Diary of Dwight D. Eisenhower

October 8, 1937

At 12:15 today the General had a conference (called a conference by courtesy. It was nothing but a monologue –since even when given “2 minutes” to present our views, we’d lose the floor and have to subside) in his office. Present, Ord, T.J., Fellers and myself. Fellers was unquestionably present to act as “reporter” of the conference, especially to be the messenger to Malacañan. There was no other excuse since he has not been associated with the work of executing the defense plan; which was the subject of the conference.

The occasion for the conference was a conversation the General had with the Pres. last evening. The Pres. showed him an estimate (prepared by Ord for the Pres. at the specific request of the latter) as to the total cost, up to 1946, of the military program that the General has laid down as our objective. This plan, as dictated to us by the General time and time again involves:

Annual training of 40,000 conscripts for 5 1/2 mos. (3,000 to be trained for 11 mos.)

Organization of 30 reserve and 1 regular division.

Organization of an Air Force of approx. 50 fighting planes

Organization of an Off-Shore Patrol –to be as strong as possible with-in a 10 year cost of 10,000,000 pesos.

School, supply, control and administrative elements necessitated by above.

The cost of this plan, taking into account our best information on prices to be charged us by the U.S. for various classes of equipment, for the years 1938-45 inclusive is estimated by Jimmy and me to be 178 million pesos, or roughly 50,000,000 more than the 16 million annual average would provide. This was the information furnished by Jimmy to the Pres. (including 32 million for 1936-37).

The General states that this information, if true, makes him out to be either a fool or a knave, since his earliest promise to Mr. Q. was “that for 160,000,000 pesos, distributed over a 10 year period, he would make the P.I. so secure from attack, that no nation would deliberately undertake the enterprise”. He further says –now– that this 160 million program represents the only plan he has ever entertained for a moment. He says, now, that he has not deviated from that determination, and has not projected any plan that would contravene such a determination, for a single instant in the 2-year interval.

On June 15, 1936, I presented to the General what was intended to be a protest against the 30 Division program, a memorandum in which the certain minimum costs were estimated. A copy of this estimate is in the office files. It showed a certain deficit of 45,000,000 pesos and showed also that the estimates in it were generally far below what it was considered necessary to provide under the 30 Division plan. The General refused flatly to modify or restrict the objectives of his organizational plan as outlined at the beginning of today’s entry in this book. He made some prophecies that additional money would be forthcoming, either in the form of gifts in kind from the U.S., or lump sums from various Commonwealth Credits in the U.S. But finally he said that failing such windfalls, he was prepared to raise the yearly “ante” and demand more money by the appropriation route. When I inquired –which I did– as tohow he would make such action jibe with his 160 million peso promise, he replied that figure was just an approximation, and that it was understood by all that some changes would be necessary. He said also that we had plenty of reasons to advance for hiking the budget –World Conditions, possible early independence, etc., etc. (And this was long before the possibility of early independence was publicly mentioned by Pres. Q.)

So we proceeded on the 30th Division plan at the specific and unequivocal order of the Field Marshal. The occasion for bringing the estimate to his attention at that time was an effort on the part of Jim and myself to secure modification of the Marshal’s order to call 20,000 conscripts for training on Jan. 1, 1937. The original plan, (finally pared down by arbitrary action to the 160 million basis) called for training only 3000 men on January 1, 1937. The new order called for extraordinary and unforeseen expenditures as explained in a prior note in this book.

The General was adamant. He gave Jim and me a long lecture on “adequacy of security” as represented by numbers of “divisions” trained and ready. We urged a budgetary basis for all planning, and he grew furious, accusing us of “arguing technicalities” to defeat the conceptions of the high command!

Now –suddenly– when confronted definitely with the loss of the Pres.’s confidence because of the increased costs, he not only abandons this expanded plan, he deliberately states he never approved it, formulated it, or even suggested it except as an expression of of his hopes and ambitions. He told the Pres. (he says) that all portions of the plan that exceeded the 160 million limit are nothing but the products of Jimmy and myself –produced without approval from him.

