Richard B. Russell, Jr., Senator from Georgia

By Gilbert C. Fite | Go to book overview
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Russell and the Cold War

On December 1, 1955, Dick Russell and other members of Georgia's congressional delegation attended the State Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Atlanta. When his turn came to make a few remarks, Russell commented briefly on world affairs. Although the Soviet Union had recently exchanged a frown for a smile, he said, the fundamental aim of the Russians was to conquer the world. He did not believe that the United States and the Soviet Union would become involved in war, however, "so long as we remain strong." To achieve the necessary strength may be expensive and tiring, he concluded, "but bear the burden we must do. We must weary with it until God in His wisdom will send some event to bring the Cold War to a close."1

Russell had been espousing similar cold war views since shortly after World War II. The world, he wrote in 1951, was divided into two hostile camps--"Russia and her satellites" and the "United States and some of our allies." According to Russell, the Russians were imperialistic and bent on world domination. Only superior military force by the United States could hold them in check. Although he favored negotiating differences with the Soviet Union whenever possible, he insisted that this must be done "from strength rather than from weakness." Raw power was the only thing the Russians understood, he said time and again. Russell believed that the United Nations served some useful purposes, but he scoffed at the idea that it could ever maintain peace. The only way to assure peace and independence, and America's "blessed freedoms," he declared, was through national military and economic power. From Russell's viewpoint, the country could have no higher priority than strong and invincible military capability.

Russell tried to translate these ideas into concrete policies during the 1950s. In the first place, he gave his unswerving support to a military buildup during the Eisenhower years, including Universal Military


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