Chapter 8: “Open Skies”


After the Chinese guns fell silent, the rest of 1955 seemed to be a notably tranquil era for the United States.  The public could see no areas of significant international conflict or tension.  The great event of the rest of the year, Eisenhower's summit meeting with the leaders of the Soviet Union at Geneva, seemed to open a new era of global harmony.  At home, the absence of evident conflict created a unique era of domestic harmony, giving Eisenhower had an almost totally free hand in the realm of foreign and national security policy. 

Abroad, however, the president still faced mounting pressures to ease cold war tensions by meeting the Soviet leaders at a summit meeting, while he and his inner circle still spent every day looking for new ways to win cold war victories.  These competing pressures created an atmosphere in the White House that was anything but tranquil.  

Eisenhower was already contemplating a summit meeting—not with his enemy, but with his major allies:  Britain, France, and West Germany.  He wanted to discuss three issues, he told Dulles:  “the actual rearming of West Germany, the acceptance of atomic missiles as conventional, and the reconciling of our European allies to a stronger Asian policy.”  If West Germany were rearmed and made the site of a nuclear striking force, and if the U.S. could feel free to use nuclear weapons against China without straining the NATO alliance, then the grand vision of using the nuclear arsenal to attain full control over the communist bloc might still be possible.  Geopolitical stasis remained the administration's implicit ideal.  But fear still drove policy, and efforts to make the nation secure through nuclear armament seemed to make the nation insecure by alienating allies. To forestall these threats, the president felt a growing urgency to make some public gesture toward reducing cold war tensions.[1] 

By the end of July, the gesture would be made at the Geneva summit:  a proposal for the superpowers to exchange blueprints of their military facilities and inspect each other's facilities from the air.  In the preceding months, as the pressure for a new inspection proposal mounted, there was an intense struggle within the administration to determine the particulars of the plan.  On one level, it was a bureaucratic struggle.  But it was also a struggle to define and control the symbolic meanings of inspection, the summit meeting, and cold war discourse as a whole.

Once the "Open Skies" proposal was made, the whole world became involved in the symbolic process.  There was an almost universal sense that a new, more conciliatory era of accommodation had begun, a “spirit of Geneva.”  Many historians see this new spirit reflecting a fundamental change in the cold war.  By 1955, they argue, the two superpowers had reached a de facto balance of power, making some form of coexistence inevitable.[2]  That may seem clear in retrospect.  However, Eisenhower and his advisors never viewed “Open Skies” as a symbol of an acceptable status quo, nor of accommodation with the enemy through disarmament—except when disarmament and eased tensions could be used as weapons of cold war.

The president had to be dragged, slowly and painfully, to the summit.  In public, he used a familiar refrain to justify his resistance:  the Soviets would have to give evidence of their sincerity by deeds, not words.  One deed he suggested was Soviet acceptance of a disarmament plan with inspection.  The other was an Austrian peace treaty that would remove Soviet troops from that country.  During the second week of May, the Soviet leadership agreed to both conditions.  Yet the U.S. made no positive response.  When the Soviets signed the Austrian State Treaty, Eisenhower later told an interviewer, Dulles “came in and he grinned rather ruefully and he said, ‘Well, I think we’ve had it.’  And I said, “Yes, I can see that; I knew you were going to say that.’”  Many historians have taken this anecdote to mean that the secretary of state felt forced into a summit meeting that the president really wanted.[3]

But the sum of the evidence suggests that Eisenhower was at least as reluctant as Dulles, and perhaps even more reluctant, to go to the summit.  He warned Churchill that a summit might give “a false impression of accord,” which would probably make it more difficult to get “support for needed defense appropriations.”  And he, like Dulles, feared “such meetings would be used by the Russians as propaganda opportunities.”  But if the dangers lay in the impact on public opinion, the potential gains lay there too:  “World opinion could be allayed or at least satisfied a bit.”[4]  Eisenhower was swayed by appeals from Anthony Eden, who claimed that his electoral chances in the British elections hinged on promising a four-power summit.[5]  But the president would go to the summit only if there was a firm agreement that it would be solely “of an exploratory nature” and a “general exchange of views…with no substantive decisions to be reached.”[6]

Once the summit meeting became unavoidable, the president approached it mainly as an exercise in public relations—“to correct the false picture of the U.S. which many people had come to accept.” he explained to the NSC.  It was all a matter of finding the right words, and each of his principal advisors had their own idea about what words were best.[7]

Stassen And Dulles

As Harold Stassen recalled it, he was instrumental in bringing Eisenhower to the Geneva summit and initiating the "Open Skies" proposal.[8]  Stassen surely exaggerated his role. His work was scarcely connected with summit plans until almost the very last moment.  When he became the so-called secretary of peace, Stassen was under no illusion that the administration meant to offer any serious disarmament proposal.  On May 19, Dulles explained to the NSC that “the Soviet had actually gone a long way to meet the British and French position on disarmament, without realizing that there was a very wide gap between the United States and the British and French.”  Apparently Eisenhower took so little interest in disarmament that he had to inquire “as to the nature of this gap.”  Stassen quickly explained that the British and French wanted a substantive and conciliatory response to the Soviets' May 10 offer, which the U.S. strongly opposed because of doubts about “the apparent Soviet change of heart.”[9]  Stassen, like everyone else, understood that he had to frame a program that looked responsive to the Soviet move, while avoiding any risk of actual disarmament.

Stassen did take seriously a suggestion from a member of his civilian advisory committee, General James H. Doolittle:  “The most important consideration is the mutual, reciprocal fear of a surprise attack.”  To alleviate that fear and protect the U.S. from catastrophe, Doolittle proposed “a formula to permit each side to fly over the other at any time.”  But fully open inspection “was not practical from a political point of view,” Dulles told Stassen; U.S. politicians and the public would resist opening the nation to Soviet inspectors.[10] 

No proposal in the realm of disarmament could hope to succeed without the support of Dulles, who had long resisted any substantive disarmament negotiations.  The unpredictability of negotiations contradicted his desire to be fully in control at all times.  His lawyerly caution led him to focus on what could be lost rather than what could be gained.  His conviction of Soviet duplicity led him to doubt that any agreements could have real value.  He was confident that U.S. military superiority “gives the United States its maximum bargaining power. … We cannot afford to take, and need not take, substantial risks.”  Therefore, Dulles wanted disarmament discussions confined to  the UN, where no serious progress was likely to be made. As Bundy notes, he wanted the summit to be “an exercise in the containment of damage.…He preferred the limitation of losses to the risk of a false step by the president.”  The president himself fully agreed.[11]

Dulles also feared that a cold war thaw would bring down the Iron Curtain and turn all of Europe into "a fuzzy area…a kind of mixed zone … not unlike that of Finland.”  Then, "it will be very hard to prevent the Western European nations from engaging in more normal intercourse with the Soviet bloc.”[12]    However, he assumed that the Soviets would bring up disarmament at Geneva “in more than procedural form,” and he warned Eisenhower that the U.S. had to make some proposal of its own to prevent the allies from turning eastward.  The best way to finesse this situation was to make some very preliminary offer at the summit, which sounded good yet entailed no real commitments:  “Present steps to stabilize or curtail armament should be tentative and exploratory only.”  The growing interest in mutual inspection plans was an ideal answer, he told the NSC.  For Dulles, mutual inspection symbolized a confidence that the U.S. was now secure enough to take a minimal risk.  But it also symbolized his awareness that, since perfect control was impossible, a bit of risk would always be needed to keep on managing the apocalypse.[13]

The Quantico Panel

Eisenhower's chief advisor for psychological warfare, Nelson Rockefeller, had far different ideas.  He had succeeded C.D. Jackson in November, 1954.  As his biographer, Cary Reich, puts it, “Rockefeller was as much of a true believer in the Jackson creed as Jackson himself."  He was eager to promote as many brash, even outrageous, ideas as possible for psychological warfare.  In May, Jackson wrote to Rockefeller:  “Something is happening inside the Soviet Union.… The best way to turn this to our advantage is…to crowd them and take over.”  He suggested that Robert Bowie, Stassen, “and maybe one or two other guys should go away somewhere for two or three days and dream up some screwy ones.”[14] 

Rockefeller then urged his Planning Coordination Group to “make a contribution to the Four Power Conference, specifically from the standpoint of how we could exploit Soviet vulnerabilities at the conference.”  To that end, he would have his staff meet with a number of “outside consultants” at the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia.  Eisenhower told Dulles he supported Rockefeller's efforts “to create disaffection behind the Iron Curtain, etc.”[15]

On June 5th Rockefeller and Walt Rostow (the panel’s chairman) opened the Quantico meeting with a disingenuous claim that it was unrelated to the Geneva summit.  But the assembled experts understood the subterfuge:  “We all know our shorthand pretty well,” Jackson later said.  They used that “shorthand” to reinforce their shared view that the Geneva summit could, and should, be a useful a new arena for waging cold war.[16]

