Lattimore Story - John T. Flynn

17. The Betrayal of China

Here it is necessary to describe the final act of betrayal, because it illustrates the extent to which the State Department was dominated in its decisions by its Communist and pro-Communist personnel and by the IPR. By October 1949, the pro-Communist cabal had decided that the time was ripe to abandon China, Formosa and Korea to the Reds. The decision doubtless had already been made, but to give it the appearance of an objective judgment a conference to discuss policy was called within the State Department for October 6, 7, and 8, 1949. Chiang Kai-shek, unarmed and abandoned by us, had been forced to retreat to the southern portions of China, but he still held four large provinces with forty percent of China's population. A week before, Congress had passed a bill allotting $1,300,000,000 aid to Chiang. This, however, did not deter the State Department from pushing its own plans to destroy him.

The sponsor of this October meeting was the State Department. But it was in fact an IPR enterprise. It was presided over by Ambassador-at-large Philip C. Jessup, who was a long-time member of the IPR and chairman of the executive committee meeting which received with regret Fred V. Field's resignation as executive secretary of the American Council and hoped he would return to the Council after leading a notorious and public Communist demonstration. There were 25 other persons at the conference. Owen Lattimore and Lawrence K. Rosinger, IPR leaders, took the most active part in the discussions. William L. Holland, secretary of the IPR at the time, admitted that 17 of the 25 present at the conference had been active one way or another in the IPR (p. 1144). Governor Harold Stassen, then president of the University of Pennsylvania, was asked to attend because he had been making some very pointed inquiries in the State Department about the general state of affairs in China. Governor Stassen, Dr. Colegrove and Dr. McGovern all testified that Lattimore dominated the conference (pp. 921, 1044, 1278). Lattimore and Rosinger (the latter refused to tell the Senate committee if he was a Communist) presented a series of proposals, as follows;

  1. That Asia should be treated as a long-term problem. Russia was concentrating on Europe and the United States should likewise give priority to Europe.
  2. No aid to Asia should be started without long and careful study.
  3. The Russian Communists were not aggressive, as Hitler was, and would not take military action to extend their territory.
  4. The United States should recognize the Chinese Peoples Republic under Mao Tse-tung.
  5. The United States should also encourage Britain and India to recognize the Chinese People's Republic.
  6. It should be United States policy to turn Formosa over to the Chinese Communists.
  7. United States policy should not permit the Reds to take Hong Kong if they attempted it (Hong Kong belonged to Britain).
  8. Nehru in India has shown reactionary tendencies and should not be leaned on as a leader of non-Communist forces in Asia.
  9. The United States should not approve the blockade of the Communist coast by the Chinese Nationalists but should aid in breaking the blockade and should give economic aid to the area under Communist control.
  10. No aid should be sent to non-Communist forces of guerrillas in the South of China or to Chiang Kai-shek, and militant supplies on their way should be cut off.

Lattimore and Rosinger led in supporting this program. Lattimore lectured the conference about the sad state of affairs in Southern Korea. He said it: ". . . is an extremely unsavory police state. The chief power is concentrated in the hands of people who were the collaborators of Japan and therefore Korea represents something which does not exist in Manchuria and North China" (p. 1677) — Communist-held territory. He said:

"Korea is a danger to us in other respects. I think that throughout Asia the potential democracies—people who would like to be democratic if they could—are more numerous and important than the actual democrats. The kind of regime that exists in Southern Korea is a terrible discouragement to would-be democrats in Asia who would like to become democrats by association with the United States. Korea stands as a terrible warning of what can happen" (p. 1677).

This attack was leveled at South Korea, still under American tutelage. It was at that very moment being prepared for the establishment of a republic, modeled more or less on American lines. And here, at this meeting, Lattimore was comparing it unfavorably with those areas in China dominated by the Communists.

Governor Stassen testified before the McCarran Committee that all present at that conference save himself, McGovern, Colegrove and one or two others supported Lattimore's position. During a recess of the conference, Stassen tackled Ambassador-at-large Philip Jessup—who was also a prime mover in the IPR—and expressed to him the hope that the conference would not make the mistake of following the program submitted by Lattimore and his group. Jessup replied that "the greater logic was on that side" (p. 1046).

