This is the story of what became known as the American Establishment Establishment was a term that originated in England to describe a circle of powerful men Richard Rovere has proposed that the
This is the story of what became known as the "American Establishment." "Establishment" was a term that originated in England to describe a circle of powerful men. Richard Rovere has proposed that the two parties in this country are really either populist or establishment, not conservative or liberal. The American Establishment were "Atlanticists." Their similar schooling gave them an appreciation for Western European values and the perceived benefit of a traditional Europe. They were instrumental in shepherding the Marshall Plan through a hostile Congress. They felt a cosmopolitan duty to preserve the culture and civilization of the West.This was to become a problem many years later as Asia became the focus of U.S. concern. Francophile Acheson was fundamental in recommending support for France in its futile attempt to preserve the colonial empire. Acheson's efforts resulted in an avalanche of U.S. funding, ultimately supplying France with far more than we spent on them during the entire Marshall Plan. The establishment is profiled through the careers of Robert Lovett, John McCloy, Averell Harriman, Charles Bohlen, George Kennan, and Dean Acheson. They were all intelligent, educated at elite private schools, and most came from wealthy families. The six were not ideologues, preferring to adopt a pragmatic outlook, holding moderate views and they believed in consensus. Unfortunately, their sensible world view was translated by more simplistic minds in the fifties into being "soft on communism." They were not highly visible to the public (except when McCarthy made them targets), but preferred to persuade leaders privately and intellectually. They were fervent capitalists which made McCarthy's charges against them ludicrous. They believed in a strong link between free trade, free markets and free minds.Isaacson and Thomas fill the book with marvelous anecdotes and they describe the unique characteristics of the six lucidly and with humor. For example, Dean Acheson resigned as Under Secretary of the Treasury under FDR in a dispute over whether the United States could legally buy gold at a price higher than that set by Congress. The authors explain differences among the six this way: "Acheson's friend Harriman would never have gone to the mat over a matter of principle with a President, he would likely have sidled away from the conflict to work on problems that he would be left to solve on his own. Lovett would probably have worked out some compromise, making any mountainous dispute seem suddenly like a small bump. So, too, would have John McCloy, the legal workhorse; like Bohlen, he would have been willing to go along. Kennan would no doubt have agonized about resignation only to become lost in philosophical brooding." I had for many years vastly misunderstood George Kennan's role in the development of the cold war. The famous "X" article, which provided the foundation for containment, was misinterpreted to create the underpinning for Nitze's NSC-68 and development of the arms race. Kennan was really arguing for a non-military, less aggressive stance. Ironically, Nitze, icon of the modern American military was adamantly opposed to U.S. entry into Vietnam because he was aware of the limited resources of the United States. Prophetic indeed.We may owe current European unity to the efforts of John McCloy who, as High Commissioner of Germany, and its virtual czar, was an exceptionally sincere and honest broker among the war-torn nations of Europe. His word was taken with equal faith in all the capitals and he laid the foundation for the economic miracle that was to take place. (There is a new biography of McCloy out recently - it's on my list.)By the late seventies and early eighties the Establishment was out of favor. It was blamed for the cold war, Vietnam, and assorted other blunders; but its replacement, the self-centered, undisciplined, partisan, non-professional politicians-diplomats of the Reagan-Nixon era- has historians and revisionists yearning for the old order which had been, at least, consistent, selfless, and devoted to the national interest. "There was a foreign policy consensus back then, and its disintegration during Vietnam is one of the great disasters of our history," said Henry Kissinger. "You need an Establishment. Society needs it. You can't have all these assaults on national policy so that every time you change presidents you end up changing direction."These men were responsible for building a coalition that resulted in 40+ years of Pax Americana. "They were public servants, not public figures, and did not have to read the newspapers to know where they stood....In their sense of duty and shared wisdom, they found the force to shape the world."Bestseller The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made Creat Walter Isaacson Evan Thomas Viral Kindle A captivating blend of personal biography and public drama, The Wise Men introduces the original best and brightest, leaders whose outsized personalities and actions brought order to postwar chaos Averell Harriman, the freewheeling diplomat and Roosevelt s special envoy to Churchill and Stalin Dean Acheson, the secretary of state who was responsible for the Truman DA captivating blend of personal biography and public drama, The Wise Men introduces the original best and brightest, leaders whose outsized personalities and actions brought order to postwar chaos Averell Harriman, the freewheeling diplomat and Roosevelt s special envoy to Churchill and Stalin Dean Acheson, the secretary of state who was responsible for the Truman Doctrine than Truman and for the Marshall Plan than General Marshall George Kennan, self cast outsider and intellectual darling of the Washington elite Robert Lovett, assistant secretary of war, undersecretary of state, and secretary of defense throughout the formative years of the Cold War John McCloy, one of the nation s most influential private citizens and Charles Bohlen, adroit diplomat and ambassador to the Soviet Union.. Walter Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, has been chairman of CNN and the managing editor of Time magazine He is the author of Steve Jobs Einstein His Life and Universe Benjamin Franklin An American Life and Kissinger A Biography, and the coauthor of The Wise Men Six Friends and the World They Made He lives in Washington, DC.. A viral Book The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made I purchased this book at the Friends of the Library used book store at the Public Library in Laguna Beach, California. It is a formidable-looking book. I bought it mainly on the strength of one of its authors, Walter Isaacson. I have read some of his other biographies and found them very engagingly written. There is an inscription on the front flyleaf of my copy that reads, "To George & Julie Merry Xmas 1986 Hope this brings knowledge to your whole family Love Francie". The book had all the appearance of never having been read, so I suspect George, Julie, and their family were never enlightened as Francie hoped. It is unlikely that Francie, whoever she is, will ever read this review, but, Francie, if you do, rest assured that at least one person gained much from reading your gift.I was born when Franklin D. Roosevelt was President, just a week shy of one year before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. I don't remember anything about FDR and very little about his successor, Harry Truman. I do remember Eisenhower being elected in 1952 and I've been interested in our country's government ever since. I lived through most of the time period during which the subjects of this book were active in government. Before reading this book I had only heard of 2 of the 6, Averell Harriman and Dean Acheson.So The Wise Men was for me kind of a trip down memory lane. It was fascinating to me to learn some of the insider information on the decisions that lead to such historic events as dropping the atomic bomb on Japan, the Marshall Plan, the Korean War, the Cuban missile crises, and the Vietnam War among lesser events. Walter Isaacson and his co-author, Evan Thomas, did an excellent job of portraying these events in an interesting and readable manner.