Lattimore Story - John T. Flynn

12. Lattimore's 'Solution in Asia'

As 1945 opened, the pro-Communist operatives in the IPR and their allies in the State Department were stimulated to a kind of frantic energy. Inside the top levels of the War, Navy and State Departments it was known that the handwriting presaging Japanese defeat was on the wide wall of the Pacific. General MacArthur occupied the Philippines at the end of 1944. This was a fatal blow to the whole supply system of Japan, which depended for raw materials of war on an immense and far-flung collection of Pacific islands and bases.

With Japan's loss of the Philippines not merely as a source of supply but as a base, MacArthur knew that it was merely a matter of months when Japan must toy seriously with the problem of finding the best exit from the war. He so advised President Roosevelt at the end of 1944. It was also known that the defeat of Germany was only a matter of months and that then the whole massive might of the American war and naval machine could be concentrated on Japan. This was known in the State Department, and what was known there Owen Lattimore knew and every top-level idea huckster in the Institute of Pacific Relations knew. And it was this important information which made it clear to the friends of Russia in America that the definitive instant for shaping the peace in the Pacific was approaching rapidly. There was no time to lose. And at this strategic moment Owen Lattimore, as usual, led the way.

Lattimore brought out a book called Solution in Asia, which outlined the whole Communist Asiatic policy. Parts of it had been prepared earlier, but it was now revised and expanded to fit the current situation. It deprecated the Communist label for the Chinese Communists, saying it was more convenient than accurate because Chinese communism is different from Marxist theory and Russian practice. He went so far as to make the fantastic suggestion that the Russian system was a form of individualism.

Russian expansion, he said, need not worry us. It will turn out for the best. He praised the Russian system of incorporating alien peoples within its organism. The Russian system "spreads control through a loyal population rather than exercising it over them." He sneers at Western leadership. But Russial She "is the only nation in the modem world that is young enough to have men of destiny." She creates her own men of destiny—Lenin and Stalin. Speaking of the Eastern people, he says that for them;

"The Russians and the Soviet Union have a great power of attraction. In their eyes . . . the Soviet Union stands for strategic security, economic prosperity, technological progress, miraculous medicine, free education, equality of opportunity and democracy: a powerful combination" (Solution in Asia, p. 139).

He criticizes labor unionists who say Russian trade unions are not free. At the bottom of it all was his insistence on cooperating with Russia and China and Japan and Korea on a solution in Asia which he called unity. Unity meant forcing Chiang Kai-shek to take the Communists into his government. This book was promptly praised by the New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune, The Nation, the New Republic and the Saturday Review of Literature.

The rhapsodical reviews in these journals were written by T. A. Bisson in the Saturday Review of Literature and Maxwell Stewart in the Nation, both classed by the Senate Sub-Committee on Internal Security as pro-Communists and both members of the IPR; by Edgar Snow in the New York Times— Snow, who had written books and numerous articles in support of Communist China and whose wife, Nym Wales, was a member of the IPR; by Richard Watts in the New Republic, where he said, "There are none whose words are more worth listening to." The New York Herald Tribune review was most significant. The reviewer, A. T. Steele, observed: "This is a book that belongs in the brief case of every diplomat and general concerned with the reshaping of Asia and its billion under-privileged inhabitants" (February 25,1945). That is precisely the purpose for which the book was written, as we shall see.

This sort of propaganda was a well-known project with Lattimore. As far back as 1936 he had called on American Ambassador Bullitt in Moscow. He wanted to talk about "the most inspiring thing that has happened," namely, that the Mongols had acquired their independence. He tried to hurry Bullitt into wiring the American government to hurry its recognition of the Mongolian People's Republic. Bullitt testified that this was an extraordinary statement, because at that very moment Mongolia was a part of China and ruled by the Chinese government. Moreover, on March 12, 1936, the Mongolian People's Republic had signed a protocol of mutual assistance with Russia. The Chinese government made a vigorous protest against this protocol. Yet at this moment Lattimore was trying to press the American Ambassador in Russia to urge his government to recognize Mongolia as a separate state. Bullitt was amazed at Lattimore's impudence (pp. 4523-4524).

In 1945, in Solution in Asia, Lattimore was peddling this same line about Outer Mongolia—that it was a satellite of Russia "in a good sense." He laid down the Russian propaganda line on Japan. The Japanese Emperor should be liquidated (Solution in Asia, p. 189). In China we should build on the forward-looking men, by which were meant the men in Yenan, the Red capital. Early in 1945, Lattimore planned to go to Russia. This required an invitation from the Red Ambassador, Gromyko. Carter wrote Mrs. Lattimore that he hoped he might aid Owen in his project. He told her he wanted to get a dozen copies of Solution in Asia, which would "fit right into the build-up." He asked Mrs. Lattimore to get them to him. He wrote Lattimore: "As soon as possible after receipt of copies I am going to descend upon Gromyko and lay plans for exploring the possibility of your recent proposal" (p. 3312).

These dozen copies were sent to Litvinov, Voitinsky, Gromyko and other Soviet officials in Moscow (p. 3313). The purpose of this, of course, could only be to let the Red leaders know what Lattimore was doing to promote the Red line in America and facilitate his proposed trip to Moscow. He could not possibly be trying to sell the Russians their own line. However, the trip did not materialize.