At this point we run into one of the curious twists in this strange and tragic episode. At every turn we see American policy turning away from American interest in the direction of the material interests of some other country. There can be no doubt now that during these events Great Britain was surveying her own commercial interests in Asia. Britain still held parts and hoped to recover other lost parts of those possessions in Asia which had been occupied by the Japanese. Britain had large commercial interests in China and she was not appraising her policies there in terms of those radiant dreams of the free world we heard so much about at the time.

It has always seemed to me that the key to Dean Acheson's fantastic surrenders was not wholly dictated by his odd tolerance of Russia's socialist world but far more by his deeply rooted devotion to Britain. It has been one of the dark curses of American foreign policy that it has seldom been favored with a Secretary of State who thought wholly in terms of American interests uncolored by some curious devotion to England. These comments are suggested by the evidence, now fairly clear, that our State Department had made a deal with the British Foreign Office to throw Chiang Kaishek to the wolves—partly dictated by the Red cabal in the State Department and partly by the pro-British interest there.

There is evidence of this in what actually occurred. On November 16, shortly following the State Department conference, British Foreign Minister Bevin said in Parliament that Britain was waiting on the United States to announce its decision to recognize Red China. Then, on January 5, 1950, Britain made a formal announcement of her recognition of Red China. Immediately following the State Department conference just described. Ambassador Jessup, who had managed it, went to Tokyo. General Fortier, of MacArthur's staff, testified that Jessup there expressed the view that the United States was about to recognize Communist China in two or three weeks (p. 845). By then, Britain and India had already done so, which was in accordance with Lattimore's proposal to have them lead the way, making it easier for us.

There is further and definitive proof of this deal. On January 12, 1950, Secretary of State Dean Acheson made a speech at the National Press Club in Washington in which, speaking of the Pacific, he made this important announcement:

"Our defensive perimeter runs along the Aleutians to Japan and then goes to the Ryukyus. The significance of this is plain when we see that the line he named eliminated Korea and Formosa, as well as China, from the Pacific area which we were supposed to defend. This was a clear notice to Soviet Russia and Red China that they could help themselves to Korea and to Formosa. The Communists took Acheson at his word and at the strategically proper time invaded Southern Korea.

The final effort of Acheson, Lattimore and Jessup to deliver China and Korea into the arms of the Communist world came on February 9, 1950. That day conference was held in the White House. This was never made public until revealed by Governor Stassen in the fall of 1951. To this conference with Truman, Jessup and Acheson, the Secretary of State made the mistake of inviting the late Senator Arthur Vandenberg. Vandenberg had made a long leap from his earlier opposition to the administration's foreign policies over to full support of them. Acheson, apparently, banking on that, did not realize that Vandenberg's conversion stopped short of American betrayal.

At that White House meeting, Acheson and Jessup proposed that the supplies that had been loaded at San Francisco and Hawaii for Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist government—under a Congressional authorization— should be halted as a dramatic gesture revealing our abandonment of the Chinese Nationalist government and as a move toward peace. Part of the plan was actually to blockade Nationalist China. Forty-five ships were on their way to China, belatedly carrying arms and supplies. It was proposed that the ships should be halted; if done with appropriate publicity, this action would be notice to the world that we were out of the Pacific struggle.

Senator Vandenberg protested vigorously against this plan and warned President Truman that if it was attempted he would recruit a majority of the Senate to stop it. This daring, secret cabal to turn Eastern Asia over to the Reds—although plotted in February 1950—was never revealed until Governor Stassen testified as a witness before the McCarran Committee. He stated that Senator Vandenberg had revealed this to him before the Senators death. Immediately Secretary Acheson and Ambassador Jessup denied the story. But fortunately Senator Vandenberg's son, now President Eisenhower's appointments secretary, produced his father's carefully kept diaries where the whole story was recorded at the time and bore the very date of the White House meeting (p. 1276).