Lattimore Story - John T. Flynn

3. Institute of Pacific Relations

It is now merely necessary to recall how all this worked out. In August 1945 the Japanese government surrendered. Keep in mind that Russia had an embassy in Tokyo and that she had also had an extensive spy ring in Japan. Russia therefore knew that Japan was defeated and was merely interested in getting the best possible terms from the United States. Japan's desperate condition was also fully known in our State Department and to the Soviet agents and friends there. And so, when Japan was utterly defeated, and only five days before she actually surrendered, Russia declared war on her. Stalin then sent his armies—1,250,000 strong, armed by President Roosevelt —into Manchuria and other Japanese-held strongholds and into Northern Korea. The Russian army was able to arm the Chinese Communists in North China, enabling them to take over a much larger part of China than they had previously held and to continue with increased vigor their war upon the Nationalist government of China under Chiang Kai-shek.

From this time on—August 1945—the Communists, armed by Russia, waged a continuous war against the Chinese Republic. While the Chinese Reds were armed by Russia, Chiang Kai-shek's armies were disarmed by the United States on orders of General George Marshall. This strange war between the Chinese Communists, armed by Russia—much of the arms having been provided by us—and the Chinese government, disarmed by us, dragged on for four years. In the end our State Department made two clear decisions:

1. To recognize the Chinese Communist government in China and to transfer arms intended for Chiang Kai-shek to the Red leaders—a plan in which they were, fortunately, blocked.

2. To withdraw our troops from Southern Korea, as a result of which the Korean Communists, backed by Red China and Red Russia, struck at the Southern Korean Republic, thus launching the disastrous Korean War.

Who were the Americans in the State and other departments responsible for this appalling betrayal of our allies, the Chinese and the Koreans? It was not merely a betrayal of China and Korea, but of America as well. What sort of men were these? What interest did they serve? What strange allegiance was in their hearts, what weird philosophy in their minds that could draw them to so base an enterprise?

First of all, these men could not do their job in the State Department unless there was in existence some organized force with sufficient funds and power to manage the job. This force had to be outside the government, equipped to keep up a steady flow of persuasive propaganda upon the public mind in order to create an attitude of tolerance for such a policy. Obviously this could be done only through those instruments of news and opinion from which the public receives its knowledge of public affairs. And as there was a war in progress it could be done only if there was a hospitable attitude for their purposes somewhere inside the government.

In the case of Asia, this operation was far simpler than one might suppose. It had to be done by persons belonging to that group vaguely defined as publicists—writers, journalists, lecturers, professors, diplomats—because it was largely a writing job. Furthermore, this was an adventure which, to put it mildly, skirted the edges of disloyalty. But the men and women answering to these requirements were at hand, ready and eager for their task. They would have to influence the opinions of editors and commentators and journalists to form the opinions of newspaper and magazine readers and of radio listeners. They had to produce books and a flood of magazine articles to color the opinions of editorial writers and commentators. They had to get their ideas into screen plays and on the radio in soap operas.

In America we had writers, journalists, politicians in abundance with a wide knowledge of American public affairs and the problems of Western Europe. The number of persons who could qualify as experts on the affairs of the Far East was, however, comparatively small. And it happened that the greater number of them were sympathizers with the dreams of Russia in Asia and with the ambitions of the Chinese Communist leaders. The vast eruption of revolution and war in Asia was a dramatic subject in which we had become involved. The demand of the public for news and information about it made a hungry market for books, pictures, radio news and newspaper articles. This peculiar situation in turn sent magazines, newspaper editors and the government—particularly the State Department—in hot pursuit of all the Far East experts and pretended experts in the country. And it so happened that almost all of them were gathered together under the wings of one important, richly endowed and apparently highly respectable organization. This was known as the INSTITUTE OF PACIFIC RELATIONS, one of the moving spirits of which was Owen Lattimore. It is generally referred to as the IPR—the strange, even weird history of which, when it is too late, is now thoroughly known.

The propaganda line promoted by the IPR was (1) that Russia was not a dictatorship but a democracy and one of the "peace-loving nations"; (2) that Japan was an essentially evil thing and must be disarmed, her colonies taken from her and rendered helpless (hence a mark for Russian ambitions) for a generation; (3) that the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek in China was fascist, corrupt, dominated by big industrialists, bankers and landlords; (4) that Chiang Kai-shek refused to fight the Japanese and turned his arms against the "democratic factions" (the Communists) and that he must be forced to take the Reds with their army into his government; (5) that these so-called Communists were not Communists at all but just agrarian reformers, like our old-fashioned progressive farm leaders.

This propaganda campaign revolved around a group of books written about China's revolution and her relations with Russia. I have made a collection of 29 books published during and after the war on this subject of China. Of these, 22 were strongly pro-Communist; seven were not. All of the 22 pro-Communist books were highly praised and recommended in all the leading literary reviews, including the New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune, the New Republic, The Nation and the Saturday Review of Literature. Thus sponsored, these books became the source of all the information Americans were getting about China and Russia and their relationships in Asia. The anti-Communist books on this same subject were roundly condemned. In the leading magazines the same men and women who wrote the books were also writing an endless flood of articles which were pure propaganda for the Communists in China, while over the radio and in the movies the same mendacious propaganda was diffused. Americans heard little else on this subject. (For a full account of the propaganda activities carried on in books, magazines, radio and motion pictures, see Chapters VIII through XIII of While You Slept.)

At the center of all this propaganda was the Institute of Pacific Relations. It managed the whole job. Its members, officials, researchers, staff members wrote most of the books, most of the magazine articles and most of the reviews in the leading literary journals.

However, it was necessary to translate this propaganda into action. And this same Institute of Pacific Relations was the apparatus used for this purpose. Books and magazine articles might create opinion. But the decisions of the government on policy would be shaped in the State Department. It can be said with complete assurance now that the policies of our State Department in China and Asia were molded generally by the agents or allies of the IPR.