As the weapons in a frustrating Cold War were limited, exaggerated hopes were placed on economic warfare as the "big gun in the Western locker." Its advocates felt that the benefits that accrued to the West through East-West trade were greatly exaggerated and the dependency of the East seriously underestimated. United States trade with the Soviet Union was practically terminated by the refusal of the Secretary of Commerce to approve licenses. Difficulties within the administration were most serious when the Secretary of Commerce refused to allow some shipments to Western Europe for fear of transshipment to communist countries. Secretary of State Dean Acheson was able to convince the President of the necessity of such trade, but strain had already been created within the Alliance. This was exacerbated by the tone and content of Congressional legislation regarding East-West trade.
The conflict within the administration and between the administration and Congress raised the cost of the policy and did nothing to make it more effective. The Soviet Union was not seriously harmed and the Soviet Bloc did not disintegrate.