In the years 195360, President Eisenhowers cold war diplomacy was based on confrontation rather than coexistence. How far do you agree with this view?

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‘In the years 1953–60, President Eisenhower’s cold war diplomacy was based on confrontation rather than coexistence.’ How far do you agree with this view?

In the years 1953-1960 it can be argued that President Eisenhower’s cold war diplomacy was based on confrontation. Confrontational foreign policy, covert operations of the CIA and the aggressive build-up of nuclear arms seemingly confirm this interpretation. However, the equally hostile Soviet build-up of arms and provocative military action within Eastern Europe highlight the unstable international context that characterised Eisenhower’s presidency; whilst his support of improving superpower relations through ‘summit diplomacy’ suggest Eisenhower was more interested in ensuring coexistence than confrontation. Therefore, Eisenhower’s cold war diplomacy was a measured and necessary response to a volatile cold war climate and thus was inevitably based on measured confrontation.

With the election of Eisenhower as US president in 1952, US foreign policy became increasingly confrontational towards the Soviet Union. Eisenhower selected the stringently anti-communist John Foster Dulles as his secretary of state who saw confrontation between east and west as a struggle between good and evil. Dulles had a strong influence on Eisenhower’s foreign policy, advocating the policies of ‘roll back’ and ‘massive retaliation’. In conjunction with Eisenhower’s ‘Domino Theory’ articulated in 1954 and the Eisenhower doctrine of 1957 this would see the US deter any perceived Soviet aggression with the potentially catastrophic use of nuclear ‘brinkmanship’ whilst simultaneously attempting to push back the ‘spread’ of communism to Russia. Therefore, the policy of Eisenhower’s administration can be seen as having a particularly confrontational dimension.

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In addition, Eisenhower instructed the CIA to destabilise and encourage the overthrow of suspected communist Governments and thus demonstrates how his cold war diplomacy was based on confrontation. The CIA used covert action against the elected communist government of Iran during the 1953 Iranian coup d’état, the agency later admitting that  it was ‘as an act of U.S. foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government’. The CIA took a similar approach during the 1954 Guatemala coup d’état. These covert operations are examples of ‘roll back’ in action; thus the provocative actions of the CIA in what ...

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