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Lincoln Gordon

Lincoln Gordon: Architect of Cold War Foreign Policy

BRUCE L. R. SMITH
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 536
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt14jxwtg
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    Lincoln Gordon
    Book Description:

    After World War II, American statesman and scholar Lincoln Gordon emerged as one of the key players in the reconstruction of Europe. During his long career, Gordon worked as an aide to National Security Adviser Averill Harriman in President Truman's administration; for President John F. Kennedy as an author of the Alliance for Progress and as an adviser on Latin American policy; and for President Lyndon B. Johnson as assistant secretary of state. Gordon also served as the United States ambassador to Brazil under both Kennedy and Johnson. Outside the political sphere, he devoted his considerable talents to academia as a professor at Harvard University, as a scholar at the Brookings Institution, and as president at Johns Hopkins University.

    In this impressive biography, Bruce L. R. Smith examines Gordon's substantial contributions to U.S. mobilization during the Second World War, Europe's postwar economic recovery, the security framework for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and U.S. policy in Latin America. He also highlights the vital efforts of the advisers who helped Gordon plan NATO's force expansion and implement America's dominant foreign policy favoring free trade, free markets, and free political institutions.

    Smith, who worked with Gordon at the Brookings Institution, explores the statesman-scholar's virtues as well as his flaws, and his study is strengthened by insights drawn from his personal connection to his subject. In many ways, Gordon's life and career embodied Cold War America and the way in which the nation's institutions evolved to manage the twentieth century's vast changes. Smith adeptly shows how this "wise man" personified both America's postwar optimism and as its dawning realization of its own fallibility during the Vietnam era.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6120-4
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    The eastern establishment that shaped the post—World War II order was made up of a circle of Wise Men (such as Averell Harriman, Dean Acheson, John McCloy, Robert Lovett, George Kennan, Charles Bohlen, and others) who have deservedly attracted the attention of biographers and historians. Some of these well-known Americans told their own stories in eloquent memoirs. But these individuals had a supporting cast of less wellknown wise men and some women behind them. This supporting cast’s work made possible and sometimes even outshone the achievements of the better-known figures who have gotten most of the credit. TheWise...

  5. 1 Dorothy and Dad
    (pp. 7-18)

    Lincoln Gordon was born in a post-Victorian America brimming with Progressive ideas of reform and social justice. The bustling New York City of his youth provided many opportunities for the new professional classes, which blended easily with the established aristocratic families still dominating the country’s social, economic, and political life. His family, led by his gifted and assertive mother, had grown away from its immigrant and ethnic origins and embraced Americanism. Lincoln’s religion, to the extent he had anything resembling religious belief, consisted of devotion to the creed of American exceptionalism and the embrace of secular humanism. His intellect and...

  6. 2 Secular Humanism at Fieldston
    (pp. 19-26)

    Bernard and Dorothy Gordon chose the Ethical Culture Fieldston School for Lincoln in part because the school was hospitable to Jewish children. Indeed, the ethical culture movement had played an important role in Jewish assimilation and in the rise of secular humanism among Jews. The school was also coeducational. Girls competed at a varsity level at least in basketball and baseball.¹ That the students studied the classics of English literature probably impressed Dorothy and Bernard. The Fieldston curriculum had some of the same rigorous learning as the prestigious boarding schools of New England, but without the hazing and the social...

  7. 3 Harvard in Three years
    (pp. 27-38)

    Lincoln’s first decision at Harvard was based on “an irrational desire to catch up with my brother Frank.”¹ Frank, two and a half years older, had entered Princeton the previous year as a member of the class of ’33. By completing his requirements in three years, Lincoln could short-circuit the process and graduate the same year as Frank. To finish in the same year as his brother would be a coup of sorts in Lincoln’s mind. The relationship between the two brothers as adults had already begun to take shape, a relationship that was “correct but not warm.”² His determination...

  8. 4 An American at Oxford
    (pp. 39-48)

    Seeing his mother off for America, Lincoln set off for Oxford on his new bike, which was to be his principal mode of transport for the next three years. His trunks had been sent ahead to the college, and he had carefully charted his way to Oxford with an estimated time of arrival on October 2. He encountered difficulty, with heavy rain that slowed him down for the first two days. The weather cleared up the third day, and he was able to pedal his way pleasantly along the Stratford-on-Avon Road. He arrived a day ahead of schedule and found...

  9. 5 Allison
    (pp. 49-62)

    Gordon arrived at Boston harbor on August 16, 1936. A few weeks of recuperation at Chetwood was all he could muster before the start of Harvard’s fall term. His appointment as instructor in the Government Department carried a salary of $2,425, supplemented by $975 for teaching the same courses at Radcliffe and $525 for teaching in the Summer School, plus free room and board as resident tutor at Dunster House. He continued to follow developments in Europe; he had been alarmed when Britain and France did nothing to oppose Germany’s reoccupation of the Rhineland. But developments in Europe faded gradually...

