"Who Lost China?" Begins
Lattimore returned home from the Wallace mission July 10, 1944, just in time to follow the 1944 Democratic convention as it discarded Wallace and selected Harry Truman as vice presidential candidate. Roosevelt maneuvered Truman's nomination, knowing that conservative anti-New Deal forces were building in the electorate and that Wallace was a prime focus of their hostility. Truman was from the border state of Missouri and hence acceptable to Southerners; more conservative than Wallace, he was also a loyal party man. As usual, Roosevelt calculated accurately; he went on to swamp his opponent, Thomas E. Dewey, in November.
His successful campaign meant four terms to one man; no other president in the history of the republic had served more than two. It began to look to Republicans as though the Democrats had a stranglehold on the White House, and the intensity of anti-Roosevelt feeling increased again. At the time, few could see the coming rejection of so many of Roosevelt's policies, especially his efforts to build with the Russians that edifice of peace to be called the United Nations. In the euphoria of the last years of the war, isolationism seemed to be dying. When the New Isolationism (as Norman Graebner calls it) later emerged, it was built around concern for Communist triumphs not so much in Europe as in Asia.
With his travels in wartime Asia behind him, Lattimore now turned to geopolitical concerns in a major way. Building on lectures he had given at the University of Omaha in 1944 and on the lecture "The Cause of Freedom in Asia," sponsored by the Mayling Soong Foundation at Wellesley College, he wrote his first book designed for a popular audience. Solution in Asia was published in February 1945; two chapters of it were carried by Atlantic Monthly in January and February. Judged by sales and prominent reviews, it was an immediate success.
Most of the themes in Solution had been sounded in earlier Lattimore articles. He continued, for instance, to emphasize the importance of the war in Asia, going back to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 as the precedent for all that followed: Fascist aggression, democratic appeasement. He continued to regard Chiang as a coalition statesman of genius, not a dictator but a nationally revered symbol of resistance to the Japanese. Japanese occupation of China's industrial areas had weakened the Kuomintang coalition, making it increasingly a party of landlords. This trend he deplored, but he still assumed that Chiang had the capability of remaining China's leader and that the Kuomintang would dominate the coalition government he thought might emerge after the war.
As to the Chinese Communists, he gave them credit for having a more nearly democratic structure than the Kuomintang, despite their doctrinaire base. And they were not, he argued, mere tools of the Kremlin. Lattimore did not believe that the Communists should be allowed to keep a separate army. "Once there is uniformity of political rights throughout China, under a government elected by the people, that government should enforce unity of military command and uniform conditions of military service."
The Soviet Union would increasingly be a power in Asia, whether we liked it or not. Lattimore cited Wendell Willkie's argument with a Soviet factory superintendent who claimed Russia was democratic because he himself was infinitely better off than his father and grandfather. This economic interpretation of democracy, said Lattimore, gave the Soviets a "great power of attraction" to the subject peoples of Asia. This attraction did not mean other countries were going to go Communist; the United States still had "the clearest power of attraction for all of Asia" because, among other things, we had set a definite date for freedom of the Philippines, we safeguarded the rights of workers, and we gave our business-people "unlimited opportunities."
When it came to the "solutions" of Asia's problems, Lattimore pulled no punches. He strongly endorsed the profit motive as the most effective stimulant to develop Asian economies: "an important step toward the solution of the problem is a policy of encouraging the development of independent local capital and industry in colonial territories. . . . the businessmen among the subject peoples are in the forefront of progress. They want political independence not only for itself, but as a step toward economic freedom of opportunity." The industrial nations should allow the new states of Asia to set tariffs allowing them to accumulate capital and build up industry.
America's interests also demanded expansion of the free enterprise sys-
tem. "We need political stability and economic prosperity in China so that we can invest our capital there safely and sell our products in an expanding market." What about the Russians? "Britain and America can successfully support their legitimate capitalist interests in China, and at the same time work in co-operation with the Russians for democratic harmony in a country in which the second-largest party is Communist." The Bretton Woods economic conference had set up the right machinery; we needed only to use it to obtain "the maximum volume of private investment. "
When Lattimore wrote a preface for a reprinting of Solution in 1972, he acknowledged error in assuming that the United States would have to invade the Japanese islands to win the war; he did not know about the atomic bomb. He also acknowledged overoptimism about the effectiveness of the forthcoming United Nations. But his fundamental analysis of Chinese politics had stood the test of time. The Chinese Communist party was isolated and not a mere creature of the Kremlin. The Kuomintang was coming increasingly under the control of landed gentry. Where he went wrong in China was in his continuing faith in the ability of Chiang Kai-shek to reform his government, unite China, and render Mao impotent.
