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Chapter Six

Lattimore's cable of November 25 evolved from much discussion with Chiang and Mayling the night before. Lattimore made the first draft; Madame suggested changes and additions over dinner; the final draft, according to Lattimore's notes, "was made by my taking the first two versions and dictating a third to her." Chiang then joined them to discuss what Chinese reaction would be if the United States agreed to let Japan keep the Northeast (Manchukuo), forcing withdrawal only from the rest of China. Chiang thought such a compromise would "undermine the whole victory"; Lattimore agreed. Madame Chiang was pessimistic and later asked Lattimore" between ourselves' whether I thought China could get Northeast back entirely. I said can, and must."

Also during this conversation Lattimore reported his most recent talk with Chou En-lai, whereupon Chiang observed, "Chou only Communist who is a Chinese at heart. Madame added, He means the rest all think like Russians." [1]

Chiang called Lattimore in again on November 26 "to discuss Hu Shih's summary of America's suggested terms to Japan. Madame more worried than Gimo, who said genially, as we went in to supper, This is just what politics is. After supper, drafted another cable; but it was not sent until middle of next day." [2]

This cable of the twenty-seventh was even sharper than the previous one. Lattimore said that the Generalissimo was "shocked by suggestion that an agreement would be no worse than Britain's closing Burma Road. He wishes President understand that fundamental question is not wording of terms but departure from principle involving sacrifice of China, callousness of which impossible [to] hide." China was now entering her fifth


winter of war, and hardships were appalling. The concessions in the proposed modus vivendi would have immediately revived Japan; if they were offered, "Defeatism in China will become an avalanche." This comment, and more, came from Chiang and Mayling. But the last three sentences of the cable were pure Lattimore: "Personally convinced after five months widest contact China cannot remain isolated. Must seek association. National preference is associate America now and future but if increasing danger of American desertion must seek re-insurance."[3] Seeking "reinsurance" meant turning to the Soviet Union.

Late in the day on November 27, as Lattimore wrote in a memo dated three days later, "News began coming through that American appeasement called off." Chungking collectively breathed a great sigh of relief. Whatever doubts Chiang had about the utility of the Lattimore-Currie channel were now swept away. Rejection of the modus vivendi was worth a great deal to Chiang, and Lattimore had apparently played a major role in it. Lattimore had dinner at Chiang's again November 29, writing afterward that Chiang "showed me letter, extremely flattering to me, which I am to take to President." [4]

Madame Chiang's favorite charity was a fund for war orphans. Lattimore contributed three hundred dollars on December 1, and Madame thanked him effusively on the third, also inviting him to lunch the next day.[5] Lunch grew into a long weekend. Lattimore stayed at their residence, usually talking with Chiang or Madame or both, December 4-7. Nine pages of closely typed notes, prepared by Lattimore shortly afterward, record their conversation.

They began by discussing Lattimore's memorandum on how Chiang could handle the problem of reintegrating the Northeast after Japan was forced to disgorge it. At the conclusion of this discussion, "[Chiang's] comment was brief: 'Nothing to add & nothing to change.' "[6] They then moved into the problem of countering Chinese Communist propaganda. As Lattimore recorded it, Chiang began:

Hongkong & the U.S. are the main centers of the propaganda of the Chinese Communists against the Chinese Government and the Kuomintang. . . . At the present time all the subversionists . . . are concentrated in Hongkong. Quite clear that time after time correspondents who have visited China get, as they leave through Hongkong, a dose of propaganda which distorts what they have been able to learn for themselves in China. Main field in which propaganda issuing from Hongkong takes effect in U.S. China needs a counter-propaganda in U.S. How is this to be managed? Wants me to look over the question while


at home. This weakness may partly be that those in Chungking in charge of propaganda for U.S. not in sufficiently close contact with U.S. & may be missing chances on what they should distribute. How about finding some good, trained men in U.S. to handle job? I said I should be glad to look into question. However, certain difficulties. Practically every trained anti-left propagandist in U.S. is under strong influence either of extreme right or even fascists, & hence Axis. This would never do for China. He laughed & agreed. I said what we all need is propagandists & publicists who are real democrats, & he agreed again. [7]

The third topic of conversation December 4 was the "fundamental question of the Pacific area," a matter on which Chiang apparently delivered a monologue. Germany, Japan, and Russia were "eternally aggressive." About Britain, Chiang was equivocal; he discussed India extensively, maintaining that "if the British endeavor to keep India in subjection, they will destroy themselves and their Empire." He thought the British might give up India gracefully. He concluded: "In any case, American participation in the economic development of China is a natural postwar development. America and China . . . will form an enormous block out of the total world population, with common economic interests & consequently fundamental agreement in political outlook. Gradually India will tend to become a part of this block."[8] Lattimore did not comment.

The final topic on December 4 was economics. Chiang was unhappy with the Sino-American agreement establishing China's Stabilization Board. This agreement was negotiated and signed by T. V. Soong. Chiang did not realize how faulty it was until H. H. K'ung pointed out the clauses giving U.S. Treasury representatives all the power. Chiang concluded that he "would like me [Lattimore] to see, without pressing matter at all, whether these clauses could be modified to be more equitable to China."[9]

Discussion continued the morning of December 5, beginning with the military situation. Chiang was confident that his armies could hold unless the Japanese managed to "concentrate overwhelming air forces on any front." He thought U.S. help to build his air force was needed more than any other military aid. Lattimore's record of this discussion is only half a page.[10] What came next required three crowded, single-spaced pages to report. Lattimore begins:

As we were coming home from a walk, the Gimo asked me if I would make that evening criticisms of what I thought the most serious shortcomings I had noticed during my stay. . . .

