Chapter 13:  The Ironies Of Disarmament


To escape from his nuclear dilemma, Eisenhower had to persuade his allies that the United States was working hard to diminish, and eventually eliminate, the risk of nuclear war.  So he filled his public discourse with a seemingly passionate desire to control nuclear armaments.  In the latter five years of his presidency, he voiced this hope more often and more ardently than in the first three years.  He sometimes voiced it in private, too.  By 1957, “the President was very much in doubt whether it was desirable to test large bombs and whether there was a need for a large clean bomb.  He indicated that our statecraft was becoming too much a prisoner of our scientists.”  Arms control “transcends all other objectives we can have.” he told Dulles.  “Security through arms is only a means (and sometimes a poor one) to an end.  Peace, in a very real sense, is an end in itself.”[1]   

In his last year in office, speaking privately with AEC chair John McCone, he summarized views he had expressed so often in public: 

He said that we must find a way to arrest the development of weapons of mass destruction and to ultimately do away with them.  This objective seemed paramount in his mind and he related it to a real fear of an ultimate catastrophe to civilization.  At no time did he mention the United States or Western security as against the Soviet or Communist aggression.  The President seemed entirely pre-occupied by the horror of nuclear war.¼In past wars there had always been a victor¾now there would be none as all parties engaged in the war and a large segment of humanity not engaged would be destroyed.[2]

These were views Eisenhower had expressed since the earliest days of his administration.  Perhaps his concern had grown more intense, but there was nothing substantively new here.  He had always said that the U.S. would be in a stronger position vis-à-vis the communists if there were no nuclear weapons.  In his last years in office, he was still insisting on this point, though by then he had concluded that it was unrealistic to try to eliminate nuclear weapons.[3]   

The new developments during the second term lay not in the president's attitudes, but in the obvious drawbacks of relying on nuclear weaponry for national security.  Any disarmament measure or test moratorium would have helped him escape from his trap in several ways: reducing the military budget and the risk of nuclear war; easing the allies’ fears, thus strengthening the “free world” alliance; improving the U.S. image abroad, thus wooing neutrals to the West.  These advantages, taken together, could have made apocalypse management a more logically coherent, hence politically stable, policy.

Eisenhower spoke often of the advantages he was foregoing by avoiding meaningful negotiation with the Soviets.  He must have understood them. To the end of his years in the White House, however, he never seriously pursued negotiations that could produce agreements. This cannot be credited to mere stubbornness.  His shifting policies during the Indochina and Formosa crises demonstrated that he could give up old policies and old commitments when it seemed urgent to do so.  In the case of nuclear weapons, though, he saw no such urgency, because he interpreted the “new weapons” through the lens of the old discourse.  So he saw no need to take new policy steps.  He once told Dulles:  “In this terrific armament race we must have some little bit of a hope – even if only in controlling atmosphere tests.  He said ‘in the long run there is nothing but war – if we give up all hope of a peaceful solution.  It was sort of like trying to carry water on both shoulders.’”[4] 

This metaphor typified Eisenhower's attitude toward disarmament throughout his presidency.  He was always trying to accelerate and decelerate the arms simultaneously; arming and disarming were different ways to manage not only the threat of war, but all the other perils he feared throughout his presidency:  communist military attack upon the West, the internal collapse of Western capitalism, and the spread of communist influence and control by non-military means. 

The president and his advisors could not know whether the Soviet leaders really wanted a moratorium or any disarmament measure.  They assumed that the Soviets would never carry out any arms reduction agreements:  “The President said that of course the heart of the problem was this:  We are trying to bargain in good faith with a fellow whose good faith we have every reason to doubt.”[5]  This was not a conclusion drawn from empirical experience in implementing agreements.  It was an assumption, one that prevented the U.S. from trying to negotiate agreements in good faith.  So it remained immune to verification or falsification.

In the long run, though, Soviet intentions did not really matter to them.  They showed little interest in Soviet policies on disarmament, arms control, or a test ban.  They treated these issues only as means to the single end of apocalypse management.[6]  Once this unifying theme is recognized, Eisenhower no longer appears to be divided against himself.  He appears to be caught in a web, not of self-contradiction, but of ironies that undermined the security he hoped to achieve and enhance.

Disarmament And The Soviet Military Threat

One of Eisenhower’s main motives for pursuing disarmament was fear of an apocalyptic surprise attack.  “If the danger of surprise could be eliminated no one would attack,” he assured the NSC, adding that he would accept any way of reducing this danger as long as it demanded no significant U.S. compromise.  Publicly, he explained that if a disarmament agreement would “relieve the world of the great fear of surprise, devastating attack, then disarmament will follow step by step almost automatically.”[7]

Eisenhower continued to press for the “Open Skies” proposal, although he knew that the advantages it offered the U.S. made Soviet acceptance highly unlikely.  He never stopped trying to get U.S. and Western inspectors into the Soviet Union, to guard against surprise attack.  “The inherent problem,” he told aides, “was that of people who are characterized by honesty and good intentions combating people who are dishonest and whose intentions are not good.”[8]

By 1959, with disarmament negotiations dragging on fruitlessly, the president was still saying that any verifiable agreement “would be a great advance toward reducing the danger of war.”  But “he pointed out the further advantage to the Free World of obtaining a set of qualified observers within the USSR.”  Inspection was “the crucial point.”  By his last year in office, he was willing to accept “any proposal in the field of disarmament … if it can be inspected.”  “He thought that we should make no offers across the board until we can be sure that we can get into the Soviet Union.  He felt that we should look at this problem as getting the better in a horse-trade.”[9]

Eisenhower showed how crucial that point was by revising his policies in order to pursue it.  In 1959, science advisor James Killian asserted that the purpose of demanding inspection was “breaking through the iron curtain.  The President indicated agreement, and commented that he is considering severing test suspension from the requirement for progress on disarmament generally, in order to keep the focus on valid inspection.”  This was a major concession, because U.S. test ban negotiators had consistently demanded a link to general disarmament, hoping to freeze the arms race with the U.S. far ahead.  In the negotiations that began soon after, Eisenhower was also willing to permit small test explosions (which he feared might advance the Soviets’ technical abilities) as long as he could “get reliable people into the Soviet Union” for inspections and prevent the Soviets from vetoing their presence.[10]

Later that same year, Eisenhower privately announced another major shift  in pursuit of breaking through the iron curtain:  “We cannot inspect with full effectiveness against atomic weapons.  We must therefore start on other things, and this is why he has previously given attention to the means of delivery of such weapons.”  “We should still put a few inspection stations into Russia,” he explained.  “Our real aim is to open that country up to some degree.”[11]