Other people were writing in 1944 and 1945 also. The most important one in the Lattimore story was Alfred Kohlberg, wealthy New York importer of Chinese embroideries. Kohlberg had been active in both the IPR and the American Bureau for Medical Aid to China (ABMAC). Hearing from Lauchlin Currie and others of widespread corruption in the distribution of ABMAC's shipments to China, Kohlberg decided to look for himself. In June 1943 he went to China as a representative of ABMAC. Not speaking Chinese, he was dependent on what his Chinese hosts told him and showed him; since his hosts were affiliated with ABMAC, none of what he heard justified charges of corruption. Toward the close of his Chinese visit Kohlberg met Edward C. Carter in Chungking. Carter was an officer of United China Relief, ABMAC's parent group. Kohlberg tried to convince Carter that ABMAC was doing a good job; Carter listened passively, promised nothing.
Kohlberg was now convinced that Currie, Carter, and other ABMAC critics were lying about the organization. He returned to the United States angry at what he had heard. As he told his biographer, Joseph Keeley, "To me it smelled like treason because I couldn't see anyone benefitting from these lies but the Japanese. The possibility of Communist motivation had not occurred to me.
That deficiency was soon remedied. Kohlberg discussed his distress at
the China situation with Dr. Maurice William, an ex-Socialist who had written a book exposing the fallacies of Marxist thinking. William believed the IPR was fiddled with Communists and was behind the attack on ABMAC. Kohlberg determined to explore this accusation for himself.
His first effort was at the IPR offices, where (according to Keeley) he tried to buy back issues of Pacific Affairs and Far Eastern Survey . Allegedly he was rebuffed by IPR officials: the issues he wanted were no longer available. He turned to the New York Public Library, where he found his back issues and spent a year reading everything about China. Then he read the New Masses and the Communist for the same period. Kohlberg concluded that Dr. William was right: IPR and the Communists zigged and zagged together.
By November 9, 1944, Kohlberg was ready to clean house in the IPR. He sent a "rambling, confusing eighty-eight-page document consisting of quotations from Far Eastern Survey, Pacific Affairs , and various Communist publications" to IPR General Secretary Carter. A cover letter said:
Three or four years ago, you may recall, I resigned after a dozen years membership in the IPR. You asked me the reasons for my resignation and I told you frankly that I thought you had too many Communists on your staff. You asked me if I thought you were a Communist, to which I, of course, replied "No." You then told me that you did not question your staff as to their political beliefs: whether they were Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, Communists, or what not; that you investigated their qualifications and judged them by their work. This seemed to me at the time a very business-like attitude and I withdrew my resignation.
After reading [a booklet by Maxwell S. Stewart] I decided to look into the IPR publications further. . . . As a result of this reading, I now attach hereto a lot of clippings from your publications, along with clippings from "The Communist" (Official organ of the Communist Party in the USA) and "New Masses" (another Communist organ), also a few other clippings that seem to bear on the same issues. If you will go through these, I think you will find that your employees have been putting over on you a not-too-well-camouflaged Communist line. . . .
If you agree that a housecleaning in the IPR is long overdue, I will be happy to help. My suggestions would be:
1. Fire all the Reds, because the truth is not in them.
2. Adopt a policy of presenting facts rather than opinions. Identify the sources of your information.
3. Name a responsible body to determine policy. . . .
I am sending a copy of this letter and the accompanying extracts to other members of, and contributors to the Institute, in the hope that many will read through the material and form their own conclusions.
Very truly yours,
Kohlberg's charges fell on unsympathetic ears. The prominent financier Thomas Lamont, for instance, "realized that the charges were perfectly silly." Kohlberg's rebuff by Carter and the IPR trustees set a course for the rest of his life: until he died in 1960, he conducted a running crusade against the IPR and its alleged influence on American China policy.
IPR held its ninth conference January 6-17, 1945, at Hot Springs, Virginia. Lattimore was an active participant, registering his opinions in three familiar areas.
First, he was clear that European colonialism was outmoded and wrong and that if the Western democracies waffled on this issue, only the Soviet Union would gain. Raymond Dennett, in 1945 secretary of the American Council of IPR, thought that Lattimore was a bit too vigorous in his attack on colonialism. It "did not sit very well with the British, French, or Dutch, who thought he overstated his case somewhat."
