Eisenhower Doctrine – The President and Congress proclaimed the Eisenhower Doctrine in 1957, pledging US military and economic aid to Middle Eastern nations threatened by communist aggression. However, the real threat to US interests in the Middle East was nationalism rather than communism, as Nasser’s wild popularity demonstrated. In a critical move, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Venezuela and Iran joined to form the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
U-2 incident – The Soviets, after a series of dirty radioactive tests, proclaimed a suspension in March 1958 and urged the Western world to follow. Beginning in October 1958, Washington did halt both underground and atmospheric testing. Khrushchev, seeking new propaganda material, was eager to meet with Eisenhower and pave the way for a “summit conference” with Western leaders. The President invited him to America in 1959, and Khrushchev appeared before the UN General Assembly and dramatically resurrected the ancient Soviet proposal of complete disarmament, although he offered no practical means of achieving this end. A result of this tour was a meeting at Camp David, from which Khrushchev emerged saying that his ultimatum for the evacuation of Berlin would be extended indefinitely. The follow-up Paris “summit conference” was scheduled for May, 1960 turned out to be an incredible fiasco. Both Moscow and Washington had publicly taken a firm stand on the burning Berlin issue, and neither could risk a public backdown. Then, on the eve of the conference, an American U-2 spy plane was shot down deep in the heart of Russia. Ike assumed personal responsibility for the action, and Khrushchev stormed into Paris with the conference collapsing before it could get off the ground.
Sputnik – Soviet scientists astounded the world on October 4, 1857, by lofting into orbit around the globe a beeping satellite, Sputnik I, weighing 83.5kg. A month later they sent aloft Sputnik II, weighing 507kg and carrying a dog. This amazing scientific breakthrough shattered American self-confidence. Ike responded by saying that the Soviet satellite should not cause even the slightest concern.