After supper I led off by saying that after only 5 months I could not yet consider myself authoritatively informed on any one subject. . . .


China after all is still going through political revolution, economic revolution, social revolution—all uncompleted, & all in face of a war for survival against an enemy better equipped for aggression than China is for defense. To understand China's real progress & achievements, you have always to take a larger time-bracket than a few months: over 5 years, 10 years, etc, you can see amazing progress.

Again, I am a foreigner & a newcomer m political life. It is much easier for me m hear complaints than to understand in its full complexity the whole process of Revolution & the War of Resistance. Moreover, I can never be sure of the exact authority or integrity of my informants, or the relative accuracy or completeness of their facts. Therefore I wished the Gimo to "criticize my criticisms."

Lattimore then dealt with military affairs. China, he said, could not ease up on the military front and let others save her. The Chinese must take initiative, if only politically, as Chiang had done in regard to the necessity for regaining the Northeast. On economics, he suggested that China utilize the know-how of small units, producing goods for local consumption that would not strain the inevitably weak transportation system and would not require massive amounts of capital. "Politically, the most criticism that I have heard has been against the [Kuomintang] Party. Widely said, especially by younger men, that Party controls the people too much and represents them too little. Too much appetite for rule, too little spirit of service." He also argued that "the iron methods of the Russian Revolution are inappropriate to China." Chiang should emphasize Sun Yatsen's program.

Toward the end of his account Lattimore noted: "This long discourse not as unbroken or prosy as notes sound. Gimo frequently put in suggestions or questions, which is why it went on so long. He made a number of written notes. At end, he asked if I would criticize 'the weak points I had noted in him personally.' Here Madame came in, remarking it was hardly a fair question to ask me. He relented, & I let it go. I think I missed a big chance. I have no opinion on his weak points, because I think he is an amazingly rounded character; but I could have commented on his situation how his great power tends to surround him with yes-men." After a paragraph of Chiang's complaints about the Communists, and a repeat of the remark about Chou being the "only one who even looks [sounds?] reasonably like a Chinese," Lattimore concluded: "Said after I come back, wants me to go into economic & social questions, both subject by subject & region by region."[11]


There was more of the same the next day, and the next, as Chiang and Mayling monopolized Lattimore's time for four full days.

McHugh wrote Currie December 3, noting that Lattimore was returning to the states early at Chiang's request and that it was a good thing "because he will be able to give all concerned an intimate and accurate picture of the situation here."[12]

Lattimore was scheduled to take a plane from Hong Kong to San Francisco on December 9, which meant leaving Chungking for Hong Kong several days before. The weather was bad in Chungking that first week of December, and Lattimore's plane could not take off. Only this happen-stance prevented Lattimore from being in Hong Kong when war broke out. The Japanese struck Hong Kong as well as Pearl Harbor, disabling the plane on which he had been scheduled to fly. It was a full month before he was able to leave China, and by that time a Pacific crossing was no longer possible.

The intervening month in China was frenetic. With the beginning of the American involvement in the war the whole atmosphere of Chungking changed. Since the Americans were fighting, the Chinese no longer feared appeasement of Japan, but they had other fears. Lattimore's cables to Currie reveal Chiang's new perceptions of the war. In a message on December 9 Lattimore reported that the Generalissimo strongly urged

prompt simultaneous Soviet-Chinese declaration of war on Japan following American declaration. Coordinated Chinese-Soviet land action essential because only Soviet can attack both by sea and air and thus is key to joint land, sea, air war by all democracies whereas if Soviet hesitates Japan can fight democracies piecemeal. . . . Generalissimo anxious to use every approach to Soviet, including Washington, in order to insure undelayed Soviet participation. Soviet Military Attache hinted that if Soviet fights Japan America might not concentrate main effort in Pacific. Clear indication that America will give priority to Pacific over Atlantic until Japan settled would undoubtedly bring Soviet in.[13]

Recognizing this proposal as wishful thinking, Lattimore added no endorsement to the cable.

On December 11 Lattimore forwarded a new set of Chiang requests. All Pacific fronts should be coordinated; there should be a military pact among the Pacific allies, including Russia if possible; Chungking should be the headquarters of this Inter-Allied Pacific Military Commission; and an American should head it. Again, Lattimore added no personal opinion.[14]


With the United States now at war Chiang asked Lattimore to evaluate the new situation for him and recommend actions to adapt to it. Lattimore accordingly submitted a three-page memorandum on December 14. He acknowledged that early Japanese successes would decrease Allied prestige in China, stimulating pessimism and tendencies to collaborate with the Japanese. These tendencies would be strongest among landholders and followers of local warlords, especially in Yunnan, Sikang, and Szechwan, where scarce supplies were already being hoarded. The government should deal sternly with hoarders, as it had recently in Szechwan, and it should press for a large, morale-building loan from the U.S. Treasury, which would both alleviate China's economic situation and demonstrate American determination to support China.

Lattimore had many other specific recommendations for improving China's prospects, the most noteworthy of which dealt with the Communist problem. Surprisingly, for once he gave Chiang no lectures about improving the lot of the peasants. Instead, he emphasized Chinese relations with Russia and the United States: "Increased cooperation with Soviet Russia is militarily a necessity, and politically it will mean that during the immediate future the Communists will not dare to make trouble. For the longer future, cooperation with America, especially through the proposed loan, will be a reinsurance against Communism. While America has no interest in interfering in internal questions in China, she certainly does not want to see a Communist China and does want to help establish a China that will both be completely independent and in its domestic government completely stable."[15]

The "proposed loan" part of this agenda was warmly received by Chiang, but Lattimore now ran afoul of U.S. Ambassador Gauss. Gauss strongly opposed such a loan, believing it to be inflationary. Given this opposition, Chiang preferred to promote the loan by sending Lattimore personally to Washington with his request. Unfortunately, Japanese depredations in the Pacific had closed all transportation routes. By December 21 Chiang could no longer postpone transmission of the loan request to Washington, and Lattimore was instructed to cable the request to Currie so that Currie could start working on it. The full argument backing the loan would be available when Lattimore was able to get out of China.

