Keeping Promises

  • Mara Oliva


During the 1952 presidential campaign, Eisenhower had skillfully tailored his opinions to meet the voters’ desires and at the same time appease the Republican Party right wing. Setting aside his views on foreign policy, he had endorsed the harsh GOP rhetoric in accusing the Truman administration of having abandoned millions of people to Communism in favor of a Europe-first policy and having involved the country in a stalemated war against the People’s Republic of China. Fully aware of the American public’s frustration regarding the Korean conflict, he had promised not only to bring peace but also to stand firm against the Chinese Communist threat and restore US prestige and credibility in the Far East. When he entered the White House on January 20, 1953, however, he made it clear that he was no longer willing to be a pawn of the party or the bureaucratic machine. Rather, he would be in full control of the policymaking process and its public relations management. Unlike his predecessor, he would make full use of the National Security Council which would be chaired by the President and would meet regularly every week. A firm believer in the necessity of support of public opinion for any foreign policy to be successful, he was also keen on establishing a public relations strategy capable of generating and maintaining popular support for the administration’s policies. This chapter explores the Eisenhower administration’s first year in the White House. First, it considers President Eisenhower’s and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles’ sensitivity to and perception of public opinion. It then examines the opinion-tracking channels they developed, the credence they gave to them, and the information they conveyed. Finally, it looks at the impact that those mass attitudes had on the administration’s formulation on foreign policy toward Communist China and the extent that domestic public opinion determined the choices Eisenhower and Dulles made in 1953.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mara Oliva
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

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