Eisenhower’s moral reasoning in handling the Darlan situation involved several key principles of a ‘traditional ethic’ for the military profession. Specifically, Eisenhower demonstrated ‘service to country subordinating personal interest to mission accomplishment’ and ‘promoted and safeguarded the welfare of subordinates’ in making decisions regarding this politically sensitive case.
Eisenhower was well aware going into the Torch campaign of the strategic significance of allied victory in the early stages of the war. The potential for French reaction and Vichy government resistance to invasion of their North African colonies was all too real. Eisenhower clearly understood that Darlan would be a key strategic ‘center of gravity’ for controlling potential Vichy resistance. As Churchill noted, “Kiss Darlan’s stern if you have to, but get the French Navy”(page 354).
As a result, the Darlan deal Eisenhower orchestrated resulted in a cease-fire agreement between French and Allied forces in exchange for appointing Darlan as military governor or high commissioner of North Africa, much to the outrage of the British and American governments.
In analyzing Eisenhower’s moral reasoning in getting to such a deal, there are two specific principles of the ‘traditional ethic’ to consider. The first is the principle of service to country where personal interests are subordinate to requirements of the profession and to mission accomplishments. Eisenhower was given orders from his civilian bosses, to include FDR, to ‘use whatever means necessary to resolve the French problem’. He accordingly knew that Darlan, once the Giraud option failed, was his only option. He understood the decision on the deal would be politically controversial but that to accomplish the mission, it was necessary. In this case, Eisenhower demonstrated the moral courage to make a tough decision where ‘leadership would not equate to likership” and he expected that criticism would...
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