Eventually he was willing to settle for a mere three inspections a year because, although they “would be inadequate to provide effective inspection, even these three would disclose a great deal of their country.…The President said the fundamental question in his mind is this:  is it of primary important to the Soviets that they want no more nuclear explosions, or is it of primary importance that they do not want to open up their country?”  The president's disappointment over failing to get an arms control agreement was in large part a disappointment over failing to penetrate the Iron Curtain.  He was more interested in reducing U.S. vulnerability than slowing the arms race.[12]  

Disarmament And The Cost Of Weapons

The administration’s disarmament efforts were designed to support, not undermine, the original premise of the New Look:  reliance on nuclear weapons would offer “more bang for the buck.”  Responding to one disarmament proposal drafted by Dulles, Eisenhower told him:  “You would be serving notice on the Soviets that their refusal to bargain in good faith in the matter of disarmament will result in much closer military and political collaboration between the nations of the free world, and this in turn would bring about a more widespread deployment of nuclear weapons in order that security might be achieved at the lowest possible cost.”[13]   

By early 1956, however, Eisenhower was realizing that nuclear weapons would not necessarily offer security at the lowest possible cost.  Because he was committed to nuclear superiority, he was “exceptionally responsive to innovative ideas” in military technology, according to his science advisor, James Killian.  Moreover, as Ambrose notes, “Eisenhower was sure of himself in DOD matters and spent hours on details, but was unsure of himself in the nuclear field and thus let Strauss run it.”  So he was particularly reluctant to cancel any possible innovations in nuclear technology.  By the mid-‘50s, there were a large number of nuclear projects still in the research and development stage.  With all those projects allowed to continue, there was a built-in expansion of costs when they reached the production and deployment stage.  Nuclear weapons were rapidly becoming more expensive than conventional forces.[14]

To “Alarmist Ike,” this rising cost posed a threat just as catastrophic as communism.  He continued to insist that military spending could “ruin the America we know and force us into a garrison state.”  “We are playing this game of trying to outwit the Russians on something like a 40-year basis,” he told the NSC.  So he urged military planners to think about budget levels “for up to forty years,” or even “over the next sixty years or so.”[15]  Excessive military spending would require excessive taxation, which would discourage capital investment, he told Swede Hazlett.  Then the government would be forced to build factories “to provide jobs for the million or more new workers that we must absorb each year.…This is one form of Socialism.”  He warned Congressional leaders “that every new scientific development makes defense more and more expensive.…The nation could choke itself to death with military force as well as protect itself.”[16]

From the president's perspective, the ever-growing military budget was just as much a threat to American security as the growing Soviet nuclear arsenal.  If not reversed, the armaments race “would be ended in only one way,” he told the NSC:  “a clash of forces which could not result in victory for anybody, or at the least, stupendous expenditures for an indefinite period.”  In other words, the U.S. might still hope to win the next war, but only by spending so much on the military that it became a “garrison state,” rendering the victory empty.[17] 

As he entered his second term, Eisenhower's desire for an arms control agreement was driven even more by his hope for restraining military spending.  As hopes for a general disarmament agreement dimmed, he suggested more modest measures to cut expenditures, perhaps a step by step test ban or a reduction in conventional weapons.  The U.S. public was “getting exceedingly weary of carrying the national and international costs,” he explained to British Prime Minister Macmillan; disarmament would be “of greater relative relief to us than to any of our friends.”  He warned the NSC that “this country must get to a point where we can stabilize at least on a percentage basis of the gross national product to be devoted to our defense.…We cannot continue along our present line of thinking and acting without ‘busting’ ourselves.”[18]

 Disarmament And The U.S. Image

Eisenhower’s overriding motive for pursuing disarmament was to protect the image of the U.S. around the world.  As he continued to approve new weapons systems and larger military budgets, he knew that his decisions were carefully observed abroad.  “In some areas we are believed to be bombastic, jingoistic, and totally devoted to the theories of force and power as the only worthwhile elements in the world,” he wrote to his brother Edgar in 1955.[19]  As he saw competition with the Soviets shifting toward the diplomatic and economic fronts, he worried that this negative image might undermine his efforts to retain his allies and woo neutral nations. 

Early in 1956 the president pleaded to the NSC, “We are trying to lead the world back from the brink of disaster.…We have simply got to find something that will work in this field.”  But he said little about the danger of war.  Rather, he based his argument on “the enormous importance of the psychological and public relations aspect of the disarmament proposal.”  He recognized that fears of war and fears of testing remained intertwined, so he worried about “the rising concern of people everywhere over the effect of radiation from tests, of their reaction each time a test was reported, and their extreme nervousness over the prospective consequence of any nuclear war.”  He wanted to “catch and hold the interest of the people of the world,” he told aides, or at least “avoid giving to the Soviets a world of propaganda ammunition.”[20]

“This opinion on the necessity for disarmament is steadily growing stronger and insisting on results,” the president warned the NSC.  Even the NATO allies were expressing a “very strong insistence” for progress in disarmament.  The U.S. had to offer some specific disarmament proposal “to hold our allies.…Otherwise we may find France and even the United Kingdom aligned with the Russians against us.”  He was facing “an extremely difficult world opinion situation,” he warned aides, “and he did not think that the United States could permit itself to be ‘crucified on a cross of atoms.’”[21]

Eisenhower's solutions was to offer official words about disarmament that would (in his aide Robert Cutler’s words) “provide flexibility and help with world opinion.”  As Dulles admitted, U.S. disarmament efforts were primarily “an operation in public relations,” creating images far different from the reality.  As early as 1955, he warned Stassen:  “We could not go on much longer pretending that we were for reduction of armament, while using various excuses to avoid and postpone the issue.”  When the Soviets proposed a test ban in 1958, he felt “desperately the need for some important gesture…that would beat the Soviets to the punch.”[22]

Eisenhower acknowledged that his efforts to ease cold war tensions were driven primarily by a quest for propaganda victories.  He admitted to Dulles that their disarmament policy was still just “wrapping U.S. proposals in different packages … and tying them up in different colored ribbons.”  “We need some vehicle to ride in order to suggest to the world that we are not stuck in the mud. … Our public relations problem almost defies a solution.”[23]

By the spring of 1958, Eisenhower was warning the NSC of a serious “psychological erosion of our position with respect to nuclear testing.”  The U.S. had to act to “stem and turn the tide of Soviet propaganda success,” he told Dulles. The “most potentially dangerous of all the situations now developing,” was the “credence, even respect, that the world is beginning to give to the spurious Soviet protestations and pronouncements” on disarmament.  When the AEC staunchly opposed a test ban, he retorted that world opinion was even more powerful than the hydrogen bomb:  “Our world situation requires that we achieve the political benefits of this action.”  Similarly, he urged a test ban on Macmillan, arguing that “much of the world opinion is shifting, if not toward the Soviets, at least away from the West because of our alleged intransigence about all aspects of nuclear testing.”[24]

