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George - Welcomes Stephen Kinzer author of "THE BROTHERS" - all about John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles
Book review: ‘The Brothers,’ on John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles, by Stephen Kinzer
By Gordon Goldstein, Published: November 14, 2013
Gordon Goldstein is the author of “Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam.”
Stephen Kinzer’s “The Brothers” tells the story of two siblings who achieved remarkable influence, serving as secretary of state and director of the Central Intelligence Agency in the Eisenhower administration. It is a bracing and disturbing study of the exercise of American global power.
Kinzer, a former foreign correspondent for the New York Times, displays a commanding grasp of the vast documentary record, taking the reader deep inside the first decades of the Cold War. He brings a veteran journalist’s sense of character, moment and detail. And he writes with a cool and frequently elegant style. The most consequential aspect of Kinzer’s work is his devastating critique of John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles, who are depicted as jointly responsible for acts of extreme geopolitical myopia, grave operational incompetence and misguided adherence to a creed of corporate globalism.....
The Bay of Pigs operation remains among the greatest debacles in CIA history, an epic mess for which Allen Dulles was eventually fired. By the time 1,400 American-sponsored Cuban exiles blundered ashore in April 1961 in an effort to spark a spontaneous revolution, their mission had already been exposed. Months before, a New York Times headline had blared: “U.S. Helps Train an Anti-Castro Force at Secret Guatemalan Air-Ground Base.”
Allen had a pattern of delegating operational responsibilities to a dangerous degree, in this instance entrusting the fate of the invasion to his deputy, Richard Bissell. Both men were mired in abject denial about the operation’s prospects. A Marine Corps amphibious-war expert advised them that the United States would “be courting disaster” if it did not neutralize Cuban air and naval assets by providing “adequate tactical air support.” Yet Allen and Bissell knew that a newly inaugurated President John F. Kennedy had ruled out any intervention by U.S. forces, the precise condition upon which the invasion’s success depended.
Allen Dulles’s “mind was undisciplined,” Kinzer concludes. “A senior British agent who worked with him for years recalled being ‘seldom able to penetrate beyond his laugh, or to conduct any serious professional conversation with him for more than a few sentences.’ ” Kinzer is similarly blunt in his assessment of Foster’s intellect, quoting Winston Churchill’s disparaging verdict that the secretary of state was “dull, unimaginative, uncomprehending.”
The author asserts that the Dulles brothers suffered from a form of sibling groupthink. “Their worldviews and operational codes were identical,” Kinzer writes. “Deeply intimate since childhood, they turned the State Department and the CIA into a reverberating echo chamber for their shared certainties.”