Security with Solvency: Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Shaping of the American Military Establishment

By Gerard Clarfield | Go to book overview

6
"If the Administration Decides to Beef Up the Armed Forces along Lines Now Talked Of, the Whole Eisenhower Program Will Take a New Direction, Economic as well as Military."

Although in 1953 Eisenhower managed to establish a new, less costly military strategy as well as budget targets for the years 1955 through 1957, peace did not descend upon the administration. The Budget Bureau, seconded by Treasury Secretary Humphrey, pressed for further defense cuts while the JCS, concerned by recent foreign policy setbacks, an increasingly tense international situation, and Moscow's growing nuclear power, urged a reconsideration of the New Look and more than hinted that a "preventive war" was in order. The president remained the man in the middle, fighting off extreme proposals while continuing to pursue a policy that in his view protected both the economic well-being of the nation as well as its fundamental security requirements.

The debate over budgets and global strategy continued inside the administration throughout the year 1954. General Ridgway, who had reluctantly acquiesced in the decisions taken in 1953, repeatedly criticized the New Look, arguing that the nuclear retaliatory capability it emphasized would be virtually useless after a state of "atomic plenty" had been achieved. Once the Soviet Union developed the capacity to retaliate against the United States, a situation of mutual deterrence would occur in which it would be suicidal to use strategic nuclear weapons. Under such conditions, Ridgway argued, the Soviets were certain to become increasingly confident and aggressive, especially if the United States lacked the conventional forces to respond appropriately to their actions. Ridgway even contended

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