A North-South Mind in An East-West World: Chester Bowles and the Making of United States Cold War Foreign Policy, 1951-1969

Synopsis

How did a top American diplomat's contrarian views on U.S. Cold War foreign policy remain largely ignored over the course of four administrations? Dauer provides an in-depth analysis of the role of dissent in the formulation of American foreign policy in his examination of the diplomatic career of Chester Bowles, Under Secretary of State during the Kennedy Administration and two-time Ambassador to India. Based on extensive research in Bowles's personal papers, the National Archives, and presidential libraries, the book evaluates Bowles's views and why the foreign policy establishment largely disregarded them.

Based on the private papers of Chester Bowles, as well as government sources, this book examines the worldview of Chester Bowles, a businessman, governor, congressman, and ambassador who participated in the making of U.S. Cold War foreign policy for nearly two decades. After acquiring a personal during the Great Depression and entering public service for one reform term as governor of Connecticut, Bowles became President Harry Truman's ambassador to India from 1951 to 1953. Named by President John F. Kennedy to be under secretary of state in December 1960, he subsequently sought to moderate the hard-line Cold War positions of the presidential administrations he served. He opposed the nuclear arms race, sympathized with LDC neutralism, argued against U.S. participation in the Vietnam War as early as the mid-1950s, voiced vigorous opposition to the abortive Bay of Pigs invasion, and consistently sought more economic aid for India. Bowles's failure to attract much support for his advice was the product of his own personality defects, his curious unwillingness to engage in bureaucratic infighting, his refusal to see the world as merely a stage for the conflict between international communism and American democratic-capitalism, and presidential administrations either unwilling or unable to consider new approaches to the Cold War. Although Bowles was in many ways a Cold Warrior, his sensitivity to the concerns of neutralism, especially in Asia, and moral compass largely missing from the calculations of the administrations he served, made him a voice that should have been considered more seriously by the administrations he served. Students of the problems of dissent and formulation of American foreign policy will find this book invaluable.