Dean Acheson Quotes

  • Women‍‍`s Corner
  • February 19, 2023

Dean Gooderham Acheson was an American statesman and lawyer. As the 51st U.S. Secretary of State, he set the foreign policy of the Harry S. Truman administration from 
1949 to 1953. He was also Truman's main foreign policy advisor from 1945 to 1947, especially regarding the Cold War. 

1. "No people in history have ever survived who thought they could protect their freedom by making themselves inoffensive to their enemies."

2. "Any nation which claims that this [North Atlantic] treaty is directed against it should be reminded of the Biblical admonition that the guilty flee when no man pursueth."

3. "He was succeeding admirably in communicating his own boredom to his audience." ― 'Sketches From Life Of Men I Have Known', Dean Acheson, 1962

4. "Entwined with the strand of conservatism in the Democratic party is the strand of empiricism."

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5. "The great corrupter of public man is the ego. Looking at the mirror distracts one's attention from the problem."

6. "If we learn the art of yielding what must be yielded to the changing present, we can save the best of the past."

7. "Greatness is a quality of character and is not the result of circumstances."

8. "The trouble with a free market economy is that it requires so many policemen to make it work."

9. "The limitations imposed by democratic political practices make it difficult to conduct our foreign affairs in the national interest."

10. "I learned from the example of my father that the manner in which one endures what must be endured is more important than the thing that must be endured."

11. "To leave positions of great responsibility and authority is to die a little, but the time comes when that must be faced."

12. "The most important aspect of the relationship between the president and the secretary of state is that they both understand who is president."

13. "Americans assume Canada to be bestowed as a right and accept this bounty, as they do air, without thought or appreciation."

14. "The test for aid to poor nations is therefore whether it makes them capable of being productive. If it fails to do so, it is likely to make them even poorer in the – not so very – long run." - Middle East History, 'Present At The Creation: My Years In The State Department', Dean Acheson, 1969

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15. "Force can overcome force, but a free society cannot long steel itself to dominate another people by sheer force."

16. "The simple truth is that perseverance in good policies is the only avenue to success."

17. "It is just as full of propaganda as a dog is full of fleas. In fact, I say it's all fleas and no dog."

18. "People say, If the Congress were more representative of the people it would be better. I say the Congress is too representative."

19. "There is perhaps nothing more important in the world today than the steadiness and consistency of the foreign policy of this Republic. Too much depends on the United States for us to indulge in the luxury of either undue pessimism or premature optimism."

20. "Private thoughts on public affairs: a citizen looks at Congress, and a Democrat looks at his party."

21. "On the fruitlessness of keeping Russian fishermen from waters that should be off limits." - 'Dean Acheson: The State Department Years', David S McLellan, 1976

22. "Great Britain has lost an Empire and has not yet found a role."- December 5, 1962, West Point

23. "Washington is like a self-sealing tank on a military aircraft. When a bullet passes through, it closes up."

24. "I will undoubtedly have to seek what is happily known as gainful employment, which I am glad to say does not describe holding public office."

25. "I doubt very much if a man whose main literary interests were in works by Mr. Zane Grey, admirable as they may be, is particularly equipped to be the chief executive of this country, particularly where Indian Affairs are concerned."

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26. "You can't argue with a river – it is going to flow. You can dam it up, put it to useful purposes, you can deflect it, but you can't argue with it."

27. "Unfortunately, the hyperbole of the inaugural outran the provisions of the budget." - Budget Perspectives, 'Present At The Creation: My Years In The State Department', Dean Acheson, 1969

28. "How could the USA champion individual freedom in the world generally while denying it to an important minority in its own country."

29. "How gently, wisely, and justly G M Young deals with him. That is not the way to write biography." - 'Among Friends: Personal Letters Of Dean Acheson', David S. McClellan and David Acheson, 1980

30. "His speeches were prepared with that infinite capacity for taking pains, which is said to be genius." - 'Grapes From Thorns'

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