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Entrenchment of a Bi-Polar Foreign Policy

Concerns about the international spread of communism and the growing power of the Soviet Union dominated most foreign policy decisions during the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. U.S. foreign policymakers observed with concern as the Soviets tightened their hold on Eastern Europe. In Africa and Asia nationalist movements challenged colonial governments. U.S. officials suspected that communists dominated these movements and received support directly from the Soviet Union. In order to counterbalance the Soviet threat, President Eisenhower supported a doctrine of massive retaliation, which called for the development of technology necessary to match and even surpass Soviet nuclear capability. Recognizing that nuclear war was a last resort, U.S. officials supported engaging in conventional limited wars. In an effort to prepare for potential military conflicts, President Eisenhower exercised unprecedented executive authority in deploying the U.S. military abroad, without specific authorization from the U.S. Congress. These Cold War policies served to increase the foreign policymaking power of the presidency and to expand U.S. international obligations.

Key Issues and Events

  • Oil, Nationalism & Iran, 1953
  • Nationalism in Guatemala, 1954
  • Dien Bien Phu and the Fall of French Indochina, 1954
  • Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), 1954
  • The Taiwan Straits Crises: 1954-1955 and 1958
  • U.S.-China Ambassadorial Talks, 1955-1970
  • Austrian State Treaty, 1955
  • The Warsaw Treaty Organization (Warsaw Pact), 1955
  • Khrushchev and the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party, 1956
  • The Baghdad Pact (1955) and the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO)
  • Bandung Conference (Asian-African Conference), 1955
  • Suez Canal Crisis, 1956
  • Hungary, 1956
  • The Launch of Sputnik, 1957
  • Formation of the European Economic Community & U.S. trade, 1957
  • Eisenhower Doctrine, 1957
  • The Berlin Crisis, 1958-1961
  • US Intervention in Lebanon, 1958
  • Castro and the Cuban Revolution, 1959
  • Cultural Competiton: U.S. Trade and Cultural Fair in Moscow and the Kitchen Debate, 1959
  • U-2 Overflights & the Capture of Francis Gary Powers, 1960

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