When Eisenhower visited Britain in 1959, he appeared on television with Macmillan and spoke words which have since become famous:  “I think people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.”  This quotation sounds much more like a scripted public pronouncement than a heartfelt impromptu remark.  The president knew what his huge audience wanted to hear (and what his host, sitting beside him, needed politically).  He spoke the words that the occasion demanded.  In private, when Macmillan “pressed the advantages [of disarmament] from the point of view of public opinion,” Eisenhower demurred, fearing that the Russians would set off “undetectable underground shots.”  At home, Eisenhower had already made the point quite openly to the press:  “The psychological factors and the fears of the world are such that we should go right ahead with the plans” for test suspension.[25]

Fear of a public relations disaster directly affected policy.  In the spring of 1958, Eisenhower told Macmillan that “we are being pushed into a rather difficult position from the standpoint of world opinion and that we shall have to alter somewhat the four-power proposals in this respect.”  Bowing to world opinion, he allowed U.S. negotiators for the first time to support a test ban divorced from a cutoff of weapons production.  The president explained to the Secretary of State that this change was unavoidable:  “Unless we took some positive action we were in the future going to be in a position of ‘moral isolation’ as far as rest of the world is concerned.” [26] 

In 1959, he agreed to separate a test ban from other disarmament issues.  He was persuaded that atmospheric testing was so dangerous it had to stop, or “the Northern Hemisphere might become uninhabitable.”  But his main concern was, as he told Macmillan, that “our public position would be much better.”  A year later, he agreed to endorse whatever kind of test ban might be attainable (though he wanted it “held to a short period”), because without it “there will be severe cracks and ruptures in the Western position.”  He still wanted to “try to work out some proposal which we could make to the Russians which would have a good public relations impact.”[27] 

Preventing Disarmament

In 1959, Eisenhower lamented that “two years ago he had visualized much propaganda mileage to be gained by a positive stand on this question.¼However he had given way on this position in the light of resistance on the part of Defense and AEC.”[28]  Now he regretted that he could not get the same propaganda benefits.  But he was being rather disingenuous when he put the blame on others in his administration.  For the most part, he let disarmament opponents shape policy because he shared their view that agreements with the Soviets posed serious dangers to American interests. 

A test ban might cost the U.S. valuable allies.  As Trachtenberg has shown, the New Look required the administration to persuade its allies to rely increasingly on nuclear weaponry; it was “obvious to Eisenhower, as obvious as could be…[that] the allies should be helped to acquire modern [nuclear] weapons.”  By the late ‘50s, Britain and France were demanding the right to develop their own nuclear weaponry.  As the president noted, they would resist any test ban “until they have the know-how we have, and so far we have been unable to get congress to pass the bill that would so authorize them to have our information.”  He told aides that “we probably would have made an agreement with the Soviets on this matter” if U.S. law allowed sharing nuclear information.  With no change in that law forthcoming, Britain and France were insisting that he forestall a test ban, while at the same time pressing him to move toward a test ban to satisfy public opinion.  The president confessed that he was “perplexed” by this “terrible impasse” and feared that it might spell the end of NATO.[29] 

However, Eisenhower himself was pursuing the same contradictory goals.  In late 1955, his “Secretary of Peace,” Harold Stassen, officially advised him “that any substantial disarmament would not really be in the interest of the United States,” because it “would contribute to a letdown attitude in free world countries which may lead to unilateral reductions.”  Dulles agreed with Stassen and told his staff to see that disarmament was “closed out quietly.”  Eisenhower did not take his aides’ advice at that time, because he so badly wanted some kind of disarmament agreement to appease world opinion.[30] 

Throughout the rest of his years in office, though, he worried that a disarmament agreement posed unacceptable risks.  He feared losing the technological superiority he was determined to maintain.  U.S. disarmament offers were usually designed (as Eisenhower admitted to the JCS) to make it “very unlikely that the Soviets would accept our proposal, and if they were to accept, it is very unlikely that we would suffer disadvantage.”  Indeed, as both sides knew, each wanted to stop the testing of weapons when it was ahead, giving it a positive advantage.  None of Eisenhower's arms control proposals would have affected U.S. nuclear superiority or foreclosed future avenues of weapons expansion.[31]

The president once “commented that the United States, being on the defensive, must achieve stalemate in one mode of possible combat after another.”  He hoped to provide “the security of the stalemate,” when “each side would realize the folly of resorting to a course of action in the shape of nuclear general war in which each country would be completely destroyed.”  But when he spoke about security through stalemate he did not mean an immutable balance of power that would offer the certainty of Mutually Assured Destruction; he meant an immutable imbalance that would leave the U.S. superior and assured of winning World War III.[32]

To that end, he urged Congress to fund nuclear testing, which he said was needed to improve U.S. defenses and “protective measures” against attack.  He also feared that any test ban agreement would undermine domestic support for defense expenditures, leaving U.S. defenses dangerously low.  And he worried that the Democrats might attack a U.S. test suspension as “our Munich.”  Even when the Soviets offered proposals mirrored earlier U.S. proposals, the administration turned them down.  Kenneth Osgood explains why:  “To win the hearts and minds of world public opinion, the Eisenhower administration believed that the Soviet Union would have to accept American proposals; to do otherwise would make the United States appear weak, raise questions of appeasement, and add respectability to the Soviet regime.”[33]

Eisenhower told Dulles that “he had received suggestions from so many people that he was confused.”  But his confusion came from more than information overload.  Every step toward cold war advantage seemed to carry catastrophic disadvantage.  He summarized the dilemma in a wide-ranging conversation with Dulles in the spring of 1958.  Stopping tests would hurt the U.S. militarily, he said, and “testing is not evil, but the fact is that people have been brought to believe it is. … World opinion, even if not well founded, is a fact¼we need some basis of hope for our own people and for world opinion.  As matters now stand we are bearing the onus of having turned down an agreement calling for inspection.”  However, he hesitated to pressure his allies to accept a test ban.  His only conclusion was frustration:  “It is simply intolerable to remain in a position wherein the United States, seeking peace, and giving loyal partnership to our allies, is unable to achieve an advantageous impact on world opinion.  Meanwhile, the Soviets are putting out just what they want the world to hear and believe.”[34]

A Multi-Pronged Strategy

Trying to escape from this intolerable impasse, Eisenhower pursued a multi-pronged strategy.  For as long as he could, he insisted that there was no danger from tests.  At the same time, he continued to block the path to any genuine progress toward arms control or a test ban.  Early in 1958, with the clamor for an agreement growing daily, he still instructed the NSC that “this was not the time to make any new proposals.”  When Dulles acknowledged that the U.S. had “put impossible conditions on disarmament,” the president did not deny it.  The only problem Dulles saw in this duplicity was that the U.S. would lose “the struggle for world opinion.”  A year later, Eisenhower admitted that nothing had changed:  “We of the West are at present in the position of refusing everything brought up.  This presents a poor image to the world.”[35]