The second area of Lattimore's comments at Hot Springs dealt with postwar Japan; his views were the same ones he included in Solution .
The third topic, his views on China, put him, for the first time, in conflict with his old friend Admiral Yarnell. Lattimore wanted the conferees at Hot Springs to press the Chinese about liberalization; Yarnell disagreed. An agenda-setting meeting before the conference proper shows this exchange:
Admiral Yarnell : But if criticism leads to the overthrow of the Chungking government, what will take its place? No other party is strong enough at present to assume control.
Mr. Lattimore : The more reasonable Chinese feel that Chiang's Government is the only hope for a continuing and stable government in China, but that it will be continuing and stable only if it modifies its policy; otherwise it will be overthrown.
Here was the crux of the Chinese problem. Could the "more reasonable Chinese," the Western-educated liberals who were powerless in Chiang's
uneasily balanced congeries of warlords, Whampoa generals, landlords, secret police empires, the Soongs, K'ungs, and Ch'ens—could these reasonable types actually gain any power without upsetting some delicate structure? It was a question answered by history in the negative. But as to the Hot Springs agenda, Lattimore won out. Chinese internal politics was discussed.
Much worry was expressed at Hot Springs about the ability of the Allies to hold together after the war, especially about relations between the Western nations and the Soviet Union. This worry was rapidly dissipated. Shortly after Hot Springs, at Yalta on February 3-10, 1945, the Big Three met in conference, and the publicity following that historic meeting swept all skepticism before it. Americans of all political persuasions rejoiced that Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin seemed to agree on a postwar program that would achieve what the Versailles conference after World War I did not: a permanent mechanism for keeping the peace.
But the euphoria following Yalta was short-lived; within a month Ambassador Harriman in Moscow believed that the Yalta accords were being brushed aside by Stalin. Steadily during 1945 the tensions between the Big Three began to grow. Roosevelt's death on April 12 accelerated the process. Lattimore especially was saddened by Roosevelt's death; obtaining peace was now going to be much more difficult.
On the day the Yalta conference convened the Nation carried an article by "Pacificus" entitled "Dangerous Experts." The article attacked two Japanophiles who were instrumental in Allied diplomacy and whose views Pacificus believed had in the past and would in the future lead to disaster. One of those Pacificus attacked was Eugene Dooman, at the time of Pearl Harbor counsellor of embassy to Ambassador Joseph Grew in Tokyo. Pacificus claimed that Dooman "was primarily responsible for the execrable mistake in judgment which minimized the threat to the United States represented by Tojo's appointment in October, 1941." Dooman believed Lattimore was Pacificus; Lattimore now had a new, bitter, and powerful enemy.
Dooman not only believed in retaining the imperial system in Japan but also thought that the only elements the United States could rely on were business leaders, court-circle aristocrats, and bureaucrats. Pacificus ridiculed this belief: "If the policies of these minor Neville Chamberlains are put into effect, American and British influence will be found in support of the discredited imperialist ruling group of Japan." This was a mortal assault on Dooman.
The FBI ultimately spent thousands of hours attempting to determine the identity of Pacificus (and another pseudonymous writer, Asiaticus) to
no avail. But his real identity did not matter. What mattered was that Dooman, at the close of a brilliant career, expecting to be among the top policy makers for the American occupation of Japan, was sidelined by the State Department; and Dooman blamed Lattimore.
Dooman's suspicion was plausible. Lattimore did not write the Pacificus article, but he agreed with most of it. He also agreed with I. F. Stone, writing in the Nation of July 14, 1945, under the title "Pearl Harbor Diplomats." Stone carried the attack on Dooman to greater lengths, concluding that "Grew and Dooman were suckers to the end." Dooman no doubt believed Lattimore to be behind the Stone attack also. Both Grew and Dooman now became active in the American Council on Japan, carrying their anti-Lattimore views to other foreign service people, to the FBI, to right-wing journalists, and ultimately to the Senate. When Grew resigned as undersecretary of state in mid-1945 (to be replaced by Dean Acheson), Lattimore's enemies were sure that Lattimore had engineered the resignation and had wrested control of Asian policy from the Japanophiles.