Army intelligence expert Ellis Johnson crystallized the group’s thinking.  The Soviets needed only three to five years to achieve nuclear parity, he argued.  The cold war would soon be a “struggle for U.S. survival.…At some unknown time in the future the military technical dynamics will favor the Soviet Union enough so that she can destroy us with relative impunity.”  Knowing this, the Soviets had embarked on a “peace offensive” that was, in Rostow’s words, “merely a clever playing for time.”[17] 

Jackson explained the group’s view to his former aide, Abbott Washburn:  “This is not the moment to ease the competition in order to give them the only really priceless element that they must have for their survival – time.…They are in the jam that they are in because of the competition – military, economic, and occasionally political – that we set up.”  Then he penned an extremely revealing sentence:  “But when we originally set it up, we thought of it exclusively as defense – we didn’t realize that it was going to be the kind of competition that would drive them to the point at which they are today.”  The two premises of present Soviet weakness and future Soviet parity led logically to the report's conclusion:  the U.S. effort no longer had to be strictly defensive.  It should press the Soviets "with heavy demands for major concessions…to exploit to the hilt this perhaps transitory position of Soviet political vulnerability.”  As Jackson wrote: “Making the competition tougher will deepen their vulnerability” during this brief period of their weakness, “when they dare not resort to war.”  And if it did push them to war, “our chances of decisive military victory are at a maximum.”[18]  

Jackson and the Quantico panelists were deeply committed to avoiding war and “prepared to live with the Cold War indefinitely.”  What they wanted most, however, was to defeat the Soviet Union.  Reporting back to Rockefeller, Rostow enthused that “the cold war can be won within the next ten years” if the U.S. would accelerate the arms race enough to “make the enemy break his back in the effort to stay in the race.”  With communist economies stretched to the limit, “give it not more and probably less than five further years for straining at great internal cost in food, light industry, housing, transport, etc.,” and their end would come.  Moreover, an open inspection system would dissolve the Iron Curtain, bringing “the foreseeable end of Russian Communism” (and a “radical change” in Peking as well).  In the same ebullient tone Jackson wrote Luce what he called a “Smell-of-Victory” memo:  “I see, for the first time, how we can achieve victory with peace.…What we have never glimpsed before is the outline of their death.”  To Jackson, “victory with peace” meant “the disintegration of the Communist conspiracy.”  “It can happen within ten years,” he argued, if U.S. taxpayers would spend another five to ten billion dollars a year on the military.[19]  

The official report of the panel made the same point in more circumspect language: “The U.S. can win an ideological-political-economic cold war if the Soviet Union cannot support subversion with military force.” To achieve “victory with peace,” the report proposed that the U.S. at Geneva should propose reductions in military force on both sides to “a level low enough so that the feasibility of surprise conquest…is drastically reduced.” Their goal was only to avoid an attack that would scotch plans for U.S. victory, and they assumed that the Soviets would know it.  When the Kremlin rejected the plan, “as we expected it would…it will be time to say to the American people that at the highest level we found no serious intent to end the arms race; and that the protection of our society requires a higher level of effort or sacrifice.…Upon rejection of this plan, the U.S. [should] make every effort to win the technological armaments race as the safest way of forcing the Soviet Union to ultimately accept satisfactory arms convention.”  A “satisfactory” convention would award “substantial numerical superiority to US-NATO-SEATO,” which the Soviets would accept only under sufficient duress.”[20]

Whatever disarmament plan the U.S. proposed, it should provide for a secure system of inspection, the report insisted.  Several such systems should be tried out, “including aerial supervision.”  The report included a proposal for “a convention insuring the right of aircraft of any nationality to fly freely over the territory of any country for peaceful purposes.”  It agreed with Stassen’s group in calling for an agreement on inspection “without, in the first instance, any provisions for arms limitations.”[21] 

Stassen was promoting aerial inspection because it would give the U.S. a plausible claim to be seeking disarmament and because it would offer protection against surprise attack.  Dulles liked it because it was a way to win the battle for world opinion without entering into real disarmament negotiations.  Both saw it as a tool and symbol of apocalypse management, a way to keep the wall of containment firm.  The Quantico panel viewed, on the other hand, saw inspection as a tool and a symbol of U.S. victory in the impending apocalyptic battle.  Rockefeller’s final report to the president emphasized the point:  Negotiations now, if accompanied by continuing buildup of “free world” strength, “could create the conditions for victory in the cold war.”  Jackson, too, told Eisenhower, “For the first time victory and peace are both beginning to get into focus.”  To Dulles he wrote:  “This summer may indeed be the Summer of Decision, because for the first time we can begin to see the outlines of victory with peace.”  [22]  

Eisenhower and Dulles must have known, or at least suspected, that the panel was charting a strategy for Geneva.  But the written record shows no explicit discussion of these matters until just a few weeks before the summit.  How, then, did Eisenhower stand on the issues of inspection, disarmament, and cold war strategy? 

Eisenhower And The Arms Race

Until the days immediately before the summit, the president showed no urgency about developing a U.S. disarmament proposal to take to the meeting.[23]  When the NSC discussed Stassen’s disarmament proposal, the president focused on the most crucial innovation:  “There was little chance of eliminating the danger we faced through attempting to reach agreement on the elimination or ban on the use of nuclear and thermonuclear weapons.”  In fact, this meeting signaled a tacit agreement that the U.S. had, as Stephen Ambrose says, “quietly dropped as its goal the elimination of nuclear weapons from earth, and instead committed itself to the more modest aim of arms control” by small incremental steps.[24]  A technical argument was decisive here:  Nuclear weapons were now so small and plentiful that no agreement for total abolition could ever be adequately policed.  By focusing on small initial steps, the U.S. could maintain a steady stream of pro-disarmament words, yet turn world attention away from the subject of nuclear abolition. 

The president also appreciated Lodge's praise for the Stassen plan:  “The great advantage [is] that if the Russians agree to it, we will then have inspectors in the Soviet Union whose presence…should make it impossible for a surprise attack to be made on us.” If the Russians refused the inspection proposal, Lodge added, it would give the U.S. justification for further military measures as “self-defense.”  In any event, the U.S. had to propose something quickly, for propaganda purposes.[25]  

Meanwhile, plans for fighting and winning a nuclear war proceeded apace.  In February, Eisenhower had received a study of the danger of surprise attack from a panel headed by MIT president James R. Killian.  Within a decade, it predicted, both superpowers would be able to destroy each other.  Excellent intelligence and a variety of ballistic missiles were the key to defending against such a “world catastrophe.”  Yet the president was not sure any preparations could help prevent catastrophe.  Editing a letter to Wilson, he found the sentence,  “The United States has reason, for first time in its history, to be deeply concerned over the serious effects which a sudden attack could conceivably inflict upon our country, if we were inadequately prepared.”  He deleted the last five words.[26]

However, the new situation did not spur Eisenhower to question the arms race.  In early March, he told Dulles that he “felt strongly that we must get the acceptance of the use of atomic missiles as conventional.”[27]

At the same time, he urged the NSC to approve an unannounced simulated attack. “Encouraging those who could not evacuate to take shelter in basements, cellars, etc.” would help to discipline the public, he explained.[28]  June 15 was the starting date for the largest Civil Defense exercise yet.  The president had once said that if more than 25 or 30 cities were destroyed, there was no point in any postwar planning.  Now, informed that 53 cities had been “destroyed or badly damaged,” with “great fallout all over the country,” he retreated to a secret hiding place beneath the Appalachian Mountains where he told the NSC:  “Our great objective here is (a) to avert disaster, and (b) to win the war.”  The next day he told his cabinet (meeting underground) that, although “all the ordinary processes by which we run this country simply will not work…our great fundamental problem will be how to mobilize what is left of 165 million people and win a war.…He was coming more and more to the conclusion that, under the circumstances of chaos assumed in Operation Alert, we would have to run this country as one big camp—severely regimented.”  When “Dr. Flemming pointed out that the problem was:  What would happen to the credit structure of the country?” the president took the question quite seriously.[29]  

To the NSC, he raised another concern just as seriously: 

The President, referring to the wartime problem of assuring the continuity of essential functions, expressed the view that the Vice President should never be allowed within ten miles of the President during wartime.  He noted that if the President and the Vice President were “knocked off,” the “damnable” law of succession would result in the Speaker of the House (or, in the event of his death, the Speaker [sic] Pro Tempore of the Senate) succeeding to the presidency.  The President observed that this would result in “the other team” getting into office and, to assure against that happening, the President thought the Vice President should be put in cotton batting.[30]

As he traveled to Geneva ostensibly to seek peace, Eisenhower was still denying the unique novelty of the hydrogen bomb, still pressing it and its unprecedented effects into familiar patterns of discourse:  Civilization was in danger of collapse, but it was perfectly sensible, indeed imperative, to plan for its resurrection—as long as civilization was under U.S. control.

