Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Ball, George Wildman (1909–1994)

Prominent Democratic Party operative, diplomat, and presidential advisor. Born on 21 December 1909 in Des Moines, Iowa, George Ball attended Northwestern University, where he received a BA degree in 1930 and a law degree in 1933. Following law school, he alternated between the private sector and government service. During 1942–1944 he served in the Lend-Lease Administration, and in 1944 he was appointed director of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey in London. Throughout his life, Ball maintained a keen interest in foreign affairs, and he wrote prolifically on foreign policy issues.

Following World War II, Ball became a founding partner of a Washington, D.C., law firm and became active in the Democratic Party. From 1961 to 1966, he was undersecretary of state, served as the permanent U.S. representative to the United Nations (UN), and became a close advisor to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson on matters ranging from the Cuban Missile Crisis to European integration.

Ball is well remembered as one of the lone voices among Johnson's foreign policy advisors who argued against the escalation of the war in Vietnam in 1965. Ball served briefly as U.S. ambassador to the UN in 1968. He returned to civilian life and became a senior partner at Lehman Brothers Investors until he retired in 1982. Nonetheless, he remained a respected elder statesman in foreign policy circles. He was highly critical of President Richard M. Nixon's handling of the Vietnam War. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter sought Ball's advice on the revolution in Iran. Ball died in New York City on 26 May 1994.

Brent M. Geary


Further Reading
Bill, James A. George Ball: Behind the Scenes in U.S. Foreign Policy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997.; DiLeo, David L. George Ball, Vietnam, and the Rethinking of Containment. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991.
 

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