Trials Of Apocalypse Management
By the end of his first year in the White House,
President Eisenhower could point to three major achievements in the pursuit of
peace: the “Chance for Peace” speech,
the Korean settlement, and the “Atoms for Peace” proposal. Yet all three were essentially just
rhetorical commitments to the liberal internationalist image of peace through
negotiated compromise. He had spent his
first year manipulating verbal images of peace in pursuit of apocalypse
management. In his January, 1954, State
of the Union address, he claimed that this first year had also seen "a
great strategic change in the world…the initiative is becoming ours." In his private conversations he echoed this
claim. Indeed, the grand strategy of the
New Look had been formulated. But it had
yet to be tested. The second year of his
administration would be a trial run of the grand strategy. By the end of that trial run, the president
and his advisors would have reason to fear that the strategy had been found
wanting in important respects.
Buoyed by the apparent U.S. commitment to peace, the
alliance was still traveling the path to the EDC. Obstacles remained, but Dulles' threat of an
"agonizing reappraisal" signaled no real change in administration
policy. Policymakers still assumed that
the obstacles would be cleared and Western Europe would begin to aid in its own
nuclear-armed defense, further easing the financial strain on the U.S. Eventually (though far in the future) the
communist nations would feel compelled to negotiate settlements that would
guarantee "free world" invulnerability forever.
A crucial part of the formula was still an ideal
"middle way " of imagery, balancing pacific and bellicose
gestures. The 1954 State of the Union
speech expressed the hope that the “Atoms for Peace” proposal would bring
"a truly constructive Soviet reaction [which] will make possible a new
start toward an era of peace, and away from the fatal road toward atomic
war." Peace was now routinely cast
as the polar opposite of using nuclear weapons.
But a "truly constructive" response still meant an advance
guarantee that any negotiations would advantage the U.S. and pave the way to an
immutable preponderance of "free world" power. The president claimed that all of his
policies aimed to "enable us to negotiate from a position of strength as
we hold our resolute course toward a peaceful world." The fundamental goal of his foreign policy
was still defensive: "to protect
the freedom of our people."
Dulles had two crucial roles to play in advancing this
policy. For months, Churchill had been
pressing for a heads-of-state summit, to rebuff the Soviet "peace
offensive." To satisfy the British
Prime Minister and other allies—"to convince public opinion of our good
faith"—Dulles now reluctantly promised to start the new year by meeting
Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov at a big power conference, in Berlin. The stick to counterbalance this carrot was a
firm statement of the administration's willingness to use nuclear weapons. A few days after the State of the Union
speech, Dulles addressed the Council on Foreign Relations. Editing the speech before he approved it, the
president himself added the crucial sentence:
“The basic decision was to depend primarily on a great capacity to
retaliate, instantly, by means and at places of our choosing.”
The speech had unexpected consequences. Dulles thought that he was expanding U.S. options,
in line with NSC 162/2. But in trying to
simplify the strategy for public consumption, he gave the impression of an
all-or-nothing retaliation policy, which was much more in line with
Eisenhower’s wonted apocalyptic mode of expression. So it was dubbed the "Massive
Retaliation" speech and widely criticized as a threat, or even a promise,
to use nuclear weapons in response to less than nuclear provocations. According to Drummond and Coblenz,
Dulles was shocked by the many letters he received from the American clergy who
“construed his formula as immoral. He
never anticipated it. He couldn't
understand it." Many
Europeans, too, were distressed by the apocalyptic implications they heard in
But the president was not overly concerned. The next day, at a press conference, he fully
endorsed Dulles’ words. Invoking the
archetypal image of U.S.
vulnerability, he warned of the danger of a "Pearl
"About your only defense is the knowledge that there is a strong
retaliatory power." In a public
message to Congress a few weeks later, he explained that “a wide variety” of
tactical atomic weapons “have today achieved conventional status in the
arsenals of our armed forces.” Armed
with these weapons, U.S.
allies would be “powerful influences for peace…leading mankind into a new era
of progress and peace.” This statement
was perfectly logical within the discourse of apocalypse management.
