Johns Hopkins Magazine - June 1994 Issue

Public Policy & International Affairs

Research Findings and News

Liberating Ike's letters, etc.

On the eve of D-Day June 6, 1944: The night before the invasion of France, the Allied Supreme Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, wrote a note and tucked it into his pocket to release to the press the next day. He hoped that wouldn't be necessary.

Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold, and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack [at Normandy] at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone."

General Eisenhower never had to read his contingency statement, of course. The D-Day landing at Normandy, which launched Operation Overlord to liberate France and Europe from the clutches of Nazi Germany, was a success. The note did, however, eventually reach the public as one of more than 6,700 letters, diary entries, and other written communications collected and published so far by the Eisenhower Papers Project, now in its 31st year at Hopkins.

The project began in 1963 when the former general and president accepted an invitation by the university, of which his brother was then president, to collect and publish his writings from December 1941 through his second term as president. Since then, the project's six full-time editors have conducted exhaustive searches for Eisenhower material in the National Archives and other repositories in the United States and Great Britain. To date the project has published 13 volumes, beginning with the war years. In 1996, the researchers will release four volumes from Eisen- hower's first presidential term; upon the project's completion in the year 2000, 21 volumes containing a total of more than 11,000 Eisenhower documents will be in print.

"The General's wartime letters, particularly, show him to be not only a diplomat capable of dealing with the huge egos of the officers in his command, but also a good soldier willing to accept decisions that were often motivated by non- military considerations," says executive editor Daun van Ee, who has been with the project for 20 years.

For example, it was Franklin Roosevelt's need for a good night's sleep that led to what might have been the war's most crucial decision: putting Eisenhower in command of D-Day.

In a lengthy diary entry (III; 1408) dated December 6, 1943, Eisenhower recorded all the political reasons why President Roosevelt was about to appoint as leader of the Allied D-Day forces Eisenhower's great friend and military mentor, Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall. Eisenhower recounts his conversations with the president's son, Colonel Elliot Roosevelt, who agreed that the presi- dent's final decision on field commander in France was complicated by the fact that

General Marshall's great contributions to the cause of the United Nations_ entitle him to a Field Command on the theory that a [state-side] Chief of Staff will never be remembered in history, while every independent Field Commander will be given a place possibly far out of proportion to his contributions."

Eisenhower's place in history already was assured, FDR reasoned, and he hesitated to move him away from his command of the very successful Mediterranean campaign. Then on December 6, despite the well-known pref- erence of Stalin and Churchill and most of the Allied command to name General Marshall, FDR made the surprise announcement that Eisenhower would be the Allied Supreme Commander. Although FDR had many reasons for his decision, he gave what many consider the most truthful and concise answer to General Marshall: "I feel I could not sleep at night with you out of the country."

And the rest is history, carefully reconstructed through the papers of one of America's most illustrious soldiers and statesmen.

The Eisenhower Papers project has mounted an exhibit, "D-Day Plus 50," on the "M" level of the Eisenhower Library which highlights his role in the Normandy invasion and his career following World War II. The exhibit is open to the public during regular library hours through August 29. -- SL

Fundamentally misleading

American news reports often give an impression of Moslem fundamentalist leaders as people who would deny the modern world and return their societies to a sort of medievalism, says Tahar Ahmedouamar. That's a distortion, in his view.

Fundamentalist leaders "are very modern people," he says, who want to change Arab societies that, in their view, have been failed by their present governments and religious establishments.

Ahmedouamar, a lecturer in the Program on Social Change and Development at Hopkins's Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), delivered his remarks at a recent SAIS Brown Bag Lunch.

To the citizens of many Arab nations, what fundamentalists say (which often alarms the West) is less important than what they do--establishing schools, bringing electrification to rural areas, providing social services long neglected by the state, said Ahmedouamar. "The orthodoxy is less important than the orthopraxis."

He noted that in Morocco, where the state has attended to small-scale development that has improved the lot of the common citizen, there is no Islamic fundamentalist movement to speak of. But in his native Algeria, where inept one-party rule has wrecked the country's economy during 30 years of independence, fundamentalists have become a major political force.