One does not think of 1945 as a year in which blacklisting of media talent was taking place, yet in May of that year, when the NBC Blue Network was looking for a commentator on Asian affairs, they considered Lattimore. To check him out they went to the FBI. The story is told in a memo from Clyde Tolson to Hoover, May 28:
RE: OWEN LATTIMORE
Mr. William Neal, of the Blue Network, WMAL, telephoned stating that an official of the Blue Network Headquarters in New York had asked him to see whether he could secure any information concerning the above-named individual who is under consideration for employment as a commentator as an expert on far eastern matters. Mr. Neal stated that the Blue Network had gotten into trouble because of securing the services of another individual who later developed to have radical tendencies.
After a check was made of the file I told Mr. Neal that while the FBI could not be quoted in any manner I would tell him very confidentially that certain connections and background of this individual were such that it was believed the Blue Network would want to be very cautious before utilizing his services as a far eastern expert commentator. Mr. Neal stated he understood the situation and was most appreciative of our helpfulness.
So far as present FBI releases show, there had been no addition to the Lattimore file since 1941, when Lattimore was briefly put on the Custodial
Detention list because of his association with the Maryland Civil Liberties Committee. Nevertheless, the "check of the file" Tolson mentions shows that the bureau had recorded somewhere the following: Lattimore had appeared on a program with Frederick Vanderbilt Field; had attended several receptions at the Soviet embassy; was an honorary chairman of In-dusco, Inc. (an American group supporting Nationalist China's industrial cooperatives); had spoken at an organizational meeting of the Maryland Citizens Council, a group supporting the United Nations; and was an associate of Pearl Buck in the East and West Association. These activities caused Tolson to warn the Blue Network against hiring Lattimore. Lattimore never knew of the network's interest in his services.
In 1945 Lattimore became increasingly concerned with the probability that Britain, France, and the Netherlands would attempt to reassert their control over their colonies. The Indonesians and Indochinese, as he saw it, would die to a man fighting the reimposition of European rule, and Britain's writ in India had also expired. He was fearful that any attempt at regaining these colonies would so embitter Asians that they would turn to the only alternative source of support: Russia.
Accordingly, Lattimore wrote his most powerful statement to date against a return to colonialism, which was published in the May 28, 1945, New Republic as "The International Chess Game." His fulcrum for moving American opinion into a vigorous anticolonialism was the reception given American troops returning to the Philippines. That country already knew precisely when it would become fully independent: "We had, in the Philippines,—and we alone had it—something politically much more important than 'loyal natives' fighting under American officers. We had Filipinos and Americans fighting side by side, for different countries but for the same loyalties. We had, in our period of defeat and suspended government, guerrillas who were both a military arm and a political movement. We had, when we came back, a welcome both as deliverers from the Japanese and deliverers of the Filipinos. We are having from the Filipinos , a demand for closer association, rather than clearer dissociation, which may prove actually embarrassing to certain aspects of our policy" (Lattimore's italics).
Again, Lattimore's position was overwhelmingly pro-Western, anti-Communist: "What we have done in the Philippines is to show that colonial liberation can be moved forward at the instigation of the sovereign power, and that it can be made evolutionary instead of revolutionary." We should, Lattimore said, firmly reject the pleas of our European allies that reasserting control in Asia was "sound," while arguments in favor of freedom were "sentimental." And the Russian role in all this? The Sovi-
ets could gain strength in Asia neither by "Moscow guile nor Moscow gold"; they could succeed only if the European democracies were stupid.
Lattimore's impassioned plea for a wise colonial policy probably made few converts. The leaders of the European powers were generally committed to restoring the status quo. And eventually, in Vietnam, the United States found itself financing a French effort to recapture that colony and ultimately fighting in the jungles against Ho Chi Minh.
Kohlberg was getting nowhere in his private attacks on IPR in 1945, but he scored a big victory by proxy in the public domain. Early in 1945 Max Eastman came to Kohlberg for material on the Chinese Communists. Eastman was a former Trotskyite who in his old age turned to red-baiting. He had good credentials: two years in Russia, fluent in the language, nine years as an editor of Masses and the Liberator . As William L. O'Neill says in his sympathetic biography, "Russia was his greatest adventure, and explaining communism to the world became the great mission of his life." In 1945 Eastman (along with J. B. Powell, a former journalist in China) turned to the arena where he feared the next great Bolshevik triumph.
