Dean Acheson's commitment to an imperial-style world order did not end when he left office. In private life, he became a vigorous critic of John Foster Dulles, his successor in the Eisenhower administration. Dulles, in Acheson's estimation, let cold war concerns blind him to the advantages of preserving what he could of the old imperial order. Acheson's extraordinary hostility to Dulles was due ostensibly to Dulles's proclivity to mix morality—or moralizing—with policy. Nevertheless, there was more to the hostility than that. “[O]ne cannot help but believe that it was not so much moralism in foreign-policy making that Acheson objected to, ” a historian generally sympathetic to Acheson has written, “as moralism as practiced by that `psalm-singing Presbyterian Wall Street lawyer' John Foster Dulles.” 1.
The reference to Dulles's Presbyterianism is helpful; it points to one tip of the iceberg of values Acheson's criticism of Dulles reflected. In the hierarchy of social prejudices nurtured among the Anglican Ulstermen from whom Acheson descended, the largely working-class Scottish Presbyterians of Ulster ranked only marginally above the generally lower-class Irish Catholics. In Acheson's case, the disdain this nurturing encouraged had been reinforced by wealth and high status. Dulles thus represented a religious and social group Acheson had little cause to admire. In addition, Acheson believed that Dulles, as secretary of state in the Eisenhower administration, not only worked to dismantle major aspects of Acheson's foreign policy, but also committed the cardinal sin of disloyalty to the British and French allies at Suez in 1956.
Acheson's objections to Eisenhower-Dulles foreign policy crystallized over the handling of the crisis generated by Egypt's seizure of the Suez Canalin 1956, and the consequent invasion of British, French, and Israeli____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Acheson and Empire: The British Accent in American Foreign Policy. Contributors: John T. McNay - Author. Publisher: University of Missouri Press. Place of publication: Columbia, MO. Publication year: 2001. Page number: 193.
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