Another part of Eisenhower's strategy was duplicity.  Even if the U.S. were forced to a total test ban, he assured Edward Teller, nuclear researchers should continue “with their current vigor and devotion. …  It will be necessary that we maintain our weapons development progress during the period and with no less urgency than in the past.”  When he agreed to pursue a test ban independent of disarmament, bowing to world opinion, he noted that “he could not see why we could not conduct experiments underground.”[36]

By the end of his second term, he informed the NSC that the U.S. expected to get militarily useful results from the Plowshares tests, while publicly insisting that they were for peaceful uses only:  “The President commented that the only real hazard is that the Soviets test and we do not.  But the fact is that we have been doing some experimenting.”  “If we could keep the secret from the press, he would authorize small clandestine shots because the delay has been so long in negotiations, and we cannot be sure whether the Soviets are testing or not.”[37]

That uncertainty was a major stumbling block to a test ban agreement.  Despite Eisenhower's yearning to improve the U.S. image abroad, he would approve no plan unless it included an unfettered right of inspection inside the Soviet Union.[38]  He knew full well that the right he demanded would be feasible only after the fall of the Iron Curtain.  The Soviets knew this just as well.  They knew that inspection was about more than simply preventing surprise attack.  It was about blocking progress toward any agreement; ultimately, it amounted to a coded symbol for U.S. cold war victory.

For that reason, among others, U.S. - Soviet talks never amounted to more than what the president himself called a “Bulganin-Eisenhower squirrel cage exercise. … Our replies are necessarily hammering away on exactly the same keys.  Maybe we can merely change the timing of replies, or their tones.”  He desperately wanted “the appearance of something new.”  To create that appearance without any substantive change, he spent all his years in office manipulating the negotiation process, so that it would end with no agreement but with a propaganda victory for the U.S.[39]

The administration's public relations campaign came to an inglorious end in May, 1960, when the downing of the U-2 allowed Khrushchev to scuttle the Paris summit meeting.  No event better typified the paradoxes and limitations of apocalypse management.  The president knew the risks involved in getting caught, yet he could not resist sending this flight, which he insisted would be the last.  Once again (and this time more painfully than ever) he discovered that he could not gain advantage in one way without incurring serious harm in another way.  Yet he persisted in trying to avoid harm on every front.  Because disarmament negotiations were meant to contain perceived threats, the language of danger avoidance dominated Eisenhower's discourse on the subject.  As each new proposal was evaluated, the focus turned more and more to possible Soviet advantage.  Since the administration could foresee the Soviets reaping some advantage from any proposal the Kremlin might seriously consider, no such offers were ever put forth.  So the administration could never know whether the Soviets would accept any serious offers.

The aftermath of the failed summit revealed much about Eisenhower's true intentions.  Once an agreement with the Soviets became impossible, the image of trying to ease cold war tensions no longer offered any advantage.  So the whole subject of disarmament largely disappeared from his discourse.  Instead, he became a staunch cold warrior.  He told advisors in July, 1960, that he wanted some symbolic action for psychological effect in the face of Soviet assertiveness in Cuba and the Congo.  He wanted to show the Soviets and the U.S. public that “our retaliatory power has been sharpened and speeded up.”  He warned the NSC:  “We should be more concerned about a rain of missiles on the U.S and about the U.S. becoming so weak that the enemy can attack us with impunity.  Such a situation of weakness would affect the mental attitude of both the U.S. and the USSR.  We would not have become so concerned about this matter at the present time except for recent Soviet threats.”  Relieved of the need to appear conciliatory, he revealed the confrontational stance that was the foundation of his discourse and policy.[40] 

Eisenhower wanted to pursue disarmament negotiations, if he could do it on his terms.  He wanted to prevent nuclear war too.  And he used the political process to look for ways to get disarmament and to avoid war.  But he pursued these goals on two distinct tracks.  In policymaking and discourse, he made no direct link between these two issues.  He was never willing to disarm simply to avoid war.  The abolition of nuclear weapons was a third issue.  Ideally, Eisenhower would have supported abolition to give the U.S. a greater military advantage.  But he never connected that directly with either disarmament or avoiding war. 

Although he held these three goals, which tended toward world peace, he was not willing to make any concession, incur any cost, or take any risk to attain them.  He would not discuss disarmament in the context of real-world processes, with all their limitations.  To enter the real world of diplomatic give-and-take would have entailed the possibility (and perhaps the certainty) of risk—the one thing the president was determined, above all, to avoid.  To avoid that risk, the Eisenhower administration offered words about disarmament and arms control proposals only as symbolic gestures, meant to build a stronger and higher protective wall between the U.S. and its foe. 

Because the ends and means of policy were so diverse and often conflicting, the words were bound to fail in their purposes.  To prove his desire for peace and disarmament, the president continued to emphasize his understanding of the horrors of war.  Yet his words only fed a fear of nuclear weapons that grew much faster than confidence in his peaceful aims.  Thus the administration was constantly in search of new symbolic images of disarmament, arms control, and a test ban.  In Eisenhower's overall strategy, the symbolic process was far more important than any actual agreements it might yield.  Not surprisingly, the process was indeed a “squirrel cage exercise” that yielded no significant agreements.

A Unified Discourse With Conflicting Goals

Historians have often misunderstood Eisenhower's warnings about the arms race because they assumed that he was addressing the nuclear danger as a unique problem superseding all others.  But he never addressed any danger, even the prospect of nuclear war, in isolation.  In a diary entry, he worried that if the U.S. “cannot point to a single conclusive sign that the world is actually moving toward universal peace and disarmament, then indeed it would appear that the world is on the verge of an abyss.”[41]  But the abyss he feared was not merely a global nuclear war.  It was a breakdown of his entire system of apocalypse management.  He evaluated the bomb, as he evaluated everything else, on only one criterion:  Would it enhance or weaken the administration's efforts to manage the full array of apocalyptic threats?  There was no simple answer, because it might do both. 

He objected to the bomb because it could be used in war for evil purposes; i.e., in a surprise attack by communist aggressors.  He also objected to the bomb because it threatened to weaken the “free world” alliance, alienate neutral nations, and drive up military spending unacceptably if built in excessive numbers.  And he objected to it because he could find no clear, logical way to plan to use it in war.  He had long ago concluded that war should be avoided because it could no longer be “won,” in the traditional sense of that word.  He could see no way that a nuclear apocalypse could lead to the victory of spiritual good over evil.  

But he could never agree that nuclear weapons were intrinsically evil.  He never accepted the argument that more weapons necessarily meant a greater likelihood that they would some day be used, causing incalculable death, destruction, and suffering.  He would have called it simplistic.  In fact, he could not articulate the issue that way within his discursive framework, where the bomb posed no threat in and of itself.  Given that premise, there was relatively little urgency to eliminate or even control the development of nuclear weapons. 

