John Foster Dulles (1888-1959)
John Foster Dulles (February 2, 1888 - May 24, 1959) was an American statesman who served as Secretary of State under President Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953 to 1959. He was a significant figure in the early Cold War era, advocating an aggressive stance against communism around the world. He advocated support of the French in their war against the Viet Minh in Indochina and famously refused to shake the hand of Zhou Enlai at the Geneva Conference in 1954.
Both his grandfather John W. Foster and his uncle Robert Lansing served as Secretary of State. He was also the older brother of Allen Welsh Dulles, Director of Central Intelligence under Eisenhower. His son Avery Robert Dulles converted to Catholicism and became the first American priest to be directly appointed to Cardinal, although his advanced age prohibited him from voting in the College of Cardinals in 2005 following the death of Pope John Paul II.
Born in Washington D.C., he was the son of a Presbyterian minister and attended public schools in New York City. After attending Princeton University and George Washington University he joined the New York City law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, where he specialized in international law. He tried to join the United States Army during World War I but was rejected because of poor eyesight. Instead, Dulles got an Army commission as captain in the War Industries Board.
In 1918 Woodrow Wilson appointed Dulles as legal counsel to the United States delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference where he served under his uncle, Robert Lansing, then Secretary of State. Dulles made an early impression as a junior diplomat by clearly and forcefully arguing against imposing crushing reparations on Germany. Afterwards he served as a member of the War Reparations Committee at the request of President Wilson. Dulles, a deeply religious man, attended numerous international conferences of churchmen during the 1920s and 1930s. In 1924, he was the defense counsel in the church trial of Rev. Harry Emerson Fosdick, who had been charged with heresy by opponents in the denomination, a case settled when Fosdick, a liberal Baptist, resigned his pulpit in the Presbyterian Church, which he had never joined. Dulles also became a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell.
Dulles was a close associate of Thomas E. Dewey who became the presidential candidate of the United States Republican Party in the U.S. presidential election, 1944. During the election Dulles served as Dewey's foreign policy adviser.
In 1945 Dulles participated in the San Francisco Conference and worked as adviser to Arthur H. Vandenberg and helped draft the preamble to the United Nations Charter. He subsequently attended the United Nations General Assembly as a United States delegate in 1946, 1947 and 1950. Dulles was appointed to the United States Senate as a Republican from New York on July 7, 1949, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Democrat Robert F. Wagner. Dulles served from July 7, 1949, to November 8, 1949, when a successor, Herbert Lehman, was elected, having beaten Dulles in a special election to fill the senate vacancy.
In 1950, Dulles published War or Peace, a critical analysis of the American policy of containment, which at the time was favored by many of the foreign policy elites in Washington. Dulles criticized the foreign policy of Harry S. Truman. He argued that containment should be replaced by a policy of "liberation". However, he still carried out Truman's policy in neutralizing the Taiwan Strait during the Korean War in the Treaty of Peace with Japan of 1951. When Dwight Eisenhower became President in January, 1953, he appointed Dulles as his Secretary of State.
As Secretary of State Dulles spent considerable time building up NATO as part of his strategy of controlling Soviet expansion by threatening massive retaliation in event of a war. In 1950 he helped instigate the ANZUS Treaty for mutual protection with Australia and New Zealand. Dulles was also the architect of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) that was created in 1954. The treaty, signed by representatives of the United States, Australia, Britain, France, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines and Thailand, provided for collective action against aggression.
Dulles was one of the pioneers of Mutually Assured Destruction and brinkmanship. In an article written for Life Magazine Dulles defined his policy of brinkmanship: "The ability to get to the verge without getting into the war is the necessary art." His critics blamed him for damaging relations with Communist states and contributing to the Cold War.
Dulles upset the leaders of several non-aligned countries when on June 9, 1955, he argued in one speech that "neutrality has increasingly become an obsolete and, except under very exceptional circumstances, it is an immoral and shortsighted conception."
In 1956 Dulles strongly opposed the Anglo-French invasion of the Suez Canal, Egypt (October-November 1956). However, by 1958 he was an outspoken opponent of President Gamal Abdel Nasser and stopped him from receiving weapons from the United States. This policy seemingly backfired, enabling the Soviet Union to gain influence in the Middle East.
Suffering from cancer, Dulles was forced by his declining health to resign from office in April 1959. He died in Washington, D.C. on May 24, 1959, at the age of 71, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1959.
He also served as the former Chairman and Co-founder of the Commission on a Just and Durable Peace of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America (succeeded by the National Council of Churches), Chairman of the Board for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, he is the namesake for both the Washington Dulles International Airport (located in Dulles, Virginia) & John Foster Dulles High School (Sugar Land, Texas), a former Trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, and a founding member of the Council of Foreign Relations.