Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
Opened December, 1977
Oral History Interview with
July 24, 1974
by Richard D. McKinzie
MCKINZIE: A significant event in your life occurred in 1940 when you were appointed to the Civil Aeronautics Board. Could you talk about how you became interested in that and then the circumstances under which you were appointed to the position?
BAKER: I had been interested in transportation, one kind or another, since I was very young. When I decided to do graduate work, I did it because I wanted to be a teacher in the field of transportation economics and management. I got my doctorate degree at Harvard in
Economics with Transportation as my special field. I had an older professor at the Harvard Business School who was interested in seeing me do this and who had hoped that I would succeed him, as I ultimately did. In '36, after about 7 years as a tutor and instructor in history, government and economics at Harvard College, I went across the river to the Business School as an Assistant Professor of Transportation. At that time, Professor Cunningham, who was the James J. Hill Professor of Transportation at the Harvard Business School was giving courses dealing with railroad transportation, highway transportation, and the problems of shippers using any form of transportation. He wanted to expand that field to include some courses in water and air transportation. There was a small amount of research money lying around
that I was given to give myself some background in the air transportation field. I developed at Harvard one of the first courses in air transportation management. I guess that was what drew me to the attention of Vice-Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board Edward Warner, who had been Professor of Aeronautical Engineering at MIT and one of the first members of the Civil Aeronautics Board when it was set up two years earlier. The circumstances around my appointment, I don't know for sure, but they were probably something like this:
There was much difference of opinion when the Board was set up as to whether it should be set up as an independent agency or whether it should be within the Department of Commerce, where there was an Assistant Secretary for Aviation, matters or something of that kind. The Board was set up as a separate entity
although it was part of a three partite entity, a Civil Aeronautics Authority. One part was called the Civil Aeronautics Board and was made up of the same people. A second part was the Civil Aeronautics Administration. A third was the Air Safety Board. This was a kind of a complicated set-up and right along in there a fellow named Louis Brownlow came through with a report for the President on Government organization. It had a strong recommendation that the Civil Aeronautics Board as well as many others, like the ICC, be put within the Executive branch of the Government. The President seemed to be sympathetic and a bill was drawn up which would accomplish this. The older agencies like the ICC quickly, politically, got themselves out of it. It was a hell of a fight as far as the CAB was concerned and it was being fought by the CAB
members, led by the Chairman, Robert Hinkley.
There was a lot in the aviation press which said that the administration was trying to capture control of the aviation industry. At some point in there, Mr. Hinkley was asked to come over to the White House and discuss the matter with the President. When he came out of the White House he was interviewed on the steps. It turned out two things had happened: (1) he was the new Assistant Secretary for Aviation and Commerce and, (2) he was in favor of inclusion in the Executive branch. The four other members of CAB rose and yelled, and a lot of Congressmen rose and yelled. There needed to be a replacement for him and I think they wanted somebody just as unpolitical as they could get. The idea of reaching for a Harvard professor fitted pretty well into calming down the heat.
A phone call came to my house and my wife answered it. Someone said, "This is the White House," she said I wasn't there. "Well," they said to her, "can you tell us what his political alignment is?"
She said, "I don't know. I think he'd like to be called independent. I know he's voted for some Democrats, but he's probably more Republican." She said, "I know he voted for some Democratic Governors. The only thing I really know about this is that he's never voted for Franklin D. Roosevelt."
In spite of that, I think because of my background, I was asked to do it. The school was tickled to death and gave me a leave of absence. I was to come back at the end of two years but the war came. The Business School had had a close relationship with the Quartermaster General's office for a long time
and I was asked to come in there and reorganize the Requirements Division in the Office of the Quartermaster General. I resigned from the Board at that time.
MCKINZIE: Is there a connection between being with the Office of Quartermaster General and going into the Department of State at the end of the war?
BAKER: No. I knew the guy, who was also a Harvard professor, who was in charge of research and development in the Office of Quartermaster General. He was in a hell of a jam because the Requirements Division of the Office of the Quartermaster General was still using "wear-out rates" of World War I to figure out what we'd need in Africa or Iceland. He wanted help there; it seemed a good thing to do and I did it. When that was set up, I shifted to the War Department general staff
to deal with aviation production scheduling problems, which was a little more in my line. I think the reason they wanted me at the State Department was because, supposedly, I did know something about aviation. I'd been on the CAB, had an academic interest in it and some history. They needed somebody, specifically, to worry about these negotiations with the British.
MCKINZIE: At the time, did you have a sense that this was a chance to be in on something important from the very beginning?
BAKER: It was interesting and, I felt, very important. I'd been interested in this industry.