There was great urgency to avoid war, and great urgency to prepare to win war if it could not be avoided.  That meant, in turn, an urgent need to produce more and better bombs, and new delivery systems to get them to their targets.  The same symbolic discourse that created Eisenhower’s expressions of urgency about the nuclear threat also blunted whatever real sense of urgency he might have felt.  Rather than raising new fears, the symbolic meanings of the bomb only confirmed his existing vision of weaponry and war, and their attendant fears.  Those symbolic meanings gave no reason to eliminate or reduce the numbers of nuclear weapons, so he made no real efforts in that direction. 

On the contrary, every aspect of his strategy required that the nuclear arsenal keep growing and diversifying.  Ideally, credible plans and threats to use the bomb would fend off both communist expansion and global war.  Promises to use the bomb wisely and to work for disarmament would hold the alliance together and persuade the allies to nuclearize their own forces.  Nuclearizing U.S. and NATO forces would prevent inflationary spending and unpopular taxation as well as strengthening the alliance.  These advantages made a growing nuclear arsenal seem necessary. Therefore, though he occasionally mused out loud about the risk of nuclear war, he subordinated it to the other risks that the New Look aimed to address. 

On the surface, the New Look seemed to demand risk.  It was created in part to avoid the “hot” war that Eisenhower wanted to avoid.  In effect, he was using his long-standing fear of “hot” war to validate his strategy for cold war.  To make that strategy work, he had to be willing to bring the nation and the world to the brink of nuclear war.  Ideally, though, the risks and uncertainties of brinkmanship were supposed to give the U.S. perfect control over every cold war variable, bringing the end of all risk. 

For Eisenhower, the interaction between nuclear policy and nuclear discourse held the key to eliminating risk.  His plans to use the bomb would be credible only if he offered the right talk about the bomb, and vice versa.  He intended to avoid every peril by figuring out how to use the bomb most effectively in the future and, equally importantly, how to talk about it effectively in the present.  The administration's goals could be secured only if presidential talk controlled public emotion and gave the bomb a positive meaning in public discourse.  New Look policies could make sense, at home as well as abroad, only if U.S. nuclear weapons were seen as preservers of the global order rather than destroyers, instruments of peace rather than war.  So he had to cling to his pattern of public language if he wanted to uphold his New Look policies, and vice versa.  Both problems had to be solved simultaneously, and both parts implemented successfully, for the grand strategy to work.

But the task was impossible, because the discourse and strategy encompassed so many contradictions that none of the problems could be solved.  Eisenhower could not keep all the elements together in a unified rational discourse.  His inability ever to define precisely when and how nuclear weapons would be used was merely one symptom of this larger problem.  Some have credited this to skillful ambiguity.  But his own admissions of confusion, helplessness, and despair contradict that interpretation.  He was quite sincere when he complained that technology was outstripping all his efforts at clarity.  His familiar structures of discourse were inadequate to respond to the new reality; his strategy was built on contradictory policies that made perfect clarity and balance impossible. 

In 1959, Eisenhower summed up his policy to the NSC quite concisely:  “Our purpose is to defend ourselves.  To defend ourselves means that we must destroy the present threat to ourselves.”[42]  This was the same defensive ideology that spawned the New Look in 1953.  His underlying intention remained as constant as his policy.  And he remained constantly baffled by the problem that nuclear weapons created:  how to “destroy the present threat to ourselves” without destroying the nation and the values he aimed to preserve.  He continued to assume that communist aggression could be prevented only by U.S. willingness to wage war.  Thus his policies had to include full-scale preparations for a process that could lead to no good conclusion.  So his discourse and policy were left permanently teetering on the brink of contradiction, uncertainty, and therefore of war. 

The president sometimes commented on this logical paradox.  But he made no serious effort to extricate himself from it. Instead, he remained committed to the pursuit of apocalypse management.  He would identify the specific factors that were beyond his control, admit the contradictions in which he had trapped himself, and then reaffirm the same policies and the same discursive patterns that had created the contradictions in the first place.  He was able to do this for eight long years primarily because he treated the bomb less as an empirical reality than as a symbol. 

The Bomb As Symbol And Reality

On nuclear issues, as on all others, the president wanted mental and discursive clarity.  If he were even to aim for, much less achieve, perfect control, he first needed control over his own conceptual vision.  He demanded of himself a clear understanding of the problems he faced, the alternative courses of action available, and the probable outcomes of each one.  His discourse and policymaking both required an assumption that all factors could be brought under control and perfectly balanced in a single unified plan. 

To maintain his illusion of clarity and control, Eisenhower treated nuclear destruction largely as a distant, abstract possibility.  His apparently fearful musings expressed a vague sentiment of alarm, but they were never a basis for, and rarely connected with, concrete policy planning.  The strategy of apocalypse management did not permit any risks.  But it required a reliance on nuclear weapons, which posed the greatest risk imaginable.  This gave him more reason to avoid considering the actual effects of the weapons.  Although his images of destruction gradually became more concrete during his presidency, he spoke about the dangers of chaos and governmental regimentation far more than he spoke concretely about charred or irradiated human beings.  The war he said he feared was always largely an imagined abstraction—just like his fear of communist world domination and capitalist economic collapse.  He seemed to see nothing uniquely threatening about the prospect of World War III.  

Eisenhower was led to abstraction, too, because he spent his presidency searching for ways to use his nuclear arsenal as a symbol of power, rather than a military weapon.  He did want to win World War III without fighting it.  He wanted to find a way to use the bomb’s immense destructive power for preservation, so that he could find positive meaning in his vision of peace as apocalypse management.  The only way to solve that problem was to believe that he could use the symbolic meanings of the bomb to attain control over the whole global geopolitical situation.  The New Look was supposed to give him that control.  Having developed the New Look as his solution to the manifold problems of the bomb, he clung to it throughout his two terms.  That gave him some sense of certainty amidst the confusion, and perhaps a feeling that the problems could ultimately be at least organized, if not resolved.  So the bomb became, quite logically, the primary symbol of a successful strategy of apocalypse management.

By refusing to abandon his illusion of rational balance, clarity, and control, he could avoid dealing with the contradictions among the multiple realities in which he was ensnared.  The illusion was more important to him than facing and accepting a reality he could not manage.  By rendering the bomb and its threat so abstractly, Eisenhower was able to maintain both the threatening and promising sides of his apocalyptic discursive structure and therefore his New Look strategy.  He was able to deal with the bomb not as an empirical reality, but as a symbol that could make sense in, and encompass, the totality of his discursive framework.  So he created a nuclear discourse and strategy that was logically consistent because it was rooted in a fantasy of permanent stability guaranteed by U.S. omnipotence and total control.  In this sense he was, as Oakes says, “thinking in multiple realities,”[43] glimpsing the empirical reality and then retreating to his own unchanging discursive structure.

