De Toledano,









M. Wesley




INT: Could you say it the other way round. Could you say, yes, we were scapegoats?

JS: Yes, we were scapegoats!

INT: You'll have to say it again, because of the overlap.

JS: Yes, I'd say we were scapegoats for not just the loss of China, but also for... what do I mean to say?

INT: For the at... yes.

JS: Yes.

INT: Right, OK then. Now could I ask you, what do you think the long-term effects on the State Department were of the purge of the China specialists? The immediate effects of it. What were the immediate effects of the the purge of the China experts, the China specialists? How did it affect the State Department? You said it paralysed...

JS: Well, yes. It was a blow to the State Department, the State Department morale. A lot of people in the State Department were angry and worried about what it might portend for the future. But the, in policy-wise, the Cold War had distorted the whole formation and direction of foreign policy. We had a fixation on the Cold War and anti-Communism and in the Far East, it meant that we could take no initiative or action in any way that could be interpreted by the most meticcritic on the Republican side as favouring the Communists. So everybody that was nominated for a position in the State Department had to... before nomination, had to state publicly that he wouldnever take any action that would lead to recognition or even dealing with Communist China. The State Department's hand were tied simply by paralysis over a fear of anything else that might lead to another catastrophe, political catastrophe, like the loss of China.

INT: Was there...

JS: (interrupts) It was considered a very bold action many years later, when two Foreign Service officers wrote a piece called 'Two China Policy', thinking that maybe we should deal with two Chinas, but that was a very, very bold action.

INT: Right. And can you tell me what you think, well summarise what you think the effect of that purge in '51-'52 was on the policy in relation to Vietnam, as it later became clear?

JS: Well, the effects are... How shall I put it? The principal change in foreign policy had been that the State Department was much less important. Our whole foreign policy had been militarised and it was the Pentagon and the CIA that were the primary voices in foreign policy in the Far East. So it didn't really matter too much what the State Department said. But certainly the State Department people that remained in the State Department were not going to put their necks out and say it won't work. I think, generally speaking, that they were dubious about the success of taking over the French position in Vietnam and becoming the successors of the French and even trying to help sort of our stooges when in Indo-China. But their views were not really listened to. They weren't counted. So the State Department, the government, was certainly hampered, but it was hampered largely I think by the reduction in the role of the State Department.

INT: Right, OK. Can we stop there.

JS: (Starts mid-sentence) ... public vilification in the press publications, most people believed or the public believed that American lack of support for Chiang Kai-shek. But to go back... I mean, go back to the whole question of policy. After the war ended, civil war threatened to break out in China. The Communists had built up positions in the north behind the Japanese lines, the Guomindang armies were also in the south and General Marshall was sent to China to try to save the situation. There were four policies, you might say, that were open to the US. One was to promote compromise, which is what Marshall intended to do and the stick that he held in his hand was to withhold military support for Chiang Kai-shek if he refused to sort of go into some sort of coalition government, some sort of a compromise, which might only be temporary, but still it would stop the civil war in coming. The other thing was to pull out completely. We couldn't possibly pull out, because the Cold War was already started and it would look like retreating in the face of Communism and so on and, course, Britain and most of a lot of other countries just did become completely neutral, but that had to be discarded because of the Cold War. A third policy was to try to promote what's called the third forces in China. They were little small political groups that tried to get a foothold, but that was hopeless 'cos they had no mass following and they had no guns and guns were important in a civil war situation. And the other thing to do was to go in all out and we couldn't possibly really go in and support Chiang, 'cos he would have needed an immense an amount of supplies and furthermore, it's very doubtful - and most people concluded - that it would be impossible for Chiang to win, unless we sent in the armies. But a) the American public would not think of re-mobilising at this point - this was in '49. We had to next year anyway for Korea, but not very enthusiastically. But we were not going to be able to send in huge armies and pour a lot of money in. And the second thing was that our real focus was Western Europe. Western Europe we thought was threatened, a martial plan was being devised, we were saving Western Europe and we couldn't possibly divert our forces from there to send 'em into China to save China. So, the Cold War forced us to the policy of sending a little bit of arms - we had to send over the arms as a sop to the Republicans, so they would support the martial plan and the Truman doctrine. How could you fight Communism in Europe and not fight Communism in China? So, politically a compromise is reached and the administration agreed to a modified support for China. But the result was the worst of both possible words. There was not enough to help in China, not enough to save Chiang Kai-shek, but it was too much for the Chinese Communists to be willing to accept, because we had helped Chiang that much, cost many more lives, so we permanently - not permanently - for a long time completely abolished any hope of friendly, reasonable relations with China. And this is a the effect of the Cold War on China policy. But we were blamed for, as I say, for having brought about the fall of China.

INT: And so you were made a scapegoat?

JS: I would say we were scapegoats, yes.

INT: Because people felt that they couldn't understand why China had been lost?

JS: That's right. The general people, the general assumption was that if we had sent them more arms, they would have won. But that was not a full understanding of the situation.

INT: It was a particular shock to lose China, wasn't it?

JS: Oh, very much of a shock. And the administration had tried to put the damper on pouring money down the rat hole and it was a very difficult thing for them to do, but the went along with great reluctance and sending in the relatively small amounts we sent. Why pour money down a rat hole?

INT: Right, now when you did start being accused by Senator McCarthy, can you describe something which you didn't describe earlier on in that, which was how the accusations then built up? He started accusing you of one thing, you then said that what then happened is that all sorts of accusations and vilifications were thrown at you. Can you describe what happened then?

JS: Well, when you become publicly accused, very publicly accused, in that kind of an atmosphere, heated atmosphere, all sorts of other charges are brought forward by other people. A Chinese Catholic bishop wrote an article about my having pressured Chiang Kai-shek into what he did. Ridiculous for anybody who knew China. Pressured Stillwell, I'm talking about, I'm sorry. Pressured Stillwell, the man I worked for into a...