'28, but there was a whole new method of subsidizing, a whole new method of promoting. I was very interested in it. It was going to be an enriching area, as far as going back to Harvard in my own field. By then I'd been asked to come back and succeed Professor Cunningham, who would have retired four years earlier but stayed on until I came back.
MCKINZIE: Did you, at the time you took the position as Director of the Office of Transport and Communication Policy, know that you'd be involved in making the bilateral agreements?
BAKER: Yes. I came on in the middle of August and we were actually on location in Bermuda in the telecommunications negotiations in November. Those were all scheduled. I don't know that the Bermuda aviation conference was
scheduled but it was known we were going to have one and needed to get it scheduled. That was going to be the job.
The day I came in, I tried to find Charlie Taft whom I was to succeed; he wasn't in his office. He was leaving that day and I was coming in. He was trying to negotiate a problem dealing with Mexico between Braniff and Pan American. Juan Terry Trippe would not sit down in the same room with Mr. Braniff and they were in different rooms with Charlie running back and forth.
I knew Mr. Trippe just through my CAB relationship with him. I knew him much better later in life and very pleasantly. He was on the visiting committee at the Harvard Business School when I was Dean. He was a very able man, no question about it. He was single-sighted in this stuff, but when
you think what he accomplished in taking that little island-jumping line in the Caribbean and making it the leading overseas carrier in the world, it's a tremendous accomplishment.
MCKINZIE: How much briefing did you get when you took the job?
BAKER: My briefing came from my subordinates; practically none came from Charlie Taft. He'd been in a short time and I don't think he felt very happy about it or comfortable in the job. He was going on to something he liked much better that I don't remember. I got my briefings from the head of the three divisions under me. They all knew their stuff cold and then we started working with the inevitable committees getting things coordinated.
MCKINZIE: It must have been fairly easy for you
since you already had the contacts with the CAB.
BAKER: Yes, I did. I'd been in Washington six years and I never was out of Washington during the war. During the last two years of the war, there was something called the Air Coordinating Committee that had, about every week or two weeks, high level representatives from State, CAB, CAA, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and so forth. I was a representative from a special projects office of the Air Force, representing the Assistant Secretary for Air. So really, I did know all these people, and I did have more of a head start.
MCKINZIE: Did you have the feeling that people in the State Department saw these transportation agreements as a part of a larger foreign policy?
BAKER: Yes, I was not aware very much of what that policy was, but I knew that this had to fit into a broader policy. I think they were trying to do just that. It was very hard for aviation people to be denied rights that they felt were in the interest of American Civil Aviation. Sometimes it was more important to us to get say some oil rights than it was to get the Civil Aviation rights. I'm making that as a generalization, but we kept coming up against those things. The industry felt it was my job to get in there and fight for Civil Aviation. As a State Department man, I didn't feel that was my job. My job was to try to carry out whatever the Government policy was in the aviation field, that policy having been worked out within a broader framework. Actually, what was desirable from
the viewpoint of United States Civil Aviation was really the job of the CAB to figure out, not the State Department. My job was also trying to get the CAB not to want too much, because the CAB had no knowledge at all about what was necessary as far as shipping rights, telecommunication rights, oil development rights or any of these other things.
MCKINZIE: Did you do those things in a formal way -- by sending out memorandums?
BAKER: No, but there were under Will Clayton and Willard Thorp, various other divisions. Thorp had his own coordinating ideas. Any policy that was coming in from agencies like the CAB, we would deal with. Then we would send our solution to the Assistant Secretary for approval. He would look at it on a broader level, and maybe have some troubles
with it. As the process goes on, you get to working with the other directors of other divisions, but you try to work it out first.
MCKINZIE: Did knowing people at CAB make that whole process a little easier?
BAKER: Yes, it did, including this other work, with the air coordinating committee that had all kinds of Government departments interested.
MCKINZIE: What was the "state" of international agreements, or lack thereof, which existed from the time you took over? What preparations were made for the Bermuda conference?
BAKER: When I came in, the Chicago conference on Civil Aviation between the British and the Americans had been over about six months. I didn't know the details. I did know that Adolf Berle led our delegation there.
There had been bad feelings during it and at the end of it, and there had been very rigid positions taken. I also was told as soon as I got in that it was felt that our policy needed a closer look. There were differences of opinion between the Chairman of the CAB and the majority of the CAB as to what policy should be. The CAB, I think, felt that they had not had a proper amount of say. I knew that this was now going to be a part of my job: to set up the mechanism for a re-look at the policy prior to a meeting with the British. We needed to get these rights set, instead of operating on the wartime agreed routes, and to work out a viable policy that we might be able to get agreement with the British on and which was in our own interest. This was the first and major job I thought I would have. Telecommunications was somewhat comparable although there had not been any
prior conference first. It became imminent as soon as I got in and saw what was happening.
