Dwight D. Eisenhower: Soldier, President, Statesman

By Joann P. Krieg | Go to book overview

12
Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Foreign Policymaking Process

J. Philipp Rosenberg

During the past few years, there has been a reevaluation of the Eisenhower presidency. Led by Fred Greenstein, scholars have discovered a new, more active Eisenhower whose activism had been concealed from public view by his "hidden-handed" style of leadership. 1 This reevaluation has touched on Eisenhower's foreign as well as domestic policy, shattering the image of a domineering John Foster Dulles making foreign policy with the acquiescence of a deferential Eisenhower. 2 As a result of this process, scholars are looking more closely at Eisenhower's foreign policy beliefs in attempts to link them to foreign policy results. This chapter is an attempt to do just that. But first, a few words about beliefs.

Beliefs do not determine actions. A comprehensive knowledge of Eisenhower's belief system is not sufficient to explain his foreign policy actions. Beliefs do, however, affect the process by acting as a filter through which incoming information is processed, so that certain aspects of the informational flow are emphasized at the expense of others. Thus, beliefs can be viewed as guiding the discussion of a given situation by highlighting the salient aspects of the situation, as perceived by the decision-maker. This, in turn, will affect the generation and viability of the various possible solutions to the problem. 3


BELIEF SYSTEM: ITS CONCEPTUALIZATION

Numerous attempts have been made to conceptualize the structure of the belief system. One of the most valid conceptualizations of a belief system, that by Milton Rokeach, is composed of three concentric circles. 4 According to this conceptualization, beliefs are distributed along a central-peripheral dimension in which the less centralized beliefs are derived from the more central ones, lending

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