For political and psychological reasons, Chiang wanted a "really big Treasury loan"—$500 million. On the face of it, such a request seemed hopeless. Demands for American resources and money were massive, and despite the fact that the United States had been attacked in the Pacific, defeating Hitler remained Roosevelt's first priority. Lattimore's cable of


December 21 succinctly stated the case for the loan. Because China was virtually deprived of external supplies, a "big psychological economic move [was] required [to] offset serious prestige damage [of] early Pacific setbacks." The loan would back Chinese bond issues, encourage entrepreneurs interested in China's future reconstruction, and generate small loans for agriculture and industries.[16]

Lattimore had barely gotten off the loan cable when he was called to attend a meeting Chiang was having with Field Marshal Lord Wavell, Viceroy of India, who was in Chungking to discuss Anglo-Chinese measures for stopping Japanese advances. Chiang's smoldering resentment of British arrogance burst forth at this session, and he excoriated the British roundly. They had not listened to him when he warned them years earlier that surrendering to Japan the silver hoard belonging to the Chinese government, but stored in the British Concession at Tientsin, would be like "feeding raw meat to a tiger," only whetting the Japanese appetite. The British had been similarly stupid in Hong Kong, where they refused to incorporate more than five or six thousand Chinese into their armed forces; yet "neither Kowloon nor Hongkong itself could have been defended without the arming of every available able bodied Chinese." Britain was wholly indifferent to Chinese interests in the Far East and was trying "to settle all issues primarily from the point of view of restoring the British position."

In matters of finance, said Chiang, "there must be a fundamental revision of attitude." The British Treasury representative, Sir Otto Niemeyer, had proposed a £10 million British loan, and a matching $50 million American loan, both to be secured by revenue from Chinese customs. Chiang laid out his contempt for British shortsightedness in language that Lattimore recorded as follows:

Such a proposal altogether ignores the political realities. The question involved is not one of banking operations to be handled in terms of commercial investments, security, annual interest, and amortization. China cannot consider bartering pledges like this to Britain and America, any more than she would contemplate the hiring of a mercenary army to Britain for the defense of Burma. Any question of a loan cannot be regarded as an end in itself, but merely as a technical operation in the pooling of resources for a common purpose, representing British mobilization of economic resources and Chinese mobilization of manpower resources. For such purposes, the required loan to China should be on the scale of 100 million Pounds, not ten million, and there can be no question of security. Victory is the security.[17]


Chiang's tirade was first translated for Lord Wavell by Hollington Tong. Lattimore says that Tong thought Chiang was too harsh and toned it down a bit. Madame, however, thought her husband had not been vehement enough; she gave her own, more stinging version. As Lattimore recalls, "The Generalissimo, watching rather than listening, knew exactly what was going on. He turned to me and said: 'Mr. Lattimore, will you please give the correct translation?' That was the toughest interpreting assignment I ever had." Wavell listened politely, then defended British actions as best he could. That night Lattimore put a mild version of the conversation in an aide memoire that he submitted to Madame, dated December 21, 1941·[18]

Lattimore's induction into the intimacies of the Chinese ruling dynasty was accomplished at Christmas. The Soong family had embraced Christianity at their father's knee; hence, Christmas was always celebrated by the three Soong sisters (Mayling, Chiang's wife; Ai-ling, Mrs. H. H. K'ung; and Ch'ing-ling, Sun Yat-sen's widow) and the Generalissimo. Lattimore was invited to the family Christmas dinner in 1941. He was the only foreigner present. Despite tensions between the leftish Madame Sun and the rest of the party, Lattimore said they were "perfectly correct" toward each other.

No cables to Washington were composed over Christmas dinner, but two days later the Generalissimo's wrath at the British came to boiling point again, this time fueled by British delay in Burma of Lend-Lease cargo destined for China. Lattimore's December 28 message to Currie carried Chiang's castigation of the British for "bungling highhanded-ness." They were also "incompetent, arrogant," and several other choice adjectives. The whole problem was a racist, imperialist mentality; there would be "further unpardonable blunders unless American pressure forces realization China not extension their colonial empire." Currie was to report these comments to Roosevelt and T. V. Soong.[19]

There was a reprise on January 1, 1942. Chiang instructed Lattimore to say that the British refused to admit "any essential Chinese-British equality. This furnished enemy with deadliest propaganda everywhere in Asia. . . . Should China [be] unable cooperate, British must bear entire responsibility. . . . In view all above Generalissimo . . . asks immediate assurances British will put situation right and guarantee no repetition. . . . Generalissimo attitude very firm." Two similar cables went out on January 4. Lattimore inserted a personal opinion in one of them: "My information from British source is British incompetence, confusion in Burma hard to exaggerate."[20]

Initial White House response to this flood of cables was, as Chiang saw


it, bittersweet. Washington was willing to talk about a big loan, but Treasury suggested that it be issued "on basis of schedule of particulars," which was not what Chiang wanted at all. Lattimore was instructed to respond on January 7: "Only possible method is 500 million loan purely political with no restrictions or conditions, at least as broad and generous in terms and conception as lend lease."[21] Lattimore wrote cables almost every day during the first two weeks of 1942.