Discourse and policy reinforced each other in a vicious cycle.  His unshakable commitment to his pattern of discourse insured that there would be no end to the development, testing, production, and planning for use of nuclear weapons.  His policy decisions to continue development, testing, production, and war planning deepened his commitment to the discourse.  At every step of the way, this dialectic ensnared him more firmly in the trap his own language and grand strategy had created, insuring that he would see no need for any fundamental change.

In the ideal changeless world that Eisenhower seemed to want, there would be both more and fewer nuclear weapons simultaneously.  In that unreal world, he and his nation would be protected magically against every threat.  But in his ideology each threat was rooted in the ultimate evil of selfishness—what his parents had called sin.  In effect, then, he wanted the bomb to provide a magical protection against sin—what his parents had called salvation through the grace of Jesus Christ. 

In fact, neither salvation nor magical protection was available.  As he contemplated his nuclear weapons policy, the president encountered the same kind of problem that plagued him on every other front.  Total control and static global balance were proving impossible, because he was asking the bomb to perform too many contradictory tasks.  Every move toward control in one direction weakened his control in some other area; by trying to control everything, he ended up controlling and accomplishing very little.  But he could not escape the dilemma, because he was trying to force radically new facts into old patterns of language. 

From 1956 on, with growing frequency, Eisenhower confessed a sense of helplessness that sometimes verged on despair.  His complaints about the problems and dangers of the nuclear age were really complaints about his apocalypse management strategy falling apart.  He acknowledged that he had trapped himself into trying to use nuclear weapons to prevent the very danger they would create.  He acknowledged, too, that the problem was insoluble.  Finding no way out of this trap, he learned to live, speak, and make policy within its ambiguities.  While he continued to search for clarity, he was making a virtue out of necessity:  seeking a way to use the confusion embodied in the weapons, and in their discourse, as a means to manage apocalyptic danger.  Eventually, the ambiguities, confusions, and threat of annihilation became a routine part of everyday life.  “More serious talk of possible war,” Ann Whitman noted in her diary during the 1958 Berlin crisis.  “The president at one point said ‘you might as well go out and shoot everyone you see and then shoot yourself’-- which indicates a remarkably depressed view for him to take.  But this mood does not last, and routine matters go on pretty much as usual.  The President first greeted representatives of the Investment Bankers Association of America.”[44]

The Bomb And Public Opinion At Home

In the United States as well as abroad, nuclear arms and nuclear testing were inextricably linked, and often fused, in public discourse.[45]  The administration's twin promises of invincible weaponry and flexible negotiating strategy were supposed to work together to insure global stasis.  Throughout the first term, the U.S. public generally believed these promises, along with the administration's reassurances that testing was harmless.  This allowed the administration to develop its nuclear policy relatively free from public concerns. 

From 1957 on, though, the promises of invincibility and flexibility were becoming antipodal poles between which the administration found itself increasingly stretched, at home as well as abroad.  On the domestic left, there was a small but growing movement that began to reject apocalypse management, with its prospect of living permanently on the brink of holocaust.  On the right, a somewhat larger and growing movement demanded a military strong enough to deliver cold war victory.  In the broad middle lay the demand for the government to fulfill both of the president's promises:  winning every race against the Russians while effectively pursuing disarmament and easing cold war tensions. 

Eisenhower began to see “an actual division of American opinion and other opinion as to the harmful effects of testing.”  Dulles even expressed fear that “the United States might begin unilateral disarmament, under the pressures of public opinion and the high costs of military expenditures.”  By 1959, “the President referred to recent increases in fall-out levels in the United States¼He said that we are going to be forced by public opinion in the United States to stop tests unilaterally.”  This might have undermined support for ever-growing nuclear arsenals, too.  But by then it was too late to separate fears of fallout from fears of nuclear weaponry and war.  No matter how remote and hidden the tests were geographically, they ensured that questions about the bomb could not be fully hidden from public view.  Government efforts to separate tests and fallout from war only put the spotlight on the whole issue and reinforced the connection in the public mind.[46]

Even in the second term, though, as more and more criticisms were leveled at the administration, nuclear issues were rarely high on the list.  When Eisenhower addressed the issue, the major effect of his words at home was to provoke a desire for reassurance.  He was ahead of his public in seeing the ambiguities of nuclear discourse.  This allowed him to stay ahead of the public’s anxieties, to offer gestures of reassurance before the demand for them became too intense, to make nuclear weapons look like a solution as well as a problem.  So he could avoid public pressures for significant change. 

More fundamentally, though, he avoided those pressures because most of the public did not want significant change.  The people heard his words in the larger context of the paradigm of apocalypse management.  Tutored by their president, they wanted a discourse that would acknowledge their anxieties as permanent, yet give them a concrete structure that seemed to promise protection from change.  Every time he pronounced his commitment to disarmament, arms control, or a test ban, he reinforced the specter of apocalyptic disaster yet implicitly promised to use negotiations to manage every threat and keep Americans secure.  His constant emphasis on foolproof inspection schemes reinforced this view.  It suggested an image of an omniscient U.S. government, capable of seeing and therefore controlling every threat. 

As hopes for arms control faded in the late ‘50s, the test ban became the prime symbol of the government’s ability to fulfill its promise of apocalypse management.  In 1959, when Eisenhower traveled the world on peace missions and hosted Khrushchev at Camp David, his approval ratings soared again.[47]  The president's words were widely accepted as he intended them, both as a warning of danger and as a promise that he and the government would provide protection against that danger by keeping nuclear weaponry firmly under U.S. control.  To the end of his presidency, Eisenhower continued to ask Americans to trust that their government could somehow keep them safe amidst the endless ambiguities and confusions of the nuclear age.

Of course every time Eisenhower reiterated his commitment to control through disarmament and a test ban, he had to describe the dangers he was working so hard to avert, which then demanded more reassuring words about disarmament and a test ban.  He and his public were caught together in this process of endless repetition.  The process could never end because it was not intended to end, since that would require genuine compromise, risk, and some loss of control on the part of the U.S.  Therefore, it could never actually remove the perils on which it focused.  But as long as some kind of disarmament talks continued, the administration could appear to be fending off the foe by skillful words.  In order to perpetuate the process by which those perils were purportedly being contained, it had to perpetuate the perils and the fears they engendered.

The more Eisenhower preached the dangers of war, the more he raised anxieties that only genuine disarmament agreements could relieve.  The more he preached the dangers of military spending, the more he raised anxieties that could only be relieved by more military spending.  The impossible task of meeting both demands simultaneously baffled him.  Yet to the very end (as the Farewell Address demonstrated) his only response was to cling to his familiar pattern of discourse, which was creating the problems he found so insoluble.  By framing his discourse of security the way he did, he had made promises of security that he could not fulfill.  He and his administration had failed by their own standards, as the public could plainly see. The pursuit of national security through nuclear weaponry ended up only entrenching the nation more deeply in its state of national insecurity.