The conference of foreign ministers in Berlin had similarly
unexpected consequences. Molotov used
the occasion to call for a 5-power conference on East Asia. France,
seeking an end to its Indochina woes, readily
agreed. For "Alarmist Ike,"
this conjured up a prospect of not just one colony but an entire continent
"going communist" (and exposing him to the wrath of the China
Lobby). "My God. We must not lose Asia,"
he told legislative leaders. But he knew that if he openly opposed the
conference idea, he risked alienating his allies and boosting Soviet influence
in western Europe.
Soviet proposals for nuclear disarmament posed the same problem. From Berlin,
Dulles cabled back to Washington: "Atomic energy thing going to move a
little more rapidly and will be something more important than he anticipated at
first." Molotov gave him a
"draft declaration" calling for an "unconditional renunciation
of the use" of nuclear weapons, as "an important step on the
road" to complete nuclear disarmament.
But Eisenhower and Dulles had already decided that they would not yet
take even a first step down this road.
The Soviet peace offensive set Dulles’ State
Department at odds with the Defense Department.
State wanted to respond by framing “Atoms for Peace” as an invitation to
the Soviets to “work out atomic disarmament without reference to total
disarmament, including conventional weapons.”
Defense officials insisted that nuclear disarmament could be considered
only as part of a general disarmament agreement covering all types of
weapons—which meant, in effect, that nuclear disarmament would never be
considered at all.
Eisenhower wanted to avoid taking either side. The question was “largely academic,” he told Jackson on the last day
of 1953, because neither nuclear nor total disarmament was possible “without
the most rigid and complete system of inspection—this we feel perfectly certain
the Soviets would never allow.” But he
some speculative reasons for siding with State:
“Let me point out that we never had any of this hysterical fear of any nation until atomic weapons appeared
upon the scene and we knew that others had solved the secret.”
At a meeting to resolve the issue, Eisenhower
explained his point: “If it could be
accomplished, he would be willing to cancel out atomic and hydrogen weapons
from the armaments of both the US
and the USSR. He would do this to protect the US economy and the US industrial base.” That base had given the U.S. victory in every war since the Civil War,
he continued, and absent an atomic threat “the US could readily handle any other
form of military attack.…Secretary Dulles agreed with everything the President
had said.” But, Dulles continued, “we do
not intend to let ourselves be drawn into separate negotiations with the Soviet
on the elimination or control of nuclear weapons alone. For our part, we intend to discuss only the
peaceful uses of atomic energy.” The
meeting ended with general agreement that “no effective agreement could be
reached with the Soviets on the control of nuclear weapons at this time.” The U.S. would negotiate only on “Atoms
for Peace,” not on nuclear arms control, and the two subjects would be kept
This approach allowed Eisenhower and Dulles to avoid a
political confrontation with the Pentagon and with right-wing Republicans. But their crucial motives involved foreign policy. As Charles Bohlen, the U.S. ambassador in Moscow, had recently noted, a no-use pledge
would undermine the New Look strategy.
Pressure toward such a pledge had to be avoided, and the U.S. nuclear
buildup continued, at all costs.
So "Atoms for Peace" remained what the State
Department had always intended it to be:
a purposefully vague "come on." It could create images of peaceful U.S. intent and a split between the USSR and the
rest of the world, while stalling any actual progress toward disarmament, as
long as it was a U.S.-dominated show.
But the U.S.
could not control multilateral disarmament talks. Negotiating might put more pressure on the U.S. to
continue disarming. Talks might also
raise neutralist sentiment among European allies, which would create fracture
lines within the Western alliance and perhaps endanger the EDC.
