US Foreign Policies from Eisenhower to Kennedy

Nuclear and non-nuclear aspects of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s foreign policy

Three months after his election as the 34th president of the U.S, President Dwight Eisenhower organized a security meeting at the White House. At the meeting, the president met with several experts to formulate appropriate policies aimed at securing the country’s security systems. At the end of the meeting, the experts suggested that the U.S should facilitate its allies with military resources, and adopt the use of nuclear threats to prevent the Soviet from further expansion.

Before, Kennan and the National Council report Council 68 (NSC-68) had suggested that the U.S could defeat the Soviet by containing its expansion. Kennan had proposed that containment policies could control Soviet’s aggression. On the other hand, NSC-68 had suggested that the U.S should stop the expansion of Soviet through all the possible means. Both hypotheses urged the U.S government to increase its military spending.

Eisenhower’s administration incorporated Kennan policy. However, they overstated his concept went they resorted to more aggressive policies. Eisenhower’s administration believed that they could contain the spread of communism using nuclear threats rather than common warfare. By doing so, the U.S was able to cut down on military spending. Ultimately, the U.S policies stopped the Soviet’s expansion and eventually led to its collapse.

Main criticisms of Eisenhower’s foreign policy

During his presidency, Eisenhower failed to protect the American citizens from militarization. Following his foreign policies, his opponents increased in numbers. Particularly, his strategies aimed at protecting America’s allies from Soviet’s invasion proved to be ineffective. For instance, in the Middle East, the American foreign policies failed to prevent the Soviet from taking over the Suez Canal. While assessing the American foreign policies, Gaddis pointed out that Eisenhower’s policies in the third world countries indicated flaws in his administration.

During his retirement speech, Eisenhower warned Americans against the military industrial complex. By then, the military had acquired massive expensive weapons. In this regard, he believed that the military would collaborate with the federal government to abuse power in the future. Eisenhower’s critics asserted that he was unsuccessful in protecting the U.S from militarization. These critics argued that through his administration the U.S acquired sophisticated military weapons.

The changes brought by the Kennedy administration to US foreign policy in 1961

In the year 1961, Kennedy’s administration adopted the use diplomatic and military initiatives in the U.S foreign policy departments. Kennedy formed and deployed new intelligent experts in various countries to tackle the emerging diplomatic challenges (Paterson & Dennis 34). His foreign policies gave light to Eisenhower’s earlier initiative of ending the spread of communism. Through this, he enhanced the Cold War policies.

Unlike Eisenhower’s administration, Kennedy’s administration had a moderate view of the world. His administration acknowledged the world’s diversity. By doing so, he improved the U.S relations with the third world countries, especially in the South America.

The Cuban Missile Crisis and Kennedy’s role in it

Allek and Paterson analyzed the Cuban Missile Crises in their books. Between the two authors, Allek seems to be more convincing in his arguments. He referred to the Cuban crises as Kennedy’s finest hour. Allek suggested that when Kennedy became president in the year 1961, the cold war was at its crest point. Therefore, it took Kennedy’s toughness, wisdom, and intelligence to end the Cuban missile crisis (Horowitz 56).

As Allek asserted, the manner in which Kennedy handled the Cuban missile crises puzzled the world. Kennedy warned the Soviet that the U.S was more equipped with missiles than they were. Similarly, Kennedy’s government surrounded the Soviet with seven missile sites, and blockaded Cuba from Soviet’s ships. Through this, the Soviet surrendered by signing a treaty with the U.S to end the testing of atomic bombs (Paterson & Dennis 44).

Gaddis’ assumptions of causes that led the US into Vietnam

According to Gaddis, the U.S engagements in the Vietnam War were meant to contain communism, to show solidarity with the third world countries, to improve the country’s foreign relations, and to guarantee the expansionism groups in Soviet that the U.S would not abandon them in case they rebelled against the Soviet government.

The U.S involvement in the Vietnam War has been cited as the best example of policy failure (Paterson & Dennis 67). Americans were justified to fight the communist, but they failed when they sided with the corrupt government. Through this, we can confirm that Gaddis’ assumptions represented an abandonment of Kennan’s logic regarding ends and means. As such, the United States’ assumptions were not correlated with their commitments in accordance with the available resources as the logic of end and means demands.

The chronology of US escalation of the war in Vietnam from 1954 to 1968

The Vietnam conflict began in the year 1954 following the signing of Geneva accord, which split Vietnam into two regions. Geneva Accord marked the exit of the France and the entrance of the U.S in Vietnam Wars. Earlier, communist rebels under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh had defeated the French troops. After this defeat, America officially became involved in Vietnam’s War with the aim of defeating the communist rebels. The U.S government began sending financial aid to the Southern Vietnamese military army. President Dwight Eisenhower’s administration feared that the communists’ control of Vietnam could enhance the spread of the movement across Eastern Europe and Asia.

In the year 1956, a referendum was held to unite the Southern Vietnam and the Northern Vietnam. However, the U.S government objected the referendum after knowing that the communist was going to win. Instead, the U.S supported a partial election in the south and elected Ngo Diem as the president. Diem was later assassinated in a coup due to his poor leadership styles. It is alleged that the U.S was involved in his death (Paterson & Dennis 134).

Over time, the U.S involvements in Vietnam conflicts increased progressively. In the year 1964, during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, the Northern Vietnamese attacked the U.S Maddox. Following the attacks, Congress passed an act that mandated President Johnson to send more troops to Vietnam to thwart further aggression. In the year 1965, the Northern Vietnamese rebels attacked the U.S marine barracks killing eight American soldiers and wounding hundreds of them. Afterwards President Johnson ordered the air force to bomb the Northern Vietnamese rebel bases. The act led to further escalation forcing the president to send more troops to control the situation.

By the year 1968, the U.S had sent more than 500, 000 troops to Vietnam. From 1968 onwards, critics condemning the U.S involvement in the Vietnam conflicts increased at home and abroad. The critics organized several demonstrations and protests to force the U.S Government to withdraw its troops from Vietnam (Paterson & Dennis 120). In my opinion, the U.S war in Vietnam was futile since the Northern Vietnamese were more equipped and conversant with Vietnam’s terrain than previously thought by the U.S. Through this, their warfare had an added advantage over the foreign troops fighting.

Works Cited

Horowitz, Irving Louis. Cuban communism, 1959-1995. 8th ed. New Brunswick (U.S.A.): Transaction Publishers, 1995. Print.

Paterson, Thomas G., & Dennis Merrill. Major problems in American foreign relations. 5th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. Print.

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