Skip to comments.Jan. 12, 1954: Dulles announces policy of "massive retaliation"
Posted on 01/12/2014 2:41:14 PM PST by Fiji Hill
In a speech at a Council on Foreign Relations dinner in his honor, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles announces that the United States will protect its allies through the "deterrent of massive retaliatory power." The policy announcement was further evidence of the Eisenhower administration's decision to rely heavily on the nation's nuclear arsenal as the primary means of defense against communist aggression.
Dulles began his speech by examining communist strategy that, he concluded, had as its goal the "bankruptcy" of the United States through overextension of its military power. Both strategically and economically, the secretary explained, it was unwise to "permanently commit U.S. land forces to Asia," to "support permanently other countries," or to "become permanently committed to military expenditures so vast that they lead to 'practical bankruptcy.'" Instead, he believed a new policy of "getting maximum protection at a bearable cost" should be developed. Although Dulles did not directly refer to nuclear weapons, it was clear that the new policy he was describing would depend upon the "massive retaliatory power" of such weapons to respond to future communist acts of war.
The speech was a reflection of two of the main tenets of foreign policy under Eisenhower and Dulles. First was the belief, particularly on the part of Dulles, that America's foreign policy toward the communist threat had been timidly reactive during the preceding Democratic administration of President Harry S. Truman. Dulles consistently reiterated the need for a more proactive and vigorous approach to rolling back the communist sphere of influence. Second was President Eisenhower's belief that military and foreign assistance spending had to be controlled. Eisenhower was a fiscal conservative and believed that the U.S. economy and society could not long take the strain of overwhelming defense budgets. A stronger reliance on nuclear weapons as the backbone of America's defense answered both concerns--atomic weapons were far more effective in terms of threatening potential adversaries, and they were also, in the long run, much less expensive than the costs associated with a large standing army.
Dulles may have deliberately chosen January 12 to deliver this speech because on that same date in 1950, Secretary of State Dean Acheson, his predecessor, gave his infamous Perimeter speech in which he excluded South Korea from our defense perimiter, a blunder which may have been a factor in North Korea's decision to attack the South six months later.
Ike was a wise man and underrated president.
It is now "Massive Appeasement & Apology".
Yes, in WW2 and beyond the unfortunate US policy totally ignored Korea until it was almost too late
We need SDI now!
Not long ago, Harry Reid called for renaming McCarran Field, the airport in Las Vegas, Nev. which is named in honor of Senator Pat McCarran (D-Nev.), the bane of Soviet spies and fellow travelers.
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