Dwight D. Eisenhower's Presidency

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How successfully did  President Eisenhower address the Cold War fears of Americans?  

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Eisenhower didn't so much address Americans' Cold War fears as exacerbate them. And one of the ways he did this was by allowing the anti-Communist witch-hunts of Senator Joseph McCarthy to go unchallenged. Although Eisenhower had no time for McCarthy, either personally or politically, he nonetheless refused to condemn his campaign against alleged Communist influence in the government.

The President knew just how popular McCarthyism was with large swathes of public opinion, not to mention the Republican grassroots. The prevailing atmosphere of Cold War anti-Communism had been very beneficial to the GOP, allowing the Republicans to ride Eisenhower's coat-tails to victory in the 1952 House elections. So long as the Communist threat remained alive in the popular imagination, it was likely that the Republicans would continue to reap the electoral rewards.

In addition, the Eisenhower Administration's aggressively anti-Communist foreign policy, which involved the active funding and support of right-wing dictatorships to prevent the spread of Soviet influence, depended for its continued support upon an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty at home. Rightly or wrongly, Americans on the whole were fearful of what Communism might bring, and the Eisenhower Administration was only too willing to exploit those fears to garner support for its policy agenda.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I think that Eisenhower helped to fuel the American fear of the Soviets.  The Eisenhower Doctrine was a clear example of this.  Eisenhower's foreign policy was committed to the idea that stopping the spread of Communism was vital to American interests.  Increasing the commitment of the United States to any nation fighting the Communist threat helped to build this very same threat at home.  Eisenhower lacked the ability to actually see the Communist threat as benign.  I am not sure anyone could really blame him for this because it was such an integral part of the time period.  Eisenhower demonstrated that he reflected and was a part of this time period.  In believing that the United States' interests are served when committing US forces and investments to nations fighting the Communist threat, Eisenhower helped to amplify the fears of Americans that it is "better dead than Red."  In this, Eisenhower is either leading public opinion or simply responding to it in terms of the fear regarding the threat of Communism around the world and how it is transferred to the domestic front.

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