Lattimore Story - John T. Flynn

1. The Plot to Turn Asia Red.

There is an element in the story of Owen Lattimore which makes it difficult to tell, because to an American it is unbelievable. It involves a set of activities, dispositions, states of mind and attitudes with which the normal American has no familiarity in real life. He can be intrigued and amused by such stories if they are in a work of fiction, particularly if they are presented in a purely Oriental setting or, better still, in a novel about some Balkan revolution. But they have no logical relation to the American scene. Here we are confronted with an alien web of intrigue, artifice and deceit carried out, not by criminals and characters in the underworld, but by high-ranking officials and agents of our own government who present the appearance of gentlemen and scholars and patriots —a web financed and supported by eminent educators and business organizations, in a time of war—and all suddenly exposed to our view in our own American setting. It beggars belief.

I can understand our own native brand of American socialists. No one knows better than I the dark spots in our own society. There were many people with soft hearts and generous dispositions who had to see or even live close to these dark spots of our great cities, where they saw injustice, poverty and graft. These conditions touched the hearts of many men and women and led them, not too logically, into supposing that all would be well if we could get rid of things like Business, Profit, Capitalists, Bosses, Private Wealth and Luxuries.

I can also understand the wave of human sympathy that flowed over the hearts of Americans when the Russian Revolution broke on the world in 1917, ending the long era of tyranny under the Czars. Sympathy for the Russian leaders, most of whom were old-fashioned socialists, was warm. But I cannot understand the state of mind of Americans who were converted to communism after the rise of Stalinism, the massacre of the kulaks, the heartless liquidation of the old socialist idealists and the long succession of outrages under the tyranny of Stalin during the last twenty years. When, therefore, I see an American holding up the hand of Stalin, promoting his aims and ambitions here or anywhere, and doing so after the advent of the Hitler-Stalin Pact which plunged Europe into war, the spectacle baffles me. But when I see an American—an educated American—becoming an instrument for promoting the policies of Stalin in the United States and against the United States throughout the world, I say I am staggered. Always my first reaction to these revelations or charges when they were first made was to refuse to believe them.

I would not believe the Lattimore story if the evidence to support it, now before us at long last, were not overwhelming. It is because of this I observe at the outset that the story is difficult to relate. A year and a half ago I attempted to outline in a small volume While You Slept, the forces which were responsible for the Korean War and, back of that, our disastrous adventure in China. Since then a vast mass of evidence has come to light which now furnishes the complete and definitive proof of the betrayal which caused our defeat in Asia. At that time an American professor and journalist named Owen Lattimore was being widely criticized as one of the leading figures in the promotion of Russia's aims in China and Korea. However, any American journalist or political leader who dared to suggest this idea was immediately subjected to the most violent abuse. Senator Joseph McCarthy was not the only one who had drawn public attention to the China betrayal. But, being a newcomer to the techniques of Communist disputation here, as everywhere, he assumed that Americans would believe the criticisms he made because they were reasonable and plausible and because most of the proof was there.

Communist controversy, however, is not conducted in open debate and logical discussion. Its first weapon always is the smear—abuse and character assassination. Its other weapon is to use the strange power Communist leaders in America attained (which is another unbelievable story) to liquidate writers, publicists, critics and journalists who dared to defend some victim marked by the Communists for liquidation. I think it is a fair assumption that Senator McCarthy, a normal American, a newcomer at the time into the field of controversy with the Reds, must have been astounded at the blows that were immediately dealt him, not by the Communist Party openly, but by the New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune, various conservative magazines and finally such respectable men in the Senate as Senator Millard Tydings and Senator William Benton. Benton he might have understood, had he known more of his career of association with various aggressive left-wing elements.

Instead of the Communists and pro-Communists involved in our Asiatic disaster being investigated, McCarthy was investigated by a Senate committee. Owen Lattimore was vindicated and petted. But fortunately the Senate Judiciary Committee, through its Sub-Committee on Internal Security, later undertook an investigation into the whole subject—not merely the charges made by McCarthy but the criticisms made by a number of reputable journalists of the whole China episode and in particular of the Institute of Pacific Relations. That investigation was made by five senators—three Democrats and two Republicans. Other senators sat in at times. They held hearings from July 1951 to August 1952. The testimony makes up 14 volumes of over 5,000 pages. Public testimony was taken from 66 witnesses—all of the criticized persons being given the fullest opportunity to present their own cases. The committee staff examined over 20,000 documents. Every person who wished to be heard was given the opportunity. I followed this investigation with continuing attention. I have read every line of the testimony and all of the important exhibits. What is more, I sought the advice of men and women who are experts in Asiatic affairs.

The investigation by the Senate Sub-Committee was conducted by a professional staff completely familiar with Communist conspiratorial techniques. The senators who supervised the investigation and presided over the committee's hearings, as well as the counsel of the committee, proceeded with a sense of responsibility and with a degree of courtesy and consideration toward all the witnesses, including those who were accused or suspected, which I have never seen excelled in a congressional investigation. What is more, the Internal Security Sub-Committee's performance was in striking contrast to the vicious, angry circus put on by the so-called Tydings Committee, which had no intention of seeking the truth but which was interested merely in persecuting and discrediting Senator McCarthy. Senator McCarthy himself had no part in the investigation by the Subcommittee on Internal Security to which I am now referring.

As a result of this exhaustive study, the whole truth about China and the Korean War is known. I should add that the hearings of the Joint Senate Committees on the Armed Forces and Foreign Relations, following the removal of General MacArthur and the attempt to discredit him, produced some additional material of the greatest importance. I feel that any honest journalist can now say with complete assurance that the truth about China, Korea, the Institute of Pacific Relations, Owen Lattimore and the whole movement to turn Asia over to communism is known. It is upon these evidences that I base the story of Owen Lattimore which follows, and which I again repeat is difficult to credit. It is necessary, however, before introducing the reader to this weird operation, to set the stage upon which the tragedy was enacted.