20th Century US Foreign Policy Research Proposal

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Truman in Hypothetical Crisis

As President Harry Truman faces the Russian missile crisis in Venezuela, the situation in the states is one of cautious alert. President Truman is known for his hard line position when it comes to the Russians (Brown, Seyom, 1994, p. 17). Truman believes in flexing his American Military muscle, and will stand up to the threat of Russian missiles in Venezuela. The Venezuelan's claim that they fear the United States has a goal of "regime change," for Venezuela. President Truman abandoned what was once a successful and mutually beneficial "good neighbor" policy between the United States and South American countries (Rabe, Stephen G., 1998, 1). This kind of approach to foreign affairs is not Truman's way. He is a president that responds to aggression, but he is not the aggressor. Truman has a "walk softly, but carry a big stick" approach to foreign affairs.

Venezuela is making a mistake by challenging Truman, because, if necessary, he will respond with force. He will not, however, initiate an attack, because he is not of the nature to do that. Truman favors a strong United Nations influence, and garners support of the nations of the world, including South America, in the United Nations (Brown, 8). Truman is also "in awe" of the strength and power that foreign nations have built for themselves (Brown, 17). He also considers himself a propagator of world policy, and as introduced his Truman Doctrine and European Recovery Program, and has created Third World aid programs (Brown, 8). For these reasons, Truman opts to work through the crisis in a United Nations forum.

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President Eisenhower in Hypothetical Crisis

Research Proposal on 20th Century US Foreign Policy Assignment

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a former U.S. Army general, and war tactician, and his primary fault as president is that he leaves matters of foreign affairs to his Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles (Rabe, Stephen G., 1988, 1). Dulles possesses no real expertise prior to becoming secretary of state, and his foreign policy approach is really one of glob-hopping and making promises that commit the United States not to a foreign policy, but to a haphazardly thought long-range anti-communist alliance (Rabe, 1). Dulles facilitates the atmosphere of Cold War paranoia in the United States. It is, however, good that at the president has the final say in matters that could be disastrous, like the current crisis in Venezuela. Eisenhower is a strong politician, and he knows how to confront the threat of nuclear armament (Rabe, 1). Eisenhower did not favor a military belligerence, and did not give in to the efforts to raise his anger or to cause him to make decisions out of fear (Rabe, 1).

The President also has a distinct foreign policy as it relates to South America. We can call his approach one of "moderation and prudence (Rabe, 1)." President Eisenhower thought that the World War II approach to Latin America was one of "wooing" them (Rabe, 1). He also believed that in the post World War II environment, South America had been neglected, and had lost its confidence in the United States (Rabe, 1). Now, this crisis, the President feels, is as a result of that neglect. The President is confident that he can resolve this conflict with diplomacy, and by bringing about Latin American confidence in the United States leadership - him. Eisenhower wants to take relations between the U.S. And South America back to Roosevelt's "good neighbor" policy (Rabe, 1).

The first step towards becoming a "good neighbor" in this crisis is to reassure Venezuela that the United States has no desire to take steps to bring about "regime change" in Venezuela. At the same time, the President wishes to make it clear to Venezuela that the United States will not tolerate the presence of a nuclear threat in South America. The President understands, too, that Russia will agitate the situation in order to test the President's fear factor as it pertains to Russia's nuclear capability, and to assert itself as a world power presence in an adversarial role as the future owner of nuclear weapons in the Southern Hemisphere. The President senses Russia's underlying motive.

The President understands that the first step is to bring the Venezuelan President Chavez-Chavez under control, which is a challenge, because this South American leader wants to assert himself as the spokesperson for the country, and for South America in general.

President Eisenhower approaches the problem from a new and different direction as was approached by Secretary of State Dulles is recommending, which is one of strength, show of force, and confronting the potential threat by parking American warships off the coast of Venezuela. Although the President does find Dulles' input valuable, because Dulles has spent a lot of time in Venezuela. For that reason, the President understands he must re-examine what Dulles has done in South America in order to effectively change that outlook not just in Venezuela, but in South America. As Dulles makes his recommendations, President Eisenhower decides which parts of Dulles' approach are effective, and which need to be changed.

President Eisenhower calls an immediate emergency meeting of his cabinet to set into motion the emergency contingency plan to implement change in the ineffective and hostile American foreign policy in South America. While the President's military expertise sees the build up of military force being created in Venezuela by the sale of arms and submarine power to Venezuela, the President sees the sale as one which will be followed by a more serious nuclear arms sales to - or purchases by, Venezuela.

The President outlines his plan for creating and introducing a new "good neighbor" plan for South America to the cabinet. Dulles assures the President that he understands and supports the plan and will act in accordance with Eisenhower's directions. Using the valuable input of Dulles, who knows the minds and habits of the South American leaders well, President Eisenhower selects a new South American leader that the United States will support to dominate overall South American policy. This is not regime change, but it is selecting a South American leader whom the United States can rely upon as a supportive leader with a like mind as the President in handling Chavez-Chavez. Rather than respond to Chavez-Chavez with threats and weapons, President Eisenhower will respond with the weapon of a South American leader personality stronger, more pragmatic, and with a calmer outlook than Chavez-Chavez.

The contingency plan involves bringing all South American leaders to the table at a location in the United States. President Eisenhower selects Phoenix, and the heads of state begin arriving the next day. President Eisenhower has already "bonded" with the leader of Brazil, Venezuela's neighbor, and, now, an American partner in diplomacy, because President Eisenhower has had long discussions with the Brazilian and reassured him of America's commitment to South America economically, politically, and socially. By the time the other leaders begin arriving in Phoenix. The Brazilian President has already contacted other South American leaders, including Chavez-Chavez, and has successfully asserted himself as the "main" leader. Chavez-Chavez relents.

John F. Kennedy in Hypothetical Crisis

President John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) is confronted with the hypothetical crisis in Venezuela. We have the benefit of history, and Kennedy's handling of the Bay of Pigs, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. We see that Kennedy's foreign policy is one that is untested, and that he has fallen into the Eisenhower dilemma of relying upon Dulles, whom he inherited from the Eisenhower administration. Kennedy saw the current world order as a competition between the United States and the Soviet Union (Brown, Seyom, 1994, 119). He quickly learned, however, that while in the office of the president he held great world power, he nonetheless needed to exercise great caution in administering that power. He also needed to surround himself with a reliable and loyal cabinet. Kennedy decided not to rely upon the advice of John Foster Dulles in the current crisis with Venezuela, as he had done when he involved the United States in a covert operation in Vietnam.

Kennedy elected to handle the current situation in Venezuela by advising the South American leader, Chavez-Chavez, that so long as they were buying the Soviet Union's junk, and throw away warfare, then the United States did not perceive it as a threat. However, Kennedy made sure that the South American leader understood that he would perceive the Venezuelan-Soviet relationship in their military business a hostile refute of normal relations with the United States.

President Kennedy elects to approach the problem from a "Cold War" distance, and confers with his closest advisors: his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, Robert McNamara, and Dean Rusk (Brown, 145). Conferring with these advisors, the President determines that the threat of military build up in Venezuela is a non-threat, because it involves outdated Soviet military equipment, and Venezuela is not getting a good deal.

Politically, however, Kennedy sees the buildup for what it is: the Soviet Union establishing a political alliance in America's backyard with a rogue Venezuelan leader,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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