However, when Dulles briefed the NSC on the Berlin
Conference, he reported that "the French, and especially the British, are
very anxious to get into these talks on atomic energy more fully.…We must move
ahead on this front very rapidly if we are to avoid embarrassment." UN ambassador Lodge chimed in that "he
was under constant pressure to get this matter before the UN Disarmament
Commission.” At the same time, though,
Dulles reaffirmed the administration's intention to keep the UN talks totally
separate from the "Atoms for Peace" plan. Apparently Eisenhower was not so concerned
even about the public relations issue:
"The President expressed some doubt as to whether the problem was
as urgent as Secretary Dulles seemed to think.…Pointing out that the problem
was a vast one to deal with at one blow, [Eisenhower] inquired whether it could
not go forward in a series of phases," without any effort to pin down
specifics. A month later, Lodge was
still complaining that the White House showed "no intention to hurry"
on this matter.
Disarmament was not a high priority for the president
even when he was urged on by his most crucial ally, Great Britain. On March 9, Churchill sent him a letter about
a speech by Congressman Sterling Cole, chair of the Joint Committee on Atomic
Energy, describing the destructive power of the first hydrogen bomb test,
code-named “Mike.” The speech showed Churchill
that the question of who had more bomb would soon cease to matter, since each
side would have enough to obliterate the other:
"A powerful incentive to achieve surprise would be given to the
weaker—what about Pearl
Harbour?" Whether out of fear for his homeland or fear
for what the dovish Labor opposition would do to him politically, Churchill
argued that the H-bomb made massive retaliation less, not more, of a
deterrent: "All the material things
that ever happened are scarcely more important to the human race. Resolve to find a way out of this agony of
peril transcends all else."
Now Eisenhower had to deal with a passion for nuclear
disarmament whose flame he had inadvertently fanned. And he had to deal with a policy proposal
from Churchill, spawned by that passion:
"my earlier proposal of a personal meeting between Three.…A few
simple words, spoken in the awe which may at once oppress and inspire the
speakers[,] might lift this nuclear monster from our world." Eisenhower's reply played along with the
charade: "You are quite right in
your estimation of my grave concern.…Ways of lessening or, if possible, of
eliminating the danger must be found.”
Many historians have taken such words (and similar words spoken or
written by Eisenhower) as evidence that his principal response to the hydrogen
bomb was a heartfelt desire to remove, or at least mitigate, the nuclear
But Eisenhower’s reply immediately backed away from
real agreement with Churchill’s concerns by downplaying the danger and
dampening Churchill's hopes. Dulles' first
draft of the reply read: "The
prospects are truly appalling, unless ways of elimination can be
found." The president added a
prefatory demur, "Whether or not the specific possibilities of devastation
that you mention are indeed demonstrated possibilities." He changed "elimination" of nuclear
weapons to "lessening the danger" (though he eventually suggested the
compromise wording, "lessening or,
if possible, eliminating"). He
added to Dulles' draft a reminder that the "Atoms for Peace" plan was
not meant as "a substantive foundation" for an arms control
plan. He bluntly turned down the idea of
a summit meeting, citing the Soviet desire to include Red China and "the
question of France,
which is very delicate at the moment."
And he concluded: "Matters
are in a reasonably good way."
But matters were hardly in a reasonably good way for
the president. Beneath the surface, the
fault lines his own policies had created were beginning to split apart. The administration was already becoming
trapped in what Marc Trachtenberg identifies as “the basic dilemma of the New
Look: that [U.S.] policy had to be built
on a nuclear basis, but on the other hand, that the nuclearization of global
politics might generate a fear of nuclear war that could shatter the Western
alliance.” Indeed Allied governments
were already being forced to deal politically with growing public fears of war,
along with their private fears that the U.S. would use the bomb
unilaterally, without prior consultation.
In order to make the nuclear- and alliance-based
strategy work, the president had pledged, or seemed to pledge, the U.S. to
negotiate with its enemy. Now he was
committed to act, or at least to appear to be acting, upon that pledge. Every gesture of peace evoked hopes and
expectations of more such gestures. Yet
the nuclear-based strategy would work only if the U.S. kept a pose of resolute
confrontation, made credible by nuclear threats. And pacific gestures could not produce any
genuine reciprocity with the enemy; that was barred by Eisenhower's determination
to control negotiations to U.S.
advantage and maintain U.S.
