'Take me up on my proposal' : the 'Open Skies' initiative and Dwight D. Eisenhower's efforts to curb the military-industrial complex
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This dissertation examines president Eisenhower’s ‘Open Skies’ policy and its links with American defence strategy of the 1950s. Based principally on archival sources, especially the records of the Eisenhower Presidential Library, it will assess the foreign policy issues and domestic pressures that influenced Eisenhower’s desire to implement a system of mutual aerial inspection with the Soviet Union from July 1955. The first chapter will focus on the background to the rise of the military establishment in America after 1945, which Eisenhower later referred to as a military-industrial complex. Chapter Two examines the president’s defence strategy, which became known as the New Look, and the ways in which this strategy embraced not only a military response towards the perceived threat of Soviet communism but also included non-military measures. Chapter Three focuses on the background to the Geneva summit, at which Open Skies was proposed to the Russians. In particular, it will assess Eisenhower’s efforts to strengthen Western allied unity so that constructive negotiations with the Russians could be undertaken. Chapter Four will focus on Nelson Rockefeller and the Quantico Panel. Think tanks played an influential role in shaping foreign policy during the early Cold War period. Chapters Five and Six examine Eisenhower’s attempts to implement Open Skies with the Soviets after July 1955. In order to confront the growing challenges to the New Look and cuts in defence budgets, Eisenhower needed reliable intelligence on the Soviet Union that would quell exaggerated estimates about Russian military capabilities. The dissertation concludes that Open Skies was neither a transient measure nor an attempt by Eisenhower to achieve a propaganda advantage over the Soviet Union. It is argued instead that his desire to implement this initiative was linked to his determination to control the military-industrial complex in America, an interpretation that has not been addressed by historians.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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