Thursday, August 17, 2017

Book Review: 'The Brothers' by Stephen Kinzer

According to this author it is spelled "The dullest brothers." At least that is how he introduces us to these two unlikely architects of modern American foreign policy. It is Allen and John Foster, two brothers of modest intellectual endowments, who "wormed" their up the food chain to the very pinnacle of American political power; and then ensconced themselves there for the better part of the darkest generation of American foreign policy.

If you wish to understand better why "they hate us" you need go no further than this fearsome gringo duo. This book is Steven Kinzer's own "riveting chronicle of government-sanctioned murder, casual elimination of 'inconvenient' regimes, relentless prioritization of American corporate interests and cynical arrogance on the part of two men who were once among the most powerful in the world."

Present at the creation, this is the story of how the Dulles brothers' incompetence erected the Cold War. It is a veritable text book of how, left without adult supervision, "Christian-Communist ideological missionary zeal" can misfire and go wildly off course. If there is a responsible adult that is culpable, it would be Ike's laissez-faire approach to leadership. Left to their own devices, Ike's negligence enabled the brothers to roam the post-war world like two elephants in an expensive China Shop. Their misadventures wreaked havoc across the globe sullying our national image and weakening our democracy principles around the world for the better part of a generation. Most of us know the foreign policy stories that make up the bulk of this book all too well: Guatemala, Lebanon, Indonesia, Viet Nam, Iran, and Cuba. And for those who do not, I highly recommend this well-written and carefully crafted book as a useful and insightful tutorial on the Cold War.

What the book failed to tell us is exactly what role this evil duo played in the assassination of JFK whom they both detested with a passion. We now know that the assassination was hatched deep in the bowels of Langley. We also now know that Dulles' underlings hiding out in that viper's nest: Richard Helms, Desmond Fitzgerald, William Harvey, the Cabell brothers, E. Howard Hunt, and James Jesus Angleton, still have a lot to answer for. And one of the most important indexes of how much of our democracy is still left un-repaired will be how soon and how thorough "we the people" can get our hands around the throats of those still hidden in the crevices of the walls of the CIA and NSA. Five stars

Editor's note: This review was written by Dr. Herbert L. Calhoun and has been reposted with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right. 

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