The Ulster Connection
While the venerable Irish president Eamon De Valera was in the United States on an officialvisit in 1959, Dean Acheson wrote UN ambassador William Tyler, complaining about the conduct of foreign policy by the Eisenhower administration. As the Berlin crisis worsened, he told Tyler, “we clown around with the genial old man from Dublin, putting out green carpets, coloring the soup green at the White House, and chuckling while he kisses Mamie's hand.” Clearly, the warm reception given De Valera irritated Acheson, but the coupling of his irritation with references to De Valera's Irish identity and his alleged irrelevance to U.S. foreign policy was a characteristic expression of Acheson's mind-set. So generalized was Acheson's scorn for the Catholic Irish that he applied it to Irish Catholics in the United States, at least to those in public life. In a typical reference to Irish American politicians, Acheson, in the words of Douglas Brinkley, described two of them, Joseph P. Kennedy, the father of John F. Kennedy and for a time FDR's ambassador to Britain, and Sen. Joseph McCarthy, as “two corrupt and criminalIrishmen cut from the same primitive political cloth.” In fact, according to Brinkley, Acheson lumped the whole set of political Kennedys together and dismissed all of them as “uncouth Irishmen unfit for high public office.” 1.
This animus carried over into Acheson's conduct of foreign policy. As secretary of state, he consistently supported British control of Ulster, his ancestral homeland, despite the growing tenuousness of that control, and the rising opposition to it. In dealing with Ireland and British policy toward Northern Ireland, Acheson was anything but a foreign policy realist. He was, in fact, a latter-day Victorian imperialist, a romantic traditionalist whose policy stances reflected a kind of provincialism,____________________