The Brothers | Stephen Kinzer | Talks at Google | Summary and Q&A

January 28, 2014
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The Brothers | Stephen Kinzer | Talks at Google


Stephen Kinzer discusses the powerful Dulles brothers and their impact on American foreign policy, highlighting their covert actions, overthrow of governments, and manipulation of democracy.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What were the main forces that shaped the Dulles brothers' perspectives on American foreign policy?

The Dulles brothers were influenced by their family background, which included relations who held prominent roles in US government and beliefs in American exceptionalism. Additionally, their experience working for a Wall Street law firm that catered to multinational corporations influenced their views.

Q: How did the Dulles brothers approach the overthrow of foreign governments and their impact?

The Dulles brothers believed in using covert actions to overthrow governments that they perceived as a threat to American interests. Examples include the overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran and Arbenz in Guatemala. However, these actions often had long-term negative consequences, such as the rise of anti-American sentiment and further instability in those regions.

Q: Did the Dulles brothers understand the potential long-term effects of their interventions?

No, the Dulles brothers did not anticipate the long-term consequences of their actions. They believed in the superiority of American policies and did not consider the possibility of blowback or unintended outcomes. They saw their interventions as necessary for safeguarding American interests, not realizing the negative repercussions that would manifest in the future.

Q: Did the Dulles brothers learn from history and apply insights from previous US interventions?

The Dulles brothers did not learn from history, primarily because they believed that history did not apply to the United States. They did not fully appreciate or consider the ramifications of previous interventions, nor did they recognize the need to approach each situation on its own terms. Their narrow-mindedness and belief in American exceptionalism limited their ability to learn from past mistakes.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Stephen Kinzer introduces the Dulles brothers, John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles, who were influential figures in American foreign policy in the 1950s.

  • The Dulles brothers played a role in the creation of the US intelligence community and the implementation of covert actions worldwide.

  • Kinzer explores the impact of their actions on democracy, the interests of corporations, and the long-term consequences of their interventions.

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