  10. 6 Mobilizing for War
    (pp. 63-83)

    As Lincoln and Allison Gordon were driving home from a midday dinner with her parents, the news flash from Pearl Harbor came on the car radio. It was immediately clear to both of them that the nation was now at war and that Lincoln would quickly join the war effort. His Harvard colleagues, his neighbors, his brother, and every able-bodied man he knew soon either joined the military or signed up for civilian duty in Washington. Lincoln was exempted from military service because he had two small children at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. Two Harvard colleagues, Merle...

  11. 7 Controlling the Atom
    (pp. 84-117)

    With VE Day, the War Production Board’s mission had shifted to planning for a one-front war in the Pacific and for the transition to the postwar civilian economy. In June Gordon was promoted to program vice chairman of the requirements committee, like the varsity athlete, he said in his draft memoir, earning “his letter by appearing in the final minutes of the big game.” He was being too modest, since he had in fact exercised the powers of program vice chairman for most of the previous six months. Despite his self-deprecating remark, Gordon was now officially (as he had been...

  12. 8 Birth of the Marshall Plan, 1947–1948
    (pp. 118-137)

    Gordon did not attend the June 5, 1947, Harvard commencement exercises. He was busy with end-of-term activities. After resuming his teaching duties in January 1947, and with additional research and consulting responsibilities, he found it an effort to catch up with the scholarly literature, prepare his lectures, meet with students, and attend to myriad other academic tasks. The events in Europe were on his mind, however, and he also continued to follow closely what was happening at the UN with atomic energy. The Baruch Plan on atomic energy was clearly dead, due to a combination of Soviet intransigence and Pentagon...

  13. 9 The Marshall Plan in Action, 1949–1950
    (pp. 138-161)

    In January 1948 Gordon returned to his Harvard teaching duties and was pleasantly surprised to learn that Under Secretary of State Robert Lovett had written on November 20, 1947, to Business School dean Donald David thanking him for Gordon’s services. Lovett praised Gordon as “a very competent man,” adding, “I hope that his experience down here will prove to be of some value to him in connection with his subsequent duties at the Graduate School. It would give me a little comfort to feel this in view of the loyal and tireless work he put in for us.”¹ David thanked...

  14. 10 NATO: From Treaty to Alliance
    (pp. 162-187)

    Harriman planned to have a staff in the White House of only six or seven. He was known to prefer lean staffs, whom he would then press relentlessly. In London with Lend-Lease, Harriman’s staff started small but grew rapidly until he had some thirty people assisting him, but this job was totally different from what he now faced. A small White House staff meant that Gordon, along with his other colleagues, would have wide responsibilities. Gordon felt some qualms about giving up his Harvard tenure, despite the fact that over the past decade he had spent the bulk of his...

  15. 11 London: A Respite
    (pp. 188-205)

    After Lisbon, Gordon set out “to push the military assistance program somewhere near the agreed military goals, even though we knew at the time they were probably too big to be realized. They certainly couldn’t be achieved on the time table set out at Lisbon.”¹ As it turned out, the goals were never to be achieved. In a shift of strategy the Eisenhower administration adopted the “new look,” which introduced tactical nuclear weapons into military planning as a cheaper alternative to increased American troop commitments.² Gordon’s circumstances changed suddenly in March, when President Truman announced that he would not seek...

  16. 12 Business School Professor, 1955–1960
    (pp. 206-217)

    Lincoln and Allison and the children enjoyed what was left of the 1955 summer at Lake Sunapee, slept well in the cool evenings, and listened to the wind whistling through the pines and the water lapping on the shore. At summer’s end the family returned, refreshed, to their home in Belmont, which they had rented out during the London years. When Gordon first discussed with Donald David the new professorship in international business, the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration had only one faculty member teaching in that area, an assistant professor who was slated to return to New york....

  17. 13 The Alliance for Progress and JFK Adviser
    (pp. 218-237)

    Lincoln Gordon concludes in his regionalism article that regional blocs, including the Latin American bloc, were going to play increasingly important roles in the world economy. His diagnosis pays special attention to the limited intraregional trade among Latin American countries. The new regionalism, though not spelled out very clearly, would promote intraregional trade and supplement the import substitution strategies of individual countries to limit cheap imports from the industrialized countries. Gordon’s research on Brazil focused on the role of foreign private investment in the Brazilian automotive industry and on policies to promote a more favorable investment climate. But he clearly...

