This article examines Dwight Eisenhower's and John Foster Dulles's publicly declared goal to achieve the “liberation” of Eastern Europe, a goal that they claimed would replace the Truman administration's “passive” containment policy.But the evidence shows that Eisenhower and Dulles were unwilling to risk war with the Soviet Union and believed that liberation, if actually pursued, would induce the Soviet Union to react violently to perceived threats in Eastern Europe. Hence, in top-secret meetings and conversations, Eisenhower and Dulles rejected military liberation, despite their public pronouncements. Instead, they secretly pursued a tricky, risky, and long-term strategy of radio broadcasts and covert action designed to erode, rather than overthrow, Soviet power in Eastern Europe. In public, they continued to embrace liberation policy even when confronted with testimony from U.S. allies that the rhetorical diplomacy of liberation had not worked. This reliance on rhetoric failed to deter the Soviet Union from quashing rebellions in East Germany in 1953 and Hungary in 1956. If anything, the Eisenhower administration's rhetorical liberation policy may have encouraged, at least to some degree, these revolts.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.