The president continued to believe that the best way to maintain U.S. control was to launch an effective counter-attack, and the sooner the better.  Although this was rarely discussed openly, even for the secret record, planning for it proceeded.  In early April, the NSC had promulgated an official policy on “Possible Hostile Soviet Actions,” which gave the president some guidance on when to launch a preemptive strike.  He assumed he would have the time to do it:  “He would think it odd if we receive no warning at all, mentioning that our Air Force was unable to effect attacks with complete surprise during WW II.”[31]

As he approached the summit meeting, then, Eisenhower still insisted that the security of the “free world” required a growing nuclear arsenal.  He was planning not only to survive, but to win, World War III.  But these plans would work only if the U.S. could somehow avert or fend off the most crippling initial effects of a surprise attack.  So Eisenhower continued to prepare for a surprise attack, to seek the best possible intelligence information, and to plan to strike first if he thought a Soviet attack was imminent.[32] 

He also continued to urge his allies to accept a nuclearized NATO that included Germany, while urging Germany to embrace membership in a nuclearized NATO.  Unfortunately for Eisenhower, his own military planners seemed to be making that task harder.  Just a week after Operation Alert came Operation Carte Blanche, NATO’s largest war game to date in Europe.  The simulated full-scale war, assuming that each superpower had 200 atomic bombs, resulted in an estimated 1.7 million Germans killed and 3.5 million wounded.[33]  Now the allies knew, more concretely than ever, just what the U.S. was asking of them.  And Eisenhower knew, more clearly than ever, that the weapons he relied on might undo the alliance.  To hold together the contradictory elements of his grand strategy, he had to take the risk of going to the summit. 

Eisenhower And The Quantico Panel

Eisenhower’s worry about the allies was heightened by his changing views on the nature of the cold war.  On June 30, he told the NSC that the Russians still aimed at “world revolution and Communist domination.”  But they were not willing to risk war, nor could they afford the great expense of the arms race.  Now that they had achieved “a stalemate in the military field,” they were pursuing world domination by non-military means.  “If the United States rejects this attitude and seems to prefer a military solution, it would lose the support of the world.”[34]  This only underscored the premise of NSC 162/2 and 5501:  U.S. policies imposed upon limits upon the administration's  own freedom of action.  Containment—the static balance of military stalemate, preventing any movement on the other side—was the best to hope for. 

JCS chief Admiral Arthur Radford disagreed, arguing forcefully that the U.S. should leverage its military advantage to gain “important political settlements and agreements…a major change in the attitudes and policies of the Soviet Union,” with no compromise from the U.S.  The danger of surprise attack “had been somewhat overemphasized,” he contended.  The Soviets, in a weakened state, might now be forced to accept “an adequate system of supervision and inspection in an armaments limitation agreement.”  With “considerable warmth,” Eisenhower responded that “so far as he could see, Radford believed that the United States should proceed as at present in the arms race despite the fact that this was a mounting spiral towards war.… He was at a loss to grasp what political agreement with the Soviet Union could lead to the adoption of an acceptable inspection system which was not already capable of being inserted in the agreement.”[35]

This exchange reflected a serious difference of views about inspection.  The forces aligned with Radford and Rockefeller wanted inspection only as a step toward an aggressive policy of cold war victory.  They knew that the Soviets would not achieve an actual military stalemate for at least five years.  But the president was already adopting the defensive stance the future would require.  His greatest concern was preventing the most threatening kind of movement from the other side—a Soviet surprise attack.  Above all, he desperately wanted a chance to see the military preparations inside the Soviet Union:  “We have got to find out what these Soviet villains will do to find out what could be achieved by way of an acceptable inspection system.”  So he wanted a political agreement of any kind mainly as a step toward inspection. He wanted the NSC to “consider what kind of a [inspection] system we think would work and modify our plan to conform to such a system of inspection.”[36]  If a direct agreement on inspection could be reached, he proclaimed, no other agreements would be needed.

At the very end of the meeting Vice-President Nixon, making his first contribution to the discussion, commented that the most important thing was “the formulation of an inspection system which offered the hope of penetrating the Iron Curtain.  This would also be the best propaganda position for the United States.”  Nixon’s remark echoed the views of Eisenhower and Stassen, calling for a plan that would protect the U.S. against perceived threats of impending disaster.  The upshot of the meeting was a presidential directive to Stassen to modify his proposal, so that it included a method of reciprocal inspection that was feasible and acceptable to the U.S.  The inspection method should drive the plan, not vice versa.  The president asked Stassen to be available in Paris during the summit, “for quick consultation at Geneva,” along with Undersecretary of Defense Robert Anderson and JCS chief Radford.[37] 

On July 7, the NSC finalized NSC 5524/1, “Basic U.S. Policy in Relation to Four-Power Negotiations.”[38]  Its stated goal was to promote U.S. interests and “the over-all U.S. security position” by deterring communist aggression, strengthening the “free world” alliance, and preventing total war “as far as compatible with U.S. security.”  “Supplementing” these goals, the U.S. should also try to break up communist alliances and get communist nations to change their policies.  So the summit meeting would be, above all, another tool for apocalypse management.

NSC 5524/1 reflected the administration's uncertainty about how to pursue its goal.  “Not all elements of strength in [the U.S.] position vis-a-vis the Soviet Bloc are static,” it acknowledged.  Building up one kind of strength might entail weakening another area.  But neither the text nor the NSC discussion of it showed any hint of compromise or any significant interest in disarmament from the U.S. side.  The U.S. would negotiate with the Soviets only when “it clearly appears that U.S. security interests will be served.”[39]

NSC 5524/1 recognized the problem that U.S. intransigence created:  European fears of war and “popular pressure for a reduction of tension…[could] give rise to frictions between the U.S. and its allies."  Eisenhower told the NSC “this was perhaps the most important paragraph in the whole paper.”  At a State Department briefing, he said his “only thought” about the summit was “one thing that disturbs me greatly…Ever since 1945 hostile propaganda has made us appear as a militaristic and materialistic people.…We are thought of as worshipers of might, people with no culture and no real longing for peace.”  He wanted to “prove to the world…that we are truly a peace loving nation…almost pacifistic.”  He wanted to turn the public’s nuclear fear into fear of communist aggression, in order to ward off a public perception of him and his nation that might weaken the “free world” alliance.  He was still intent not on attack, but on defense.[40] 

Dulles confided to C. D. Jackson:  “We have come such a long way by being firm, occasionally disagreeably firm, that I would hate to see the whole edifice undermined in response to a smile” from the affable president.  This remark is often cited to demonstrate a basic divergence between the president and the secretary of state.  But Jackson himself saw little divergence, and with good reason.  Eisenhower fully agreed with Dulles that serious disarmament negotiations would enhance the Soviets’ respectability and thus endanger the Western alliance.[41]

Meanwhile, Rockefeller was lobbying the president even harder to offer a vaguely worded inspection plan “without any arms limitations provisions.”  In his memos to the president, Rockefeller detached the idea from the Quantico vision of a final push to win the cold war.  Instead, he argued that inspection would seize the psychological advantage, give the U.S. valuable information, show the Soviets the full extent of “our greater war potential,” and force a difficult decision upon the Soviet leaders.  Eisenhower was drawn to these arguments and especially to Rockefeller’s punch line:  If the Soviets, not the U.S., offered a big new proposal, it would spark “excessive French and British conciliatoriness.”  The president was unlikely to embrace the goals of Rockefeller and the Quantico panel.  But he was just as committed as they were to using Geneva for cold war advantage.  He simply defined the nature of that advantage in different ways.  One sign of Rockefeller's growing influence was that Eisenhower invited him to join the standby delegation in Paris.[42]

The Summit And Public Rhetoric

Changes in the world situation brought corresponding changes in Eisenhower's public language.  Some of his words still spoke of great peril (“The unprecedented crises of these days … are a recurrent international diet”) and the need for rational, self-controlled fear.  By late spring, though, this theme was muted.  With the Formosa Straits crisis over and so much apparent movement toward peace, open talk of using nuclear weapons like bullets would no longer do.  Through the spring and early summer, therefore, Eisenhower spoke mainly about “the fixed, unwavering objective” of U.S. policy:  “a just, prosperous, enduring peace.”  The approaching Big Four meeting had to be depicted as a great opportunity.[43]

Yet it also presented a great problem.  No president had met Soviet leaders in a decade; the controversy over the Yalta agreements still made headlines.  So Eisenhower had to refute any suspicion of appeasement.  He and his speechwriters solved the problem by framing the summit firmly within the prevailing tenets of cold war discourse.  If peace required a more vigorous struggle and a more solid wall of containment, there could be little fear of appeasement.  The more time he spent pursuing peace, even if face-to-face with the Russians, the more effectively he would be waging cold war.  When he spoke of “co-operative partnership among the nations,” he quickly qualified it to mean “friendly nations” and added that his chief foreign policy goal was “the strongest possible coalition among free nations.”[44] 

Eisenhower insisted publicly that peace still required a barrier of non-communist European nations to the Soviets’ west, paralleling the Pacific island barrier to China’s east.  (He might accept a neutral central Europe, he said, but only if those nations were armed neutrals, able to fight for their own freedom.)  By now, though, he could take it for granted, publicly as well as privately, that the U.S. would not fight to free those nations:  “You are certainly not going to declare war, are you?  So there instantly you fix for yourself limitations on how far we, as a people, will go in accomplishing this thing.”  Words would have to be the principal U.S. weapons.  This meant a further conflation of war, peace, and victory, as the president now openly acknowledged:  “If we are going to win this war for peace, let’s stop talking about cold war.  We are trying to wage a war for peace.”[45] 