By mid-January Pan American had established routes over the Hump of the Himalayas into Burma and from there westward; Lattimore was scheduled to leave Chungking January 15. Chiang, K'ung, McHugh, and other Americans loaded him with letters to deliver in Washington. Chiang's letter to Roosevelt, dated January 12, contained fulsome praise for Roosevelt's recommendation of Lattimore and concluded, "Mr. Lattimore will personally convey to you my views on some important matters upon which I have not touched above. If there are messages you wish to send me, I should appreciate you entrusting them to Mr. Lattimore to be conveyed to me upon his return to China."[22]

Lattimore left on January 15 as scheduled. At a stop in Calcutta he wrote Chiang thanking him for "your generous treatment of me during the first period of my service under you in China."[23] On January 17 he was off to Karachi, Iran, Egypt, Gambia, Brazil, and the United States, where he arrived February 8.[24]

The Chinese loan was debated in Washington in early February. Despite the misgivings of Ambassador Gauss and skeptical State Department officials, who thought China could not use such a loan effectively, Roosevelt supported it. The bill authorizing $500 million for China passed Congress while Lattimore was recuperating from his travels. Roosevelt signed it February 13 and on the same day received Lattimore for a report on conditions in China.[25]

As instructed by Chiang, Lattimore set forth the Generalissimo's concerns about the British. All of Chiang's recent contacts with British officials had alarmed him; they seemed not to realize that the Chinese and other Asians were determined to throw off the yoke of colonialism and assume status in international affairs equal to that of the Western nations. Roosevelt was sympathetic to Chiang's position, but he also had to deal with British, French, and Dutch officials who did not think the same way. And Roosevelt's immediate problem was to win the war; postwar problems of sovereignty in the Pacific had to be put on hold. Lattimore was instructed to calm Chiang's fears without promising anything specific.

Lattimore sweated over the cable he now composed for Chiang. The


copy in his FBI file is undated but was probably sent February 15. It is diplomacy personified:


Chiang could not have been happy to hear this, but his satisfaction with the loan must have mitigated his distaste for Roosevelt's waffling about colonialism.

On February 16 Lattimore wrote Madame Chiang a long letter about his activities in support of China, about his approval of the appointment of General Stilwell to command American troops in the China-Burma-India theater, and about the assignment of John Paton Davies as advisor to Stilwell. His visit with Roosevelt had gone well, and he had seen T. V. Soong, General George Marshall, and, of course, Lauchlin Currie. All this work was enabling him to push the Chinese cause of making the war in Asia a higher priority. The letter was not all business. On the personal side he remarked, "It has been perfectly wonderful to be with my wife and son again. You and the Generalissimo were always so considerate of me; but your concern that I should bring my wife back with me is the most wonderful thing of all. You will be amused to hear that my son, aged not yet eleven, is already giving lectures on the Burma Road with my photographs as illustrations."[27]

During his time in the United States Lattimore engaged in dozens of activities promoting the welfare of his patron in Chungking. On February 21, 1942, he joined Pearl Buck in endorsing a plea of United China Relief to raise $7 million in private funds for war victims and refugee


rehabilitation. At a later banquet of that organization, at Radio City in New York, he joined Clare Boothe Luce and Wendell Willkie in praising Chinese war efforts and expressing confidence that Japan would be defeated.

On February 24, speaking off the record to the Washington Press Club, Lattimore scored a major hit. Creighton Hill, of Babson's Washington Reports , took the trouble to write Lauchlin Currie about it: "It was the unanimous opinion of a group of members of the Press Club, in the wake of Mr. Lattimore's talk, that under no circumstances should he be allowed to return to China. The Generalissimo doesn't need him half so much as he is needed right here. In fact, his nomination as Secretary of State was offered and seconded." At the bottom of the letter Hill wrote in pencil, "He's a marvellous guy—and did a magnificent job."[28]

A week later Lattimore and Manuel Fox of Treasury were questioned informally and off the record by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Lattimore wrote in a letter to the Generalissimo the same day (March 4) that the session lasted two and a half hours, that there were many questions about the loan, and that it "went very well indeed."[29]

The Council on Foreign Relations took advantage of Lattimore's presence to invite him to report on the topic "Chinese Opinion on Postwar Problems." This discussion with the Territorial Group on March 18 was lengthy; since it was also confidential, Lattimore was less inhibited in expressing his opinions of America's European Allies than he was in his public statements; the Allies do not come off well. But the heart of his message was that colonialism was dead in Asia. Self-determination had become a "fighting creed" there, and many Asians were "determined to realize their democratic aspirations no matter what the cost may be. In a true sense, they are barricade democrats." Lattimore referred to a recent statement of Secretary of the Navy Knox that in fighting the war, the western front had primacy. The Chinese were suspicious of that statement: "They argue that no matter in what part of the world the war may be fought out, the important thing is the political outcome in Asia."

When the U.S. role in postwar China came up, Lattimore was optimistic:

The Chinese have neither the intention nor the power to keep the white man out of the Orient. They want the white man there, and they want his advice and money, but they do not want his political control. They know they will have to behave well if they want his investments. They realize that at the peace conference they will be comparatively weak. There will be an enormous job of reconstruction to be done in China,


and if it is not done quickly there will be chaos. . . . But Americans should not look upon this as an opportunity for charity or condescension. For we ourselves will have a tremendous job of making the transition from an expanded wartime basis to peacetime levels. One of the biggest single remedies for United States industry might be the Chinese market. We should, therefore, think of how China might aid the United States as well as the reverse.