Eastman and Powell put their call to arms, "The Fate of the World Is at Stake in China," in the June issue of Reader's Digest . The problem, as these authors saw it, was Communist propaganda weakening support for Chiang Kai-shek. Since the future of the world depended on the fate of China, China had to be kept out of Communist hands. Only Chiang could do this. Theirs was one of the earliest tocsins sounded in the "Who lost China ?" debate:
A flood of books, articles, reviews, news dispatches, lectures and radio broadcasts is pouring across our country dedicated to the sole purpose of confusing American public opinion about the situation in China. There are four main points in this deception now being practiced upon us—all equally false and all aimed at persuading us to abandon another 450 million people to the totalitarian infection spreading from Russia. Deception 1. That Russia is a "democracy" and that China can therefore safely be left to Russian "influence. "
OWEN LATTIMORE is perhaps the most subtle evangelist of this erroneous conception. Mr. Lattimore appraised the net result of the Moscow Trials and the blood-purge by which Stalin secured his dictatorship in 1936-39 as "a triumph for democracy." He now urges our government, in a book called Solution in Asia , to accept cheerfully the spread of "the Soviet form of democracy" in Central Asia. His publishers thus indicate the drift of his book on its jacket:
"He [Mr. Lattimore] shows that all the Asiatic peoples are more interested in actual democratic practices, such as the ones they can see in
action across the Russian border , than they are in the fine theories of Anglo-Saxon democracies which come coupled with ruthless imperialism. (Italics in original)
It was a cheap shot at Lattimore, who did accurately claim that Central Asian peoples were impressed by the advances of ethnic minorities in Russia. But the statement about "leaving China safely to Russian influence" was diametrically opposed to Lattimore's advice.
Deception number two, according to Eastman and Powell, was that the Chinese Communists were not really Communists and had no connection with the Soviet Union. Lattimore did not believe that and never said it. He always said that Mao was an ideological Communist, albeit an independent one. Eastman-Powell attacked Harrison Forman and Edgar Snow here; they could not attack Lattimore.
Deception number three: "That the Chinese Communists are fighting the Japs, and that the Chinese National Army is not." In hindsight this comment was not a deception. Both sides fought, as they saw fit, against Japan. The Communists fought more effectively.
Finally, deception number four: "That Chiang Kai-shek is a fascist, and that his totalitarian regime is preventing the Communists from establishing a democracy." Eastman and Powell never say who was peddling this last deception. They did not quote Lattimore; he did not believe it.
O'Neill, in his biography of Eastman, comes down hard on the Digest article:
Here in a single article one finds almost every important error and prejudice that was to cripple Sino-American relations for years to come. Almost everything was wrong with it. The Kuomintang was not only undemocratic, which the authors admitted, but hopelessly corrupt, authoritarian, and incompetent. The "people's welfare" was the last thing on its mind. China did not have to choose between the United States and Russia. It was perfectly clear at the time not just to Edgar Snow but to most informed journalists that the Chinese Communists were genuinely independent, though of course genuinely communist as well, which not all wanted to admit. Snow, Lattimore, and the rest were not the molders of America's China policy. This article's attack on them foreshadowed the myth that America "lost China" partly because of evil journalists. . . . This unfortunate article, the worst Eastman ever put his name to, was a sad omen. Max was losing touch with reality.
Perhaps. But the "reality" of future American policy was precisely the "error and prejudice" that Eastman and Powell set out to establish. Lat-
timore was outraged. He wrote to the Reader's Digest asking for an opportunity to reply but was curtly rejected. Edward C. Carter then suggested to Lattimore that the Digest be rebutted by a letter to the New York Times ; Lattimore was to draft such a letter, and the IPR would edit it and try to get Thomas Lamont to put his name to it. This project failed; Lamont deplored the Eastman-Powell article, but felt himself too ill-informed to pose as an authority on China.
Thus, the Eastman-Powell article was not contradicted by any equally prestigious source. Lattimore now stood publicly indicted as accepting cheerfully the spread of Soviet power in China. This indictment was a triumph for Kohlberg.
June 1945 was significant to Lattimore in other ways. On Sunday, June 3, the Lattimores hosted a cookout at their home in suburban Ruxton, Maryland. As far as Lattimore knew, it was an ordinary weekend event, with three friends visiting him from Washington and two Johns Hopkins couples joining him and his family for hamburgers, conversation, and country atmosphere.
