The Diplomacy of the Crucial Decade: American Foreign Relations during the 1960s

The Diplomacy of the Crucial Decade: American Foreign Relations during the 1960s

The Diplomacy of the Crucial Decade: American Foreign Relations during the 1960s

The Diplomacy of the Crucial Decade: American Foreign Relations during the 1960s

Synopsis

Although the foreign policy decisions made by Kennedy and Johnson determined the final form of postwar diplomacy and laid the foundation for the tumultuous worldwide political changes of the last five years, until now no book has examined American diplomacy during 1960s as a whole. During his presidency, Kennedy concentrated on foreign policy. The president and his staff feared that communism had taken the offensive internationally and that the U.S. was in danger of losing the confrontation, particularly in the developing world. While Johnson attempted to focus on domestic issues, foreign issues nevertheless loomed large. Consequently, the contributors to this volume argue, all aspects of American foreign policy during that decade must be viewed through the prism of the fight against communism. The chapters, which were commissioned for this book by the editor, examine the major subjects and themes of this period in a way that provides new insight to students and general readers alike. Each chapter also contains brief notes and a bibliographic sketch.

Excerpt

David Kaiser

Despite the change in presidents in November 1963, the continuity of senior foreign policy advisers from 1961 through 1969 is unique in the history of the twentieth century. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson had only one Secretary of State, Dean Rusk; a Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, who served for seven years before yielding to Clark Clifford; and just two National Security advisers, McGeorge Bundy and Walt Rostow. Various second-level officials, including George Ball, William Bundy, U. Alexis Johnson, Averell Harriman, Cyrus Vance, and Roswell Gilpatric, played important roles in both administrations as well. This was hardly accidental, since Lyndon Johnson consciously protected himself against charges of deviating from John Kennedy's path by retaining, and relying upon, much of Kennedy's foreign policy team. This course also came naturally to him because of his own lack of personal experience and self-confidence in foreign affairs.

Both the senior foreign policy leadership and the national security bureaucracies they headed generally regarded the containment of Communism as the essence of their policy. the consensus on America's proper world role was probably more clearly defined in 1961 than at any other time in the twentieth century, especially among the East Coast press, the foreign policy establishment, and the diplomatic corps, from which dissenters like George Kennan and the China hands had been purged in the 1950s. Both the Truman and Eisenhower administrations had undergone violent criticism for having allowed the Communists to advance in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and Kennedy himself had made the Soviet-American competition the key issue of the 1960 campaign. At the Pentagon, McNamara supervised . . .

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