The U.S. strategic embargo against the Soviet bloc, adopted in 1947–1948, had been designed to restrict the supply of weapons technology to the Soviet Union and to retard Soviet economic growth. When these objectives failed to materialize by 1957, a lengthy reevaluation of the purpose, benefits, and costs of the embargo ensued. The Kennedy administration eventually concluded that the strategic embargo was an integral part of U.S. Cold War strategy and, as such, could not be abandoned without suffering important diplomatic costs. The embargo became a means of bargaining with the Soviet Union and a medium through which to convey messages. Like any other tool of statecraft, the embargo proved to be as flexible as officials wanted to make it. Even if it failed in its original purpose, it could be used in other ways.

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