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Dwight D. Eisenhower
Extending a handshake [Commentary]
Extending a handshake [Commentary]

Symbols are meaningful in politics. Sometimes, a gesture as simple as a handshake can resonate with tremendous importance. For me, the most important handshake in American history occurred in China on February 21, 1972. By way of background, John Foster Dulles — President Dwight Eisenhower's secretary of state and a staunch anti-communist — refused to shake Chinese leader Chou En Lai's hand at a conference in Geneva in 1954. He later quipped that the only time he'd meet with Chou would be if their cars accidentally collided. Jump ahead 18 years, and President Richard Nixon — President Eisenhower's vice president and a credentialed anti-communist in...