The Cold War in Retrospect: The Formative Years

By Roger S. Whitcomb | Go to book overview

appraisal of the state of the world in which we live. . . . If there is a single factor which more than any other explains the predicament in which we now find ourselves, it is our readiness to use the specter of Soviet communism as a cloak for the failure of our own leadership. 131

Certainly, the McCarthyist hysteria of Eisenhower's first term made it more difficult for the administration to respond rationally, if not understand any Russian initiative designed to ease tensions at this time. This mindset led to an interpretation of containment that called for an equal and opposite reaction, usually military, to any perceived communist threat anywhere in the world. Dulles's "supercontainment" system, consisting of NATO-style alliances all around Russia, was its major policy consequence. With the partial exception of NATO, none proved to be of much significance except as evidence of an inflexible posturing in Washington in disregard of the major changes taking place inside Russia itself. 132

But the mindset of America's decision-making establishment remained frozen; logic yielded to emotional anxiety, self-assurance to fear. The mood was such that Denis Brogan could observe that while, in the past,

America developed a self-confidence that the outside world marvelled at more than it admired, there is now an alarming . . . combination of irritation and resentment that reflects a growing discomfort in the face of some painful aspects of the modern world. . . . This is an awful situation and it produces dangerous reactions. . . . If America is in danger, it can only be through treason or incompetence verging on treason. If 'commies' and 'reds' could be rooted out, there would be a speedy return to the good old days when America's defeat was as inconceivable as the earth going around the sun the wrong way. 133

It would require another thirty years before the end of this conflict would come to pass--a denouement that would be marked by a continuation of the essential foreign affairs mindset that America had brought to bear in its external relations from the beginning. Its policies would continue to reflect the strengths and weaknesses which we have endeavored to fairly characterize in these pages. In the final analysis, Soviet Russia would pass from the world scene, and with its passing, the long cold war that had dominated the last half of the twentieth century--all this in spite of America's foreign policies!


NOTES
1.
For the experiences that shaped Eisenhower's approach to the presidency, one would do well to consult Stephan E. Ambrose, The Supreme Commander. The War Years of General Dwight D. Eisenhower ( Garden City, N.Y.:, Doubleday, 1970); Robert J. Donovan, Eisenhower: The Inside Story ( New York: Macmillan, 1956); Emmet John Hughes, The Ordeal of Power: A Political Memoir of the EisenhowerYears

-184-

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The Cold War in Retrospect: The Formative Years
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction: America Meets Russia, 1941-1961 1
  • Notes 4
  • 1 - The Troubled Partnership: The Bear and Eagle in World War II 7
  • Notes 48
  • 2 - The Postwar Scene (1945-1953): Cold War Triumphant 65
  • Notes 123
  • 3 - The Eisenhower Years: Nothing Fundamental Has Changed 143
  • Notes 184
  • 4 - Babylon Revisited 199
  • Notes 222
  • Selected Bibliography 227
  • Index 253
  • About the Author 261
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