Dulles Announces Policy of “Massive Retaliation” – 1/12/1954

US History |

Secretary of State John Foster Dulles delivers a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in his honor b announcing that allies of the United States will be protected through the use of “deterrent of massive retaliatory power.” This announcement on policy was more evidence of the decision of Eisenhower’s administration to rely mostly on the nuclear arsenal of the nation as the main means of defending against the aggression of communism.

Examining strategy of the communists was how Dulles started his speech and concluded that its mission was the “bankruptcy” of the United States through the overextension of its military might. Both economically and strategically, explained the secretary, it was not wise to “permanently commit U.S. land forces to Asia,” to “support permanently other countries,” or to “become permanently committed to military expenditures so vast that they lead to ‘practical bankruptcy.'” Rather, his belief was to have a new policy of “getting maximum protection at a bearable cost” should be created. Although he did not directly make reference to nuclear weapons, it was obvious that the new policy he was talking about would rely on the “massive retaliatory power” of such weapons to react to any future acts of communism that could lead to war.

The speech was considered to be a reflection of the two main concepts of foreign policy that Dulles and Eisenhower wanted to accomplish. The first part of the belief, more specifically with Dulles than Eisenhower, that the foreign policy that America was following in regards toward the threat of communism had been reacted to timidly during the prior administration of the Democrats under President Harry S. Truman. Dulles had continued to constantly repeat the importance and need for a more vigorous and proactive plan to taking back the sphere of influence that the communists were displaying.

The second belief focused more on President Eisenhower and his opinion that the amount of spending on both foreign and military assistance was too much and some type of control was needed. This view should not have come as a surprise considering that Eisenhower was known to be a fiscal conservative and felt strongly that society and the United States economy would be unable to take a lengthy strain of the defense budgets becoming overwhelming. This led to the only choice that seemed would solve the problem in the eyes of Eisenhower.


This choice was to have a reliance that was stronger on nuclear weapons as becoming the backbone for the defense of America would answer both of his concerns; atomic weapons would be far more effective in relation of being a threat to potential adversaries as well as becoming, in the long run, extremely less expensive than what the total price would be in association to having a huge standing army.

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