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Favorable or Unfavorable #2: Dean Acheson


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Favorable or Unfavorable #2: Dean Acheson  

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  1. 1. Did you read my first post?

  2. 2. Favorable or Unfavorable #2: Dean Acheson



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Dean Acheson was one of the major early Cold War figures. He's a rare politician who a lot of actions without holding a major office. Only two of his actions below are with him holding a position that would generally generate actions:

Here's Acheson's actions:

Acheson, Dean 1945 Truman's main foreign policy advisor
Acheson, Dean 1947 Role in creation of the Truman Doctrine
Acheson, Dean 1948 Role in the creation of the Marshall Plan
Acheson, Dean 1949 Role in creation of NATO
Acheson, Dean 1949 Confirmed as Truman's Sec of State
Acheson, Dean 1950 Focus of partisan attacks by McCarthy, Nixon, etc. for the "loss of China" to Communism
Acheson, Dean 1968 Convinces LBJ that Vietnam is unwinnable and advises that LBJ pull out troops to keep Democrats unified
Acheson, Dean 1968 Votes for Nixon over Humphrey in election

Dean_G._Acheson,_U.S._Secretary_of_State

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51 minutes ago, ShortKing said:

I’m surprised that Acheson is controversial on this forum; curious as to why?

Because muh interventionism bad. Or because he voted for Nixon. Those 2 reasons would make the most sense to me.

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1 hour ago, ShortKing said:

I’m surprised that Acheson is controversial on this forum; curious as to why?

 

31 minutes ago, Rezi said:

Because muh interventionism bad. Or because he voted for Nixon. Those 2 reasons would make the most sense to me.

For me it's because I blame the bulk of the "National Security State" on Truman's foreign policy, which was mostly guided by Acheson. Here's probably my line of thought:

  • We went from FDR's "We got nothing to fear but fear itself" to Cold War paranoia regarding Communists and domestic left-wing radicals---McCarthyism, bans on US Communists, etc. Note: I strongly oppose Communism as I do any government that inclines to long-term authoritarianism. But Communism was never going to be a threat to a people long-inclined to democracy and republicanism. It was a waste of focus, energy, etc. The government probably knew this, but it helped with the game of politics.
  • Acheson containment philosophy, while not aggressive enough for Nixon and McCarthy, led us into the Vietnam War and into covert and overt operations. While I am perfectly okay with us sending aid to democratic allies, I am not in favor of boots on the ground, except in the case of genocide or other blatant human rights violations, and even then I'd want a non-boots-on-the-ground option, if practical. 
  • I don't think Communist nations were or ever have been a threat to US democracy, economic power, political power, etc. The USSR and most of their allied governments would have likely failed using strictly diplomacy. I think military intervention was unnecessary for the end goal, even if that end goal is pushed back a decade. 
  • Primarily, I don't support the Truman Doctrine, but I do support NATO-like alliance (so long as it doesn't violate the principles in the earlier parts of this post), and I definitely support the Marshall Plan and efforts to rebuild devestated areas. 
  • I like that Acheson advised LBJ to pull out troops, but his urgency had more to do with getting Democrats united for the 1968 election. LBJ did that, and then he promptly voted Nixon because he didn't like Humphrey. I'd be okay with him supporting Nixon if he didn't play a role in influencing the election for the Democrats. It comes off as a kind of betrayal. It turns out that Nixon was less inclined to end the war than many believed. 

In short, as someone who is a quasi-pacifist that sees military intervention only necessary in the event of invasion at home and for humanitarian reasons, rather than ideological or nationalistic reasons (I think patriotism/nationalism is overrated, except in cases for independence and self-preservation), Acheson isn't that palatable for me. Rather than antagonizing Communist nations, I would have shut them out and ignored them and encouraged allies to do the same. I'd give them some token attention for each move they made toward free government. 

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