  18. 14 Ambassador to Brazil
    (pp. 238-273)

    As one of his last official acts before he resigned on August 25, 1961, President Janio Quadros presented “Che” Guevara with the nation’s highest honor for foreigners, the Cruzeiro do Sul. This capped off to his critics the eleven months of unpredictable and bizarre actions that had marked his maverick presidency. Gordon and the State Department took the Guevara visit and related moves as more than a twist of Uncle Sam’s nose, but the full implications were unclear. Gordon had met Quadros in June on the Stevenson visit, and Quadros had given the Americans three hours instead of the scheduled...

  19. Photographs
    (pp. None)
  20. 15 Assistant Secretary
    (pp. 274-299)

    On April 2, Gordon and his team felt confident enough to report to Washington that the coup was over. Civil order had been restored in most of the country, with the situations in Recife and Porto Alegre still uncertain.¹ They indicated that Brizola had been arrested (incorrect) and that Goulart had fled the country (premature). Meanwhile, at about 2:30 a.m., the speaker of the lower house, Ranieri Mazzilli, had been sworn in as acting president. This news was passed on by twenty-four-year-old Robert Bentley, an American diplomat who was stationed in Brasilia to observe and report on the activities of...

  21. 16 Johns Hopkins President
    (pp. 300-342)

    Lincoln Gordon was more than tired—he was, in fact, worn out. The recent trip was a blur, like some old speeded-up newsreel. He had been going all out since 1961 and was under pressure for much of the time. And for all of his efforts, what did he have to show for it? He could not delude himself that his recent activities had been great successes for America or for him personally. He had tried to recover some of the greatness of the Marshall Plan in the form of the Alliance for Progress, and the project had failed. Brazil...

  22. 17 What Now?
    (pp. 343-380)

    With the faculty committee investigating him, Gordon made a serious tactical mistake. He chose to be absent from Homewood for most of January 1971 instead of staying home and focusing on the immediate crisis. He departed after announcing the appointment of Dr. Muller of Cornell as the university’s next provost. The announcement, Gordon hoped, would give him some breathing room. The proposed trip for Gordon was an around-the-world journey with his health dean, John Hume. The itinerary was to travel from east to west rather the more usual west to east, based on the theory that the jet-lag problem was...

  23. 18 Elder Statesman
    (pp. 381-395)

    An obvious choice would be to return to RFF if the offer for an office and secretarial support still stood. There was, however, a problem: the RFF was no longer in the Brookings annex. As RFF had grown, it needed more space. RFF’s president, Emory Cassell, approached Brookings president Bruce K. MacLaury with a proposition. Would Brookings sell to RFF the property it owned on P Street immediately behind the Brookings buildings? RFF could then build its own office, and RFF and Brookings would maintain their close intellectual partnership. MacLaury discussed the overture with his own board and returned with...

  24. 19 Going Gently
    (pp. 396-400)

    Gordon remarked once that his idea of a proper death was to have a heart attack while playing tennis at a friend’s home. He then considered for a moment and said that on second thought he would prefer it not to be a friend’s court. That would be putting the friend to the trouble of notifying the coroner, and so on, so better that it be a stranger’s court. He liked this quip, for he used it on other occasions and refined it further. In a 1993 letter he remarked, “My own preferred exit is via a fatal heart attack...

  25. Epilogue
    (pp. 401-412)

    There is no doubt that Lincoln Gordon enjoyed brilliant successes in his early career. The successful wartime mobilization depended on the recruitment of talented professionals from outside the government, and Gordon was one of those most in demand. He served throughout the war in increasingly important posts and at the war’s end was one of the WPB’s key decision-makers. In the postwar period he and his colleagues from the eastern universities and business establishment, along with a small circle of counterpart European professionals, made the Marshall Plan a reality, and they did so working largely out of the limelight while...

  26. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 413-418)
  27. Appendix A Lincoln Gordon’s Family Tree
    (pp. 419-422)
  28. Appendix B Exchange of Letters with President Johnson on Departure as Assistant Secretary of State
    (pp. 423-426)
    Lincoln Gordon
  29. Appendix C Confidential Report to the President on Vietnam Policy
    (pp. 427-430)
  30. Appendix D Exchange of Letters with Eugene Rostow on Panama Canal Treaty
    (pp. 431-434)
    Lincoln Gordon
  31. Appendix E Correspondence with Richard Bissell on ERP’s Early Troubles
    (pp. 435-440)
    Lincoln Gordon
  32. Notes
    (pp. 441-472)
  33. Selected Bibliography of Lincoln Gordon’s Scholarly Writings
    (pp. 473-476)
  34. Index
    (pp. 477-500)
  35. Back Matter
    (pp. 501-504)