Interviews:

Battle,
Lucius

Bond,
Niles

Bussey,
LT COL
Charles

Donovan,
Robert

Frazier,
Raymond

Galing,
Florence

Glenn,
John

Pyo-wook,
Han

An,
Hong

Simmons,
Edwin



     
   


INTERVIEW WITH NILES BOND-2/2/97

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INT: Fine, very good, thank you. Could I just ask you to tell us again to repeat the story about how you first heard the news of the North's invasion of the South and the immediate cycle of events that that followed.

NB: Yes. I first learned of the North Korean invasion when my wife and I returned late on the evening of the 24th of June 1950, from a dinner to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. It was one of the few times that I had been out of touch in all the time I'd been in this job . We had had a baby-sitter there and she had a long list of phone calls for me, from the State Department and a few from the Pentagon so when we got back, some time between 11 and midnight, I started returning these calls and was invited by the Assistant Secretary of State for Far East Affairs to come down to his office and I went to his office. I arrived there a little after midnight. There were probably a dozen people in his office already including the Secretary of the Army, a number of other officials from the Pentagon and officials from the State Department. At that time, what they were doing and what we continued to do for several hours was to monitor the messages coming in from the Korean Embassy from the American ambassador in Korea and those were beginning to look pretty desperate. Things were obviously were getting very bad. So then, it was later in the morning, it was decided to request the Secretary-General of the UN that he call an immediate meeting of the Security Council. A telephone call to that effect was put in at 3a.m. and the meeting was scheduled for the following day.

INT: Do you remember that night or over the next couple of days the effect of requests from Syngman Rhee in Seoul or retreating from Seoul through his ambassador in Washington? Do you remember the effect of any requests for military aid?

NB: The requests for I don't remember any requests for military aid coming from President Rhee. The requests for aid were coming from our ambassador, Ambassador Moocho who was accompanying President Rhee and the Korean Cabinet on their way south. They were fleeing from the North Korean invasion. We never knew where they were until after they'd left there and apparently the morale of President Rhee was beginning to weaken and messages from the Ambassador said that he was having a difficult time holding the government together and he said that they needed desperately some message to the effect that the United States was coming to their help militarily. That came up at one of the meetings, the 4a.m. meetings in the Pentagon, a day or so after this, and the generals were discussing how they could they said they didn't know where Ambassador Moocho was, the State Department didn't know, and they didn't know how to get a message to him and they were thinking in terms of a classified message. And at some point I made my only contribution to all these meetings. I suggested that they forget classified messages and get every radio station in Japan and Korea that was available to send out a message to the effect that US troops were on the way. That's what they did and Moocho told us a few days later that that had been the only information they'd had and that it had done wonders for President Rhee's morale.

INT: One final question, Mr Bond. From what you were saying earlier, I get the impression that your view of MacArthur in. the months, early 19 late 1950, early 1951 before his dismissal.

NB: Yes.

INT: Was that he was getting almost too big for his boots as a military commander. Would that be a fair assessment of what your view was at the time?

NB: Well, in a sense, yes. He was running a one-man operation really, and maybe that's one reason he had weak people around him. It reminded me of the old myth about the giant who surrounded himself with dwarfs to make himself look larger. It was that sort of a thing. So I don't know about 'too big for his boots'. He was you know, he was not a vain man to meet. He could be very charming. But he was the Supreme Commander and by God he was the only Supreme Commander on the ground and he was gonna have things his way. But he was never rude to his political advisers. He just didn't call the political advisers and he sent them out to do all sorts of other missions.

INT: Cut. Thank you very much indeed, thank you. Mr Bond, much of your professional life has been dominated by the events of the Cold War.

NB: Yes, that's right.

INT: Do you think, looking back on events in those years after 1945 when the Soviet Union and the United States were allies together, do you think that the Cold War was inevitable -- the Soviet Union, the United States would fall out with each other and come into this form of not military war but Cold War?

NB: I think that the Cold War might not have been inevitable if the atomic bomb had never been invented but once that happened I think it was inevitable. And that raised the stakes of course, that became a very dangerous game.

INT: Who do you think, in the end, benefited from the Cold War in the 40 years of domination of the international political scene?

NB: I suppose there were benefits and dis-benefits, for various people. I think there was a benefit inů NATO became a benefit and NATO might not have come into being if it hadn't been for the Cold War. I think it made for tighter relations between the Western European countries and the United States. It frightened a lot of people, made life miserable for a lot of people, particularly after the Atomic Age. It put fear into the, people of the world as it had never been before. So, my guess would be that we would be better off if, the atomic bomb had not been invented and the Cold War had not taken place. But, I would be sure of that if it weren't for what happened as it happened in the Soviet Union lately and to what effect to what extent that might have been effected by the Korean War, I just don't know . I do know I think that it can sense the fate of the Korean people. The fate of the Korean nation really was placed in the hands of 2 powers, 2 superpowers, the US and the USSR both of whom were at least as deeply concerned about their own post-war predominance as they were about the interests of the Korean people and I think this was a bad thing for Korea that it happened that way I think you can really number the Korean people among the victims of the Cold War in that sense.

INT: And finally, in your experience and memory what do you think was the most dangerous moment in the Cold War?

NB: Hmm. I would say Cuba might have been the most dangerous.

INT: Let's cut there. Very good, thank you.

NB: Did you discuss Cuba with Khrushchev?

INT: A little bit, yes

DISCUSSION

END OF INTERVIEW WITH NILES BOND