One of the Washington guests was Foreign Service Officer John Stewart Service. He had recently returned from China, and the Lattimores wanted to see him. Since they had invited Service to come up from Washington, Lattimore decided they might as well invite two others to come along. Lieutenant Andrew Roth, of the Office of Naval Intelligence, whom Lattimore had met once, had just completed a book about Japan and wanted Lattimore to look at the galley proofs. Rose Yardumian was in charge of the Washington IPR office and an old friend of the Lattimores. The three drove up to Ruxton together.
The guests from Johns Hopkins were invited casually; Lattimore, crossing their paths on campus, suggested they might be interested in meeting his Washington friends. The local guests were Professor Malcolm Moos and his fiancée and Professor George Carter and his wife. Moos was in political science, Carter in geography.
Lattimore did not know that Sunday that the FBI was tailing Service and Roth and would arrest them three days later in what became, to the China lobby, one of the most enduring symbols of treason: the Amerasia case.
Amerasia was Philip Jaffe's left-wing magazine; Lattimore had once been on its editorial board. By 1945 Amerasia had become strongly anti-Chiang. Jaffe was anxious to obtain the latest reports from China and had contacted Service on the latter's return to the United States, asking if he had any material that might be available for background use. Service, in
accord with a common government practice then and now, loaned Jaffe seven or eight of his own reports on China. Service had himself classified these reports and requested Jaffe to return them after reading. Service had never met Jaffe before 1945. Jaffe and Roth, though, were old friends. Roth had written for Amerasia and was one of Jaffe's most reliable leakers of government information.
The incident that triggered FBI surveillance of Service and Roth was the discovery by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS; predecessor to the CIA) that Amerasia had printed large portions of one of their classified reports in its January 1945 issue. OSS officials were startled at this leakage of their documents and broke into the Amerasia office one night without a search warrant to see if other government documents were in Jaffe's possession. They found several dozen. The matter was then turned over to the FBI. Bureau agents trailed Jaffe, finding him and Kate Mitchell to be in touch with Service, Roth, and two others. Because of Jaffe's friendship with Earl Browder and other American Communist party officials, the FBI assumed that Jaffe was passing the classified documents to the Soviet Union. On June 6, three days after the Ruxton cookout, Roth, Service, Jaffe, Mitchell, Emmanuel Larson (also with the State Department), and journalist Mark Gayn were arrested on espionage charges. (No evidence of espionage was ever found, and the charges were reduced to illegal possession of government property.)
There are basically two versions of what happened at Ruxton. One version is agreed to by the Lattimores, Service, Roth, Yardumian, and Professor Moos. According to them, most of the party spent the day enjoying the Lattimore yard, admiring the Chinese objects in the house, eating hamburgers, and chatting; Service and Roth, though, spent much time reading and discussing the proofs of Roth's book. Lattimore also looked at the proofs for a while, and he and Service disappeared upstairs at one point, for, as Lattimore recalled, "a very interesting thing. Jack had been working on a quotation from Mao Tse-tung in that period containing some bitter indictments of the United States as an imperialist power, and he used an expression which baffled Jack Service. So he said, 'Can you make this out?' I couldn't. So we went up to my study to our dictionaries to see if we could chase it down. We finally came to the conclusion that it was peasant dialect from his own province, not current in standard Chinese. It probably meant something like 'rotten stinking of blood.' And this was the subversive problem on which we had our heads together."
In an affidavit submitted to the Senate in 1950 Professor Moos added
that at some period during the afternoon Lattimore went out in the backyard to cut weeds with a scythe. Moos remembered talking to him during the weed cutting.
A quite different version of the Ruxton picnic came from the Carters. George C. Carter was fanatically anti-Communist, and when the Amerasia arrests were announced, his imagination began to work overtime, as did his wife's. Though the FBI documents are partially sanitized, and though the claims of Carter and his wife show discrepancies, both of them reported clandestinely to Senator McCarthy after he got on Lattimore's case that Lattimore, Service, and Roth conferred for a long time over some documents. When asked what they were doing, Lattimore allegedly replied that they "were declassifying certain documents in favor of some friends." But the Carters remained in the shadows, willing enough to report secretly to McCarthy and the FBI but unwilling to testify openly or provide an affidavit Carter became a pariah on the Johns Hopkins campus and in the 1950s moved to Texas.
After the Amerasia headlines on June 6, 1945, the case disappeared from the news until August. In the Far Eastern division of State presided over by Joseph Grew, however, Japanophiles such as Eugene Dooman and Joseph Ballantine continued to work against Service, John Paton Davies, and John Carter Vincent, all of whom were regarded as insufficiently anti-Communist. When the Amerasia arrests were announced, Dooman gloated to Vincent, "We're going to get bigger fish than that. Isn't it too bad about Jack Service?"
