Dueling Visions
U.S. Strategy toward Eastern Europe under Eisenhower
Cold War
6.125 x 9.25, 192 pp.
Pub Date: 02/01/2001
Foreign Relations and the Presidency
Price:        $29.95 s


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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Dueling Visions

U.S. Strategy toward Eastern Europe under Eisenhower

By Ronald R. Krebs

The presidential election of 1952, unlike most others before and since, was dominated by foreign policy, from the bloody stalemate of Korea to the deepening menace of international communism. During the campaign, Dwight Eisenhower and his spokesmen fed the public’s imagination with their promises to liberate the peoples of Eastern Europe and created the impression that in office they would undertake an aggressive program to roll back Soviet influence across the globe. But time and again during the 1950s, Eisenhower and his advisers found themselves powerless to shape the course of events in Eastern Europe: they mourned their impotence but did little.

In Dueling Visions, Ronald R. Krebs argues that two different images of Eastern Europe’s ultimate status competed to guide American policy during this period: Finlandization and rollback. Rollback, championed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Central Intelligence Agency, was synonymous with liberation as the public understood it—detaching Eastern Europe form all aspects of Soviet control. Surprisingly, the figure most often linked to liberation—Secretary of State John Foster Dulles —came to advocated a more subtle and measure policy that neither accepted the status quo nor pursued rollback. This American vision for the region held up the model of Finland, imagining a tier of states that would enjoy domestic autonomy and perhaps even democracy but whose foreign policy would toe the Soviet line.

Krebs analyzes the conflicting logics and webs of assumptions underlying these dueling visions, and closely examines the struggles over these alternatives within the administration. Case studies of the American response to Stalin’s death and to the Soviet—Yugoslav rapprochement reveal the eventual triumph of Finlandization both as vision and as policy. Finally, Krebs suggests the study’s implications for international relations theory and contemporary foreign affairs.

RONALD R. KREBS is a doctorate candidate in the Department of Political Science, Columbia University. He has contributed articles on international relations to such journals as International Organization and the Journal of Strategic Studies as well as to edited volumes.

What Readers Are Saying:

“... a well-written and clearly argued study ... offers a new interpretation of an important and controversial aspect of the Eisenhower administration’s foreign policy and helps explain the contradictory aspects of U.S. policy toward Eastern Europe at the height of the Cold War.”--Robert A. Divine, Littlefield Professor of History Emeritus, University of Texas at Austin

“Krebs’s study examines a major debate in the 1950s about U.S. Cold War policy, namely, competing views in the Eisenhower administration on “liberation” of Easter European countries from Soviet control. Based on meticulous and extensive archival research, the study contrasts two positions on liberation: the “Finland Model,” which called for containment of Soviet influence beyond the Iron Curtain but not active opposition within Eastern Europe; and the “Rollback Model,” which advocated a more aggressive strategy of fighting communism in Eastern Europe. Scholars of diplomatic history and international politics alike will appreciate the implications of this carefully developed analysis for presidential leadership and U.S. national security policy, topics of continuing importance in the post-Cold War era.” --Meena Bose

“Relying on rigorous research but an economy of words, Krebs penetrates the enigma of U.S. policy toward Eastern Europe in the 1950s with uncommon insight and originality. His argument that rather than pursue rollback Eisenhower, and more surprisingly Dulles, promoted the “Finlandization” of the “Captive Nations” is lucid, sophisticated, and altogether persuasive. Krebs deftly traverses the boundaries between history and international relations theory to produce a study that should be required reading for all those interested in the present and future as well as the past. Dueling Visions is revision ism at its best. --Richard H. Immerman, Professor and Chair of History, Temple University

“. . . a compact, thoughtful study. Krebs makes a valuable contribution to our evolving understanding of the foreign policy of the Eisenhower administration.” --Register of the Kentucky Historical Society


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