The seeming contradiction of a “war for peace” was resolved in his principal theme: the United States was fighting only to gain peace.  “Americans everywhere are the same,” he proclaimed, “in their longing for peace…All of us want the institutions of America preserved.”  And when Americans serve their own interests they were also serving the good of the whole world, since their values were universal values.  He told the United Nations (in what he termed an “authoritative statement of what we are trying to do”) that the values underlying American institutions could fulfill “man’s ancient dream” because they were universal and sacred—the “divinely bestowed” values that made man a “spiritual being…above the beasts of the field.”  These “munitions of peace” were the only possible basis for a successful summit meeting.  There could be no enduring peace “until the spiritual aspirations of mankind for liberty and opportunity and growth are recognized as prior to and paramount to the material appetites which Communism exploits.”[46]

Yet when he spoke of opportunity and growth he often referred to material appetites, too.  He allowed no difference between attaining peace and protecting the American institution of free-market capitalism.  “All mankind possesses…a like demand for economic advancement.  The divisions between us are artificial and transient.  Our common humanity is God-made and enduring.”  Lower tariffs and expanded international trade were the route to world prosperity and thus the crucial  “step on the road to universal peace.”  “We cannot have prosperity without peace.  And there can be no peace unless we are prosperous.”  Therefore, the U.S. intended to help other nations “achieve and maintain the values that we see in private enterprise.”[47]

The president identified the U.S. cause, not with specific religious claims, but with the very idea that there is some universal religious truth.  Thus he made that idea—which most people are loathe to abandon, even if they despair of defining the universal truth—a part of the “free world” arsenal, a justification for and spur to the anticommunist crusade.  Surely, he implied, the very existence of religious truth was worth fighting for.  Yet he consistently advised that the fulfillment of American ideals would be a long time coming.  Until then, the world would have to settle for the vagaries of apocalypse management, with its delicate discursive balance of war and peace. 

The effort to maintain that balance must have cost the president an emotional price.  In an unguarded moment, at a press conference on the 10th anniversary of VE day, he burst out:  “I wish that in this cold war we could now get some victory that would make us feel as good as we did that day of May 1945.”  C.D. Jackson suggested a link between Eisenhower's emotion and his policy when he told Rostow that, at the White House, “the policy of ‘pressure brings the payoff’ continues to be the order of the day.”[48]

Drama At Paris And Geneva

Since Eisenhower viewed the summit meeting largely as a public relations exercise, he gave special attention to the speech he would give as he departed for Geneva. His drafts vacillated between rhetorical toughness, to appease the domestic right, and a more pacific tone for the allies.[49]   The final version tried to strike a perfect balance.  The president complained sharply about “captive states,” the threat of “subversion,” and the danger of war.  Yet he promised that he and Dulles would be “conciliatory” and “try to see the other fellow’s viewpoint.”  If the conference were conducted in this spirit, he said, it would be the greatest step toward peace, prosperity and tranquility in the history of mankind.[50] 

This peace required belief in “a divine power…a supreme being”—precisely what communism did not allow, he clearly implied.  If “165 million of us” all went to pray on “the next sabbath day,” it would demonstrate “to all the world the sincerity and depth of our aspirations for peace.”  He intended his call for prayer to give each American something concrete to do, to dramatize the powerful U.S. desire for peace, to prove that the U.S. cause was righteous and that U.S. values were the universally true path to peace.[51]

Eisenhower flew to Geneva on July 16 with overwhelming domestic support.  But he had not yet indicated (and perhaps had not decided) what he would say at the conference table.  Several of his advisors were still working hard to influence those choices.  The most important, as it turned out, were those standing by in Paris.  There Stefan Possony, the Pentagon representative on the OCB, explained the Quantico approach to Radford, who quickly realized that aerial inspection would give the U.S. “a decided intelligence advantage.”  “You’re trying to open up the Soviet Union,” Radford exclaimed.  He expected the Soviets to realize this too and turn down the plan, giving the U.S. a propaganda victory.  Possony and Kintner spent much of the night drafting a “Presidential Statement on Disarmament” that included an “open skies” plan.  Rockefeller sent this draft to Eisenhower's trusted aide, Andrew Goodpaster, arguing that it was a fine “psychological strategy” that would promote allied unity.  Radford and Undersecretary of Defense Anderson urged on Dulles that an “open skies” proposal would create a positive image and test Soviet intentions.[52]

The president had arrived in Geneva already thinking about aerial inspection.  At his first meeting with British prime minister Eden and French prime minister Edgar Faure, he suggested that a plan for inspecting nuclear weapon delivery systems could create “a great area of confidence.”  He knew that this was what the French wanted to hear.  Moreover, if those systems were all under observation, “What would be left to a potential aggressor[?]  His capability for surprise would be severely limited.”[53]

Eisenhower still expressed hesitation about proposing any specific disarmament plan, because he could not trust the Soviets to “behave like the civilized nations."  Without a guarantee of the enemy’s civilized behavior, he “did not want to see us commit ourselves to any specific organization or method” on disarmament.  This was the official U.S. policy, as national security advisor Dillon Anderson understood it:  “We would be prepared to explore mutually acceptable inspection systems, but not to agree at Geneva to a particular plan.”  For the U.S., the crucial topic was Germany.  Dulles told Eisenhower that if the Soviets would not agree to a unified Germany, understanding that it would be a U.S. ally, “our conference here will, I think, be a failure.”  Eisenhower explained to Eden and Faure, "There was no possibility of having 80 million hard-working people in the center of Europe as neutrals.  It simply could not be done.  He did not feel we could accept this for intelligent discussion."  The Soviets likewise refused to accept the U.S. view as a matter for intelligent discussion.[54] 

By the 19th, there seemed nothing else to talk about.  This was the opening the Paris contingent had hoped for.  After hurried consultations, they were invited to Geneva.     

 “A No-Risk Proposition”

At 6 PM on July 20th, Eisenhower met with his top aides.  They were given copies of a speech draft written by Stassen, in which the U.S. would propose “trial inspection of units of our armed forces…test aerial photographic inspection.”[55]  The sketchy records of the meeting give the impression that  it was called to ratify a decision that had (as Eisenhower later acknowledged) already been made.  The president began by announcing himself “entirely in agreement” with Stassen’s draft and its stress on “effective inspection.”  Its “great value” was promoting confidence “as to just what military forces and installations existed in the other countries.”  Overflights “would undoubtedly benefit us more than the Russians because we knew very little about their installations,” while they knew the location of “virtually all our installations.”[56]  

Dulles could endorse the proposal because it was presented as a no-risk proposition with obvious propaganda value.  It might “have a spectacular appearance,” he cabled the State Department, “which will perhaps deprive the Soviet Union of their propaganda advantage in slogan ‘ban the bomb.’”  And it could “allay fear of surprise attack.…Military advisors agree that we would gain more information than would Soviets.”[57] 

"Open Skies" had now become a symbol of a lowest-common-denominator consensus within the administration.  Eisenhower was careful not to exclude or contradict anyone’s views.  All agreed that there would be no serious effort to promote disarmament.  Beyond that, the differences among them would be temporarily ignored.

The speech that Eisenhower made at the Geneva summit continued the trajectory traced by “The Chance for Peace” and “Atoms for Peace.”[58]  The U.S. still wanted to “ease the fears of war in the anxious hearts of people everywhere,” he proclaimed.  The enemy was not the Soviet Union or communism, but fear and poverty.  The U.S. and the Soviet Union were both sources of the problems, “because our two great countries admittedly possess new and terrible weapons.”  And the Soviets were again invited—now face-to-face—to join with the U.S. in a common effort to solve those problems.  The stance and style seemed more conciliatory than ever.  Confrontive and dualistic language had nearly vanished—but not entirely.  The text blamed the Soviets for forcing the U.S. to “maintain and if necessary increase” its military strength, “for as long a period as is necessary to safeguard peace and to maintain our security.”  The U.S. desired disarmament, but “agreements without adequate reciprocal inspection increase the dangers of war.”  Only “sound and reliable” mutual inspection could avert war. 

The speech thus began by setting forth three dualisms:  communist expansionism versus “free world” security; war versus peace; open, honest inspection versus secrecy and cheating.  Between the lines, Eisenhower's private view was clearly expressed:  peace depended on inspection because the Soviet leaders were willing to lie and cheat to expand their power.  Only the U.S., which was inherently honest, could present a trustworthy inspection plan that would lead toward peace.  The president then posed the major question he would ask of any inspection plan:  whether it provided “certainty against surprise aggression.”  Again, the argument was implicit but clear:  Fears of war were essentially fears of surprise attack.  Only the Soviets were capable of launching such a dastardly attack.  "Open Skies" became a symbol of the need to see through and forestall communist duplicity in order to prevent catastrophe.  Peace meant preventing war, communist expansion, and weakening of the “free world” alliance simultaneously. 

