The most important and least discussed issue in American politics, foreign affairs, was settled in favor of General Eisenhower and Richard Nixon last Tuesday, but the country must examine the problem once more in relation to another member of the Administration--Secratary of State John Foster Dulles.
We have often criticized his conduct of foreign affairs in the past, but irrespective of feelings on this score, we cannot but sympathize with him for his recently discovered cancer. And regardless of how one feels about his previous record, it is evident that Dulles is not now able to serve the country as Secretary of State. His convalescence, estimated from four to six weeks, will deprive the nation of its most important Cabinet member in a time of world crisis.
The Acting Secretary, Herbert Hoover, Jr., is not the man for the job either. A professional engineer, Hoover has a spotty record on his stints as Acting Secretary. Notwithstanding his earlier achievement on Iranian oil, he blundered in April 1955 when he refused to negotiate with the Chinese Communists on Formosa unless Chiang was there as an "equal." When Dulles returned to the job, this decision was reversed. His handling of the Saudi Arabian tank deal was also far from adequate, and finally led to a reversal by Mr. Eisenhower.
Because it is Hoover who acts in Dulles' stead under the present arrangement, it is clear that Dulles should now resign on the basis of ill health.
Unfortunately the Republican party does not have many men with great experience in foreign affairs. Perhaps their most striking figure is John Sherman Cooper, but he would scarcely be likely to resign his newly-won Senate seat. Of the others, three men suggest themselves as successors to Dulles--Thomas E. Dewey, Christian A. Herter '15, and Henry Cabot Lodge '24. Lodge is the only one now working in the realm of foreign affairs, as U.N. delegate, but his record there is not impressive, He has rarely been more than efficient, and his best remembered act was a refusal to shake hands with a Russian delegate.
Herter and Dewey would both be acceptable as efficient administrators who could be counted on to improve Department morale and listen to expert advice on key issues. Each has maintained an interest in world affairs recently while working for a Republican victory.
While Herter would be a good choice, Dewey now has a close political rapport with the Republican congressmen, something that would have served Dean Acheson and Dulles very well. Furthermore, his greater administrative experience and prestige outweigh the Massachusetts governor's early experience in foreign relations, experience that centers in the 1920's, for the problems of today are new, and exposure to the diplomacy of then, while helpful, is not vital.