Dueling Visions

U.S. Strategy toward Eastern Europe under Eisenhower

978-0-89096-968-7 Cloth
6.125 x 9.25. 192 pp.
Pub Date: 02/01/2001
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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.

Foreign Relations and the Presidency

Published by Texas A&M University Press