Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy

By John Lewis Gaddis | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
FIVE
Eisenhower, Dulles,
and the New Look

Dwight D. Eisenhower did not run for president in 1952 out of any burning sense of dissatisfaction with the Truman administration's approach to containment. With the single exception of its China policy, about which he had had private reservations, Eisenhower had supported each of the administration's major diplomatic and strategic initiatives; indeed, since February 1951 he himself had been responsible for implementing Washington's European strategy as NATO Supreme Commander. The general's reasons for allowing his name to be placed before the 1952 Republican national convention had more to do with his determination to keep the nomination out of the hands of Robert A. Taft, whom Eisenhower regarded as an isolationist; his concern over Truman's domestic programs, which he thought were leading to socialism; and his belief that survival of the two-party system required an end to twenty years of Democratic rule. 1

Presidents are rarely made by endorsing their predecessors, though, and Eisenhower quickly came under pressure to put "distance" between himself and the incumbent administration in the area of foreign affairs. To this end, he enlisted the aid of the Republican whose criticisms of containment he found least objectionable—the advocate of "boldness," John Foster Dulles. Certainly Dulles's promises of greater effectiveness at less cost appealed to Eisenhower, who had long nursed a vague sense of uneasiness about the country's ability to sustain indefinitely large military expenditures. He also shared Dulles's antipathy for the unilateralism of Hoover and Taft: "any thought of 'retiring within our own borders,' "

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