Lose the Ike anal­ogy

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

In his Jan. 23 op-ed, “Ike was right: Cut de­fense,” David Ig­natius gave fa­vor­able at­ten­tion to Pres­i­dent Dwight D. Eisen­hower’s call to “re­strain the ‘mil­i­tary-in­dus­trial com­plex’ ” as a means to trim the de­fense bud­get. Mr. Ig­natius failed to note that while Eisen­hower did hold down mil­i­tary spend­ing, his ad­min­is­tra­tion re­lied on “mas­sive re­tal­i­a­tion” by nu­clear arms to off­set re­duc­tions in con­ven­tional forces. It re­lied ex­ten­sively on the use, or threat­ened use, of nu­clear arms to con­front the chal­lenges of that pe­riod — mainly the Soviet Union.

Our era is much dif­fer­ent, with var­ied kinds of threats, mak­ing sim­ple com­par­isons be­tween the 1950s and to­day less rel­e­vant to the de­bate. Anal­ogy should not sub­sti­tute for anal­y­sis.

Thomas H. Hen­rik­sen, Stan­ford, Calif.

The writer is a se­nior fel­low at the Hoover In­sti­tu­tion.

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