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John Foster Dulles

John Foster Dulles

John Foster Dulles (1888-1959), American diplomat, was secretary of state under Eisenhower. He strove to create a United States policy of "containing" communism.

John Foster Dulles was born in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 25, 1888. His grandfather, John W. Foster, had been secretary of state under Benjamin Harrison, and his uncle, Robert Lansing, had been secretary of state under Woodrow Wilson. Educated at Princeton and the law school of George Washington University, Dulles joined the international law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell in 1911, became a partner in 1920, and was head of the firm in 1927. He was eminent in his field.

Dulles's interest in foreign affairs was of long standing; at the age of 31, he had attended the 1919 Paris Peace Conference as legal counsel to the American delegation. In 1945 he was appointed legal adviser to the United States delegation at the San Francisco conference which drew up the Charter of the United Nations.

A Republican, Dulles served in the U.S. Senate in 1949-1950. In 1951, as ambassador-at-large, he negotiated a peace treaty with Japan acquitting himself brilliantly in overcoming Soviet opposition and other difficulties.

In 1952 Dulles was an ardent partisan of Dwight D. Eisenhower for president and was rewarded the next year with the office of secretary of state, which he held until his death. In his first months in office Dulles brought about an armistice in the Korean War, probably by the threat of the resumption of the war if the negotiations did not succeed. Less successful was his effort to roll back the Iron Curtain: in the East German revolt of 1953 and the Hungarian revolt of 1956 the United States was unable to offer any support to the rebels.

Dulles was a firm supporter of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and supported the proposal for an international defense force in Europe. This project failed, however, and it was Anthony Eden, rather than Dulles, who played the leading role in forging a new treaty that invigorated the European alliance and admitted Germany to full membership.

In 1955 came the Big Four Conference at Geneva, attended by the four heads of government—Eden of England, Edgar Faure of France, N. A. Bulganin of the U.S.S.R., and Eisenhower of the United States—with a view to bettering understanding with the Soviet Union. Dulles had a part in the proceedings, but little was accomplished. As a matter of fact, from the outset the secretary of state had regarded the project with pessimism.

In 1956 came one of the most serious crises of Dulles's career. In the summer of that year Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Egyptian dictator, seized and nationalized the Suez Canal, creating great resentment in France and Britain. Dulles labored manfully to find a peaceful solution of the problem, but in December the British and the French, using an Israeli attack on Egypt as a pretext, landed forces in the canal zone. With great courage Dulles protested this violation of the peace and brought the situation before the United Nations. As a result, the invaders were compelled to withdraw.

Dulles's activities were by no means confined to Europe. The United States played a part in the overthrow of a Communist regime in Guatemala. In the Far East, Dulles played a leading role in the formation of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, an alliance of the United States, Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand and Pakistan. This alliance did not explicitly call for armed action, but it bound the signatories to consult whenever the integrity of any country in Southeast Asia was menaced. Importantly, it marked the extension of United States commitments in this area. Dulles also signed a defense treaty with the Chinese Nationalist government on Taiwan (Formosa) and twice thwarted hostile attacks by the (Communist) Chinese People's Republic on the Nationalists' island of Quemoy. Dulles's attempt to bring together some of the countries of the Middle East in opposition to communism resulted in an alliance that soon disintegrated.

A believer in keeping firm opposition to the Communist menace, Dulles based his diplomacy on strong ideology. He was ready to use force or the threat of force (as in the Formosa Strait) when he believed that such action would balk aggression. His diplomacy was highly personal. He was not a great administrator, but he was a dedicated public servant. In the last year of his life he suffered from cancer, which he bore with real heroism. He died on May 24, 1959.

Further Reading

Louis L. Gerson, John Foster Dulles, vol. 17 in Samuel F. Bemis and Robert H. Ferrell, eds., The American Secretaries of State and Their Diplomacy (1967), is recommended. See also John Robinson Beal, John Foster Dulles (1957); Roscoe Drummond and Gaston Coblentz, Duel at the Brink: John Foster Dulles Command of American Power (1960); and Richard Goold-Adams, John Foster Dulles: A Reappraisal (1962). □

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Dulles, John Foster

DULLES, JOHN FOSTER

John Foster Dulles served as U.S. secretary of state from 1953 to 1959. A prominent New York City attorney, Dulles participated in international affairs for much of his legal career. His term as secretary of state occurred during the height of the cold war and was marked by his strong anti-Communist policies and rhetoric.