At this point, Eisenhower looked up from his printed text.[59]  Seeming to speak extemporaneously, he voiced his desire to “convince everyone of the great sincerity of the United States.”  Mutual aerial photography would “convince the world that we are providing as between ourselves against the possibility of great surprise attack, thus lessening danger and relaxing tension.”  He then proposed that the two superpowers “give each other a complete blueprint of our military establishments, from beginning to end, from one end of our countries to the other.”  (He probably meant an exchange of maps showing the locations of military installations, not architectural blueprints of each installation.)[60] 

The call for aerial overflights and exchange of blueprints “very quickly -- as between ourselves, immediately,” was almost a contradiction of Stassen’s text, which proposed only a trial period to study and experiment with different modes of inspection.  Yet the contradiction reflected the truth that the U.S. was in a rush to get its particular proposal adopted, but in no rush to proceed to comprehensive disarmament.   

Eisenhower closed with a brief, eloquent peroration written at the last minute by Stassen, who drew his words directly from the Quantico panel’s report.  The president, probably not recognizing the source text, followed it fairly closely.  “Practical progress to lasting peace” could not come at the cost of any weakening of national security.  For the Quantico panelists, “practical and “lasting” were code words for a peace achieved through Soviet concessions.  The U.S. stood for values it held to be universal:  “a sound peace, with security, justice, wellbeing, and freedom for the people of the world.”  These, too, were code words denoting the “free world” side in the great global confrontation.  As Robert Dallek says, Eisenhower used the “Open Skies” proposal as symbol of U.S. moral superiority, a way "to insist that the Soviets become more like the United States."  By the overall logic of the speech, no reasonable person who wanted peace could reach any other conclusion.[61]

 “Open Skies” In Retrospect

Reporting from Geneva for the New Yorker, Richard Rovere found that most of the Americans there saw “Open Skies” as “only a gimmick, and there was a good deal of hilarity on the subject of Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn’s intervention in world affairs.”  Few could understand why foreigners were hailing the speech as “a master stroke.”  But, Rovere concluded archly, most agreed that “if all the world thinks it’s wonderful, then wonderful it is.”  Rovere credited the public relations triumph to Eisenhower's “absolutely unique ability to convince people that he has no talent for duplicity.”[62] 

But was it just a slick advertising gimmick?  Or was it meant as a proposal for serious diplomatic discussion?  Goodpaster, who was as close to Eisenhower as anyone, insisted that the president had felt there was “at least a chance” that the Russians might accept the plan.  After he left the White House, Eisenhower himself later claimed that psychological warfare was “one part of it, but he also had thought there was a possibility they might accept it.”[63] 

Yet in 1960 he told the NSC:  “We thought that they would probably not accept it because they have good maps of the United States and we have nothing comparable.”  Similarly, he told an interviewer:  “We knew the Soviets wouldn’t accept it.  We were sure of that.”  Radford, who spent several hours with the president as the proposal was being finalized, confirmed this:  “We were pretty sure they wouldn’t take it.”  Robert Matteson, interviewing Rockefeller, got “the impression he believed ‘Open Skies’ more a propaganda move than an offer he expected the Soviet Union might accept.”  Robert Bowie, too, called it “a clever ploy but never in the least negotiable.”[64] 

Even if administration officials expected the proposal to be rejected, however, this hardly means that they wanted it rejected; the evidence points in the opposite direction.  Eisenhower challenged Khruschev to take him up on his offer, and agreed in return to accept the Soviets’ May 10 proposal.  He seems to have been genuinely distressed when Khrushchev bluntly rejected “Open Skies” because it “was nothing more than a bald espionage plot against the USSR.”  According to the president's secretary, Ann Whitman, he made another last-minute effort to find Khrushchev and Bulganin, perhaps to try to persuade them, only to discover that they had left Geneva.[65] 

Upon his return home, Eisenhower told the NSC that “we should keep pushing the U.S. proposal, even to the extent of accepting some of the Soviet inspection proposals if necessary.”  Dulles agreed that "Open Skies" should not be treated as “a propaganda stunt.…Although the proposal was dramatic, it was also a serious means of initiating a program of disarmament.”  Yet he recommended that the Soviets be given no more than one month before the U.S. berated their rejection and reaped another propaganda harvest.  As Kenneth Osgood rightly concludes, the administration “designed a lop-sided proposal that everyone knew the Russians would reject.  When the proposal was rejected, however, it was taken as proof of the insincerity of Soviet intentions.  This was not a true test of Soviet intentions; it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.”[66]  If the administration could have achieved a guarantee against surprise attack along with more solid support from the allies, it would have perceived a definite easing of international tensions.  Then it might well have talked seriously about arms reduction, as long as an agreement promoted U.S. aims and interests. 

Yet the “Open Skies” speech itself did mark a significant innovation.  It openly confessed a  growing U.S. sense of vulnerability to nuclear weapons.  Behind that lay the continuing, unspoken sense of vulnerability to international opinion.  To remedy both and make the U.S. less vulnerable, Eisenhower employed an image of a nation admitting its vulnerability and reaching out to its equally vulnerable enemy.  He offered his enemy a partnership that would eventually make each totally vulnerable to the eyes and cameras of the other.  As usual, Eisenhower spoke in absolutes, offering total vulnerability as the way to total invulnerability. 

The language of absolutes made sense only if one heard, between the lines, the threat of a surprise attack bringing the absolute destruction of the U.S.  The best way to avoid destruction—the best to hope for, he had admitted to the NSC—was a stalemate in both the military and non-military arenas.  "Open Skies" offered a vivid image of that stalemate.  Thus it reaffirmed the goal first announced in the “Chance” speech:  an immutable stasis guaranteed by a static rational balance.  Under the press of changed world circumstances, however, Eisenhower had to propose this goal in the limited and symbolic language of a plan to render the superpowers so vulnerable to each other that neither could gain any advantage. 

Though Eisenhower was still grasping at the ideal of absolute security, the "Open Skies" proposal actually acknowledged that there was no absolute security.  Dulles reminded the president up to the last minute that the inspection proposal presented a serious risk.  But he was overcome by Rockefeller's argument that not making it posed an even greater risk.  In order to forestall serious disarmament negotiations, he had to commit the U.S. more strongly to seeking disarmament.  As with the “Chance” and “Atoms” speeches, the appearance of a U.S. desire for compromise created more pressures for the U.S. to act upon it.  "Open Skies," an effort to create discursive stability within the administration, created an image of the global discursive stability that the president wanted so badly wanted.  But it could not turn the image into reality. 

Notes to Chapter 8


[1] Memorandum of Conversation, 3/7/55, John Foster Dulles Papers, White House Memoranda Series, Box 2, “Meetings with the President 1955 (6).  Eisenhower was especially worried that U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons would make Soviet peace moves sound very appealing in Mexico.  He told Dulles, “I probably have written you more often on the subject of Mexico than any other single matter”:  6/14/55, AWF, DDE Diaries, Box 10, “DDE Diary June 1955 (1).”  With typical alarmism, he warned Congressional leaders:  “If we would sit by and let Mexico go Communistic, it would be one hell of a mess”:  Ferrell, The Diary of James C. Hagerty, 219.  The best survey of growing world concern about nuclear weapons in 1955 is in Wittner, The Struggle Against the Bomb, 1-28, 86-88, 98-108.

[2] See, e.g., Blacker, Reluctant Warriors, 79; Ambrose, Rise to Globalism, 151-153; Loth, The Division of the World, 299-301; Young, “The Geneva Conference of Foreign Ministers,” 290.  Some historians still credit the change largely to Eisenhower's supposed desire to avoid nuclear catastrophe by easing cold war tensions; see, e.g., May, “Background:  The Early Cold War,” 34.

[3] Bischof, “Eisenhower, the Summit, and the Austrian Treaty,” 160;  Eisenhower Oral History, OH-14, 42.  Kenneth Osgood suggests that Eisenhower thought accepting Soviet proposals “would make the United States appear weak, raise questions of appeasement, and add respectability to the Soviet regime”:  Total Cold War, 150. See also Parmet, Eisenhower and the American Crusades, 402.  For a good summary of U.S. attitudes toward a summit meeting in 1953 and 1954, see Bischof, “Eisenhower, the Summit, and the Austrian Treaty,” 143-147, 151-153.

[4] Eisenhower to Churchill, 12/14/54, FRUS 1955-1957,  1952-1954, 5: 1499; Eisenhower Oral History, OH-14.  See also Eisenhower to Hazlett, 8/15/55, PDDE 16: 1821; Bipartisan Congressional Luncheon Meeting, 3/30/55, AWF, Legislative Meetings Series, Box 1, “Legislative meetings 1955 (2) March – April.”  Eisenhower also feared that a summit would legitimize the present Soviet leaders, minimizing the power struggle in the Kremlin:  Ferrell, The Diary of James C. Hagerty, 187.  The promise of a summit was a major reward to the French for approving Germany’s entry into NATO the Paris accords; see Bipartisan Legislative Meeting, 7/12/55, AWF, Legislative Meetings Series, Box 2, “Legislative Meetings 1955 (4)” and FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 306-309; Hoover to Embassy in UK, 2/1/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 130-131; Achilles to State Department, 3/22/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 134; NYT, 3/27/55, 1; NYT, 3/28/55, 1; NYT, 3/29/55, 1; draft (never sent) of Eisenhower to Coty, 3/11/55, PDDE, 16: 1612 and 1614, n. 5. 

