(COLD WAR: 1953-60 – continued)
President Dwight Eisenhower had taken office in January 1953, and in his inaugural address he had spoken of freedom being pitted against slavery and "lightness against dark." In his State of the Union speech he spoke of never acquiescing in "the enslavement of any people." Despite his settling the Korean War in accordance with Truman's strategy, Eisenhower and the Republican Party were determined to be stronger in their fight against communism than had the Democrats. Eisenhower's Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, rejected the "containment theory" adhered to by the Democrats and spoke of rolling back the iron curtain and liberating Eastern Europe, raising eyebrows in world capitals. The father of the containment theory, George Kennan, rejected Dulles' "roll back" theory, and Dulles told him there would be no place in the State Department for him.
The Eisenhower Administration also lifted the Truman administration's restrictions on military acts from Taiwan against the Communist mainland. With the U.S. Seventh Fleet protecting Taiwan from the People's Republic of China, the Truman administration had not wanted any provocations from Chiang's forces. But the Eisenhower administration decided to "unleash" Chiang, Dulles saying that the U.S. restricting Chiang from attacking the Communists was immoral.
And riding hard for the Republicans against the communist evil was Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin. McCarthy had exaggerated his war experiences, and he used his senate seat to make himself the loudest of the anti-communists, gaining attention by his calls against treason and for rooting communists out of the government. McCarthy called the Democrats the party of treason. A lot of people were uninterested in the accuracy of his charges and equated his lack of moderation on the treason issue with leadership. But McCarthy annoyed people in his own party – the Republican Party – including President Eisenhower, who disliked McCarthy's accusation that his old friend and former boss, General George C. Marshall, was a traitor, had made common cause with Stalin and, while working for President Truman, had lost China.
By the fall of 1953, McCarthy was in decline. The Rosenbergs had been executed in June, and the Korean War had ended in July. Passions were subsiding when McCarthy put himself in conflict with the Eisenhower administration and the Pentagon by objecting to the U.S. Army's promotion of one of its officers to major. Televised Army-McCarthy hearings in the Senate took place in the spring of 1954. Approval ratings for McCarthy dropped from 50 percent in January to 36 percent, and disapproval rose from 19 percent to 50 percent. In December 1954, in a special session of the Senate, McCarthy was censured, with half of the Republican senators voting aye.
McCarthy retained about 35 percent favorable ratings throughout the rest of his life, which lasted to May 2 1957. A heavy drinker, he died from acute hepatitis.
Copyright © 2001-2011 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.