America’s policymakers assumed that the invasion of Korea foreshadowed Communist action elsewhere. Consequently, the United States militarized its foreign policy, an action that was provocative to the Soviets.
The United States was evolving into a national security state, characterized by such activities as the introduction of loyalty programs designed to ferret out security risks in the federal government.
The US increased the defense budget from $13 billion to over $60 billion in a two year period, doubled its draft quota, tripled the size of the US Air Force in Great Britain, stockpiled strategic materials, stepped up aid to Southeast Asia, and initiated an agreement with Japan providing for the location of US bases.
This was a time of pact-building for the West, involving the establishment of a chain of military alliances bordering the Soviet Union and China intended to contain Soviet expansion.
For example, in 1950, the shah of Iran signed a Mutual Defense Agreement with the United States, reflecting joint concern over perceived Soviet expansionism.
Because the Soviet Union was concerned with internal affairs, Western powers held a monopoly on all foreign assistance.
Military aid was offered to strategically located nations willing to enter the American sphere of influence, and the US was able to exact conditions on aid recipients.
Terms included the following:
- a recipient country must contribute as much as possible to the defense of the free world
- it must take all reasonable measures to develop further defense capabilities
- it must ensure the effective utilization of any economic and military assistance provided
- it must be a member of a military alliance firmly committed to the Western camp
- it must fulfill all military obligations assumed as a result of associated treaties or agreements.
Soon, though, other Cold War strategies began to dominate as the US discovered that the problems of the newly emerging areas required increasing amounts of attention.
According to Walter LaFeber, Eisenhower and Dulles understood and sympathized with much of the new nationalism, and Eisenhower wanted to push out the European colonial powers. But the Americans never seemed to move fast enough.
Revolutionaries in Iran, Indochina, and Guatemala gained ground.
Eisenhower devised a package of tactics for dealing with unwanted revolutionaries centering on the CIA.
The administration’s covert strategy was first applied in Iran where the stability of the shah’s regime continued to acquire expanded significance from a national security perspective.