National Purpose & New Frontiers
DURING THE LAST few years of the Eisenhower administration, many leaders of public opinion in this country became aware that American life was in the grip of a malaise so profound that it might almost be described as the central fact of our social order. The growth of this new awareness among some of our most influential public figures represented a striking change from the tolerance, and even approval, that they themselves had originally extended to the indolence which Eisenhower manifested in the face of pressing domestic social problems-an approval apparently grounded in the belief that nothing must be allowed to interfere with the President’s historic mission of making internationalism a meaningful ideal both to the Republican party and the American people generally. It was, I think, the tremendous shock administered by the first Sputnik which finally convinced most of these men that, despite his best intentions and their highest hopes, Eisenhower was going to leave office without having succeeded in that mission. Sputnik, by dramatizing the inadequacy of American progress in the most obviously critical area of all, helped make it clear to them that our attitudes and our behavior in the realm of international affairs are inextricably bound up with our domestic situation, and that apathetic withdrawal is a contagious disease which cannot be confined to a single sphere of public activity.
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