Notes to Chapter 13

[1] Memorandum of Conference, 8/9/57, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 694; Eisenhower to Dulles, 3/26/58, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 31, “DDE Dictation March 1958.”  In the conversation with Dulles, Eisenhower was discussing his upcoming speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors.  He may have been just thinking out loud about what he might say in the speech.

[2] McCone, Notes for the Files, 3/10/60, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 847.

[3] See Memorandum of Conference with President Eisenhower, 9/24/59, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 775; Memorandum of Conference, 4/27/60, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 49, “Staff Notes April 1960 (1).” 

[4] Eisenhower to Dulles phone call, 4/7/59, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 40, “Telephone Calls April 1959.”

[5] NSC, 1/26/56, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 297.

[6] As Gaddis puts it, “the administration more often resorted to negotiations as a means of facilitating these other approaches to containment than as a method in themselves of accomplishing that goal”: Strategies of Containment, 190. 

[7] NSC, 1/26/56, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 298, 299; Press Conference, 8/7/57, PPP, 1957, 598.  See also Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, 5/13/57, John Foster Dulles Papers, White House Memoranda Series, Box 6,  “Meetings with the President - 1957 (5).”

[8] Memorandum of Conference, 8/30/57, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 718.  See also Memorandum of Meeting with President Eisenhower, 11/5/58, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 678; Memorandum of Conference with the President, 4/23/57, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 489.  Eisenhower also continued to support the version of “Atoms for Peace” being promoted by Lewis Strauss, which would, as Hewlett and Holl write, “allow the United States to guard its near-monopoly over the military atom”:  Atoms for Peace and War, 306-307.  He knew, as he told Andrew Goodpaster, that if the Soviets accepted “Atoms for Peace,” “we could be safe in that our plants which produce this material could keep running for a long time.…[It] would be a great step.  This is the only way we can justify plant”:  Ann Whitman diary, 2/6/56, AWF, Ann Whitman Diary Series, Box 8, “February 1956 Diary – acw.”

[9] Memorandum of Conference with the President, 1/12/59, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 685; Memorandum of Conference with President Eisenhower, 2/25/59, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 711; Memorandum of Conference with President Eisenhower, 2/2/60, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 834; NSC, 2/18/60, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 840.

[10] Memorandum of Conference with President Eisenhower, 1/5/59, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 683; Eisenhower to Christian Herter, 2/21/59, PDDE 19: 1360; Memorandum of Conversation, 5/5/59, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 739.  See also Memorandum of Conference with the President, 1/12/59, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 685; Eisenhower to Harold Macmillan, 2/23/59, PDDE 19: 1367; Goodpaster memorandum, 2/24/59, cited in PDDE 19: 1367 n.2.

[11] Memorandum of Conference, 11/2/59, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 45, “Staff Notes November 1959 (3)”; Memorandum of Conference with President Eisenhower, 12/29/59, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 819.  See also Memorandum of Conference with President Eisenhower, 9/24/59, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 775.

[12] Memorandum of Conference with President Eisenhower, 8/19/60, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 903.  See also Memorandum of Conference with President Eisenhower, 9/24/59, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 775; Memorandum of Conference with President Eisenhower, 2/2/60, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 834:  “There is scarcely any proposal in the field of disarmament equitable to the two sides that he would not accept if it can be inspected.”

[13] Eisenhower to Dulles, 9/17/57, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 721.  The president also insisted to Dulles that the negotiations must “make reliable agreement conforming to our ideas of right and justice more probable”:  Eisenh ower to Dulles, 3/26/58, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 31, “DDE Dictation March 1958.”

[14] Brendon, Ike, 350; Ambrose, Eisenhower, 345;  Dockrill, Eisenhower's New-Look, 224.

[15] Memorandum of Conference, 4/5/56, FRUS 1955-1957, 19: 288 (see also Memorandum of Conference with the President, 5/18/56, AWF, DDE Diary Box 15, “May ‘56  Goodpaster”); NSC, 12/8/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 19: 172; Memorandum of Conference, 11/8/56, AWF, DDE Diary, Box 19, “November 1956 Diary - Staff Memos.  For a detailed discussion of Eisenhower's concerns about the military budget in 1956, see Kinnard, President Eisenhower and Strategy Management, 47-65.  

[16] Eisenhower to Hazlett, 8/20/56, PDDE, 17: 2255; Legislative Leadership Meeting, 12/31/56, AWF, Legislative Meetings Series, Box 2, “Legislative Meetings 1956 (5).” 

[17] NSC, 2/7/56, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 320, 323.  See also Legislative Leadership Meeting, Supplementary Notes, 2/28/56, AWF, Legislative Meetings Series, Box 2, “Legislative Meetings 1956 (1)”; Memorandum of Conversation, 9/11/56, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 425:  “From the standpoint of preserving our economy alone some alternative must be found.”  Eisenhower was well aware that the Soviets had the same motive for engaging in disarmament talks; see, e.g., Press Conference, 5/15/57, PPP 1957, 365.

[18] Eisenhower to Macmillan, 6/16/57, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 628; NSC, 1/11/57, FRUS 1955-1957, 19: 409.  See also Dulles to Macmillan, 9/19/57, cited in Hewlett and Holl, Atoms for Peace and War, 463; ibid., 397; Memorandum of Conference, 1/12/59, cited in Ambrose, Eisenhower, 491; NSC 12/1/59, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 808.

[19] Eisenhower to Edgar Eisenhower, 11/22/55, PDDE 16:1903.  See also, e.g., Eisenhower to John Cowles, 11/24/58, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 37, “DDE Dictation Nov. 1958”:  “We are considered a war-mongering nation.”

[20] NSC, 1/26/56, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 297, 298, 299; Memorandum of Conversation, 9/11/56, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 427; Memorandum of Conference, 2/15/56, PDDE, 16: 2041.

[21] NSC, 1/6/58, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 541; Memorandum of Conference, 3/1/56, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 13, “March 1956 – Goodpaster”; Memorandum of Conference, 6/24/57, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 639 (compare the same metaphor used in the “Chance for Peace” speech to warn of danger to the world from armaments, not danger to the U.S. from disarmament talks).

[22] Addition to General Cutler’s memorandum on disarmament, 8/9/57, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 697; Pruden, Conditional Partners, 159; Memorandum of Conversation, Dulles and Stassen, 12/30/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 258; Eisenhower to Dulles, 3/24/58, PDDE 19: 821 n. 2.  Careful historians draw the same conclusion as Dulles; see Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace, 382; Osgood, Total Cold War, 141.  For Dulles’ interest in arms control as public relations, see also Trachtenberg’s Appendix 7, n. 3, at

[23] Eisenhower to Dulles 1/3/58, quoted in Osgood, Total Cold War, 167 n. 48; Eisenhower to Dulles, 2/58, quoted in Ambrose, Eisenhower, 446.  See also Memorandum of Conference, 3/1/56, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 13, “March 1956 - Goodpaster”; Ambrose, Eisenhower, 445; Eisenhower to Dulles, 3/26/58 AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 31, “DDE Dictation March 1958.”  Osgood notes that Henry Kissinger was already arguing in 1956 that the main purpose of cold war negotiations was “its psychological dimension,” not any real intention to resolve conflicts:  “Total War,” 138.