Knowing that there would be an obvious gap between
rhetoric and policy, the administration expected even more tensions with the
allies. The tensions, both actual and
potential, raised fears that the “free world “ coalition might fall apart. Eisenhower, Dulles, and others in the
administration viewed these tensions as further evidence that the Soviets aimed
to disrupt the unity of the “free world.” The more, therefore, they blamed Soviet
leaders and repudiated their conciliatory gestures, which further alienated
their allies. The president would not
have the luxury of ignoring this trap for long.
For his gaze was increasingly focusing on a far distant corner of the
world, whose future importance in U.S. history he could scarcely
In the first half of 1954, the Eisenhower
administration focused its attention on the impending French defeat in Indochina. The
Indochina crisis demonstrated the limits to the U.S. project of permanently
containing the communist bloc. It
brought together all the strands of the trap that Eisenhower had woven for
himself, and he was inevitably ensnared.
As early as mid-March, 1954, he confessed to Swede Hazlett that the
outcome was beyond U.S.
control: “There is little I can do
except wait it out and hope for the best.”
Yet he felt urgently pressed to act. Indochina
was the one place on the globe where the line between the “free world” and the
communist bloc was being actively contested.
It was the place where the Soviet Union
“leans against dike" of the “free world” most dangerously, promoting
“unrest and anarchy,” the president warned the NSC. He wanted to “put a finger in” this “leaky dike”
rather than “let the whole structure be washed away.” He confessed to Congressional leaders that “the
situation looked very grim. … Where in the hell can you let the Communists chip
away any more,” he asked them rhetorically.
“We just can’t stand it.”
This image of a constant painful chipping away
revealed the gap between perception and reality. Since 1949, when the Chinese revolution moved
the Iron Curtain dramatically, that Curtain had barely moved at all. Only in Korea might one arguably see a chipping
away, and that had been largely prevented.
Yet “Alarmist Ike” spoke of a constant erosion that was causing almost
unendurable distress. What another
person might have seen as a problem to be solved, he depicted as an apocalyptic
crisis to be survived. To survive, he
insisted, the “free world” had to be a solidly unified entity, able to resist
collectively any incursion across the Iron Curtain. Unilateral action in Indochina could set a
precedent, encouraging other nations to rely on U.S. unilateralism in the future,
he told Robert Cutler. And that “would destroy us.”
Another alternative was to forget about allies and
become a “fortress America.” Dienbienphu was “a perfect example of a
fortress,” surrounded by communists, Eisenhower told Congressional
leaders. Without allies, the U.S. would be
in the same situation. Then “we would
have to explode an attack with everything we have.” He would initiate total war to prevent an
endless series of “brushfire wars in Burma,
Afghanistan, and God knows
where…[which] the United
States could never survive.” An isolated U.S. would have to choose between
being “exhausted in piecemeal conflicts” and starting World War III. Others might have seen a range of
alternatives between those two extremes.
But the president, trapped in his discursive system, could not.
He wanted to enlist France’s Asian colonies in “united
action” with a promise of greater self-determination, which would bind them to
the “free world.” But he could not press
the French to accept U.S.
terms for unity in Asia, because he feared losing the EDC, still the crucial
linchpin of his hopes for unifying the “free world” in Europe. Getting unity in one part of the world could
easily mean losing it in another.
U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons
was another major stumbling block to “united action.” Would Eisenhower have ordered the use of
tactical nuclear weapons in Indochina, had Britain
agreed to it? The controversy will
probably never be settled. In any event,
Indochina was, as Dulles later implied, just
the kind of situation in which NSC 162/2 prescribed the “availability” of
tactical nuclear weapons. Eisenhower had
noted in his diary his belief that nuclear weapons would now be “treated just
as another weapon in the arsenal.” In
January, 1954, he officially affirmed that in “limited hostilities” he would
consider using nuclear weapons, on a case-by-case basis. He allowed no blanket rejection of their use
As John Lewis Gaddis rightly concludes, the administration’s decision
not to use nuclear weapons was “a function of circumstance, not any principled
opposition to the use of nuclear weapons in limited war.”
