Recommending Political Warfare--The Role of Eisenhower's Presidential Committee on International Information Activities in the United States' Approach to the Cold War
Finley, Sonya Lynn
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In 1953 President Dwight D. Eisenhower charged an ad hoc advisory group with assessing the current U.S. Cold War effort and offering recommendations for an 'unified and dynamic' way forward. This work investigates the case of Eisenhower's Presidential Committee on International Information Activities and its role in the United States' approach to the Cold War. Problematizing that which is often taken for granted, this empirical, interpretive study uncovers the discursive conditions of possibility for and the discursive activities taking place within Jackson Committee decision making processes. Employing a constructivist discursive framework, this project builds on an understanding of policy making as a process of argumentation in which actors intersubjectively define problems and delimit policy and strategy options. Revealing discursive conditions of possibility enables a deeper understanding of the substance, tensions and discursive maneuvers informing subsequent U.S. strategy and policy choices during the Cold War and may offer insights into understanding and addressing geopolitical challenges in the 21st century. The thick analytic narrative illuminates the 'witcraft' involved in conceptualizing the unique threat posed by the Soviet Union whose practices challenged existing categories, and in extending wartime discourses to the post-war geopolitical environment. It examines discursive practices informing the nascent concepts of national strategy, psychological warfare, and political warfare, including arguments for constituent elements and relationships between them. In so doing, this dissertation conceptualizes national strategy as practices underpinning a prioritized drive for competitive advantage over adversaries. Additionally, political warfare represents practices intended to create and present alternatives to foreign actors that are in the U.S. interest through the integration and coordination of diplomatic, economic, military, and informational activities. Based on its conceptualization of a long-term adversarial competition with the Soviet Union, the committee recommended solutions for a sustainable national strategy of political warfare prioritizing the free world and liberal world order. Its recommendations sought to recast strategic panic into strategic patience.
- Doctoral Dissertations