Lattimore, stimulated by what he had heard from Service and Roth, became increasingly concerned about American policy in Asia. Chiang did not seem to be liberalizing his government, civil war in China seemed more likely, and the undesirability of leaving Hirohito on the emperor's throne in Japan was not acknowledged in Washington. Had Roosevelt still occupied the White House, Lattimore would have had little difficulty making sure that the views he and like-minded Sinophiles held got through to the top. Truman he did not know. After some deliberation Lattimore decided to confront the issue head-on. He wrote Truman June 10, 1945:
Dear Mr. President:
When Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, on the recommendation of President Roosevelt, appointed me his political advisor in 1941, the policy of the United States was to support a united China. There appears now to be a major change in our policy, which may invite the danger of a political and even a territorial division of China, and
the further danger of conflict and rivalry between America and Russia.
Until quite recently, great care was taken to avoid any inference that America, in aiding China as a nation, was committing itself to all-out support of one party in China's domestic affairs. There now appears to be a fundamental change. Public statements by men regarded as spokesmen for American policy encourage many Chinese to believe that America now identifies the Chinese Government with one party and only one party, commits itself to the maintainence of that party, and may in the future support that party in suppressing its rivals.
Such a belief among Chinese may make Russians feel that America has led the way in committing itself to one party in China, and that Russia would be justified in following that lead and committing itself to the other major party. . . .
In the eyes of many people such a development would mean that America itself, long the supporter of China's political and territorial integrity, had initiated a new policy identified with the political and territorial partition of China. . . .
With the utmost earnestness, I venture to urge you to have America's policy toward China impartially reviewed by advisors who are not associated with either the formulation or implementation of that policy as recently practiced.
Truman's answer four days later was typically brusque: "The Chinese situation is developing alright. The policy has been definitely outlined to the Chinese. The Russians and the British and ourselves have reached an agreement which I think is in the best interest of China. I would be glad to discuss it with you sometime, if you feel inclined." Lattimore quickly accepted this lukewarm invitation, and a date was set: Tuesday, July 3, 1945, at eleven-thirty. Suspecting that the session with Truman would be perfunctory, Lattimore carried with him two one-page memoranda to leave with the president, hoping that Truman would endorse them and pass them on to the State Department.
Lattimore's assumption about the brevity of his conference with Truman was accurate. Truman was curt, just as in the letter. Things were under control. Lattimore remembered that he was in and out in a matter of minutes. He suspected that no residue of his argument remained with Truman. The memos Lattimore left were saved for posterity in the White House records, but there is no evidence that they had any effect. Com-
pared with his visits to Roosevelt, Lattimore's session with Truman was inconsequential. It is no wonder that five years later it slipped his mind.
In view of McCarthy's later claim that Lattimore was the chief architect of our China policy ("as any schoolboy will tell you," added the senator), the Lattimore advice is worth inspecting. His first memo was headed "China Policy":
There are 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.
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, including limitation of the personal power of Chiang.
Unless he is certain of American policy, Chiang would rather have unlimited power in a small China than limited power in a larger China. He still thinks that America is on the fence, but will be stampeded into jumping down on his side, against Russia, if he hits the right timing in a civil war against "the Bolshevik menace." Influential advisers tell him that America is headed for a long-term conservative trend, with Republican ascendance, and that Henry Luce, Walter Judd, etc., have guessed the trend correctly.
The basic American interest is represented by policy No. 2. It can be successfully worked. Chiang is tenacious, but has shown in the past that he knows when to give in and try a new policy. But he will only play ball if America and Russia, with British approval, make it plain that they are going to be joint umpires. America, alone, cannot either coax or bluff Chiang into a settlement with the Communists involving real concessions; but if Washington and Moscow agree, both Chungking and Yenan will carry out the agreement.
Notice that a China unified by Communist victory in a civil war was not within Lattimore's conception. He believed that even if Chiang failed to liberalize his government, the Communists were not a viable alternative—unless Russia came fully to their aid and the United States stayed out. The ultimate horror was not therefore a Communist-dominated China but a war with Russia into which the United States would be drawn.