Dulles reported that the most critical ally, Britain, was
“severely inhibited by the emerging menace of thermonuclear weapons.” He “found the British, and particularly
Churchill, scared to death by the specter of nuclear bombs in the hands of the
Russians.” He admitted to the NSC that
the U.S. “tough” policies
were increasingly unpopular and “the British ‘soft policy’ was gaining prestige
and acceptance both in Europe and in Asia. …We
must recognize the fact that we can no longer run the free world.” Eisenhower ruefully agreed; the U.S. had wanted a tougher policy in Indochina, but it had “lost the argument” and was not in
fact advocating a “tough” policy.
The New Look strategy, designed for just such a
situation as Indochina, proved ineffective
when put to the test. The pieces worked
against each other, rather than in concert.
In the end, the U.S.
had to accept (or, formally, “take note of”) the compromise solution reached at
Geneva: another Korea-style peace, drawing an
arbitrary line through an Asian country to divide it between communism and the
“free world.” And the relatively
amicable process of drawing that line, at the Geneva Conference, further
diminished the allies’ anticommunist animus, which the U.S. hoped to
settlement moved the dike separating the superpowers a few hundred miles south
in one tiny strip of land. Before the
settlement was finalized, Eisenhower had treated that prospect as a global
disaster. Once it became inevitable, he
treated it as merely as one problem among many.
Yet the fundamentals of his discursive structure remained the same. For that reason, the administration refused
to “take note of” one point in the Geneva Agreement, providing for future
consultations among the signatories to enforce the agreement. Dulles explained that it “seems to imply a
multilateral engagement with Communists which would be inconsistent with our
basic approach.” Dikes, not bridges,
were still seen as the way to peace and security.
Now, though, the “free world” seemed less secure than
ever. At a mid-August meeting,
Eisenhower warned C.D. Jackson:
“Whatever we do, we ought first of all to be content with little steps,
even if you use the occasional dramatic appeal.” It was dangerous to get “out in front” of
allied nations and tell them what to do, because “they are just not going to do
it.…You are always riding a two horse team that is not always pulling
together.” The two “horses” of his metaphor were the U.S. and its
allies. But the metaphor eloquently
summed up the root of the growing sense of insecurity—the trap the president
had put himself in, as he tried to pursue contradictory goals
simultaneously. The basic principles of
his policies required increased military spending and increased consumer
spending, higher and lower taxes, strong and weak government. The strategy would also demand both increased
and reduced reliance on nuclear weapons, trust and mistrust of allies,
insistence on U.S.
self-interest and compromise with allies’ interests. Every effort to employ one of tool of the New
Look rendered it more difficult to employ some other tool. Every time the U.S. put its finger in to plug up
one hole in the dike, it would create new pressures that could open up
another. The administration's goal now
was to keep enough leaks plugged to prevent the dikes from crumbling completely
and inundating the “free world.”
In the spring and summer of 1954, as Eisenhower ran up
against these contradictions, he began to speak publicly about the limits that
he faced. “A completely trustworthy
peace, one in which we could have confidence as between ourselves and the
communist world today, seems to be something over the horizon,” he
admitted. The best to hope for was a
"modus vivendi," “a practical way of getting along.” That was what the U.S.
and the Soviet Union were arranging in Germany,
Korea, and now in Indochina, he explained:
“It is an unsatisfactory situation.…But there is no thought on the part
of any of us to start an aggressive move.”
“A decisive winning of those conflicts [was] impossible.”
He put the best face on these limits. The once dreaded phrase “peaceful
coexistence” now became "the hope of the world…because certainly we don't
expect to be eliminated; and certainly, I think, it would be silly to say you
can eliminate the other instantly. We
have got to find ways of living together."