Lattimore also argued that the United States should strengthen China as much as possible "to act as a balance against the Soviet." Even though Russia would be faced with vast reconstruction tasks, it would be tempted to expand into an Asian power vacuum. This brought up the question of the Chinese Communists: "The strength of the Chinese Communists is not increasing. In 1937, the Communists had from 150,000 to 200,000 well-trained troops. Some of these troops are now engaged in guerrilla warfare, and allowing for extensive casualties and replacements, their numbers probably do not exceed the figure of 1937. . . . Chungking observers object to the Chinese Communists on two grounds: (1) the alien loyalties of the latter, and (2) the fact that the Communists represent a challenge to national unity—or to the dominant position of the Kuomintang."[30]

Lattimore had no doubts that Chiang and his Nationalists could, and should, retain control of China's destiny. Some of his longest letters to Chungking were to Hollington Tong, Chinese minister of information, with whom Lattimore had worked closely. Tong was upset with the anti-Chiang bias of Edgar Snow's writings, especially an article in the Saturday Evening Post . Lattimore discussed Snow at great length, explaining to Tong how he was trying to "set the record straight" and counteract Snow's partiality to the Chinese Communists.[31]

Not only the CFR but also the army's Military Intelligence Division (MID) wanted to probe Lattimore's insights into what was happening in China. On April 7, 1942, a MID officer interviewed him extensively, recording some specific recommendations. China should have a full representative on the Combined Chiefs of Staff to "offset political cleavages within the framework" of the Allies. The United States and the Soviet Union should jointly proclaim a policy of independence for Korea. The Atlantic Charter was a psychological mistake, especially since Churchill had stated that it did not apply to India; the charter should be downplayed in propaganda directed toward Asia. Finally, the United States should not attempt to run China's war effort. There is no indication of what MID thought of these comments.[32]


During the spring of 1942 Lattimore was a whirlwind of activity. Every conceivable forum was open to him, and he used them all to promote the cause of China. He gave at least three public lectures in Baltimore, the last of which had to be moved from the Hopkins campus to a large public theater. He spoke to a select group of Yale alumni at the Yale Club in New York. He spoke to an overflow crowd at the Cleveland Foreign Affairs Council and delivered one of the featured speeches at the American Council on Education convention in Chicago May 1. There were many more.

The texts of some of these addresses survive. Probably the most compelling was the speech he gave in Ottawa to the Canadian Club meeting of May 7. Prime Minister Mackenzie King was in attendance, as were many other senior Canadian officials. The high point of Lattimore's speech was his statement of the "Asia first" position.

There is a natural tendency among all of us in North America to think of Europe as the center of the world. Our traditions, our history, our education, all lead us to think of Europe as the approach to all international problems. . . . But can the problems of the world as it is constituted today be settled in Europe? If you settle Europe, does the rest of the world automatically fall into place?

We Chinese—if the Chinese Minister will allow me to use the expression—do not feel that way. The war did not start with Pearl Harbor. It did not start in September 1939. It did not start even in 1937 with the Marco Polo Bridge incident. The nearest date that you can set as an accurate date for the beginning of this war was the invasion of Manchuria on September 18, 1931. From that aggression with which we, the democracies in and out of the League of Nations, failed to cope, started a degeneration of the whole world system, not simply of collective security, but of all our standards. It spread from Manchuria to Abyssinia, from Abyssinia to Spain, to Czechoslovakia, and only then to Poland and the present phase of the war.

From the Chinese point of view it is unreasonable to think that when the prime causes of the war lay in Asia the issues of the war can be settled in Europe. If you stop to think for a moment, supposing the Axis were to win, you will see that the main loot for the Fascists would lie, not in Europe, but in Asia to a very large, perhaps, I think, to a preponderating extent. Asia is what we are fighting about.[33]

Lattimore felt his reception in Canada had been very warm indeed. The Chinese minister in Ottawa no doubt communicated to Chungking about Lattimore's impact there. One week later Currie received a cable from


Madame Chiang. The cable does not survive, but Currie's memo to Roosevelt about it does: "I have received a cable from Madame Chiang for Owen Lattimore, asking him to remain here for the next three or four months to emphasize to our people the necessity of supporting China and regarding her as an equal partner in war and peace."[34] Lattimore was quite willing to stay home for a while longer.

Periodically Lattimore reported to the Generalissimo. In a letter of April 22 he explained that he and Currie had worked out the matter of announcing American support for Korean independence; the president had agreed that we should follow the lead of China rather than making a unilateral declaration. About Chiang's desire for a formal Sino-American alliance, he carefully explained that Americans were inclined to avoid such long-range commitments and that since an alliance would have to clear Congress, it was best "to work for every possible kind of common action" without alliances.[35]

In the April 22 letter Lattimore also dealt with his contacts in State, Treasury, Army, and other agencies. There was great confusion in wartime Washington, and many requests from China fell between the cracks of competing agencies. For getting China's interest attended to, the most important man was Currie: "If it were not for his tireless energy in personally following the course of every order and shipment for China, through bureau after bureau, the actual shipments would be both smaller and slower."

In addition to the lecture circuit, Lattimore was asked to write for mass-circulation magazines, including American Magazine and National Geographic . The articles he wrote for those two magazines are undisguised tributes to China and Chiang; the American Magazine piece of June 1942 was alone worth what Chiang paid him for the entire year. Entitled "How to Win the War," it begins by noting the pettiness of American complaints about war-caused shortages compared with the tribulations of the Chinese after five years of Japanese assault. Yet Chinese morale remained excellent, and Chiang's armies had stopped Japanese armies by sheer willpower. "If we can look on the Chinese with intelligence and imagination, if we can learn from them how they work miracles by teamwork, by self-sacrifice, by a proud new spirit of fighting for a better country and a better world then we, too, can work miracles. We can win a quicker victory and a greater peace. If you want to know how to win the war, study China. . . . The individual Chinese may be only breaking stones with a hammer or carrying earth in a basket, but by the thousands they built an airport in the mountains as well as we could build it with our elaborate


machinery. Each knows that he, with hammer or basket, is fighting in a great cause."[36]