MCKINZIE: When you began to have meetings and make preparations for conferences did you have to take up such issues as frequency of flight, capacity, etc?
BAKER: Yes. Frequency and capacity were the two short words for it. Frequency meant how many flights a day, a week, a month, a year, the British could have into the United States and how many we could have to them. We didn't want any restrictions on that question. Once that had been decided, we negotiated who was going to operate where. The British were going to operate into New York and Boston and Baltimore, let's say, and we were going to operate into London, Manchester, and Prestwick. Then, we didn't want any control of the number
of American companies, American flights, or American seats (you can control the capacity through flights or a given type of airplane or through just so many seats), and we never did give way on that.
The British wanted us to agree that there would be so many seats allotted per week. We would have so many; they would have so many. I guess they didn't care so much whether we did that with two companies or one company or three companies, as long as there was the limited number of seats. The idea, of course, was that this assured profitable operation, and there's no competition in it. There's some competition in which line you're on, insofar as how the soup is served, but they couldn't get killed in that kind of a setup. They felt that competitively we would kill them, which means
if they have a government controlled and financed company that they would just be financially beaten down. The government would go on putting money into it and they didn't want to have to put that much money into it.
MCKINZIE: Did you talk about monopolistic landing rights where Great Britain, for example, would provide the overseas air service to India -- no other airlines could come in there, and Pan American could only serve the Caribbean, etc.
BAKER: We were saying, "We'll give you the right between New York and London; you give us the right between London and New York." But there was always the possibility that we could have given them the right to serve Boston-London and we take the right to serve Washington-London. That's one kind of trade. Instead of having
both of us serve both, but with a limited number of seats, there were different ways you could do it. I think if you studied the whole pattern there would be a little of that. The trading of routes was one of the basic things you did. I'm sure that kind of thing did take place.
MCKINZIE: Some people have suggested that the British desired to keep the United States out of many areas of the British Empire.
BAKER: There was a difference between the first conference, which was on telecommunications with the British Empire, and the Bermuda conference which was Britain and the United States. In the latter there wasn't the same kind of trading physical facilities as there was in the former. On the other hand, when we got into the five freedoms,
there was a lot of trading of rights. Some rights we couldn't get. We never did get the right to operate between London and Paris; we don't have it now. Although, we have London-Frankfurt, we can't go London-Paris. This showed up in the route trading fairly early. We've never been able to get the right to go from Frankfurt to Zurich, I think which TWA wanted at some point, or the right to go from Zurich to Rome. There were certain places the airlines wanted very much, but the British thought, "We would get killed in there. We've got a route now; we don't want anybody else in there."
Our great club that we always had to get things we wanted (we never could get everything we wanted), was control of New York; the right to come to New York. Everybody wants to go to New York, and as long as you have the power to keep them out of New
York, you have the power to trade to get a great deal for it.
MCKINZIE: There are people who suggested that the United States saw these air agreements as an economic-political opening, a foot in the door so to speak. The British attempted to keep them closed down, as a way of keeping the United States out of areas in which they were predominant.
BAKER: I would guess that the Foreign Office as opposed to the Aviation office, thought that and urged it. I would have taken for granted that they were taking that attitude, at the time.
MCKINZIE: By 1946 the United States had been thrown into the arms of Great Britain because of the difficulties to the Soviet Union. The British had been thrown into the arms
of the United States by virtue of the fact that they needed money. In fact Britain had a loan application pending. By the time the Bermuda Conference met, someone said, the circumstances were appropriate to make the British become conciliatory -- in order to get their money.
BAKER: I don't know how someone knows that, but I guess he was right. I remember that the loan was very much in the back of everybody's mind. We were told, I think, that we couldn't trade on it, but we took for granted that it was helping acquisition. That just comes out of the air; it was 30 years ago and I could be wrong. We were told that we should not have it play any part in our trading posture or anything else. I think we were glad that the situation was that way, but the State Department did not want to be charged with
picking up every damn little thing they could in every area while the British were seeking a loan.
MCKINZIE: Did your experience in the Air Force influence you in any way in your postwar duties?
BAKER: I was technically in the Air Force, but for the first year and a half I was in the Army, I was in the Quartermaster Corps. Then I was in the office of the Chief of Staff, which is also Army. They took some of the people in the War Department General Staff Corps and set up something called the "Special Staff Corps." Somebody decided that in the Special Staff Corps they ought to assign everybody to the division for which they were working. I was working in the area of aircraft procurement, so for the last six months of the war, I was a special staff officer
with General Staff Corps insignia technically assigned to the Air Force. I was mustered out of the Air Force, but I don't see how that would have affected me at all. I was simply a Harvard Business School transportation professor on leave who had had aircraft and airline regulatory experience in the Government.
