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Among the many underlined passages in my copy of James Chace's new biography of Dean Acheson is the following:

The problems that bedeviled American foreign policy were not like headaches, [Acheson] wrote -- when you "take a powder and they are gone." Instead, "They will stay with us until death. We have got to understand that all our lives the danger, the uncertainty, the need for alertness, for effort, for discipline will be upon us. This is new to us. It will be hard for us. But we are in for it and the only real question is whether we shall know it soon enough."

Acheson's generation had just survived war and Holocaust, only to be confronted -- as the nuclear age dawned -- by the rise of a new and ominous totalitarian threat. For leaders then, the relief of victory was quickly supplanted by

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