Dwight D. Eisenhower: Soldier, President, Statesman

By Joann P. Krieg | Go to book overview

13
Eisenhower as Commander in Chief

James D. Weaver

I am Commander in Chief of the armed services as well as President, and there is no important question involving military policy in which I am not involved, in which I do not intervene; of course, I must.

--Press Conference, May 23, 1956

An analysis of the Eisenhower style as Commander in Chief requires a few introductory comments on the post-World War II presidency. The Constitution designates the President as supreme civilian commander of the armed forces, and, therefore, he possesses the constitutional authority and political responsibility to manage and direct--to command and control--the defense forces of the nation. Since World War II in particular, the modern Commanders in Chief have upheld civilian control through the development of command and control "systems" or "machinery" required for effective presidential direction of military and other national security forces. Thus, modern Commanders in Chief have utilized and expanded their constitutional authority to develop new policymaking dimensions--as in the emergence of war powers, crisis emergency powers, or "national security" powers.

In addition, more presidential "war powers" normally are invoked within one or several categories or conditions in national policymaking: declared wars, undeclared wars, power projections/force deployments ("war measures"), diplomacy (treaties and agreements), and national security affairs (domestic or international). The President's exercise of his defense, war, and emergency powers within these circumstances, whether at home or abroad, therefore dramatizes the Commander in Chief's presumed constitutional and political prerogatives to invoke "emergency powers" and, when necessary, to take extraordinary

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