Magazine article ReVista (Cambridge)

Beyond Mad Men: A Secret World War

Magazine article ReVista (Cambridge)

Beyond Mad Men: A Secret World War

Article excerpt

Beyond Mad Men: A Secret World War

the Brothers: John foster dulles, allen dulles, and their Secret world war by Stephen Kinzer (Times Books, 2013, 416 pp.)

At a time when so many view- ers are captivated or repelled by Mad Men's portrayal of the lascivious, liquor-drenched behavior which characterized Madison Avenue decades ago, one remarkable true story in the United States during the Cold War trumps that fictional depiction: Don Draper's behavior seems genteel compared with that of the man who ran the Central Intelligence Agency during its frenetic expansion into one of the largest espionage enterprises assembled by any nation in history.

Allen Welsh Dulles, the C.I.A.'s longest-serving director, (from 1953 to 1961), had affairs which numbered well into the dozens despite being married to the same woman for most of his adult life. He carried out some of his liaisons while he was the preeminent spymaster of the United States, oversee- ing operations including the overthrow of leaders in Guatemala and Iran, secret wars in Indonesia and Tibet and the spectacularly botched invasion of Cuba's Bay of Pigs in 1961.

Times have changed. David Petraeus, for example, resigned as C.I.A. director in 2012 over one extramarital affair, with his biographer. Dulles maintained many of his flings without even bothering to hide them, as Stephen Kinzer documents in his new book, The Broth- ers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles and Their Secret World War. Pointing to how standards for public officials have evolved, one 1958 dalli- ance, with Queen Frederika of Greece, was carried out in Allen's own office at C.I.A. headquarters within earshot of his aides.

Such episodes, dutifully not reported by journalists at the time, did not pre- vent Allen from seizing on womanizing as a weakness to exploit in others. For instance, he oversaw what may have been the C.I.A.'s first foray into pornography, a film called "Happy Days" in which an actor in a latex mask made by the agency's Technical Services Division claimed an uncanny resem- blance to Sukarno, Indo- nesia's founding president, whom the Dulles brothers despised for not align- ing himself with the West. The Sukarno lookalike was filmed in bed with a blonde actress (playing an agent of the Soviet Union!), a scene that aimed to damage the Indonesian leader's reputa- tion. It flopped, like many of Allen's other plots meticu- lously described by Kinzer in a thoroughly entertaining and informative book.

Allen's older brother, John Foster Dulles, loomed even larger in 1950s Wash- ington, when he roamed the world as Dwight D. Eisen- hower's Secretary of State. The brothers were born into privilege. Their father, Allen Macy Dulles, the son of a Presbyterian mission- ary to India, became a theologian and pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Watertown, a bastion for New York millionaires. Their mother, Edith Foster, was the daughter of a lawyer who had served as U.S. minis- ter to Czar Alexander II's court in St. Petersburg. The Princeton-educated broth- ers benefitted from a web of family connections at a time when the United States was on the rise as a superpower, but their personalities were remarkably different.

Allen was an extroverted diplomat, lawyer and partyer who spent World War I in Bern, the capital of neutral Switzerland, debriefing spies over glasses of cognac. Around the same time, Foster was an ambitious lawyer with Sullivan & Cromwell, the powerful New York law firm. He cut his teeth by represent- ing clients with interests in Latin America, lobbying with success, for instance, for the United States Navy to send warships to Cuba to protect U.S. owners of sugar mills and railroads from protests shaking the Caribbean island. Commissioned as a captain during World War I, he worked as legal adviser for the War Trade Board, helping the Mumm Champagne Co., a German-owned concern, to avoid being seized by the U.S. government. More subdued than Allen in his personal life and something of a scold, employing a preacher's tone in his public remarks, Foster evolved into an anti-Commu- nist zealot. …

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