHAT HAND DOW SAY PARKER DID NOT HAVE?

>> AMERICA WAS NOT ACTUALLY GOING TO USE THESE WEAPONS.

HE WANTED TO MAKE THE RUSSIANS THINK MAN, WE'RE GOING TO NUKE YOU BUT HE WASN'T GOING DO IT SSES BUT

DIDN'T RUSSIA IMMEDIATELY KNOW THAT WE WEREN'T WHEN HE DIDN'T HELP OUT THE HUNGARIANS AND THE SOVIETS

SENDING THOSE TANKS TO CRUSH THOSE --

>> HE WAS SMART ENOUGH NOT TO GO INTO HUNGARY BECAUSE IT MIGHT HAVE PRO-- PROVOKED A WORLD WAR.

WE COULDN'T HAVE SAVED HUNGARY.

>> Stephen: SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO NUKE A VILLAGE TO SAVE IT.

>> EISENHOWER WAS SMART ENOUGH TO STAY OUT OF WARS HE COULDN'T WIN.

AND THAT WAS A WAR WE COULDN'T WIN.

>> Stephen: I GOT ANOTHER BEEF WITH IKE HERE.

THIS IS A LONG-STANDING BEEF BUT I HAVE FORGIVEN HIM FOR IT BEFORE UNTIL I ALMOST READ YOUR BOOK.

IKE WARNED US ABOUT THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX.

WHAT DE MEAN BY THAT?

>> HE MEANS THE MILITARY SOMETIMES EXAGGERATES THREATS, BECAUSE THEY WANT MORE MONEY TO BUILD MORE WEAPONS.

AND SO MILITARY CONTRACTS DOESN'T GET MORE MONEY.

IKE WAS A SOLDIER, HE HAD BEEN AT THE PENTAGON.

HE USED TO TALK ABOUT THOSE BOYS DOWN AT THE PENTAGON.

HE KNEW THAT THEY SOMETIMES-- HE WANTED TO DIAL THAT BACK AND HE WAS WORRIED THAT CIVILIAN POLITICIAN WAS DIDN'T KNOW

BETTER WOULD GET SUCKED IN BY THE MILITARY.

>> Stephen: HE SAID THAT AS HE WAS GOING OUT THE DOOR, RIGHT.

>> YEAH.

>> Stephen: WHY DIDN'T HE SAY IT WHILE HE WAS PRESIDENT AND COULD DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

>> DE DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

>> Stephen: WHAT DID HE DO.

>> MILITARY SPENDING UNDER IKE WENT DOWN, NOT UP.

EVEN THOUGH-- .

>> Stephen: REALLY?

>> HE KUPT INTO HIS OWN SERVICE BECAUSE HE DIDN'T WANT TO USE THEM.

HE CUT INTO THEM.

HE BUILT UP NUCLEAR BOMBERS AND MISSILES BECAUSE HE HAD TO, BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT THE RUSH ARNES WERE DOING BUT HE

SPENT LESS ON HIS OWN SERVICE.

HE WAS BRAVE IN DOING THAT HIS OWN ARMY WAS MAD AT HIM.

>> Stephen: WHAT DO YOU THINK IKE WOULD DO ABOUT SOME OF THE PRESENT MILITARY CONUNDRUMS WE'RE FACING.

IF HE DIDN'T GO INTO HUNGARY WOULD HE GO INTO SYRIA?

>> NO.

HE WAS AN ALL OR NOTHING GUY.

HE DIDN'T BELIEVE IN SMALL WARS.

HE THOUGHT SMALL WARS-- .

>> Stephen: NOT FEEDING WEAPONS TO ANYBODY.

>> HE WOULD HAVE DONE COVERT STUFF.

>> Stephen: HE PUT THE SHAW OF IRAN IN.

>> HE LIKED THE CIA A LITTLE TOO MUCH.

HE-- .

>> Stephen: HE HAD A BRO-MANCE WITH THE CIA.

>> HE WAS A ROMANTIC GUY BUT NOT WITH THE CIA.

>> Stephen: HE WAS SAID TO BE A ROMANTIC GUY.

(LAUGHTER)

>> SO HE WOULDN'T SEND-- HE WOULDN'T SEND WEAPONS OR GROUND TROOPS INTO SYRIA?

>> NO.

>> Stephen: WHAT ABOUT KEEPING IRAN FROM GETTING THE BOMB?

>> WELL, THAT'S A HARD ONE.

AND I'M NOT SURE WHAT HE WOULD DO.

HE WOULD REALLY NOT, NOT WANT IRAN TO GET THE BOMB.

I THINK HE WOULD DO EVERYTHING THROUGH COVERT ACTION THAT HE POSSIBLY COME HE WOULD UNLEASH THE CIA BUT

HE WOULD NOT, HE WOULDN'T WANT THEM TO GET THE BOMB.

>> Stephen: NOW IKE WAS A MODERATE REPUBLICAN.

>> HE WAS.

>> Stephen: FOR OUR YOUNGER AUDIENCE, WHAT ARE THOSE?

IS.

>> YES, TOO BAD IT IS ALMOST EXTINCT.

(APPLAUSE)

>> Stephen: IS THERE ANY SORT OF CAPTIVE BREEDING PROGRAM OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT?

YOU LOOK AT ONE, THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL PLUMBAGE.

>> THEY WERE GREAT TO HAVE AROUND.

BECAUSE THEY WOULD ACTUALLY COMPROMISE, THEY WOULD GET STUFF DONE.

>> Stephen: THEY WOULD DO THINGS, BUT THEY BELIEVED IN BIG GOVERNMENT LIKE IKE BUILT THE INTERSTATE HIGHWAY

SYSTEM, SIR.

>> HE DID.

>> Stephen: A TRUE REPUBLICAN WOULD HAVE LET INDIVIDUAL CORPORATIONS PAVE THEIR OWN STREETS AND DECIDE

WHICH SIDE TO DRIVE ON.

>> A TRUE STUPID REPUBLICAN BUT THE SMART REPUBLICAN LIKE IKE WOULD UNDERSTAND YOU HAVE TO HAVE INFRASTRUCTURE.

YOU HAVE TO HAVE SOME GOVERNMENT.

IKE DID NOT DISMANTLE THE NEW DEAL.

A LOT OF REPUBLICANS WANTED TO JUST GET RID OF THE NEW DEAL, THEY WERE DONE WITH THAT.

IKE PRESERVED THAT AND HE KNEW TO DO LONG-TERM THINGS.

LIKE BUILD HIGHWAYS THAT WE NEED BECAUSE HE KNEW THE ECONOMY NEEDED IT.

EVEN THOUGH HE WAS NOT A FAN OF BIG GOVERNMENT.

IN FACT HE WAS A BALANCED BUDGET GUY.

HE CONTROLLED GOVERNMENT SPENDING.

I WISH WE HAD MORE GUYS TODAY LIKE IKE WHO DID THAT.

BUT HE DID.

HE WAS A BALANCED BUDGET GUY.

>> Stephen: WHICH OF THE TWO CANDIDATES ARE MORE LIKE HIM, ROMNEY OR OBAMA?

>> FLEERT.

>> Stephen: ALL RIGHT, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

(APPLAUSE)

>> Stephen: EVAN THOMAS, THE BOOK IS IKE'S BLUFF.

WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.

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