The whole article is similarly laudatory. It was no doubt necessary in the early months of the war to convince Americans that China would not be a drag on the Allied war effort. Lattimore was fulfilling this function diligently. But the total effect was oversell, and he vastly exaggerated the genius of Chiang. The claim that "a land long torn by inner dissension and local prejudice has, under Chiang Kai-shek, become united, just as our thirteen colonies once became united" ignored the realities of warlord power and Communist separatism, neither of which Chiang had overcome and both of which emerged to frustrate American hopes for China. Nor was Chiang as eager to "help [his] new allies" as Lattimore claimed.[37] The major long-range Chinese objectives were (1) to defeat the Communists and (2) to destroy any trace of European imperialism. Lattimore emphasized the latter but ignored the former. His emphasis on China's role in the war was incompatible with the views of Marshall, Hull, and the rest of the Eurocentric American officials.

During Lattimore's absence from China, severe problems arose between Chiang and the commander of American troops in the China-Burma-India (CBI) theater, Lieutenant General Joseph W. Stilwell. Stilwell, like Lattimore, knew China well. Unlike Lattimore, he had a clear command responsibility and needed Chiang's cooperation; when he didn't get it, he developed a visceral dislike for Chiang, as Barbara Tuchman demonstrates.[38] The confrontations between the two led, in May 1942, to Chiang's request that Harry Hopkins be sent to China to see firsthand how Stilwell was misusing his authority and how much more amicable Sino-American relations would be if only General Claire Chennault replaced Stilwell.[39] Both Chennault and Naval Attaché McHugh were in constant communication with Currie, and the White House decided that something had to be done. Roosevelt still refused to send Hopkins to China, so Currie volunteered for the mission.

Unlike Lattimore, Currie assumed he could perform miracles. His memo to Roosevelt suggesting that he be sent to China implies that he could learn how to solve all outstanding Sino-American problems, including Stilwell's many difficulties. Since Stilwell denigrated the Generalissimo, Stilwell had to go. And since Chiang was the indispensable leader, the Chinese Communists were not to be encouraged. Currie refused to see Chou En-lai, instead using John Paton Davies, an advisor to Stilwell, to communicate with the Communists.[40]

When Currie returned to Washington, his solutions were simple: re-


place Stilwell with Chennault, replace Ambassador Gauss with John Carter Vincent or Owen Lattimore, and promise Chiang the airplanes he wanted as soon as they were off the assembly line. The first of these solutions Roosevelt partially agreed to, sending Currie to General Marshall with word that he wanted Stilwell relieved. Marshall stood his ground, refused the suggestion, and forced Roosevelt to back down. Roosevelt took no action to replace Gauss; he did promise Currie more planes.[41]

Since Lattimore and Currie were both heavily involved in Chinese affairs, Lattimore frequented Currie's office during 1942, looking after correspondence and making telephone calls. As Currie told a Department of State investigator in 1952, "I cannot now recall how much use he made of it. My impression is that he dropped by frequently for a few months but that he did not regularly occupy a desk." While Currie was in China, Lattimore checked the mail for China matters that needed handling.[42]

The Office of Strategic Services sought Lattimore's opinions on June 10, 1942. Captain Ilia Tolstoy and Lieutenant Brooke Dolan quizzed Lattimore at length about the situation in China. In a four-page report to their superior, Colonel Preston Goodfellow, they noted that Lattimore felt that "the Communist Chief Chu Teh imposes his form of gov't on the people of the provinces across which his War area cuts. This is a great source of uneasiness to the Generalissimo and the Kuo Min Tang which naturally object to any different philosophy of gov't being imposed on a large section of the Chinese people. For this reason O.L. believes that Chu Teh is careful not to destroy the Landlord system in his area; O.L. believes that Chu Teh is running a Democratic rather than a Communist Regime in North China." Lattimore went on to say that Chu Teh was not indoctrinating his troops "to nearly the same degree as the early communist die-hards who made the great retreat [the Long March] in 1935 to Shensi."[43]

Lattimore continued writing during the summer of 1942; one of the products was a monograph for the Foreign Policy Association, published as their Report Number 12 on September 1. Titled Asia in a New World Order , the report is orthodox Lattimore, talking about the virtues of Chiang, the sacrifices and determination of the Chinese, the death of colonialism, the importance of the Sino-Soviet border areas, the impossibility of American control of China's political and economic development, the necessity of China recapturing sovereignty over Manchuria. Lattimore also attempts to answer those critics of Roosevelt who deplored American alliance with China or Russia, neither of which were democracies in the Anglo-American sense.


This discussion brought Lattimore to the problem of communism in Asia, and his treatment of this topic is both fair and, in hindsight, accurate.

Rapid but orderly emancipation, in order to incorporate in the growing and developing body of democracy that half of humanity which lives in East Asia, brings up inevitably the problem of the degree of violent revolution and the possibility of the spread of communism. The overwhelming majority of Americans are opposed to communism by long established social habit and by emotional and intellectual response. It would be well if we were to recognize more generally that a similar majority of the Chinese are opposed to communism in the same ways, find that communism has few roots in India and little power to grow there. We in America certainly do not realize, and just as certainly ought to realize, that the question of whether and how far communism will spread will probably depend more on us than on the Russians.