MCKINZIE: Do you recall your own criteria in selecting the delegation to go to the Bermuda Conference?
BAKER: The whole CAB went. Welch Pogue was the Chairman, Oswald Ryan was Vice-Chairman and Harllee Branch who was an ex-Chairman.
There were also the State Department specialists. There was a man from the Navy, Admiral Forrest Sherman, and a man from the
Air Force, General Laurence Kuter. We may have had an Army man but he was not playing any particular role in it. The Navy was there not only for aviation. A whole set of other negotiations were going on throughout this conference and accounted for the last week of our staying down there. They were active negotiations on the lend-lease bases. There were airports at all of those and we negotiated who was to keep what and so forth. Altogether there was the CAB staff, as well as the three members of the State Department staff, the Army and Navy, and there were advisers from the airlines. I think that was it.
MCKINZIE: Was it your idea to bring advisers from the airlines?
BAKER: It wasn't a personal idea of mine, I think it was just found that it had always been done. Normally, the State Department people and the CAB people don't know enough. The advisers are basically there as resource people. They're supposed to be kept in line and they can tend to get out of line just like anybody else. If they do, you feel perfectly free to call up the president of the company and tell him to take them home, they're not welcome. Really, they can't do much as far as negotiating. They can lobby a little within the American delegation, but any attempt on their part to start direct negotiating would get them yanked right out of there.
MCKINZIE: How often did you meet with them
before you actually went to Bermuda to begin negotiations?
BAKER: I don't suppose we had more than three or four meetings in Washington as policy was getting set. I don't feel they really had anything to do with policy making. We knew that the main company, Pan American, was against our policy. When it gets down to abilities of an airline to serve a particular place, what it means revenue-wise, potential passenger-wise, and how easily it can be served, you have to get that from the company. That's very different from saying, "What do you think our policy ought to be on limitation of seats?" Pan American would have said, "Limit them," and American would have said, "Don't limit them." That's
a different ballgame.
In the war you have industry people all over the Government. In 1946 the Government was being run by ex-industry people about to go back, and it was hard to tell the straight career man from the non-career man. A lot of the policy, I suppose, had been made in the year before by people who were going back.
MCKINZIE: As you prepared to go to Bermuda, did you have discussions with Mr. Trippe, head of the major U.S. carrier?
BAKER: There would have been a representative of his among these resource people.
There would have been, certainly, some discussions with Trippe. There would have to be because Trippe doesn't stay away. He would come around and he would have gone and
seen Mr. Byrnes and Mr. Thorp. He thought very highly of his own level. He liked to go high, but he would send his troops in to see everybody. Their views would have been very well-known; God, it was such old stuff. The Government had been moving away from any real thought about a single chosen instrument and had been taking strong positions against limitations of frequency or capacity for a long time.
MCKINZIE: Is there anything to support the limitation of frequency and seats, other than profitability?
BAKER: Well, I suppose. If you're a country as the French and the British were, just about broke at the end of the war, you only have so much money to spend. You have to allot
that money out among all kinds of possible ways of using it, in the country's best interests. The British must have been thinking, "We would do better to allot our resources to other things than aviation, even on a basis of limitations."
Now you can say, that's all a part of profitability, but it was really a question of supporting the aviation industry or supporting, for example, their marine industry. They might favor strong limitation in aviation and putting their resources in building back their marine, rather than putting resources into aviation even if it was profitable. I think actually the main thing interesting them was holding things back; not letting us go all out. I think that was a wise
position for them to take. It was to limit our head start.
MCKINZIE: Do you recall having discussed the importance of these negotiations with political officers in the State Department, other than the ones who were directly assigned?
BAKER: Yes. The policy had to be coordinated with the European desk; it all had to be. I was just thinking, John Hickerson was in Bermuda at least part of the time; that was standard. In a later case it was necessary to coordinate things with a dynamic hotshot who was always trying to get in the press; who was surrounded by public relations people all the time. That was difficult because he had his own purposes, I thought,
as well as the State Department's; he was in for his own image. That can certainly screw up Government policy.
