Chapter

John Foster Dulles' Nuclear Schizophrenia

Neal Rosendorf

in Cold War Statesmen Confront the Bomb

Published in print April 1999 | ISBN: 9780198294689
Published online November 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601538 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198294689.003.0004
 John Foster Dulles' Nuclear Schizophrenia

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John Foster Dulles’ thinking over the issue of nuclear weapons was inconsistent. He registered strong disapproval on moral grounds of the atomic bombing of Japan and warned of the dangerous precedent the US was setting in using nuclear weapons. Yet, for some years he was an ardent proponent of massive retaliation, which threatened a possible thermonuclear strike in response to conventional aggression. Dulles strove to break down the false distinction between the atom bomb and conventional weapons that was working, he believed, to the Soviets’ military and propaganda advantage. Dulles’ initial legalistic‐moralistic thinking on nuclear weapons clashed sharply with the more bellicose, pessimistic, amoral perspectives he developed in the wake of the Korean invasion. The result was an unwieldy grafting together of the two that contributed significantly to his public and private policy oscillations.

Keywords: conventional weapons; John Foster Dulles; Japan; massive retaliation; nuclear weapons; propaganda; Soviet Union; United Nations; USA

Chapter.  12720 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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