Ahmedouamar drew laughs from his audience when he pointed out that though fundamentalists don't want a return to a medieval society, the idea prompts a different image for a Moslem than for a European. "The medieval time for Moslems was the Golden Age," he said, pointing out that while Europe sank into the Dark Ages, the Islamic world flourished intellectually, architecturally, artistically, and spiritually. --DK

"If it bleeds, it leads"

David Halberstam came to Homewood in April to talk about the '50s. Instead, the university's 29th annual Kent Lecturer surprised his full-to-capacity Shriver Hall audience by announcing that he would prefer to talk about "the rising tide of tabloid television and its effect on journalism."

One man in a prominent seat down front got up and walked out. Undaunted, Halberstam pressed on.

"We have gone from the famous 'communications society' of the 1950s and '60s to an entertainment society today," said the former New York Times correspondent and noted author, who received a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Vietnam war in 1964.

"In those simpler times," Halberstam continued, "print defined and broadcast amplified. Unfortunately, those days are long gone." He singled out television news "driven by the norms of entertainment" as the chief culprit. "There is an undeniable preference for footage over substance, creating an 'If it bleeds, it leads' bias that colors all journalism," he said. "In television, a weak story with good film will always win out over a good story with weak film."

Warning that there is a "contant danger of this entertainment value filtering into print media," Halberstam concluded by suggesting that reporters should abandon any pretense of a fraternity between print and broadcast journalists in favor of a doctrine of deep professional skepticism. "Journalists must monitor TV exactly as they would the government," he said. --MF

Radical change brewing for teacher education

The manner in which Maryland's teachers are educated and trained may soon undergo radical change, says Hopkins professor of education Ralph Fessler, who is heading up a state-appointed task force that's looking at strategies for reforming teacher education.

The task force recommends phasing out the undergraduate degree in education; aspiring teachers would instead be required to earn their bachelor's degree in the liberal arts or sciences. "In order to be an effective teacher, you really have to be well-versed in the content area in which you're going to teach," says Fessler, director of the Division of Education in the School of Continuing Studies. "Of course, strong content knowledge alone is not enough. You also have to be able to take that content and make it come alive for the kids."

Toward that end, the task force urges that education students be given much more extensive clinical experience. They propose an extended internship (up to a year long) that takes students into the schools, where they would combine education coursework (after school hours) with hands-on research and teaching all day long. These "professional development schools," which Fessler likens to teaching hospitals, would put together university educators, new teachers in training, experienced teachers, and schoolchildren under one roof. "The heart of the proposal is to take teacher education and put it into the schools so that a new generation of teachers will learn from the best teachers, curriculum, and practices," he explains.

Hopkins will pilot the concept in two Howard County elementary schools beginning this summer with 20 students in the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program in the School of Continuing Studies. Meanwhile, the task force will present its conclusions to Maryland's Higher Education Commission early in the summer; after a year or so of public hearings, the state will finalize a reform plan, Fessler says. He's hopeful that many of the recommendations will survive intact. He says, "If our plan is fully implemented, by the end of the century this will be the primary way that teachers in Maryland are prepared, and it will serve as a national model for teacher education reform." --SD

Racking up those frequent flyer miles

Two years after it was unveiled at the School of Public Health' s 75th anniversary, the International Declaration of Health Rights continues to be hand-carried for signings at cities around the world, including Tokyo, Los Angeles, Glasgow, London, Seoul, and Taipei. Below, London's Lord Butterfield adds his signature.

"It's the beginning of what I hope will become a basic creed of public health," analogous to the 2,000-year-old Hippocratic oath for medicine, says Public Health Dean Alfred Sommer.

The 10-foot-long, hand-calligraphed document, composed by Public Health faculty, students, and alumni, calls for "advocacy and action" on the part of public health professionals. "The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being," it declares. "It is not a privilege reserved for those with power, money or social standing."

The document's journey is far from over. Future signings are being planned for India, the Philippines, Italy, and Nigeria, among other locales. --MH

Written by Sue De Pasquale, Mike Field, Melissa Hendricks, Dale Keiger, and Steve Libowitz.

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