Between them, their unquestioned attitudes conditioned all of the covert interventions of the Eisenhower era. The coups in Iran and Guatemala, for example, were as much about defeating perceived threats to the business interests of America’s capitalist elites as containing the spread of communism. Ho Chi Minh and Sukarno offended Foster’s Calvinist religiosity. Patrice Lumumba’s fate was so miserable in part because patrician Americans had very little personal notion of life in post-colonial Africa. All these men were “monsters” in the brothers’ demonology, and therefore deserving of monstrous treatment.
Of course, the Dulles brothers’ value system now appears outmoded, even quaint. But, as Stephen Kinzer reminds us again in a stimulating concluding chapter, the actions that it propelled the U.S. to take in the 1950s shaped the world we live in today. What unthinking cultural assumptions and prejudices drive the behavior of those who make current U.S. foreign policy?