Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ordeal by Lattimore I

On March 5, 1952 the New York Times printed a piece by William S. White that reported that Prof. Owen Lattimore acknowledged during his eighth day of testimony before the Senate Internal Security subcommittee, that Truman Administration policy toward China in 1946 had been 'closely similar' to his own thinking and proposals. The next paragraph in White's report was;
He asserted, however, that it was "an absurd exaggeration *** an absurd invention" to suggest that he had dictated or molded that policy, either as an individual or as a trustee of the Institute of Pacific Relations.
As White recognized, this was at last to the heart of the issue--what influence, if any, he had exerted in the State Department's adoption of what its critics call a "soft" line toward the China Communists. Because, two years earlier in front of a different Senate body--The Tydings Committee--Lattimore denied, under oath, that he was what Senator Joseph McCarthy had called him, i.e. the chief architect of United States' policy in China post WWII.

Lattimore then quickly published a vituperative, slanderous, short book repeating that denial; Ordeal By Slander (Little, Brown and Company; July 1950). So, Lattimore was faced with a problem when the SISS, chaired by Nevada Democrat Pat McCarran confronted him with the following:

1. A letter of June 10, 1945 Lattimore had written to President Harry Truman expressing alarm that United States policy seemed to be tending toward support for "only one party," meaning the Nationalist Government of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, and suggesting that if the United States took this course the Soviet Union might feel justified "in following that lead and committing itself to the other major party (the Communists)."

2. Truman's reply to Lattimore in which he invited him to come to the White House to discuss his ideas. Followed by a wire from the White House confirming a meeting on July 3rd of that year, and Lattimore's thank you note.

3. A memo for Truman to prepare him for what Lattimore would say in the meeting, which was two alternatives in China:
1. Division of the country between Chiang Kai-shek and the Communists. This would mean for Chiang, a permanent policy of getting American support for which he would give anything America wants; and for the Communists, a similar policy of getting Russian support, with similar results. The eventual consequence would almost inevitably be war between America and Russia. [bold by HSIB]
2. A unified China. To unify China, there must be a settlement between Chiang and the Communists and simultaneously an agreement between America, Russia, and Britain to build up China as a whole. The Communists would have to accept minority standing as a long-term status; but Chiang would have to give them real power within a coalition government, proportionate to their real strength, not just token representation.

In other words, we can have either a divided China, with Chiang having dictatorial power in his territory, subject to acting as an instrument of American policy, or we can have a whole China, at the price of pretty drastic political change [our bold again], including limitation of the personal power of Chiang.
Then, so Truman wouldn't miss it, Lattimore wrote; The basic American interest is represented by Policy 2. 

More to follow. 

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