A Foreign Policy for the 1960s Essay

A Foreign Policy for the 1960s Essay

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In two weeks, President Eisenhower will make way for the youngest elected president in our nation’s history. As a president taking office right at the height of the Cold War, incoming President Kennedy would do well to immediately pay attention to his foreign policy. Succeeding not only requires constant attention and dedication to improving and maintaining America’s global standing, but also looking to our past and learning from where the United States has triumphed and flopped. President Truman and President Eisenhower’s policies have left us with what I believe are four crucial lessons for President Kennedy: to resist – contain – the Soviets; to nevertheless exercise restraint with foreign intervention; to withstand our fatal habit of imposing our worldview on others; and to avoid overly bombastic rhetoric. The resultant policy, something I like to call controlled containment, will serve this country well in the coming decade.
The first lesson – to contain the Soviets – should not be unfamiliar. Back in 1947, my friend George Kennan called for just that: a “long term, patient, but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies.” Many things have changed since Kennan wrote those words – Stalin has been replaced by Khrushchev, Truman by Eisenhower. But that policy must still be our basic approach to foreign conflict. Soviet Communism still runs fundamentally against our values of democracy and freedom of expression. Russia’s seizure of governments in multiple Eastern European countries – such as Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Hungary – and its attempted invasion of South Korea both showed clearly that Russia is only interested in the expansion of its hegemony and the destruction of ours. Yes, Nikita Khrushchev may b...


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...of Walter Lippmann. Lippmann has had a disturbing influence on some Americans in the last few years. His idea of a “truce in the cold war,” a virtual acceptance of two coexisting but rival spheres of influence, is ill-informed. The Soviet Union, the United States must keep in mind, is not, has not and will not be interested in peacefully existing alongside the United States. Both Stalin and Khrushchev have embarked upon a course of Russian aggression, from Berlin to Poland to Korea to even Cuba. The Russians will not suppress their expansionist desires if we wave a white flag. The only meaningful path forward for the United States is the patient, vigilant controlled containment outlined here that constantly strives for a different world from the one in which we live. The cost of doing otherwise might well be the entire Cold War.
Best of luck, President Kennedy.

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