Here the hope for peace became not just compatible with, but actually a
product of, the limits to U.S.
power. Eisenhower suggested the logic of
his argument when he quickly added, "Let us make certain that peaceful
coexistence does not mean appeasement."
Nor, he might have explained, did peace mean cooperation or compromise.
It meant only “a structure that will really be impervious to the Communist
assault.” He wanted to see no
flexibility, movement, or change, but only literal coexistence: two superpower blocs in a static balance, each
on its own side of an immutable and impermeable Iron Curtain.
Speaking to the American Newspaper Publishers
Association, the president confessed his growing sense of frustration. He admitted that the "free world"
was still only a tenuous bonding of "allies of convenience under the
communist threat.” After acknowledging
the limits imposed by reality, he retreated to the familiar comforts of
apocalyptic eschatology: "If this
is not to be the age of atomic hysteria and horror, we must make it the age of
international understanding and cooperative peace.…Either the nations will
build a cooperative peace or, one by one, they will be forced to accept an
imposed peace, now sought by the Communist powers, as it was by
peace" here became a code word for a U.S.
cold war victory and a peace shaped under U.S. aegis.
Yet the World War II analogy, with its promise of
apocalyptic triumph, was no longer really relevant. Eisenhower acknowledged this in the same
speech when he envisioned the “free world” allies in the future as “full
partners permanently joined in mutual understanding, impelled by common
aspirations. Among the nations of that
vast arena, at least, war can become unthinkable—quickly." With this parenthetical “at least,”
Eisenhower acknowledged that his administration had abandoned hope of making
war unthinkable throughout the world any time soon. The enemy would remain to threaten the “free
world.” Yet the continuing threat, as he
confessed, was disrupting the "free world" alliance and placing the U.S. in greater
The president knew he was
entangled in thorny contradictions. But
he was unable to see how much of the fault lay in the contradictions of his own
grand strategy and its discursive foundation, which prevented him from
responding to new circumstances with new directions in policy. Clinging to—and thus trapped within—his
accustomed worldview, he could not even think about seeking an alternative to
to Chapter 5
State of the Union Address, 2/2/54, PPP, 1954,
When Churchill suggested the possibility of "some variant of NATO" as
a substitute for the EDC, Eisenhower quickly rejected it: Boyle, The Churchill-Eisenhower Correspondence,
State of the Union Address, 2/2/54, PPP, 1954,
8, 10. See Eisenhower to Bryce Harlow,
12/3/53, PDDE, 15: 726. When Eisenhower
suggested adding to his text, "It is heartening to report that the Soviet
Government has now stated it is ready to negotiate," Dulles vetoed the
passage because it "would give too great hopes." On the other hand,
the secretary of state disapproved of a proposed "Department of Peace"
because "it seems to imply that the rest of us are not working for
peace": Eisenhower conversation
with Dulles, 1/7/54, AWF, DDE Diaries, Box 5 "Phone Calls January - May
1954 (3)"; Dulles to Eisenhower, 1/12/54, John Foster Dulles Papers, White House Memoranda Series, Box
1, "White House Correspondence 1954
(4)." Geoffrey Perret notes that
the speech was given when the U.S.
had finally gained the capability to destroy all Soviet strategic forces, thus
making the U.S.
temporarily invulnerable to a counter-attack:
Ambrose, Eisenhower, 145; Eisenhower
to Dulles, 1/8/54, PDDE, 15: 805; Eisenhower to Dulles, 1/8/54, AWF,
Dulles-Herter Series, “Dulles—January 1954.”
