Author (Your Name)

Tom Donahue, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Government Dept.


Robert S. Weisbrot


When Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected President of the United States in 1952, America held its breath to see how a Republican administration would handle the Cold War. By 1952, due particularly to the costs of the Korean conflict, enthusiasm for President Harry Truman and Secretary of State Dean Acheson's policy of "containment" of Communism reached new lows. Eisenhower had been elected with a mandate from the citizenry: to get tough on communism. The candidate and his advisers were determined to prove to the Communists that the United States had rurned over a new leaf. There would be no more debacles like Korea if the Eisenhower tearn had any say in the matter, John Foster Dulles, Eisenhower's foreign policy adviser during the election campaign and the certain nominee for Secretary of State, acted much like a candidate himself during the campaign. Dulles went on the record demanding a scrapping of the policy of "containment" and a commitment to a plan for the "liberation" of Eastern Europe and other Communist-dominated regions. As Election Day neared, Dulles's rhetoric became more and more combative: "We must abandon the 'containment' policy ," he thundered, "and, above all, the defeatist, appeasing mood which gives it birth." At the time, Dulles's remarks were seen by many people, both in the United States and abroad, as irresponsible brinkmanship. He himself regarded them as little more than what they were: campaign pledges that could be ignored once the election was won. (2) The conduct of the Eisenhower administration later proved that there was a great difference between the militant promises Dulles made to the American people and the more cautious policy decisions that Eisenhower and Dulles implemented. However, damage was done to the relations the United States had with some foreign nations during Eisenhower's first term; 3 in particular to relations with those states that had refused to align themselves with either side in the Cold War. India was a leader of these newly independent Afro-Asian countries, which were soon dubbed the "Third World" by French journalists. India had a massive population, was committed to democracy. and enjoyed a certain inrernational moral authority as the homeland of Gandhian nonviolence. By virtue of its geographic position it controlled the southern route between the oilfields of the Middle East and the vast resources of Asia. Almost all its fellows in the family of nations held the Republic of India in high regard, particularly in light of the authoritarian practices of many of its neighboring governments. It seemed natural that the United States should cultivate the closest of relationships with India. But the attitudes, rhetoric, and decisions of the first Eisenhower administration caused a serious downturn in Indo-American relations from 1953-1956. They were finally improved by the pull of events, both domestic and global, and by personal contact and the discovery of common ground between the two countries' leaders.


United States -- Foreign relations -- India, India -- Foreign relations -- United States, United States -- Foreign relations -- 1953-1961 -- Case studies