Criticize communism as we may, we ought also to be prepared to criticize ourselves. To prepare ourselves for the right things to do, we must first see clearly the wrong things that have been done. We must be ready to admit that the blame for Manchuria, Ethiopia, Munich, and Spain falls primarily on the Western democracies, as condoners and sometimes even compounders of aggression, as we are ready to criticize Russia for the pact with Germany, which failed in the same way that the pact of Chamberlain and Daladier with Germany failed.[44]

The Columbia Broadcasting System put Lattimore on their popular "Symphony Hour" July 26, and he made the most of this opportunity to further the Chinese cause. The Chinese, he said, "are the only troops of the United Nations who have been able to recover territory once occupied by the Japanese." He also praised General Chennault and the American fliers fighting for China, called for planes to be sent to China as fast as we could produce them, and lauded the Generalissimo for his wholehearted war effort.[45]

By July 1942 Lattimore had been in Chiang's service for a year. It was a challenging and exciting tour, but Lattimore was beginning to tire of his role as spokesperson of a foreign government. He had had no word from Chiang as to when he would be recalled to Chungking. He told Currie to suggest to the Chiangs that perhaps it was time for him to return to Johns Hopkins. He could advance the Chinese cause as well from there as he could on Chiang's payroll.

Currie passed this suggestion on when he arrived in Chungking. The response was quick.


Headquarters Of The Generalissimo

Chungking, Szechuan
5 August 1942

Dear Mr. Lattimore,

The newspapers here have contained frequent references to the good work that you are doing on behalf of China in America. All your letters to the Generalissimo and myself have been received, and we have been greatly interested in your delineation of the present state of feeling among the American people.

We fully realize that, as an American, you can say a great number of things, that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for a Chinese to say with good grace. When they are said by an American who has lived most of his life with us and who speaks with evident sincerity, they sink deeper and have a profound influence.

Dr. Currie has spoken to us regarding your feeling that possibly you might be of more use to China if you returned to John [sic] Hopkins. While we appreciate the value of your suggestion, we feel that if you could return to China for the time being and help to establish more cordial and closer relationship between the American Military Mission and China and the Embassy and us, you would be rendering an even more direct and much needed service. And so the Generalissimo wishes you to return to China as soon as you can get transportation. . . .

With all good wishes to yourself and Mrs. Lattimore,

Yours very sincerely,

Mayling Soong Chiang[46]

Sensitive to Chinese ways, Lattimore realized that he could not simply refuse to honor the Generalissimo's request. But now that the United States was at war, being on Chiang's payroll was awkward. As he later said to Joseph O'Mahoney, "There would soon be an official channel for everything, and even if I avoided getting into people's hair, a lot of people would imagine that I was getting into their hair."[47] An important assignment for his own government seemed the best way of gracefully leaving Chiang's service.

Elmer Davis approached him during the summer of 1942 about directing the Pacific Bureau of the Office of War Information (OWI). This bureau was mainly producing radio broadcasts to the Pacific region and Asia, and Lattimore was eminently qualified. He accepted. Lattimore therefore


decided to extend his service with Chiang m the end of the year and arranged a diplomatic way to resign at that time.

A cable now went from Roosevelt to Chiang: "Lattimore will return as you suggest for temporary duty Chungking under your orders however if acceptable to you President would appreciate it if you would allow him to resign after short visit to return to America to take over news and propaganda supervision for entire Pacific area under Office War Information. If you agree this can be announced from either Chungking or Washington when Lattimore leaves here."[48]

In late September, Lattimore flew back to China carrying a letter to the Generalissimo from Roosevelt. It explained why the United States could not immediately fulfill most of the Chinese requests Currie had delivered.[49]

Chiang did not want to cut his ties with Lattimore permanently. Chinese protocol dictated that a faithful retainer not be allowed to resign ; consequently, when the announcement of Lattimore's OWI job was finally made by Chungking October 30, the Associated Press carried the following story:


Chungking, China, Oct. 30 (AP).— Gneralissimo Chiang Kai-shek has granted a leave of absence to his American political adviser, Owen Lattimore, who will return to the United States as director of the Pacific Bureau of the Office of War Information, with headquarters in San Francisco.

"Rather than accept a resignation from Mr. Lattimore, who was appointed his adviser last year on the recommendation of President Roosevelt, Chiang Kai-shek preferred to lend him to the OWI," an announcement said.[50]

Lattimore found Chungking, in early October 1942, more strife-ridden and rumor-plagued than before. The Stilwell controversy raged. Despite Madame's letter instructing Lattimore to return in order to help establish more "cordial" relations between Stilwell and Chiang, Lattimore played no role in solving that problem. He was inactive largely because Stilwell was not available to him, but he also sensed that it was a hopeless task.

By this time the optimism engendered by Currie's visit had dissipated. Chiang was full of complaints. Why was China still not incorporated into the mainstream of Allied military councils? Why was Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau so hostile? Why were American Lend-Lease supplies being diverted to the Middle East? Why did Chennault not have


the confidence of the American high command? Lattimore was as candid as tact permitted.

There were the usual interviews, dinners, press conferences. Typically, on October 23 Lattimore spoke to a dinner of fifteen Chinese cultural societies. According to the New York Times , Lattimore said the Allies were planning to open new fronts in Europe and Asia and that they would eventually wage a knockout offensive against Japan from Chinese bases. "When the final victory is won, he said, China will emerge as one of the world's great democracies, unfettered by Western imperialism, with a future of progress that will make the next 100 years a 'Chinese century.'"[51] This reference competed with Henry Luce, whose "American Century" article in 1941 had staked out a different claim to world leadership.

