Rhetorical Analysis Of Atoms For Peace

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Before his election to the presidency, Dwight Eisenhower sought to contain the atom’s destructive power (). Yet, in his first speech at the United Nations as President of the United States, Eisenhower argued for the normalization of the international proliferation of nuclear technology (Office of the President, 1953). The motivation behind his now famous “Atoms for Peace” speech illuminates an interesting contradiction between the obvious American nonproliferation objectives and the president’s political calculation. The key to understanding this contradiction is to separate Eisenhower’s contemporary political motivations from the consequences of the president’s choice to pursue international proliferation of peaceful nuclear technology. The …show more content…

Several of Eisenhower’s rhetorical choices clarify that the address’s intended audience as the American people. References to the American citizenry sprinkled throughout the remarks, a detailed description of US retaliatory capabilities, and a pledge to submit a plan to Congress strongly suggest that the administration sought to sell the American public, not the international community, on its policy (Chernus, 2006). The campaign, which included a radio-television series entitled “The Age of Peril”, portrayed the extremely dark and dangerous side of the atom. In order to balance out the project’s dark messaging, the president and his advisors wished to emphasize a more hopeful and cooperative tone in Eisenhower’s speech to the United Nations (Osgood, 2000). The remarks further normalized peaceful nuclear technology by discussing plans for commercialization which rehabilitated a wartime technology for civil society (Johnston, 2012). The possibility of economic benefit signaled to eager commercial interests the Eisenhower administration’s openness to commercial exploitation of American atomic technology superiority (Holloway, 2017). Eisenhower used the speech as a platform to communicate a more positive outlook with domestic audiences to negate the campaign’s negative messaging. The …show more content…

In Danger and Survival, McGeorge Bundy suggests that the policy proposed in the speech allowed citizens to believe Eisenhower was presenting a reasonable policy alternative to the harsh eventuality of total nuclear war. In October of 1953, Eisenhower approved a shift away from the policy of containment advocated in NSC-68, initiated by significant cuts in the American conventional military budget and emphasis on larger nuclear stockpiles (Lavoy, 2003). The combination of possible avenues of cooperation and the harsh realities of a nuclear world, both effectively communicated in Eisenhower’s address, allowed the administration to propose more extreme policies such as massive retaliation to the domestic politic (Osgood, 2000). The unique dual-messaging justified the buildup of the American nuclear stockpile as well as deep budget and personnel cuts in conventional warfare

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