Most historians detest the leadership of President Dwight Eisenhower mainly because of his character. He led Americans in fighting the First World War successfully. Many people in the US were happy with the way Eisenhower handled things but scholars accused him for handling the matters of the state with many consultations.
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In fact, an opinion poll conducted among scholars showed that he was the least ranked head of state in the 21st century. He could only be compared to the 19th century leaders even though many things had changed socio-economically and politically. Eisenhower was a leader with withdrawn character, implying that he delegated most of presidential duties to the subordinates.
People around him made most policies while he was busy popularizing his image. In the current international system, it is very difficult for leaders to adopt Eisenhower’s leadership style. The conditions that existed at the time allowed the head of state to take a back seat in policy formulation.
By then, the US employed isolationist policy where the state could not intervene to restore peace and normalcy in regions facing troubles. The state was more concerned about national interests (Olson, & Randy, 1998). Eisenhower was a trusted public figure who gained support through non-political roles. The head of state was preoccupied with the issue of national security to an extent of delegating important roles to his juniors.
It can be observed that F Kennedy ruled at the time when the international system had developed into something complex. The international system at the time was characterized by tension, wars and conflicts. Each state was interested in its own affairs.
The international system was characterized by bi-polarity implying that there were two centers of power. Power was distributed between the two poles that is, the US and the USSR. By then, the US used all available means to win the confidence of various states. The US wanted other states to adopt capitalism and drop the propositions of communism.
During Kennedy’s time, the US adopted interventionist foreign policies. The US could intervene militarily in case national interests were at risk. For instance, the US intervened militarily in Vietnam to help the South, which was under threat from Minh’s forces (Moss, 2009).
The USSR collaborated with Minh to impose communist ideas to people. During Kennedy’s leadership, the Cold War was a major problem. He decided not to invade Cuba after analyzing the situation carefully. The two powers that is, the US and the USSR were mutually assured of destruction since both of them possessed intercontinental ballistic missiles. Such weapons were placed in Cuba facing the US.
Through Kennedy’s wisdom, Khurushchev agreed to negotiate with Americans over the Cuban missile crisis. Through analysis, it can be observed that Kennedy injected youthful ideas to the American foreign policy. He introduced space program, which was aimed at taking the first man to the moon. He also supported various programs including the Peace Corps mission.
It can be concluded that, the global environment affected the leadership styles of the two leaders. Eisenhower could easily delegate presidential responsibilities to juniors since the system was multi-polar. There were many centers of power including Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and Italy.
The role of the head of state was majorly to formulate internal policies that affected local citizens. During Kennedy’s regime, the system had changed completely. The system was full of tensions and existed according to the Hobbestian state of nature where each state is concerned with national interests. It can be observed that the international system affected the leadership styles of various American presidents. This is expected to persist.
Moss, G. (2009). Vietnam: An American Ordeal (6th ed.). New York: Prentice Hall.
Olson, J., & Randy, R. (1998). My Lai: A Brief History with Documents. Boston: Bedford.