Key People & Terms
People Allen Dulles The director of the CIA under Eisenhower, who advocated extensive use of covert operations. Most notable among Dulles’s initiatives were U.S.-sponsored coups in Iran in 1953 and Guatemala in 1954, which installed pro-American governments in order to curb potential expansion of Communism. Although Eisenhower favored such covert operations because they were relatively low-cost and attracted little attention, the coups in Iran and Guatemala proved rather transparent and caused international anger toward the United States. John Foster Dulles Secretary of state under Eisenhower (and brother of Allen Dulles) who helped devise Eisenhower’s New Look foreign policy. Dulles’s policy emphasized massive retaliation with nuclear weapons. In particular, Dulles advocated the use of nuclear weapons against Ho Chi Minh’s Communist forces in Vietnam. Dwight D. Eisenhower A World War II hero and former supreme commander of NATO who became U.S. president in 1953 after easily defeating Democratic opponent Adlai E. Stevenson. Eisenhower expanded New Deal–era social welfare programs such as Social Security and passed the landmark Federal Highway Act to improve national transportation. However, he cut back funding to other domestic programs to halt what he called “creeping socialism.” His New Look at foreign policy, meanwhile, emphasized nuclear weapons and the threat of massive retaliation against the Soviet Union in order to cut costs and deter the USSR from spreading Communism abroad. Eisenhower committed federal dollars to fighting Communists in Vietnam, resolved the Suez crisis, and authorized CIA-sponsored coups in Iran and Guatemala. Ho Chi Minh The nationalist, Communist leader of the Viet Minh movement, which sought to liberate Vietnam from French colonial rule throughout the 1950s. After being rebuffed by the United States, Ho received aid from the USSR and won a major victory over French forces at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. This French defeat forced the Geneva Conference of 1954, which split Vietnam into Communist-dominated North
Vietnam and French-backed South Vietnam. John F. Kennedy The thirty-fifth U.S. president, who set out to expand social welfare spending with his New Frontier program. Kennedy was elected in 1960, defeating Republican Richard M. Nixon. Feeling that their hands were tied by Eisenhower’s policy of “massive retaliation,” Kennedy and members of his foreign policy staff devised the tactic of “flexible response” to contain Communism. Kennedy sent “military advisors” to support Ngo Dinh Diem’s corrupt regime in South Vietnam and formed the Alliance for Progress to fight poverty and Communism in Latin America. He also backed the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, which ultimately led to the Cuban missile crisis. In 1963, after Kennedy had spent roughly 1,000 days in office, he was assassinated, and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson took office. Nikita Khrushchev The head of the Soviet Communist Party and leader of the USSR from 1958 until the early 1960s. Initially, many Americans hoped Khrushchev’s rise to power would lead to a reduction in Cold War tensions. Khrushchev toured the United States in 1959 and visited personally with President Eisenhower at Camp David, Maryland. The U-2 incident and 1962 Cuban missile crisis, however, ended what little amity existed between the two nations and repolarized the Cold War. Party leaders, upset with Khrushchev for having backed down from the Cuban missile crisis, removed him from power in 1964. Douglas MacArthur
Five-star American general who commanded Allied forces in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, MacArthur led the American occupation in Japan, helped establish a democratic government there, and in large part rewrote the country’s new constitution outlawing militarism. He later commanded United Nations forces in Korea, driving North Korean forces back north of the 38th parallel after making the brilliant Inchon landing....
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