[24] NSC, 4/3/58, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 588; Eisenhower to Dulles, 3/26/58, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 31, “DDE Dictation March 1958”; Memorandum of Conference with the President, 8/18/58, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 648; Wittner, Resisting the Bomb, 182; Eisenhower to Macmillan, 8/20/58, PDDE 19: 1060.  See also Dulles to Macmillan, 8/2/58, quoted in PDDE 19: 1062 n. 2 and Dulles to Eisenhower, 8/8/58, quoted in Osgood, Total Cold War, 181:  “The danger of being isolated, encircled and strangled is even greater than the threat of a massive atomic attack so long as we retain our retaliatory power.”

[25] Radio and Television Broadcast with Prime Minister Macmillan in London, 8/31/59,  PPP, 1959, 625; Memorandum of Conversation, 8/30/59, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 773; Press Conference, 6/26/57, PPP, 1957, 499. See also Press Conference, 6/5/57, PPP, 1957, 435.

[26] Eisenhower to Macmillan, 3/28/58, PDDE 19: 805; Eisenhower to Dulles phone call, 5/1/58, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 33, “Telephone Calls May 1958.”

[27] Eisenhower to Harold Macmillan, 1/12/59, PDDE 19: 1289; Memorandum of Conference with President Eisenhower, 3/24/60, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 862; Herter, Memorandum of Conversation, 1/23/60, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 832.  See also Memorandum of Conference with President Eisenhower, 7/7/60, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 891, and Ambrose, Eisenhower, 581.

[28] Memorandum of Conference with the President, 1/12/59, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 684.

[29] Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace, 155-156; pre-press notes, 4/23/58, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 32, “Staff Notes April 1958 (1)”; Memorandum of Conference with President Eisenhower, 3/24/58, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 571; NSC, 1/6/58, cited in Hewlett and Holl, Atoms for War and Peace, 470; Memorandum of Conference with President Eisenhower, 3/24/58, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 572.  See also Eisenhower to Dulles phone call, 2/5/58, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 30, “Telephone Calls, February 1958”; Memorandum of Conference with President Eisenhower, 8/20/58, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 650; Memorandum of Conference, 8/16/60, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 51, “Staff Notes August 1960 (2).”

[30] Report on Disarmament to National Security Council, undated [1/56], FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 260-68; Memorandum of Conversation, Dulles and Stassen, 12/30/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 258; Parmet, Eisenhower and the American Crusades, 390.  Stassen would later promote disarmament negotiations, evoking resistance from Dulles; see Tal, “The Secretary of State vs. the Secretary of Peace.”

[31] Eisenhower to JCS, 3/56, quoted in Ambrose, Eisenhower, 312; Roman, Eisenhower and the Missile Gap, 200.  See also, e.g., diary, 10/29/57, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 27, “DDE Diary October 1957”; Memorandum of Conference with the  President,  8/30/57, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 717.

[32] Memorandum of Conference with the President, 3/4/59, FRUS 1958-60, 3: 186; NSC, 4/17/57, FRUS 1955-1957, 19: 480-486. 

[33] Eisenhower to Sterling Cole, 5/27/57, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 24, “May 1957 Miscellanous (1)”; NSC, 4/23/57, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 488; Osgood, Total Cold War, 150.  Osgood adds:  “Eisenhower and his advisors were more concerned about ‘seizing the initiative’ (a phrase that pops up frequently in the documentary record) than in engaging in serious negotiations on these difficult questions.”  See also Dockrill, Eisenhower's New-Look Strategy, 186; Ambrose, Eisenhower, 451.

[34] Hewlett and Holl, Atoms for Peace and War, 401; Memorandum of Conference with President Eisenhower, 3/24/58, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 570.

[35] NSC, 1/6/58, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 542; Memorandum of Conference with President Eisenhower, 3/24/58, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 570; Memorandum of Conference with President Eisenhower, 3/19/59, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 718.

[36] Eisenhower to Edward Teller, 8/22/58, PDDE 19: 1068; Eisenhower to Herter, 3/20/59, quoted in Ambrose, Eisenhower, 523.  See also Memorandum of Conference, 3/17/59, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 40, “Staff Notes March 15-31, 1959”;  Memorandum of Conference, 9/22/59, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 44, “Staff Notes September 1959 (1)”; Memorandum of Conference, 8/14/58, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 35, “August 1958 Staff Notes (2).”

[37] NSC, 3/24/60, quoted in Ambrose, Eisenhower, 565; Memorandum of Conference with President Eisenhower, 8/19/60, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 903.

[38] Tal, “Eisenhower's Disarmament Dilemma.” 

[39] Eisenhower to Dulles, 3/7/58, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 31, “DDE Dictation March 1958.”  For strategizing to manipulate negotiations, see, e.g., Dulles to Eisenhower, 11/16/58, PDDE 19: 1214 n.2; Memorandum of Conference with President Eisenhower, 2/17/59, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 708; Memorandum of Conference with the President, 1/12/59, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 685; Memorandum of Conversation, 3/20/59, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 719; Memorandum of Conference with President Eisenhower, 3/22/59, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 725.  Michael Mandelbaum points out that the Eisenhower administration often aimed to get the Soviets to reject proposals, in order to make them look “anti-peace” (while the Soviets used the same strategy against the U.S.):  The Nuclear Question, 34.

[40] Memorandum of Conference, 7/19/60, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 422; NSC, 7/25/60, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 429.

[41] Diary, 1/10/56, PDDE 16: 1949.

[42] NSC, 1/22/59, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 176.

[43] Oakes, The Imaginary War, 160.

[44] Ann Whitman diary, 3/5/59, AWF, Ann Whitman Diary Series, Box 10, “[ACW] Diary March 1959 (2).”

45 Robert Divine argues that all fears about nuclear testing were symbols of, or surrogates for, fears of nuclear war:  Blowing on the Wind, 37-43.  His argument was foreshadowed by AEC Commissioner (and early advocate of a test moratorium) Thomas Murray in Nuclear Policy for War and Peace, 75.  Eisenhower himself recognized the link midway through his second term:  Memorandum of Conference with President Eisenhower, 1/12/59, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 688.

[46] Memorandum of Conference with the President, 6/24/57, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 639; Hewlett and Holl, Atoms for Peace and War, 397; Memorandum of Conversation, 5/5/59, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 738.

[47] See Allen, Eisenhower and the Mass Media, 170.