Dulles was born in Washington, D.C., on February 25, 1888, at the home of his maternal grandfather, John W. Foster, secretary of state under President benjamin harrison. Dulles was raised in Watertown, New York, where his father, the Reverend Allen M. Dulles, served as a Presbyterian minister. Known as Foster, the young Dulles was a precocious student, graduating from high school at age fifteen and attending Princeton University at age sixteen. He graduated in 1908 and then entered george washington University Law School. Again, he worked quickly, and graduated in two years.

Through the efforts of his well-connected grandfather, Dulles joined the New York City law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell, which has been called the greatest corporate law firm of the early twentieth century. In 1919 family friend and international financier Bernard M. Baruch invited Dulles to be his aide at the Paris Peace Conference. This conference, which was convened to negotiate the terms of peace to end world war i, stimulated Dulles's interest in international politics and diplomacy.

"The ability to get to the verge of war without getting into the war is the necessary art… if you are scared to go to the brink, you are lost."
—John F. Dulles

In the 1920s Dulles quickly moved ahead at Sullivan and Cromwell. In 1926, at the age of only thirty-eight, Dulles was made head of the firm. Representing many of the largest U.S. corporations, Dulles became a very wealthy man. As

his stature rose, he became a prominent figure in the republican party. A confidant of New York governor thomas e. dewey, Dulles was promised the position of secretary of state if Dewey was elected president in 1948, but Dewey was unsuccessful and Dulles lost that opportunity.

Dulles was an active participant in the effort to reshape foreign relations after world war ii. He helped form the united nations and was a U.S. member to the General Assembly from 1945 to 1949. He performed the duties of U.S. ambassador-at-large and was the chief author of the 1951 Japanese peace treaty. He also negotiated the Australian, New Zealand, Philippine, and Japanese security treaties in 1950 and 1951.

In 1949 he filled a vacancy in the Senate created by the death of Senator robert wagner, of New York, but was unsuccessful in his attempt the same year to win election to a six-year term. Dulles's political fortunes im proved when he aligned himself with the 1952 presidential candidacy of dwight d. eisenhower. He helped Eisenhower defeat conservative senator Robert Taft, of Ohio, at the nominating convention and was rewarded with his long-desired appointment as head of the state department.

As secretary of state, Dulles exhibited a rigid opposition to communism. He advocated going to the brink of war to achieve results—a position that led to the coinage of the term brinkmanship to describe his foreign policy.

Dulles is also remembered for his doctrine of "massive retaliation," which warned the Soviet Union that the United States would react instantaneously with nuclear weapons to even the smallest provocation. Dulles believed that such a policy would discourage aggressive acts, though many allies were concerned that it would turn small wars into much larger and much more destructive ones.

Dulles died May 24, 1959, in Washington, D.C.

further readings

Halberstam, David. 1993. The Fifties. New York: Villard Books.

Merry, Robert W. 1996. Taking on the World: Joseph and Stewart Alsop—Guardians of the American Century. New York: Viking.

cross-references

Cold War.

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Dulles, John Foster

Dulles, John Foster (1888–1959), lawyer, senator, diplomat, and secretary of state.Deeply influenced by his grandfather and uncle, secretaries of state under Benjamin Harrison and Woodrow Wilson, Dulles devoted his life to foreign affairs. As a young lawyer, he was counsel to the Reparations Commission that helped draft the Treaty of Versailles (1919). As chairman of the Federal Council of Churches' Commission to Study the Bases of a Just and Durable Peace, he presented to President Franklin D. Roosevelt a blueprint for the postwar order.

An internationalist, the Republican Dulles frequently served in a bipartisan capacity. From the 1945 United Nations conference, he represented Democratic President Harry S. Truman at virtually every major international meeting. Dulles was foreign policy adviser to Republican nominee Thomas Dewey (1948), but after a brief Senate stint, he negotiated for Truman the Japan Peace Treaty (1951) that ended the occupation while retaining U.S. military bases there.