[5] Eden to Eisenhower, 5/6/55, FRUS 1955-1957,  5: 164; Eden quoted in Pruessen, “Beyond the Cold War,” 64.  See also Robert E. Matteson, “1955—A Watershed Year in the History of U.S. Disarmament Policy,” Nuclear History Project, Box 12, 149, 116, NSA; C. D. Jackson Log, 7/11/55, in Rostow, Open Skies, 162; MacMillan, Tides of Fortune, 587-588.

[6] Eisenhower, Oral History, OH-14, 42-43; Hoover to Dulles, 5/9/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 177, 178.  See also Memorandum of Conversation (with Senator George), 5/19/55; Memorandum of Conversation, 5/20/55, John Foster Dulles Papers, White House Memoranda Series, Box 3, “Meetings with the President 1955 (4)”; NSC, 5/19/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 185; Hoover to Dulles, 5/8/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 173; Ann C. Whitman Diary, 5/14/55, AWF, Ann Whitman Diary Series, Box 5, “ACW Diary May 1955 (4)”; Dulles to MacMillan and Pinay, 5/23/55, AWF, International Meetings, Box 1, “Four Power Meeting Mesages”; Dulles to MacMillan, 7/12/55, AWF, International Meetings, Box 2,  “Geneva Conference July 18-23, 1955 (1) [#2].”  Dulles strongly agreed with Eisenhower on this point:  Dulles to Eisenhower, 5/9/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 174; Dulles to Eisenhower, 5/10/55, AWF, Dulles-Herter Series, Box 5, “Dulles, John Foster,  May 1955.”

[7] NSC, 7/28/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 535.  See also NSC, 5/19/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 188.  Occasionally Eisenhower voiced a hope that “possibly a new attitude might be developed in the conduct of foreign relations.”  But he insisted that all the changes would have to come from the other side.  And he doubted those changes would come: see Eisenhower to Hazlett, 8/15/55, PDDE, 16: 1821.  Although he rarely spoke of it, he was also concerned about how it would affect his personal image.  In an early June letter to Swede Hazlett, he mentioned the summit only incidentally, in the context of his preoccupation with whether to run for a second term:  Eisenhower to Hazlett, 6/4/55, PDDE, 16: 1729-1731.

[8] Stassen and Houts, Eisenhower, 297-299, 310.

[9] NSC, 5/19/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 19: 184.  After Stassen briefed Eisenhower's chief of staff, Sherman Adams, on his work, Adams noted:  “1. No reliance on good faith of any country; 2. Assume bad faith USSR & China.”:  Stassen, Staff Study Progress Report, 5/26/55, Nuclear History Project, Box 1, “1955,” NSA.

[10] Stassen and Houts, Eisenhower, 295-96; NSC, 5/26/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 110.

[11] Dulles to Eisenhower, 6/18/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 239; Memorandum, 6/29/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 141-142; Bundy, Danger and Survival, 296.  See also Dulles’ memorandum, 6/29/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 140-142; Immerman, “‘Trust in the Lord but Keep Your Powder Dry,’” 49; NSC, 6/30/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 150; Dillon Anderson to Dulles, 7/8/55, White House Office, OSANSA, Special Assistant Series, Chronological Subseries, Box 1, “July 1955 (1).”

[12] NSC, 5/19/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 184; NSC, 5/19/55, AWF, NSC Series, Box 6, “249th Meeting of the NSC, May 19, 1955.”  For further sources, see the discussion in Immerman, “‘Trust in the Lord but Keep Your Powder Dry,’” 48-49.  Dulles also expressed fears that liberation of the Soviet satellite states would create a “mixed area.”  For a different analysis of Dulles' views on liberation, see Pruessen, “Beyond the Cold War,” 70.

[13] Dulles to Hoover, 5/14/55, marked “seen by President 16 May 55,” AWF, Dulles-Herter Series, Box 5, “Dulles, John Foster,  May 1955”; NSC, 6/30/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 150. See also Prados, “Open Skies and Closed Minds,” 219.

[14] Reich, Rockefeller, 555, 562; C. D. Jackson to Rockefeller, 5/20/55, C. D. Jackson Papers, Box 91, “Rockefeller, Nelson A.”  See also Jackson to Rockefeller, 1/13/55 and 2/16/55, C.D. Jackson Papers, Box 91, “Rockefeller,  Nelson A.”  Rockefeller, who was always trying to gain more power in the executive branch, was also trying to outmaneuver Stassen in bureaucratic infighting:  Reich, Rockefeller, 579.  In Rockefeller’s office, Stassen was sneeringly called “the Prince of Peace.”

[15] T. B. Koons to D. Anderson, 5/24/55, and Anderson to Rockefeller, 5/24/55, both in White Office, OSANSA, NSC Series, Briefing Notes, Box 8, “Four-Power Heads of Government Meeting (1)”; Ann C. Whitman Diary, 5/24/55, AWF, Ann Whitman Diary Series, Box 5, “ACW Diary, May 1955 (2)”; Telephone Call from the President, 5/24/55, John Foster Dulles Papers, Telephone Calls Series, Box 10, “Telephone Conversations - White House March 7, 1955 - August 29, 1955 (2).”  To insure a warm reception, Rockefeller was plying his boss with gifts—most notably the furnishings from the room in which Eisenhower had planned the D-Day invasion, purchased at a very high price:  Eisenhower to Rockefeller, 5/9/55, PDDE, 16: 1704; Reich, Rockefeller, 573.  

[16] Jackson to Luce, 6/21/55, AWF, Administration Series, Box 22, “Jackson, C.D. 1955 (1)”; Jackson, From Quantico to Geneva, in Rostow, Open Skies, 121.  Rostow suggested a report that would contain “our proposals for the summit”:  Rostow, Open Skies, 28-30.  See also Reich, Rockefeller, 583.

[17] Rostow, Open Skies, 147-151; Appendix D, A Proposal for Graduated Disarmament, 6/10/55, White House Office, National Security Council Staff Papers, NSC Registry Series, 1947-1962, Box 17, “Quantico Vulnerabilities Panel, Report of the (2)”; Rostow to Rockefeller, 6/17/55, in Rostow, Open Skies, 157.

[18] Jackson to Washburn, 6/21/55, C. D. Jackson Papers, Box 68, “Log – 1955 (1)”; Report of the Quantico Vulnerabilities Panel, 6/10/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 216 ff.; Jackson to Luce, 6/21/55, AWF, Administration Series, Box 22, “Jackson, C.D. 1955 (1).”  It is striking to read one of Eisenhower's most trusted advisors writing quite straightforwardly in mid-1955 about “military victory” over the Soviet Union.  In the same year Eisenhower wrote of Jackson:  “I miss him so”:  undated note (in Eisenhower's handwriting), C. D. Jackson Papers, Box 50, “Eisenhower, Dwight D. — Correspondence, 1955.” 

[19] Rostow to Rockefeller, 6/17/55, in Rostow, Open Skies, 155-157; Jackson to Luce, 6/21/55, AWF, Administration Series, Box 22, “Jackson, C.D. 1955 (1)”; Jackson, From Quantico to Geneva, in Rostow, Open Skies, 125; Jackson to Washburn, 6/21/55, C. D. Jackson Papers, Box 68, “Log – 1955 (1).”  Jackson argued that the public would willingly accept the needed tax increases for a few years if it knew that it would avert future tax hikes because “the cold war need not go on for fifty years.”

[20] Report of the Quantico Vulnerabilities Panel, 6/10/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 216 ff.; Appendix D, A Proposal for Graduated Disarmament, 6/10/55, White House Office, National Security Council Staff Papers, NSC Registry Series, 1947-1962, Box 17, “Quantico Vulnerabilities Panel, Report of the (2).” 

[21] C. D. Jackson, From Quantico to Geneva, in Rostow, Open Skies, 123, 122, 32.  See also Reich, Rockefeller, 840.  Max Millikan, an MIT colleague of Rostow’s, first suggested the aerial inspection idea at Quantico.  He later told Jackson that he had heard the idea discussed a year earlier in Cambridge.  In 1954, the CIA had already drafted a presidential speech that stressed air as well as ground inspection as the key to disarmament:  undated draft, Nuclear History Project, Box 1, NSA.

[22] Rockefeller to Eisenhower, 6/13/55, AWF, Administration Series, Box 30, “Rockefeller, Nelson A. 1952-1955 (4)”; Jackson to Eisenhower, 6/13/55, and Jackson to Dulles, 6/13/55, both in Rostow, Open Skies, 166.  Rockefeller also sent Eisenhower Rostow's letter, laying out a vision of cold war victory, and Jackson sent Eisenhower a copy of the “smell-of-victory” memo he wrote for Luce.

[23] Perhaps Eisenhower was exercising what Fred Greenstein has called The Hidden-Hand Presidency.  He was well aware that the issue of inspection was enmeshed in serious bureaucratic in-fighting.  Had he taken a clear stand early on, he would have enhanced the power of one contender over the others.  By remaining aloof, he allowed each contender to develop its own thoughts and proposals fully.  On the other hand, it is possible that he simply had no well-formed opinions on or interest in the matter.

