The Cold War
The Cold War was a proxy war. From the destruction of World War II two new superpowers emerged, the Democratic United States of America and the Communist USSR. These nations competed with each other for political, economic and cultural spheres of influence, however since both knew the other had Nuclear weaponry technology neither opted for direct confrontation. This resulted in a long period of semi-cautious foreign affairs decisions in trying to stabilize South America. Both thought that the more countries they had on their side the more potential power they could have over their rival. The result was a Cold War.

Massive Retaliationexternal image atomic_bomb_explosion.jpg
John Foster Dulles was Secretary of State under Eisenhower. Dulles wanted an excessively aggressive foreign policy towards Communism. Dulles hated the Communists almost as much as Nixon. However Eisenhower wanted a more passive resistance similar to the containment policy of Truman. Dulles announced his Massive Retaliation policy in 1954. Dulles believed ground armies could never conquer Communism and that the majority of military spending should be on unconventional weapons like nukes and atomic bombs. Relying on these unconventional weapons would ultimately allow for a cheaper military budget. This was of course the main concern of the government at the time. However Dulles also just wanted to expand on his previous policy of brinkmanship, or pushing the USSR so close to war they’d give the US anything.

Overseas Troubles
The War in Korea was a failure. After years and years of battling a cease fire was signed at Panmunjom on July 27, 1953. The cease fire ended the fighting exactly where it started, on the 38th parallel. There was initially some thought to hold a conference in Geneva, Switzerland on the basis of reuniting the country peacefully, but the union never happened. Unfortunately, the United States just couldn’t keep its hands off of those little Asians and got itself meddled up in another conflict in Southeast Asia, this time in Vietnam.
The French were a tad upset after World War II and wanted to reclaim their lost colony, Vietnam, that they had previously mistreated. The Vietnamese however strongly disapproved of France’s continued efforts since 1945 to take them over. Under the Communist Ho Chi Minh the Vietnamese struggled for their “freedom”. The French were doing all right for a few years, but it really looked like they were going to fail right after Dien Bien Phu in 1945, when they tried to siege the town and were then surrounded and slaughtered by the native Vietnamese. This disaster for the French required intervention, but Eisenhower refused to ask Congress to go in directly because he feared no other countries would help them save France with direct intervention. Since the Americans didn’t end up doing anything for the French they got their butts handed to them and left Vietnam in 1954. The French attended the same conference at Geneva intended for Korea to try and figure out some settlement with Vietnam. In the end France just left it alone.

external image Suez%20Canal%20today.jpgEisenhower’s foreign policy in the 1950s was essentially a continuation of the Truman Containment Policy. Yet during this era new conflicts arose in far off countries especially in the Middle East, which the US had been sure to avid in concord with the isolationist policy of pre WWII. A major conflict came with the creation of Israel on May 14, 1948. The United Nations and the United States recognized the new nation immediately, but Israel’s neighbors were a lot less willing to comply. Believing they had a right to stay where they were, many Palestinian Arabs and their Arabic brothers fought against the new country beginning in 1948.
However the United States really needed the Middle Eastern oil that OPEC controlled and when Iran in particular started showing signs of hostility towards American investments, things got scary. The CIA worked to supplant the shah of Iran Muhammad Mossadegh, and in 1953 raise a successor of their choice, Muhammad Reza Pahlevi. This US interference with another country actually worked to our favor as we would have intimate relations with the Iranians throughout the shah’s terms.
The US was ineffective, however, in Egypt where we experienced a similar crisis. The Egyptians under General Gamal Abdel Nasser traded excessively with the USSR. The US didn’t like this and repealed the money that was to be used to help build a dam across the Nile; this of course made Nasser angry and he took over the Suez Canal from the British. The ensuing crisis began on October 29, 1956 when the Israelis invaded Egypt. On the 30th a combined British and French force attacked the Egyptians on the Suez Canal. Fearful of a massive international war, the United Nations and the United States denounced the war and refused to participate, thus encouraging the British and French to withdraw and Israel to agree to peace with Egypt.
This overseas crisis extended all the way to South America. The CIA of the US was sent out to Guatemala just like in Iran to again instigate a change of government. Under Eisenhower the CIA was to remove the overly Marxist government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman.
In Central America the Cuban regime under Fulgencio Batista was laced with American influence. Every industry from hotels to sugar plantations was controlled by some or another American company. By 1957 the Cubans were getting frustrated by this loss of self-identity and rallied under Fidel Castro. Castro pushed Batista out to Spain and started his Communist regime in Havana on the New Year of 1959. Castro immediately began shoving out foreign owned and operated corporations in Cuba and received a lot of assistance from the USSR. As a result the US stopped all free trade with Cuba and finally, Eisenhower ended civil diplomacy with the new Communist country. So little Cuba fled to the Soviet Union’s open arms.

Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev

Eastern Europe vs. Western Europe
The Soviet Union and the United Nations both had Latin America and Central America on their Cold War regimes, but their views on how to deal with them varied greatly. The USSR obviously wanted to expand Communism, yet whatever steps they took the United Nations waited to thwart them in some indirect method. In 1955 Eisenhower and NATO met with Soviet leader Nikolai Bulganin, but no agreements were made. The leaders of all the great nations were essentially different and both were so powerful no concessions could be made for the other. Relations worsened with a Hungarian Revolution in 1956. Hungarians wanted a more Democratic government but the Soviet Union just invaded and tore the uprising down. Eisenhower didn’t want to mess with the USSR any more than was strictly necessary, but nevertheless the American public became united in their dislike of the Soviet Union and its policies.

When Bulganin died Nikita Khrushchev became the Soviet Premier and immediately called for a more directly confrontational policy towards the US. Khrushchev told all of the United Nations and the US to move out of
U-2 Spy Plane
U-2 Spy Plane
West Berlin, but everyone said no. As a result Khrushchev suggested him and Eisenhower meet on three separate occasions to discuss it further. Before the last two of the meetings could take place however, the Soviet Union shot down a U-2 Spy Plane that the US had sent to investigate over the USSR. Khrushchev became intolerably angry at this infringement of privacy. Eisenhower left office a defeated man. He had not really increased peaceable relations with the Soviet Union, but at the same time he did not let the military get too large nor did he completely aggravate foreign affairs. He limited himself domestically and foreign, Eisenhower lived to spread a legacy contrary to that of the majority of American history.

Works Cited
Brinkley's American History