The speech had many aims. The
Operations Coordinating Board saw it as a follow-up to the “Atoms for Peace”
speech, dealing with “diplomatic aspects of the President's proposal”: Extracts from Mr. C. D. Jackson’s Report on
Follow-up Actions to the President's Speech, 1/6/54, WHCF, Subject Series, Box 13, “Candor and
United Nations Speech (21).” Leslie Gelb
and Richard Betts view it as a pointed warning to China
to stay out of the Indochina conflict: The
Irony of Vietnam, 52. According to
H. W. Brands, Jr., it was for domestic consumption; the public expected a basic
change in foreign policy and Dulles, knowing that no major change was
forthcoming, used provocative statements to distract attention from the
administration's actual policies: Cold
Warriors, 14. See also
Schaefermeyer, “Eisenhower and Dulles on ‘Massive Retaliation,’” 39; Immerman, John Foster Dulles, 83.
Drummond and Coblentz, Duel at the Brink,
69; Brands, “Age of Vulnerability,” 973. See also Hoopes, The Devil and John Foster Dulles,
213; Bundy, Danger and Survival,
257. The clergy took a special interest
in Dulles’ words because he had long been influential in Protestant church
affairs; see Toulouse, The Transformation of John Foster Dulles.
Press conference, 1/13/54, PPP, 1954, 58; Message to Congress Recommending
Amendments to Atomic Energy Act, 2/17/53, PPP, 1954, 261, 263, 269. Eisenhower's was often cast by the
contemporary media, and many later historians, as the champion of amity, as
opposed to Dulles, the purveyor of enmity.
Eisenhower was happy to assign his secretary of state that role, and
Dulles' rhetoric served the purpose admirably.
This led many observers to see what Robert Divine has called a
“schizophrenic appearance” in U.S.
foreign policy (Eisenhower and the Cold
War, 106). But it would be a mistake
to see the two men playing distinct roles.
Apocalypse management became the dominant discourse of the cold war
principally because it was promoted, and to a significant extent created, by
Eisenhower. Just as Dulles’ assertive
threats entailed and served the administration's goal of negotiated settlement,
so Eisenhower's words of pacific intent entailed and served the
administration's goal of a permanent preponderance of U.S. power.
Ferrell, The Diary of James C. Hagerty,
Diary, 2/1/54, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 5, "Phone Calls January - May
1954 (3)"; Berlin
to Dulles, 1/31/54, AWF, Dulles-Herter Series, Box 2, "Dulles, John F.
January 1954." Molotov’s text also
called for "strict international control guaranteeing the execution of
agreement concerning the prohibition of the use of atomic energy for military
Eisenhower, 12/29/53, FRUS, 1952-1954, 2.2: 1315.
Eisenhower to Jackson,
12/31/53, FRUS, 1952-1954, 2.2: 1322. No
doubt Eisenhower was also thinking of the ongoing political problems caused by
McCarthy and McCarthyite Republicans.
Summary of Meeting at the White House, 1/16/54, FRUS, 1952-1954, 2.2: 1342.
Bohlen to State, 7/22/53, FRUS 1952-1954, 2.2: 1305. Even a scholar who sees Eisenhower as a champion of
disarmament, Charles Appleby, concludes that up to this point “neither
Eisenhower nor any of his close advisers appear to have entertained seriously
any notion of interfering with the major buildup of atomic forces then
underway”: “Eisenhower and Arms Control,” 51. U.S.
planners also feared that Molotov's plan, which would include Red China in
formal negotiations, would come perilously close to the recognition the U.S.
refused to give; this was another issue that could strain the alliance.
NSC, 2/26/54, FRUS, 1952-1954, 2.2: 1365; Lodge to Wainhouse, 3/25/54, FRUS
2.2: 1278, n.5.
Churchill to Eisenhower, 3/9/54, Boyle, Churchill-Eisenhower
Correspondence, 123. This was a
response to Eisenhower to Churchill, 2/9/54, PDDE 15: 888-889. See also Eisenhower to Walter Bedell Smith,
2/9/54, AWF, DDE Diaries, Box
5, "Phone Calls January - May 1954 (3)." On British concern about nuclear war, see
Wittner, The Struggle Against the Bomb,
Churchill to Eisenhower, 3/9/54, Boyle, Churchill-Eisenhower Correspondence,
124; Eisenhower to Churchlll, 3/19/54, PDDE, 15: 964-965. The day before sending his letter, Eisenhower
wrote to Swede Hazlett at length about the three things that were occupying his
attention. Nothing pertaining to nuclear
weapons made the list: Eisenhower to
Hazlett, 3/18/54, PDDE, 15: 962.
