Milestones: 1953–1960

1953–1960: 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.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower

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.