Foreign Policy

Before becoming president, Eisenhower had a long history in the military.  He was known for his military strength and experience, and this was something that gained him much popularity.  His military experience also caused him to be extremely involved in foreign affairs. Eisenhower brought what he called a “New Look” to foreign policy affairs.


One of Eisenhower’s main goals of foreign policy was to contain communism.  A great fear was that of the domino effect,  the belief that if one country fell to communism, so would another and another and so on.   In his first inaugural address, he declared,

“Forces of good and evil are massed and armed and opposed as rarely before in history. Freedom is pitted against slavery, lightness against dark.” (United States History- Eisenhower and the Cold War).

Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster  Dulles believed that containment was not enough to stop Soviet expansion, and therefore adopted a policy know as Massive Retaliation, in which the U.S was prepared to use atomic weapons if they were to be attacked (United States History- Eisenhower and the Cold War).

U.S.- Soviet Relations:

Another important aspect of Eisenhowers foreign policy plan was to improve US-Soviet relations.  In July 1955, Eisenhower agreed to a conference of Soviet and western leaders in Geneva, Switzerland.  Although no clear boundaries were set regarding arms control and other international issues, this helped to reduce tensions between the U.S and the Soviet Union.

From left to right: Russian Premier Nikolai Bulganin, United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower, French Premier Edgar Faure, British Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden at the 1955 Geneva Conference (Source: Sputnik and Free Overflight in Space).

Global Perspective:

On september 28, 1959, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev visted the United States to meet with Presdient Eisenhower.  The purpose of this trip was to help ease Cold War tensions between the United States and Soviet Union.  Although no clear agreements had been reached, both parties felt that this was a success.  Khrushchev later spoke to a crowd Russians, saying that “I got the impression that he (Eisenhower) sincerely wanted to liquidate the ‘Cold War’ and to improve relations between our two great countries.”  However, there were, he warned, “forces in the United States working against us and against the easing of international tensions. These people  should be exposed and publicly whipped. Let those who want to continue the Cold War be angry. They will not be supported by reasonable people.” (Khrushchev and Eisenhower Offer Views on Summit Meeting).

However, tensions rose again when the Soviet’s shot down a U-2 plane that Eisenhower had ordered for secret intelligence flights which were to be carried out by the CIA.  Eisenhower relied on covert action by the CIA when handling many foreign affairs, such as this (American President).

Eisenhower Doctrine:

In 1957, Congress approved the Eisenhower Doctrine, which stated that a nation could request economic and military assistance from the United States if it was being attacked by a communist nation.  This bill was drafted in part as a response to an increasing spread in communism, more specifically due to tensions in the Middle East (The Eisenhower Doctrine- 1957).

Korean War:

Another accomplishment of Eisenhower’s was his role in ending the Korean War.  Eisenhower went to Korea, and on July 27, 1953, an armistence was signed, ending the war (Eisenhower Goes to Korea).  This was one of the things that Eisenhower had promised while campaigning for office, and this boosted his public image.


Another action that Eisenhower took in the area of foreign policy was to NOT get involved in the Vietnam War.  In a press conferences, he stated- “I cannot conceive of a greater tragedy for America than to get heavily involved now in an all-out war in any of those regions.” (Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Vietnam War).  However, the United States did heavily aid the Fench in this battle by paying for 80% of the war cost. Although the French lost this battle to the Vietmihn, Eisenhower went to the Geneva conference, which slpit Vietnam at the 17th parallel to create South Vienam, which was a nationalist country under the control of Ngo Dinh Diem (Eisenhower Foreign Policy).

I feel that Eisenhower was fairly successful in foreign policy affairs.  He was extremely involved in the field of foreign policy, and although not all of his goal were met, such as that of improving US-Soviet relations, he was successful in many of his other endeavors, including the ongoing battle for containment and putting an end to the Koran War.


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