Q: Can you tell me something about the vision behind the Marshall Plan, and since it was under the President's auspices why wasn't it called the Truman Plan? What was its intention?
A: First, part of the President's attitude toward the Soviet Union was we must begin not only to strengthen ourselves, but to strengthen our historic allies so as they continue on with their aggressive designs we will have allies and we can work together and we will perhaps some day have to fight to save Europe. And he wanted to build up Europe, which was prostate at the time. Now, at the end of the Second World War the Soviets were very powerful militarily. They'd come through the war well. We had supplied them with mountains of material, so they had modern weapons and everything they needed. And they had a battle hardened army. We used to talk about the fact that the Soviets could, if they chose, send their army westward across Europe and they could march unimpeded to the British Channel. Nobody could stop them. France was bled dry, Italy was out of the picture, nobody there to do it. And he thought that it wasn't enough just for us to strengthen our defences, but that we should begin to tell the rest of the world what this danger was, and help build them up so that they could be a force to align themselves with us and defend the world. You asked why it was called the Marshall Plan. I was much younger then, and in some areas rather inexperienced, so when we took in maybe the first draft of that speech to President Truman and we went through it and he was generally pleased with it, and I said, 'Mr President, this is one of the great decisions of your administration, and it may be the first time in the history of the world one of the great wealthy nations had reached out and helped a number of others that needed help at the time, with no hope of aggrandisement, no hope of additional territory, doing it as a humane act.' I said, 'I agree to all that.' So I said, 'I'd hope name would bconnected with this plan.' He said, 'no. No Clark,' he said. 'If this goes up as a Truman product, it'll lie up there for a day or two and then turn belly up and die.' He said, 'the Republicans are not going to pass anything that's called the Truman something.' He said, 'let me think about it.' In a day or two he makes the decision that it should be called the Marshall Plan. And it was given to General Marshall and he delivered it, I think maybe at Harvard University, in their commencement. Had a profound impact upon the world. Encouraged the world we were again coming into the point of leadership as far as the Soviet threat was concerned. And he was right, when it was called the Marshall Plan a Republican of any stripe could vote for it then. So his judgement was entirely right.
Q: Can you tell me something about the differences between General Marshall and Mr Acheson and how they influenced and affected President Truman and the Truman administration? What were these men?
A: The differences were not profound differences. General Marshall approached his problems when he was Secretary of State really as a military man would approach them. And Acheson was a trained diplomat, he approached them in the diplomatic attitude. They got along all right. One real unfortunate relationship was born when I strongly urged that the United States support the new nation of Israel. And I said that I thought that the United States should recognise Israel as an independent nation the very day that they announced their creation. It infuriated Marshall. We had a meeting before the President, Marshall's face got red, and he said something I've never heard anybody say to a President. He said, 'Mr President, if you adopt the plan that's being recommended by Clifford I will be unable to vote for you in the next election in November.' Now that was a very serious threat to the President. He needed Marshall a great deal at the time. He had a lot of foreign policy problems, Marshall had great prestige. Once President Truman referred to him as our nation's first citizen. He was a great admirer of Marshall. I admired Marshall but I thought that he was awfully inflexible if a government's going to work well there's got to be give and take and there's got to be a policy of working together, not just for your policy, but to find a policy that can be acceptable to our country and that we can agree to. So that, when Marshall left and Acheson came in, I had the feeling that even though I was a great admirer of Marshall's that I thought it was a step forward for our country.
Q: I wonder if I could move us on again a little bit. Tell me about the Berlin blockade and Truman's response to the Berlin blockade.
A: We considered it a very serious problem. Here there'd been an agreement entered into by the major powers, and now the Soviet Union was violating it, knowingly and almost angrily. And they just stopped entry to Berlin and it created a very serious dilemma for the President. Now his two main military advisers were a general who was abroad at the time, and then the second one was Admiral Lakey - and the first one I think -
Q: It's Clay.
A: Clay, that's who it was.
Q: (repeat question)
A: Well here it was recognised as a clear violation by the Soviet Union. The United States could not just stand aside and permit it to go on. First because of our standing in the world. Second because of our humane concern for the people in the great city of Berlin. And he had to move pretty quickly. But he gave a lot of thought to it, and we had a number of meetings about it. He talked with Clay and with Admiral Lahey, and they recommended that we prepare a convoy of trucks loaded with the greatest firepower that had ever been seen in the world, and that we inform the Soviets that that convoy was going to go to Berlin. Now, if the Soviets stepped aside and the convoy went through, then peace would continue. If the chose not to let the convoy through, then it meant war. It was just that simple. And the last thing in the world President Truman wanted to do was see our country get into another great war. We'd just come out of one. So a lot of attention was given to what we could do. Some advisers just didn't believe that we could supply Berlin by air. Such a thing had never been thought of before. And he said, 'it's worth a try. We must do something, and let's try this.' And so for nine months we supplied Berlin with everything it needed: food, drink, fuel, clothing, and the planes flew on a regular schedule, day after day and the Soviets couldn't do anything about it, and Berlin was getting along really pretty well.
Q: How -
A: As I say, about nine months after it started, one night the Soviets came in and removed all the barriers, so there was no blockade any longer. It's important that you have the feeling what the result was. The result was a tremendous victory for the United States. The Soviet Union had stepped up harshly and said this is what we're going to do. The United States had avoided war and Berlin had prospered under the policy that we had. It was one of the great public relation victories that we had and was very valuable to us.
Q: How did General Clay react when the President said to him, 'no, you're not gonna go in there with an armoured column?'
A: He would react the way top Generals reacted when their Commander in Chief gave them instructions. He'd just take it. You don't argue with the President, you just say, 'yes, Mr President,' and you go ahead and do it.
Q: At the same time as these successes of American policy as far as your concerned are happening, you've got this whole anti-red campaign, you've got McCarthy and Nixon. How did President Truman and J. Edgar Hoover differ in their views, for example, of the threat of internal subversion and what are your own feelings about the McCarthy/Nixon campaigns of those days?
A: The campaign put on by McCarthy and by Nixon about Communist subversion in this country was enormously exaggerated. It was done mainly for effect. The President knew that. He thought it was exactly the wrong way to go about the problem. Remember he said one time, he said, 'our problem with the Soviets is abroad, not in this country.' He said, 'they're not making any headway in this country.' And they weren't really making any headway. I remember one time McCarthy was making a speech in West Virginia and he held up his hand and said, 'I have in my hand the signed cards of 14 employees in our State Department in which they announce that they are Communists.' He never proved one. There wasn't one Communist cadre out of that 14. He lied all the way through. Truman knew that he lied. Nixon lied. They made this into a great threat, and it had a certain political value, but as you know, it never amounted to a thing. There was no uprising any place in this country. There may have been at some time to time some problem maybe with our private communications, but it was insignificant. So the President never felt that that was a danger. He had to be a little careful because the country had been whipped up to the point where it was really quite hysterical about it. So he just took time and care. As long as McCarthy was criticising Truman, a Democrat, well he continued to have a good deal of support, but after President Truman left office and President Eisenhower came in, McCarthy then took up the same battle and began to criticise Eisenhower. Said he'd promoted Generals who were Communist-inclined and was awfully mean about something. So Eisenhower, who had previously supported him, said, 'let's get this fella, he's hurting us now.' So we were - Democrats were against him from the very beginning, then when the Republicans turned against him he had nothing left at all.