12 SEPTEMBER 1963, Page 18

Elephant Shooting

The Ordeal of Power. A Political. Memoir of the Eisenhower Years. 13y Emmet John Hughes. (Macmillan, 30s.)

THIS book hap caused a sensation and a great deal of irritation in the United States as well as evoking much interest, not all of it unpartisan. Mr. Hughes was.one of the stars of Time, Life and Fortune, successful as a reporter from abroad and an editor in the Luce Empire at home. Years of residence in such places as Rome, Madrid and Moscow gave him an international outlook and it was this outlook which drove him,, a natural Democrat, into the Eisenhower camp. Into the Eisenhower camp, for Mr. Hughes never formally became a Republican. He supported Ike as an 'independent Democrat' and only aban- doned the Grand Old Party when it seemed ob- vious that it was still the 'Grand Old Party' not of Lincoln, but of Robert Taft, Senator Dirksen and Vice-President Nixon. Ike, like Theodore . Roosevelt, had failed to remake the Republican Party.

It is important to stress this angle of Mr. Hughes's book fin' it differentiates his report on the Eisenhower years from that of his friend, ex-Governor Sherman Adams. Mr. Adams and Mr. Hughes agreed on most things but Mr. Adams belongs to that type of New England Yankee who can't breathe outside the Repub- lican Party even when they think it is going to hell in a wheelbarrow. Mr. Hughes is that type of voter,,. speaker and writer to whom the old party handk appeal a great deal at election times, but don't conceal their dislike for in the inter- vening years. Mr. Hughes joined the Eisenhower team as a speech-writer and, political adviser quite late in the game. He was convinced by the fall of 1952 that it was 'time for a change' as the Republican slogan put it. It was not only that, as he thought, the Truman administration and the Democratic Party"Were flabby and shabby after twenty years-in office, but that they had painted ' themselves into a corner, and that harassed and slandered by Joe McCarthy, Jenner and Co., under the approving eye of 'Mr. Republican' Senator Taft, they had committed themselves to a number of positions which prevented any flexi- bility in foreign policy. Mr. Truman and Mr. Acheson could not do many of the things they wanted, because they had been successfully re- presented to the American people as the war party and, inconsistently, as the appeasement party. So in Korea they could neither make peaCe nor wage 'effective' war. The new RePublican ad- ministration, when it came to power (as Mr.

Hughes, like myself, was convinced it would in 1953), could do the one or the other. hufact, it made peace on terms which would have led to screams for impeachment had they been proposed by Mr. Truman and Mr. Acheson.

In the weeks before the election and the weeks before the inauguration, Mr. Hughes was on the inside and much that he has to tell simply confirms the dictum of Oxenstierna: 'with how little wisdom is the world governed.' But as Mr. 'Hughes makes plain, confusion and cross-pur- poses are part of the American democratic pro- cess (and of the British political process and of non-democratic government, too, it might be added). In a sense, the picture is not novel. Here was a general with plenty of experience of poli- tics, not only as a Commander-in-Chief of an allied coalition army, but as an army lobbyist 'on the Hill' (i.e., the Capitol), but he had no liking for or intimacy with civilian politicians—not merely the men who ran or tried to run the Re- publican machine but even with public figures like John Foster Dulles. Ike's Cabinet not only contained some dunderheads (one of them, in my opinion, the stupidest Cabinet officer since— well no names, no pack drill), but also able men like the Secretary of the Treasury, George Hum- phrey, and the Secretary of -Defence, Charles Wilson, who brought to their political jobs all the complacency bred in the executive suites of great corporations. So we have the Secretary of the Treasury going on record against his chief's budget and 'Engine Charlie Wilson' putting his foot in it with the regularity of a Yellowstone geyser. None of this is new but it is admirably told by Mr. Hughes.

Much more interesting and more novel are the pictures of Ike and of Dulles. Obviously, Mr. Hughes still likes Ike and gives good reasons for his liking. He defends him, more or less success- fully, against the charge of idleness, but more successfully against the charge of being a roi fainéant. He tells us convincingly of Ike's aston- ishing powers of recovery from illnesses formid- able enough to kill another and a younger man. (I have noted this astonishing power of recuper- ation in Ike.) He also notes the variability of temper, his eyes 'shining peace or flashing war.' Ike was touchy, especially when his military com- petence was called into question. He was very vain ('the vainest man I have ever known,' said a British member of the NATO staff to me in 1952). But he was loaded with charm, would really rather be right than President, was pacific in temper and did not see everything in black and white as did his Secretary of State. John Foster Dulles. In a way, the portrait of Dulles is more 'in- teresting, even, than the portrait of Eisenhower. Mr. Hughes didn't like Dulles alive and • he doesn't like him dead. He thinks that.the Dulles doctrinaire stand on all foreign policy issues was disastrous and the demoralisation of the State Department which followed on Dulles's contemp- tible abdication of responsibility for his staff, almost as disastrous. Perhaps it was more so,"for Ike kept both the Pentagon and the Secretary Cif State from committing irreparable follies. 'Yet we are told how Dulles, never a friend of Ike's in the past, with an exceptionably high talent for boring a President with an exceptionally high talent for being bored, got command over the President's mind. The account of the Suez crisis is masterly and at reminds us of what we tend to forget, that the American military estab- lishment, from the President down, was incredu- lously contemptuous of the amateurish military planning and execution of the Suez coup. Dulles was happy in the moment of his death, as the President was moving away from the non fi6s- sumus of the State Department towards a deal with the Soviet Union, a deal shot down by the guns that hit the U2.

Two other portraits are notable. There is a warm and, up to, a point, convincing defence of Mr. Sherman Adams, whose, treatment by_the

President was not the first proof that Ike pot the best man in the world to go tiger-shooting with. And there is the, hostile account of Mr. Nixon, with the repeated assertion that the Presi- dent didn't think him fit to be his successor, did not give him any real power and would have preferred another Republican candidate in 1.960. (At least one of General Eisenhower's choices would have been a pushover for Mr. Kennedy. That Ike could think, of,, his totally unknown Secretary of the Treasury, Robert Anderson, as a 'possible' shows how far the nominal head of the Republican Party was, from political reality. There is much more 'meat' in this fascinating book. It is one of the most illuminating books on American politics in recent years and highly useful if the reader remembers that Mr. Hughes was only intermittently on the inside track. Readers might also be warned that Mr. Hughes is the most Lucid of the Luce school of English prose. But if you can stand the style, you'll enjoy the book.