Chiang knew before Lattimore arrived in China that this was to be a farewell visit. As Lattimore recorded in the O'Mahoney manuscript: "The Generalissimo was very codial about my resignation, but would not let me go at once; and when I did go, he very handsomely insisted that I must still consider myself in his service, free to return at any time, and, as he put it, 'on reverse lend-lease' from him to President Roosevelt." In 1943, in appreciation of Lattimore's services, Chiang (or possibly Madame) directed H. H. K'ung to send Lattimore a gratuity. The amount K'ung's American agent sent him was five thousand dollars. Lattimore was gratified but could not accept the gift as he was then an employee of the U.S. government.[52]

Shortly before Lattimore was to leave China, he had a chance to talk to Chou En-lai. "I asked him, 'What do you think of my mission here? Have I just been wasting a couple of years, or was it worthwhile from your point of view?' He said, 'Very worthwhile. We think you've done a very good job for Chiang Kai-shek. Because it was absolutely essential to maintain contact with Chiang Kai-shek. If it weren't for Chiang, there would be a half-dozen Wang Ching-wei's going over to the Japanese. Chiang Kai-shek is essential to the national resistance and you have served him well.'"

The most touching farewell letter in Lattimore's files is from the finance minister, H. H. K'ung. That crusty banker's admiration seems genuine: "Though one must accept the parting of friends as something unavoidable in life, I cannot help feeling reluctant to see you leave China. During the period of your service as Political Advisor to the Generalissimo, your knowledge in Chinese has been a great asset. . . Hence, even your temporary transfer from China is a great loss to us."[53]


This time Lattimore's trip to the United States was deluxe. In the fall of 1942 Madame Chiang was beset with various ailments; Sterling Sea-grave gives an impressive catalog of them in The Soong Dynasty . She and the Generalissimo decided that this was the time for her to go to the United States both for medical attention and to exert her charm on those who dispensed American funds. The normal military transport would not do for Madame. Thus, a Boeing 307 Stratoliner named Apache , piloted by Cornell Shelton, was flown from the United States to pick her up. Lattimore and Madame's niece, Jeanette K'ung, and a party of retainers were to accompany her. They met Shelton's plane at 4:00 A.M. November 19 at an airfield near Chengtu and took off for the westbound route to the United States. After landing at Mitchell Field in New York on November 27, Madame was taken by Harry Hopkins to Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and registered under a false name. She spent eleven weeks there and emerged healthy.[54]

Lattimore went on to Baltimore and Washington. On December 7 he briefed Roosevelt on the China situation, telling reporters as he left the White House that" 'final, decisive victory against Japan can be won only on land in China.' Beating the Japanese Navy will not be sufficient, he said, for Japan's major strength is her army, which is still strong and in China. The defeat, he asserted, will have to be accomplished 'by land-based aircraft in China.'"[55]

The Institute of Pacific Relations was holding its eighth conference December 4-14, 1942, at Mont Tremblant, Quebec. Lattimore was able to attend only the last few days, but his views were very much present. His Foreign Policy Association report, Asia in a New World Order , was one of several documents distributed to all the conferees; the issues it discussed were prominent in conference deliberations. The Mont Tremblant conference was later prominent not because of what was said but because of who attended and who suggested them as participants. This was the first IPR conference at which government officials of the IPR countries were permitted to take part in discussions.[56]

Lattimore left Mont Tremblant to rush down to New York on December 15 for another discussion with members of the Council on Foreign Relations. Before that eminent group he propounded this warning: "If the partial solutions [to the colonial problem] put forward by the United Nations at the close of the war lack cohesion, the victors may drive into Soviet arms the small peoples bordering on Russia. Sovietization would thus be due to our failure."[57] He added that Chinese morale was still strong despite a deteriorating economy; that Chiang's stock was still very


high; and that the Chinese should be better integrated into military councils.

After the CFR meeting Lattimore had a week to relax at his Baltimore home. There was only one other official duty before he reported to OWI in San Francisco: Roosevelt wanted him to draft a letter to Chiang explaining that total independence might not be immediately granted after the war to all the colonial areas. The new concept was "trusteeship," which Roosevelt informed Lattimore was "an advance over the mandate of the League of Nations." This message, Lattimore knew, would infuriate the Generalissimo. In the letter that Lattimore drafted, the "trustee-ship" concept was softened by a promise that "after the war we shall have to think of China, America, Britain and Russia as the four 'big policemen' of the world." There were several other sops to Chiang's vanity, including the statement that "the President is delighted by the friendship that has sprung up between his wife and Madame Chiang and is looking forward eagerly to Madame Chiang's visit to the White House."[58] Roosevelt made minor changes in Lattimore's draft, then informed the astounded Currie that the letter was to go out over Lattimore's signature. Lattimore by then had gone to San Francisco to take over the OWI job. Currie now had to inform Lattimore that he was to be saddled with Roosevelt's obnoxious (to the Chinese) views on colonialism. Apparently, Currie telephoned to break the news gently, then sent the final draft to Lattimore with a cover letter: "I am afraid the enclosed puts you on a bit of a spot. It was the President's own idea that the bulk of the letter be represented as being your views rather than his. I thereupon suggested that there was really no need of a letter, but he disagreed with that. Unless, therefore, you want me to go back and tell him that you object to having these views ascribed to you, I am afraid you will have to take a deep breath and be prepared to accept paternity." [59]

Lattimore took a very deep breath. He had no use whatever for the trusteeship idea. Perhaps, had he been in Washington instead of San Francisco and had he been going back to Johns Hopkins instead of starting on the OWI payroll, he would have told Roosevelt what to do with this letter. But he wrote Currie on January 1, 1943, "It certainly does require a deep breath to accept paternity of that little job in fait accompli . However, here goes. I am sending the letter back to you, airmail registered."[60] It went to China over Lattimore's signature, carried to the Generalissimo by a new naval attaché replacing James McHugh. Lattimore was not to communicate with Chiang again until he returned to China in 1944.


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