The second memo, "Japan Policy as Related to China Policy," voiced his opposition to a "soft" peace for Japan and to the influence of the Japanophiles:
Japan, politically, now banks everything on the hope of peace terms that will make possible a comeback and another war. The only possible comeback is as leader of an Asiatic coalition, under the racial battle-cry of "down with the white man." Therefore unlike Germany, where the principal Nazi underground will be in Germany, the Japanese underground must be largely in other parts of Asia. China is the key to this problem.
Like Germany, Japan must also do its best to pit the Western Allies against Russia. China is also the key to this problem.
Therefore, in China the Japanese problem is not WHETHER they are going to be defeated, but HOW to manage the process of being defeated to their own future advantage. The Japanese have already begun to handle this problem by seeing to it that their defeat contributes to both the political and the territorial disunity of China. Where they can manage to retreat in favor of Chiang Kai-shek and not in favor of Communist guerrillas, they do so. Where there are no Communists, they try to retreat in favor of provincial, regional, or warlord troops, instead of Chiang Kai-shek troops, so as to contribute to territorial disunity. They hope that if China can be led into both "ideological" civil wars of landlords against peasants, and regional civil wars of provinces against the Central Government, Japan will not be eclipsed during its years of postwar weakness.
To counteract this Japanese policy, the American policy in China must work steadily for peace, unity, and modern political forms.
At the same time Japan hopes that fear of Russia will induce Britain and America to be "soft" with "anti-revolutionary" Japanese big business, and to wink at the fact that big business in Japan is as militarist as the militarists.
To handle American policy in the new phase, it is necessary to make adjustments to the fact that China, rather than Japan, is now the key to Far Eastern policy as a whole. In most government agencies at the present time the tendency is to find Japan-trained men in higher policy-making posts than China-trained men, simply because Japan used to be a more important Great Power than China.
Could Lattimore's arguments have conceivably influenced American policy toward China? Certainly not the first one. Chiang was adamantly opposed to giving the Communists "real power in a coalition government," and when General Marshall went to China at the end of 1945 on his mission to mediate the impending civil war, he was instructed that in the event of failure the United States would back Chiang.
Lattimore's advice may have been unwise. Mao was not about to "accept minority standing as a long-term status." It is doubtful that even Russian pressure could have forced Mao to relinquish the autonomy of his army, as Lattimore believed he should be required to do.
The second memo, about Japan and the influence of the Grew-Dooman-Ballantine axis, provided some rationale for believing that Lattimore might have influenced personnel changes in the State Department. Within a short time all three of the senior Japanophiles were out of the department. But post hoc is not propter hoc; all of them had reached retirement age, and not even Grew claimed that he had been pushed out. Certainly American policy toward Japan did not conform to Lattimore's formula.
On July 3, 1945, James F. Byrnes was sworn in as secretary of state. The installation of Byrnes triggered changes all down the line. The New York Times of August 6, 1945, headlined "Byrnes Expected to Drop Four Top Aides. Grew, Rockefeller, MacLeish and Holmes Likely to Go in Wide Reorganization." The forecast was accurate.
John Carter Vincent, head of China Affairs at the time of the Byrnes appointment, recommended Lattimore for a State Department job. The same Times article that forecast Byrnes's shakeup reported, "Also mentioned is Owen Lattimore, Professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University and an authority on the Far East. Mr. Lattimore, however, has had no diplomatic experience. A possibility also is that Mr. Lattimore will be named a special adviser on Far Eastern Affairs." It never happened. Grew, though about to retire, still had clout and vetoed Lattimore.
Unfortunately, Byrnes's memoirs do not deal with the Japan versus China dispute among departmental personnel or with the liberal versus conservative positions on the treatment of Japan. Byrnes notes casually that Grew asked to resign in the summer of 1945, and he accepted the resignation "with regret." Byrnes thereupon appointed Acheson to replace Grew as undersecretary.
Byrnes had no ideological agenda in wanting Acheson; they were friends and had worked together amicably. Byrnes simply wanted someone in whom he had confidence to take charge of the department when he was away. But Acheson was a hardliner on the issue of the emperor; he thought
the whole concept of a head of state as deity to be anachronistic and took the same position as Lattimore that the emperor was part and parcel of the Japanese war group. This agreement was purely fortuitous; Acheson had never met Lattimore and was in no way influenced by him.
For conspiracy theorists the Byrnes reshuffling was a highly significant event. When Vincent was made director of the Office of Far Eastern Affairs a mere month after the Acheson appointment, the personnel changes recommended to Truman by Lattimore had been made. This coincidence was later held to prove Lattimore's power.