In the 1952 U.S. election campaign, Dulles attacked the Truman administration for failing to exploit U.S. atomic supremacy in the Cold War, insisting that liberation should replace “containment” as America's strategy toward the Soviet bloc. In 1953, he became President Dwight D. Eisenhower's secretary of state.

Dulles did not dominate Eisenhower on foreign policy, as the conventional wisdom once held. The two were agreed on collective security and the need to build strength and cohesion among non‐Communist nations. Nor was Dulles a reckless saber‐rattler. He did strongly believe in what came to be called the “New Look”: the threat of U.S. “massive retaliation” as the most effective means to deter Soviet expansion and aggression. Yet he understood that the threat of nuclear weapons was not always an appropriate response, and that overseas deployment of U.S. conventional forces was both militarily and politically necessary. Indeed, by the late 1950s he was anticipating the “flexible response” strategy associated with John F. Kennedy's presidency. Moreover, although Dulles was a covert operations enthusiast like his brother, Allen Welsh Dulles, the CIA director, he opposed direct U.S. military intervention, notably during the 1954 Indochina crisis, but he supported South Vietnam and refused to sign the Geneva Agreement on Indochina (1954).

Dulles was largely responsible for negotiating U.S. security pacts with Middle Eastern countries and Southeast Asia. But he was usually reluctant to negotiate with the Soviets, and he thrived on crises—the last over Berlin in 1958–59 even as he battled with cancer. He died in May 1959.
[See also Berlin Crises.]

Bibliography

Ronald W. Pruessen , John Foster Dulles: The Road to Power, 1982.
Richard H. Immerman, ed., John Foster Dulles and the Diplomacy of the Cold War, 1990.
Richard H. Immerman , John Foster Dulles: Piety, Pragmatism, and Power in U.S. Foreign Policy, 1998.

Richard H. Immerman

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"Dulles, John Foster." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Dulles, John Foster

John Foster Dulles (dŭl´əs), 1888–1959, U.S. secretary of state (1953–59), b. Washington, D.C.; brother of Allen Dulles, grandson of John Watson Foster, secretary of state under President Benjamin Harrison, and nephew of Robert Lansing, secretary of state under Woodrow Wilson. The Dulles brothers were born into America's political establishment and became extremely influential government officials; they did much to develop and implement America's interventionist foreign policy during the cold war. A graduate (1908) of Princeton, Dulles was admitted (1911) to the bar and was counsel to the U.S. delegation to the Paris Peace Conference (1919). He soon achieved prominence as an international lawyer and attended various international conferences in the interwar years. He was appointed (1945) adviser to the U.S. delegation at the San Francisco Conference (1945), and served (1945–49) as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. He was appointed (1949) to finish the unexpired term of Senator Robert F. Wagner of New York, but was defeated (1950) in a general election for the seat. In 1951, as ambassador at large, Dulles negotiated the peace treaty with Japan. Appointed (1953) secretary of state by Dwight D. Eisenhower, he emphasized the collective security of the United States and its allies and the development of nuclear weapons for "massive retaliation" in case of attack. Regarding Communism as a moral evil to be resisted at any cost, he firmly upheld the Chinese Nationalist defense of Matsu and Quemoy off the coast of Communist China and initiated the policy of strong U.S. backing for the South Vietnamese regime of Ngo Dinh Diem. Dulles helped develop the Eisenhower doctrine of economic and military aid to maintain the independence of Middle Eastern countries; under its terms U.S. forces were sent to Lebanon in 1958. He resigned from office a month before his death. Dulles wrote War, Peace, and Change (1939) and War or Peace (1950).

See biographies by M. A. Guhin (1972) and T. Hoopes (1973); S. Kinzer, The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War (2013); studies by R. Goold-Adams (1962) and L. L. Gerson (1967); R. Drummond and G. Coblentz, Duel at the Brink (1960).

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Dulles, John Foster

Dulles, John Foster (1888–1959) US statesman, secretary of state (1953–59) under Dwight D. Eisenhower. A powerful opponent of communism, he became a back-room influence on the Republican Party in the 1940s, and served briefly in the Senate. He was a member of the US delegation at the San Francisco Conference that founded the United Nations (1945).

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