In a world where the powers granted to national leaders are often abused, it is important to remember that public policy should never jeopardize the well-being of civilians. This principle may be self-evident today, but to many countries in the 1950s and early 1960s, this was not the case. Countries like China and the Soviet Union saw the deaths of millions of people at the hands of their own leaders.
President Dwight Eisenhower and the United States viewed these Communist nations as threats to American sovereignty and to the democratic effort towards world peace. Eisenhower expresses these concerns and their effects on the world in his presidential farewell address. By employing a variety of rhetorical elements including an appeal to common values, logical reasoning, and strong diction, Eisenhower is able to deliver his speech in a persuasive and objective manner in order to convince his American audience that his views on the world should be taken seriously.Order now
By referring to their shared American heritage and national values, Eisenhower creates an atmosphere of patriotism to make his arguments more appealing to his audience. He begins with a reiteration of the ideas set forth by past American leaders, that America is “the strongest, the most influential and the most productive nation in the world” (Eisenhower, 34-35). Because of this title, America has the sole duty of maintaining a lasting peace in the world and to “foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity, and integrity among people and among nations” (43-45).
Saying that America is the greatest nation in the world invokes pride onto Eisenhower’s audience and embeds their support for his patriotic statements. By referencing different morals that he and the audience have in common, Eisenhower effectively unites his audience into one entity, making his work of persuasion easier. Persuading millions of people with diversified opinions on global matters is much more difficult than persuading one person, and Eisenhower is able to overcome this hardship.
Not following Eisenhower’s advice would mean to not support the American values of preserving life, liberty, and property among its own citizens. If the audience were to disagree with Eisenhower on protecting these rights, they would be seen as unpatriotic and doing disservice to their country. During a time period when Communism, a concept which Americans despised at the time, was on the rise, this would be a perception the audience certainly wouldn’t want. Without appealing to these values, Eisenhower’s speech loses the warrants for a cautious approach to public policy and makes his speech seem neither important nor relevant to his audience. J
ust as persuasive as Eisenhower’s patriotic appeal is his logical reasoning. After tugging at the heartstrings of the American patriot, Eisenhower goes into detail as to what America needs to take extreme care of in order for its values to be preserved around the world, specifically the military and technology. When speaking of the military, Eisenhower makes his point clear that while the military is America’s largest asset, it also its largest weapon against the world and against itself.
Not only does Eisenhower stress the sheer size of the military, but he talks about the influence that it has on American life, recalling the “economic, political, even spiritual felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government” (114-116). Due to its potential for manipulative influence, the military must be kept under a watchful and public eye. Eisenhower makes similar remarks regarding technology, saying that “we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite” (155-158).
It is through these examples that the audience understands why these powerful and influential forces need to be moderated and taken care of in a responsible and controlled manner. Doing otherwise would be lead to the end of an era of peace and tranquility that America has sacrificed so many resources and lives to maintain. Such an action also contradicts the American efforts of an everlasting peace.
To Eisenhower, such a stoppage would bring “grave implications”; exactly what these implications are is entirely dependant on the interpretation of the audience (119). This could include the beginning of a third world war, which would inevitably lead to a full-out nuclear war and human extinction with it. An outcome leading to their very deaths is not preferable, so the audience accepts Eisenhower’s statements with great approval.
By showing the audience that a change in the status quo in the world would jeopardize their well-being, Eisenhower calls for Americans to do whatever it takes to maintain this stability. As a result, Eisenhower portrays himself as a knowledgeable and objective advocate for the careful usage of our most powerful yet dangerous assets who is worth the audience’s time and attention.
Eisenhower’s logical reasoning adds power to his claims and effectively persuades his audience to support his perspective. so much so that his arguments seem logical and irrefutable. Furthermore, Eisenhower bolsters his argument with his powerful diction. Eisenhower uses phrases including “the disastrous rise of misplaced power” (124-125) and “the prospect of domination” (150) to highlight the consequences that will occur if his plan is not followed.
This powerful word choice makes the audience believe that the only option for the future is one where peace and prosperity among all nations is upheld to the highest degree. Doing so otherwise would result in the loosening of the grip that America has in maintaining peace, which Eisenhower stresses to his audience as something that must be avoided at all costs. Not only this, but Eisenhower uses the pronoun “we” throughout his speech.
For example, Eisenhower implores that “we want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow” (170-172) and that “we must learn how to compose difference with intellect and decent purpose” (185-187). By using this pronoun, Eisenhower involves himself more with the audience, making it clear that the survival of the human race does not solely in the hands of the political leaders of the world, but is a responsibility shared by all human beings.
The usage of the pronoun “we” also serves as an effective call to arms on the issue, characterizing the threats to world peace as problems that must be solved together. As a result, Eisenhower is able to successfully encourage people to make decisions with the long-term future in mind. Without Eisenhower’s masterful diction, the audience would not recognize the significance of his words.
In his final opportunity to speak to all Americans across the nation, President Eisenhower—using persuasive logical reasoning, an appeal to values, and strong word choice—creates a powerful argument for maintaining America’s identity as the protector of the world and the preserver of peace, liberty, and justice for all.
Eisenhower keeps his focus on large and serious issues while maintaining a quiet urgency in his tone and diction. He reminds Americans of national and global crises at hand without creating panic: a delicate task only the most skilled diplomat could accomplish. Although Eisenhower’s vision of an everlasting tranquility may have not come true, his ideas and philosophies are still relevant today, as proponents for moderation, peace, and diplomacy remain prominent in the modern society.