[24] Ambrose, Eisenhower, 246.

[25] Lodge to Eisenhower, 6/14/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 116.  Eisenhower sent Lodge’s memo to Stassen:  Ann Whitman to Mildred Coleman, 6/15/55, AWF, Administration Series, Box 34, “Stassen, Harold E. 1954-1955 (1).”

[26] Killian, Sputnik, Scientists, and Eisenhower, 68, 75; NSC, 3/17/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 19: 64; Eisenhower to Charles Wilson, undated draft,  AWF, Drafts Series, Box 2, “Drafts January – March, 1955 (3).”  See also Hogan, A Cross Of Iron, 379, 383.  Charles Appleby notes the contrast between the Killian report’s finding that the hydrogen bomb made war more likely, because it put a premium on preemptive surprise attack,  and the Oppenheimer Panel’s finding in 1952 that mutual atomic “plenty” would create greater stability:  "Eisenhower and Arms Control," 79.  Before the study was completed, Killian and inventor Edwin Land told Eisenhower they were already convinced that the U.S. needed a better spy plane to provide early warning of any Soviet mobilization.  The president readily agreed to fund the U-2:  Beschloss, Mayday, 79-83.

[27] Memorandum, 3/7/55, John Foster Dulles Papers, White House Memoranda Series, Box 3, “Meetings with the President 1955 (6)”; Memorandum of Conversation with the President, 3/7/55, John Foster Dulles Papers, White House Memoranda Series, Box 3, “Meetings with the President 1955 (7).”  The U.S. news media were willing to help out in this effort.  When Time said that a newly-tested 40-kiloton bomb “renders U.S. conventional [sic] forces more powerful than those of any enemy,” it was a sign that, as Robert Divine has written, “the hydrogen age had truly arrived”:  Blowing on the Wind, 46.

[28] NSC, 3/3/55, AWF, NSC Series, Box 6, “239th Meeting of the NSC,  March 3, 1955.”  Eisenhower wanted simulated evacuations to continue “until they became a regular part of our lives.”  After reading plans for placing the nation under martial law, giving the president power to “requisition all of the nation’s resources–human and material,” he pronounced them “sound”:  Flemming to Eisenhower, 4/7/55, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 10, “DDE Diary April 1955 (2)”; Eisenhower to Flemming, 4/7/55, PDDE, 16: 1665.

[29] Ambrose, Eisenhower, 256; NSC, 1/28/54, AWF, NSC Series, Box 5, "182nd Meeting, 1/28/54"; NSC, 6/16/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 19: 89; AWF, Cabinet Series, Box 5, “Special Cabinet Meeting of June 17, 1955.”

[30] NSC, 6/9/55, AWF, NSC Series, Box 7, “251st Meeting of NSC, June 9, 1955.”  At an NSC meeting early in 1954, Eisenhower and Secretary of the Treasury Humphrey had discussed how to print and sell war bonds to finance the next war if Washington were destroyed:  NSC, 1/28/54, AWF, NSC Series, Box 5, "182nd Meeting, 1/28/54."

[31] Study of NSC 5515/1, 4/1/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 19: 71-75 (see Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace, 165, n.68); NSC, 6/16/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 19: 93.

[32] See Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace, 162 ff.  The prospect of using nuclear weapons against China did not influence Eisenhower's overall views on nuclear war and nuclear weapons.  There is no documentary evidence of any significant link between the administration's discussion of the Formosa Straits crisis and its discussion of arms and disarmament policies.

[33] Dockrill, Eisenhower's New-Look, 135.

[34] NSC, 6/30/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 145, 152.

[35] Ibid., 146, 148.

[36] Ibid., 149, 151, 153. Eisenhower said that if the Soviets rejected an inspection proposal, he would send the U-2 spy plane into operation to get the information he wanted:  Beschloss, Mayday, 105; Prados, “Open Skies and Closed Minds,” 222-224.

[37] NSC, 6/30/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 20: 153; Dulles to Eisenhower, 6/28/55, AWF, Dulles-Herter Series, Box 5, “Dulles, John Foster, June 1955”; Stassen and Houts, Eisenhower, 321-23.  See also Matteson, “1955—A Watershed Year in the History of U.S. Disarmament Policy,” Nuclear History Project, Box 12, 33, NSA.

[38] NSC 5524/1, 7/11/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 287-290. 

[39] The NSC discussion is in FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 269-273.  The president directed that the text should note that “concrete Soviet deeds at Geneva” might indicate “a contrary state of mind.…the struggle for power in the ruling group in the Kremlin had tended to make for compromises.”  He added that “we were going to the Geneva Conference hoping to see if we could not penetrate the veil of Soviet intentions.”  He wrote to Swede Hazlett, “Foster and I should be able to detect whether the Soviets really intend to introduce a tactical change that could mean, for the next few years at least, some real easing of tensions”:  Eisenhower to Hazlett, 6/4/55, PDDE, 16: 1729-1730 and AWF, Drafts Series, Box 2,  “Drafts Apr - Dec 55 (3).”  See also Eisenhower, Mandate for Change, 607.

[40] NSC 5524/1, 7/11/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 290; NSC, 7/7/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 272-73; State Department Briefing, 7/11/55, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 11, “DDE Diary, July 1955 (2).”  See also Notes on a Bipartisan Conference, 7/12/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 306-9; NSC, 7/14/55, AWF, NSC Series, Box 7,  “225th meeting of NSC, July 14, 1955.”  Eisenhower was alarmed by European public opinion polls showing strong opposition to nuclear weapons and U.S. cold war policies:  Rockefeller to Eisenhower, 7/7/55, White House Office, OSANSA, NSC Series, Briefing Notes Subseries, Box 8, “Four Power Heads of Government meeting (1)”; “Latest Opinion Trends,” 7/1/55, WHCF, Confidential File, Subject Series, Box 29, “Geneva Conference (Big Four Conference, July 1955) (3).”  State Department officials at the briefing seemed to think the president was being unduly alarmist.

[41] C. D. Jackson Log, 7/11/55, in Rostow, Open Skies, 159-63; Jackson, From Quantico to Geneva, in Rostow, Open Skies, 126.  The day after Dulles talked with Jackson, he and the president met with Congressional leaders; there was little difference in the views expressed by the two:  Bipartisan Legislative Meeting, 7/12/55, AWF, Legislative Meetings Series, Box 2, “Legislative Meetings 1955 (4)”; Notes on a Bipartisan Conference, 7/12/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 306-9.  See also Pruessen “Beyond the Cold War,” 79. 

[42] Rockefeller to Eisenhower, 7/6/55, in Rostow, Open Skies, 133-35; Rockefeller to Eisenhower, 7/11/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 300; Stassen and Houts, Eisenhower, 325; Reich, Rockefeller, 591.  Eisenhower described the plan to Dulles:  “We open up ours; they do likewise for us.…[It] might open a tiny gate in the disarmament fence”:  Telephone calls from the President, 7/6/55, John Foster Dulles Papers, Telephone Calls Series, Box 10, “White House Telephone Memoranda, March 7 - August 25, 1955 (1)”; diary entry, 7/6/55, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 9, “Phone calls - January-July 1955 (1).”   The president knew that the U.S. was committed to avoiding genuine disarmament negotiations.  So the operative word was “tiny.”  Fearing that he might be outflanked, Dulles protested:  “That was going to be his suggestion.”  Dulles had already endorsed the idea in a conversation with Stassen:  Rostow, Open Skies, 46; Memorandum of Conversation, 7/5/66, Nuclear History Project, Box 6, “1955 - Disarmament – July,” NSA.

[43] Address to Associated Press, 4/25/55, PPP, 1955, 418; Message to Congress on Mutual Security Program, 4/20/55, PPP, 1955, 404.

[44] Address to Associated Press, 4/25/55, PPP, 1955, 419.

[45] Press conference, 6/29/55, PPP, 1955, 648, 650, 661; Press conference, 5/18/55, PPP, 1955, 518.  See also Press conference, 6/8/55, PPP, 1955, 588.

[46] Remarks at Vermont State Dairy Festival, 6/22/55, PPP, 1955, 618; Eisenhower to Dulles, 5/25/55, John Foster Dulles Papers, Telephone Calls, Box 10, “Telephones Conversations - White House, March 7, 1955 to August 29, 1955 (2)”; Address to United Nations, 6/20/55, PPP, 1955, 605-611; Message to Congress on Mutual Security Program, 4/20/55, PPP, 1955, 413.  Occasionally Eisenhower identified universal truth with the Christian tradition:  “Let us meet in what we like to term the Christian spirit and reach an answer that is for the good of all”:  Remarks to AFL, 4/30/55, PPP, 1955, 444. 

[47] Address at Penn State University, 6/11/55, PPP, 1955, 600; Remarks at Skowhegan, Maine, 6/27/55, PPP, 1955, 636; Remarks to Advertising Council, 3/22/55, PPP, 1955, 348.  In the latter speech, Eisenhower added, perhaps paradoxically:  “Everybody has got to take these great principles [of private enterprise] and interpret them in his own way.…Otherwise it would not be freedom.”