Eisenhower to Churchlll, 3/19/54, PDDE, 15: 964-965.
Trachtenberg, History and Strategy,
137. In early 1954, the issue of
unilateral use caused more concern for the allies than fear of war, according
to Wampler “Ambiguous Legacy,” 608.
Garthoff, Assessing the Adversary,
Eisenhower to Swede Hazlett, 3/18/54, PDDE 15: 963. On Eisenhower's frustrations, see, e.g.,
Immerman, “Between the Unattainable and the Unacceptable,” 138, 143, 144;
Anderson, Trapped by Success, 32, 33,
38; Schulzinger, A Time for War,
64. As early as 1951, Eisenhower had
acknowledged that no military victory was possible in Indochina:
diary, 3/17/51, PDDE, 12: 138.
NSC, 1/8/54, FRUS 1952-1954, 13.1: 952; Ferrell, The Diary of James C. Hagerty, 48-49.
Memorandum of conversation, 6/1/54, Pentagon
Papers (Gravel ed.), 1: 129.
Eisenhower also argued that neither Congress nor the public would accept
a unilateral U.S. military
action in Indochina.
Ferrell, The Diary of James C. Hagerty,
See Tudda, The Truth is Our Weapon,
Diary, 12/6/53, PDDE, 15:733; Lay Memorandum, 1/4/54, quoted in Bowie and
Immerman, Waging Peace, 198; Gaddis, Strategies of Containment, 169. See also Hoopes, The Devil and John Foster Dulles, 224, and the ambiguous discussion
among Eisenhower, Nixon, and Cutler, quoted in Bundy, Danger and Survival, 270.
The only unambiguous statement on the subject is Eisenhower's
often-cited comment to Cutler, rejecting U.S. unilateral use of tactical
nuclear weapons: “You boys must be
crazy. We can’t use those awful things
against Asians for the second time in less than ten years. My God":
Ambrose, Eisenhower, 184. But Eisenhower recounted this incident to
Stephen Ambrose long after he left the White House. There is no other evidence to corroborate it,
nor any record of another similar statement at the time, and Eisenhower’s
reminiscences were sometimes less than accurate. See Tom Wicker’s skeptical comments: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 142. French Foreign Minister Georges Bidault later
said that he had rejected a U.S.
offer of nuclear weapons for Indochina. But his claim is too disputed to be useful as
evidence of the administration's intent.
Bundy, Danger and Survival, 268-269,
271; Immerman, “Between the Unattainable and the Unacceptable,” 139-140; NSC
6/24/54, FRUS 1952-1954, 2.1: 694, 695; Dulles to NSC, NSC Series, Box 5, “204th
Meeting, 7/1/1954.” Immerman (141) notes
that Churchill had already told JCS chief Radford that he would not risk a
nuclear holocaust to help the French keep Indochina.
Secretary of State Dulles Report to the NSC on His Trip to Paris, 7/15/54, Pentagon Papers (Gravel ed.), 1: 568.
C.D. Jackson, Sherman Adams, P.T Carroll- at 11 o’clock, 8/11/54, AWF, Ann Whitman
Diary Series, Box 3,
“ACW Diary August 1954 (3).”
conference, 6/16/54, PPP, 1954, 571; Remarks at the 42d Annual Meeting of the United States
Chamber of Commerce, 4/26/54, PPP, 1954, 422; Press Conference, 4/29/54, PPP,
1954, 428; Later in the April 29 press conference he was
prodded to retract his words, since they implied an acceptable partition of
Indochina; see Eisenhower to Dulles, 5/1/54, PDDE, 15: 1051-52.
; Press conference, 4/29/54,
PPP, 1954, 436