Eisenhower Administration

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Comment, JUL/AUG 2014
Ray Takeyh

Conventional wisdom about the 1953 coup in Iran rests on the myth that the CIA toppled the country's democratically elected prime minister. In reality, the coup was primarily a domestic Iranian affair, and the CIA's impact was ultimately insignificant.

Review Essay, Jul/Aug 2007
Aaron L. Friedberg

Two new books discuss how Washington should fight the wars of tomorrow -- and pay for them. But to balance the conflicting demands of strategy and finance, the next president ought to take a page from Eisenhower's playbook.

Review Essay, May/Jun 1997
Warren I. Cohen

Bruce Cumings' maverick thinking on Korea is now practically mainstream. This administration, which seems to have absorbed it, just might achieve what none of its predecessors could: the reunification of Korea.

Review Essay, May/Jun 1995
Paul Johnson

In his popular history of U.S. foreign policy, David Fromkin treats American isolationism between the two world wars as the norm, despite evidence to the contrary.

Review Essay, Nov/Dec 1994
Robin W. Winks

Finally we have a book on espionage with the flavor and texture of the truth. Peter Grose brings us a biography of Allen Dulles, founder of the modern CIA.

Review Essay, Spring 1989
Gregory F. Treverton

"A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought." The words are Ronald Reagan's. While McGeorge Bundy, like many others, finds Reagan's thinking about nuclear weapons muddy and his administration's public presentation of nuclear reality disgraceful, this particular sentence is crystal clear. It echoes the conclusion of the only person ever to authorize a nuclear strike, Harry Truman: "Starting an atomic war is totally unthinkable for rational men."

Essay, Jul 1975
Alastair Buchan

Sir Lewis Namier, the great British historian of a generation ago, used to warn his students of the danger of trying "to argue with history": of abstracting, that is, one event or sequence of events in a historical epoch in an effort to determine how world politics would have been different if it had not occurred; the past is a seamless web, he used to argue, of interrelated developments whose individual strands cannot be unraveled and examined separately. One does not have to be a historical determinist to accept the soundness of this view, and a great deal of the "oh, if only" historiography that now surrounds the American involvement in Indochina seems to me to be based on fallacious abstractions of parts of the national decision-making process at isolated points in time over the past quarter-century. The blow to American idealism which the protracted brutalities of the involvement occasioned, the damage which military and political failure in Vietnam may have done to American influence, are only aspects of a larger process of change; and the new structure of power relations in the world would not, in my view, be radically different if the United States had never become seriously involved in Indochina, or even if it had been able to impose a peace settlement upon the area between 1964 and 1973. Much of the American literature of mea culpa is an aspect of what Dennis Brogan first called "the illusion of American omnipotence," the belief that prevailed for nearly a generation, not only that American policy was all-determinant in molding the map of the world, but that the United States had a greater degree of choice at any point in time than was in reality the case.

Essay, Jan 1974
Gaddis Smith

It is man's nature to search the past for might-have-beens, paths not taken which if followed might have prevented tragedy and made the present safer. If only the United States had been blessed with Presidents of stature in the 1850s. . . . If only Britain and France had refused to tolerate Hitler's reoccupation of the Rhineland in 1936. . . .

Essay, Oct 1972
Zbigniew Brzezinski

The dates May 22, 1947, and May 22, 1972, span exactly 25 years. On May 22, 1947, President Truman signed a congressional bill committing the United States to support Greece and Turkey against Soviet designs, and the United States thereby assumed overtly the direct leadership of the West in the containment of Soviet influence. Twenty-five years later to the day, another American President landed in Moscow, declaring to the Soviet leaders that "we meet at a moment when we can make peaceful coöperation a reality."

Essay, Jul 1970
Townsend Hoopes

A Question recently posed by a distinguished colleague is central for anyone who earnestly seeks to understand how an entire generation of American political leaders, with the best will in the world, pushed the country onto the slippery slope that led ever downward into the engulfing morass of Indochina. The question is this: "Why did so many intelligent, experienced and humane men in government fail to grasp the immorality of our intervention in Vietnam and the cancerous division it was producing at home, long after this was instinctively evident to their wives and children?"

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