[48] Press conference, 4/27/55, PPP, 1955, 432, 433; Jackson to Rostow, 6/25/55, C.D. Jackson Papers, Box 91,  “Rostow, Walt W., 1955 (2).”

[49] Ann Whitman diary, 7/15/55, AWF, International Meetings Series, Box 1, “Geneva Conference July 18-23, 1955 (4)”; Outline for Talk Friday Night, 7/13/55, AWF, Speech Series, Box 13, “Departure for Geneva TV 7/15/55 (2)”; Draft, 7/15/55, AWF, Speech Series, Box 13, “Departure for Geneva TV 7/15/55 (2).”  In his notes, Eisenhower used the word spirit six times, equating universal religious values with “American ideals, history and customs” as the source of world hope, all being blocked by Soviet Union.    Dulles also encouraged frequent use of the word spirit:  Secretary Dulles' verbal suggestion for Friday TV, 7/13/55, John Foster Dulles Papers, Draft Presidential Correspondence and Speeches Series, Box 1, “President's Opening Statement at Geneva (1)”;

[50] Radio and Television Address to the American People, 7/15/55, PPP, 1955, 701-5. Eisenhower wrote the closing paragraph, with the promise to be “conciliatory,” himself:  Ann Whitman diary, 7/15/55, AWF, International Meetings Series, Box 1, “Geneva Conference July 18-23, 1955 (4).”

[51] Radio and Television Address to the American People, 7/15/55, PPP, 1955, 705; State Department Briefing, 7/11/55, AWF, DDE Diaries Series, Box 11, “DDE Diary, July 1955 (2)”; Memorandum, 7/11/55, AWF, International Meetings Series, Box 1, “Four Power Meeting Messages.”  See also NSC, 7/7/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 282; Eisenhower, Mandate for Change, 607.  Piers Brendon suggests that, by linking religious language to an assurance that there would be no appeasement, Eisenhower provided “a celestial guarantee that Geneva would be no Yalta”:  Ike, 307.

[52] There is no single authoritative record of what transpired in Paris.  This account draws on Parker, Memorandum, 7/18/55; Rockefeller to Goodpaster, 7/19/55; Parker to Rostow, 6/12/81; Kintner to Rostow, 5/4/81; Jackson, “Quantico to Geneva”; Presidential Statement on Disarmament, 7/19/55 (all in Rostow, Open Skies); Anderson & Radford to Dulles, 7/19/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 385-86; Memorandum by Admiral Arthur W. Radford, 7/19/55, Nuclear History Project, Box 6, “1955 - Disarmament – July,” NSA; Reich, Rockefeller, 598-599; Matteson, “1955—A Watershed Year in the History of U.S. Disarmament Policy,” Nuclear History Project, Box 12, 107, NSA. 

[53] Memorandum of Conversation, 7/17/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 350.  In another conversation at Geneva, Eisenhower acknowledged the same goals to his wartime comrade, Soviet Marshal Zhukov.  Eisenhower speculated that “if two hundred H-bombs were exploded in a short period of time,” they might generate enough fallout to destroy “possibly the whole northern hemisphere.”  When Zhukov offered “total abolition of weapons of this character” as the only solution, Eisenhower countered that this would have to be done step by step, with an inspection system a necessary first step:  Memorandum of Conversation, 7/20/25, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 412-413; Eisenhower, Mandate for Change, 626.

[54] Memorandum of Conversation, 7/17/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 359, 361; Memorandum of Conversation, 7/20/55, FRUS 5: 401; Dulles to Eisenhower, 7/19/55, AWF, International Meetings Series, Box 1, “Geneva Conference July 18-23, 1955 (3)”;  Memorandum of Conversation, 7/17/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 343.

[55] Jackson, From Quantico to Geneva, in Rostow, Open Skies, 128; Goodpaster’s copy of draft, in White House Office, Office of the Staff Secretary, International Trips and Meetins Series, Box 2, “Geneva - Notes and Observations (1955).”  Rostow published two other, apparently earlier, versions of this draft.  One (109-111) omits the crucial paragraph entirely.  The other (140-143) omits the crucial sentence about aerial photography.  This led Rostow to state (105 n.) erroneously that Stassen’s draft did not refer to aerial inspection.  On Stassen’s role, see also Stassen and Houts, Eisenhower, 326-332.

[56] Eisenhower Oral History, OH-14, 43; Anderson memorandum, 7/25/55, and Goodpaster memorandum, 7/21/55, both in Rostow, Open Skies, 104-8.  See also Dockrill, Eisenhower's New-Look, 144.

[57] Dulles to State, 7/21/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 434.  See Bundy, Danger and Survival, 299.  Stassen claims that Dulles, editing his copy of the draft, “deleted the entire section” on aerial inspection:  Stassen and Houts, Eisenhower, 336.  But on the draft Dulles edited, the crucial paragraph merely has a box drawn around it, and the word “zones” written in the margin:  AWF, International Meetings Series, Box 1, “Geneva Conference July 18-23 1955 [#1] (3).”

[58] The text, Statement on Disarmament Presented at the Geneva Conference, 7/21/55, is in PPP, 1956, 713-716.

[59] Dulles and Goodpaster both later claimed that Eisenhower made the final decision to offer the “Open Skies” proposal only at this moment during his speech.  The crucial portion of the text was not in the reading copy.  According to Dulles, Eisenhower had memorized it:  Dulles to Sherman Adams, 4/13/56, John Foster Dulles Papers, White House Memoranda Series, Box 4, “White House Correspondence, General 1956 (5)”; Andrew Goodpaster, Oral History, OH 37 #3. 

[60] The draft that Stassen presented at 6 PM on the 20th said nothing about blueprints.  The idea apparently originated with CIA agent Dino Brugioni.  Told of the “Open Skies” idea by Eisenhower's friend Lucian Truscott, Brugioni exclaimed, “Hell, I’d want the blueprints”:  Beschloss, Mayday, 99.  Eisenhower may have first heard the idea from Radford in Geneva.  As Radford knew, in every exchange of information about military capabilities the U.S. gained a net advantage; the more information exchanged, the greater the advantage.  See Stassen and Houts, Eisenhower, 334, 336; Matteson, “1955—A Watershed Year in the History of U.S. Disarmament Policy,” Nuclear History Project, Box 12, 37, NSA; Parker memo, 7/18/55, in Rostow, Open Skies, 53; Joseph C. Harsch in Christian Science Monitor, 7/22/55, 1.

[61] Dallek, The American Style of Foreign Policy, 195

[62] Rovere, Affairs of State, 290, 291.  BBD&O was a major advertising agency with great influence in administration; see Allen, Eisenhower and the Mass Media, index, s.v. “Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn.”  On “Open Skies” as a propaganda victory, see, e.g., Gaddis, Strategies of Containment, 193;  Hogan, “Eisenhower and Open Skies,” 149.

[63] Beschloss, Mayday, 104; Eisenhower, Oral History, OH-14, 43.

[64] NSC, 2/18/60, FRUS 1958-1960, 3: 840; Matteson, “1955—A Watershed Year in the History of U.S. Disarmament Policy,” Nuclear History Project, Box 12, 84, 107, 126, NSA; Newhouse, War and Peace in the Nuclear Age, 115.  See also Goodpaster Oral History, OH 378, #3.  Eisenhower told Matteson that he had wanted an agreement that “would hurt neither side”:  Matteson, “1955—A Watershed Year in the History of U.S. Disarmament Policy,” Nuclear History Project, Box 12, 82, NSA.  The documentary evidence shows this to be untrue.   

[65] NSC, 7/28/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 533; Eisenhower, Mandate for Change, 621; Bipartisan Meeting, 7/25/55, AWF, Legislative Meetings Series, Box 2, “Legislative Meetings 1955 (4).”  The story recounted by Ann Whitman is reported in two different versions:  Beschloss, Mayday, 104; Donovan, Confidential Secretary, 87.  See also Stassen and Houts, Eisenhower, 340; Perret, Eisenhower, 527; Eisenhower’s notes on a State Department cable in AWF, Administration Series, Box 35, “Stassen, Harold E. 1956 (3).”

[66] NSC, 8/4/55, AWF, NSC, Box 7, “257th meeting, August 5, 1955”; NSC, 7/28/55, FRUS 1955-1957, 5: 533, 532; Osgood, Total Cold War, 161.  See also Eisenhower, Mandate for Change, 630; Press Conference, 8/4/55, PPP, 1955, 759.  Eisenhower told Alfred Gruenther that he hoped "Open Skies" would eliminate “the danger of devastating surprise attack” and thus afford “a truly realistic basis for studying disarmament”:  Eisenhower to Alfred Gruenther, 7/25/55, PDDE, 16: 1790-91.  Yet Dulles boasted to Congressional leaders that, although the Soviet Union wanted disarmament to be the first topic for the foreign ministers’ meeting in October, the U.S. had succeeded in consigning it to the UN subcommittee (where its progress would surely be slowed):  Bipartisan Legislative Meeting, 7/25/55, AWF, Legislative meetings, Box 2, “Legislative Meetings 1955 (4) [July-August].”