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John Foster Dulles (1888-1959) was Eisenhower's Secretary of State until April of 1959, when he resigned from office because of illness. (Dulles died a month later.) Dulles was an international lawyer from a politically distinguished family; both his grandfather and his uncle had also served as Secretary of State. He had been involved in diplomacy since World War I and had helped set up the United Nations and NATO at the end of World War II.

Deeply religious and a fierce anticommunist, Dulles was considered by many to be inflexible and sanctimonious. Even Eisenhower called him an "international prosecuting attorney."_CITATION_UUID_6C46AC7FD2014F59B189EC4CC07F77C9_ Dulles had criticized the previous president, Harry Truman, for seeking only the "containment" of Communism; he wanted to roll back Communist control in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. Although he was mostly thwarted in this goal while in office, Dulles brought a hard edge to Eisenhower's foreign policy and pressed for confrontation in many cases where Ike preferred conciliation.

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