Every scrap of auxiliary evidence, letters, partial plans presented to the Gen., requisitions, and the direct testimony of Jimmy, General Santos and myself furnish ample proof that he is again executing one of his amazing “about faces”.

We (J. and I) thoroughly approve of modifying the plan. We’ve fought for and urged such downward revision as is necessary to get within reasonable range of the 110,000,000 for 2 years. But it is amazing, mystifying and completely irritating to see him take the position that he had never directed anything else. In the “conference” I challenged him to show that I’d done anything not calculated to further his plans. Also, I informed him that never had he asked me whether or not I considered his plans a good one in its possibilities for defense of these islands. It’s not important what I think of his plan, but from any subordinate’s standpoint it is important when a senior charges “substitution of policy” –and virtual sabotage. He repeated over and over again his “personal” confidence in us, and, in words, accepted much of the blame for the misunderstanding. He simply “shouted down” any real explanation of my attitude.

But it was not a misunderstanding!

It is a deliberate scuttling of one plan (and blaming Jimmy and me as the sole originators, advocates and apostles of that plan, which we actually opposed bitterly) while he adopts another one, which in its concrete expression, at least, I’ve never even heard of before.

He invited us to apply for relief if we wouldn’t go along with the new plan.

I’m not so concerned in that part of it since it’s his responsibility to decide upon the main features of our defense system. But I’ve got to decide soon whether I can go much further with a person who, either consciously or unconsciously, deceives his boss, his subordinates and himself (probably) so incessantly as he does. I wonder whether he believes there is one atom of truth in his statements of this morning. I wonder whether egotism, exclusive devotion to one’s own interests, (in this case a 66,000 peso salary, plus penthouse and expenses) can finally completely eliminate a person’s perception of honesty, straightforwardness, and responsibility to the people for whom he’s working.

When irritated at the Pres. I’ve heard him curse that worthy as a “conceited little monkey,” and I’ve heard him, in turn, use even worse language with respect to every prominent officer in the U.S. Army, and officials in Washington. But sometimes I think that, in his mind, there is nothing ridiculous, absurd or even unusual in his attitude. He was raised in the conception of Douglas MacArthur superiority. Actually he has become only pathetic. The barest mention of his name in the gossip column of the poorest of our universally poor daily periodicals sends him into hysterical delight or deepest despair, depending upon its note of praise or condemnation. He gets frantic in the face of difficulty, even if the difficulty is only an imaginary one and displays an exaggeration of glee when he believes things are shaping up to glorify his name, or increase his income.

I shall never forget the time in Washington when receipt of instructions to report to the President, led him to conclude, in the greatest seriousness, that he was to be invited to be the President’s running mate in the succeeding election. It is this trait that seems to have destroyed his judgment and led him to surround himself with people [. . . ] who simply bow down and worship.

For some months, I’ve remained on this job, not because of the Gen. –but in spite of him. I’ve got interested in this riddle of whether or not we can develop a W.D. and an army capable of running itself, and I prefer to dig away at it to being on a “mark time” basis somewhere else. But now I’m at a cross road. If the Marshal is to persist in his arbitrary methods, and is going to make things as unpleasant, if not impossible, as his today’s homily indicated, then I’m for home. We should be able to get a better line on the situation with a few days! Right now I’m disgusted and in something of a temper, a bad state of mind in which to make any decisions.

There was some justification for his anger over the presentation of the 50,000,000 “deficit” estimate to Mr. Q. But in our defense it is to be said that we’ve literally begged him to arrange a weekly conference between the Pres. and himself. But in the past he’s been to high ranking to do so. Now he thinks his job (and emoluments) are at stake –and maybe he’ll do it. Thank God I scarcely know the little devil (Q.) so neither now nor in the future do I have to discuss anything with him.

In the meantime, “Quien soba”.