Dwight D. Eisenhower: Soldier, President, Statesman

By Joann P. Krieg | Go to book overview

17
The Specter of Neutralism: Eisenhower, India, and the Problem of Nonalignment

Henry William Brands Jr.

As fighting in Korea sputtered to a close in the early 1950s, a change in the nature of the Cold War was becoming evident. The development of deliverable nuclear weapons predisposed both American and Soviet strategists to shift the struggle for world influence from the military to the political and economic realms. Coinciding as it did with the emergence of new nations in Asia and Africa, this shift resulted in heightened competition for support among the newly independent peoples.

To many Americans, recently won over to the doctrine of collective security, support was often interpreted as implying formal alliance. With the enthusiasm of the converted, American officials, especially in the Eisenhower administration, spread the message of concerted resistance to communism across Asia from the Mediterranean to the Pacific, with some success. Among the new nations, however, were several that had no desire to limit their hard-won independence by a pact with the United States--or, for that matter, with any country. Within this consciously distant group there developed the postwar concept of nonalignment, or neutralism. The most influential of the neutralists was India. (Although the terms "nonalignment" and "neutralism" seem to carry somewhat different connotations--neutralism implying an active promotion common to most "isms"--the two words, along with "neutrality," were used interchangeably within the Eisenhower administration. As will be seen, American officials clearly recognized the difference between a passive nonalignment and an active neutralism. In writing and speech, however, the terminological distinction was not usually made. No confusion will arise here from following contemporary usage.)

Neutralism represented a potential problem to the Eisenhower administration. American security, it seemed, rested on American alliances, and while nonalignment itself might be unobjectionable, to the extent that it drew would-be allies

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