All the things that we did in other countries had to be worked out with the political officers, or it never could get an okay on policy. You had these areas like transport and communications, which were somewhat resented by the political desks. From the viewpoint of the political officers they came in and screwed up everything. Having Civil Air attaches in all the major Embassies raised some difficulty. The number two or number three man in an Embassy considered he was able to handle anything. He would get his instructions from Washington and then he'd handle it. Having a man out there
representing the Civil Aviation interests was a bother to him but coordination back in Washington, just had to be. I took for granted it was a good thing.
MCKINZIE: Did you feel in these coordinations that you had clients, mainly within the air industry?
BAKER: They would have liked to have that feeling and they would say that you ought to consider them; they wouldn't say as a client. This would come up in these questions of getting rights for an airline to land somewhere when the overall interests of the United States was in getting something else from that country. We couldn't get them both, and we had to choose. I never felt that the Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs should have any more say in anything than the Assistant Secretary for Political
Affairs. The Under Secretaries had to listen to them both and then made up their minds. I think there were a lot of people in aviation that know that; understand it with no problem at all. There were some others that were eager beavers and they were absolutely outraged if they didn't have an advocate. I never, in the State Department, have run into anybody that thought that that branch of the Government should be an advocacy division. There are so many different angles; the CAB, the BCC, and industry all have their nickels worth of input. They almost always differ.
My experience on the CAB led me to believe that the usual concept of "the public interest" is a very naive one: You listen to six lawyers explain that a certain course of action is absolutely in the public interest. It happened to coincide with the interest of
their clients but you're supposed to believe that's pure coincidence. It's in the public interest. Then five men sit there and decide what's in "the public interest," but it really depends on what their father and mother were like, what high school they went to, and what teachers they had. They had it all different. I concluded that the public interest is a mosaic of private interests, that's all. If you're in one of these judgings seats you try to conclude, on the basis of your own standards, what you think is in the public interest. Their arguments may have swayed you one way or the other because it happens to have appealed to your own standards. You have different people in the industry with different ideas of what's best. You have different Government agencies all with their ideas of what's best. Then you have to add the extent to which these things are warped by the personal advantages
or desires of the person who's expressing the opinion.
MCKINZIE: Could you talk a little bit about that actual process of negotiation in Bermuda?
BAKER: As I remember it, we all sat down and the first day or two was presenting the positions. That's about all it is, trying to understand what the other person's position was, and that takes quite a bit of back and forth talking. Some misunderstanding usually shows up immediately, on one side of the table, of what somebody on the other side of the table is trying to say. Then the areas of disagreement are listed and small working committees are normally set up to see if they can't limit the areas of disagreement. Everybody's there in the hope that we can get together. After a while, a week or so, you
have really got it down so there are only maybe two or three major issues. You've worked out what seems to be a reasonable determination of the other issues, subject, of course, to clearance back home. We were not helped by the fact that all our communications had to be by a teletype which broke down or got things wrong a great deal of the time. It was a radio teletype and endlessly broke down; theirs broke down too.
When you finally get it down to about two or three major issues, you struggle with them. You have these little committees and then the reports from these committees, either at a big meeting all morning or separately in the afternoon.
Toward the end, after 2-1/2 weeks about, I thought I saw a way of compromising things; something that they could buy and something that we could buy. I went around to Sir
Henry Self's little cottage a half hour before the meeting, sat down with him and made this proposal. I guess it was breakfast time and he said to me, "No, I just don't see any chance of that at all," so I dropped it and we went to breakfast.
About 9:30 when the main meeting started, Sir William Hildred stopped me in the corridor and said, "Self is crazy, we can get together on that." We went on from there and sewed it up in about a day and a half. Then we had to wait around for the British to get their clearances on these bases for another week. That's the way it happened. It's often the way it happens. Toward the end you have the people who want to get together so badly and you have some people who really don't want to, who have gotten miffed about something or focused on
one or two little things which are relatively unimportant but seem to them terribly important. I don't remember what it was that I thought we could give way on, except I knew it was something that we had the freedom to give way on and was tasty to them. That, of course, you guard with the greatest of care throughout the conference; what you've got tucked away in the icebox that you know you can give away and they'll like. Toward the end they've got some things that they know we care like hell about and they don't care really too much about.
MCKINZIE: One thing, that apparently the British wanted most, that you were willing to give was the business of allowing rates to be determined by the IATA.
BAKER: They just wanted freedom of rates, no control
of rates, and we took a strong position; we had to have complete control of rates. That was our ace in the hole to give them. At the end what we worked out was doing it through IATA. I can't remember what it was that we gave them, and we really won it pretty much on the rates because we did have control, around about through IATA. The CAB can really slam those rates down, because they have to okay all IATA agreements on rates. They can’t regulate the rates but they can declare a rate no good. For example, Pan American brings a rate to the CAB with the other lines for approval and the CAB says it won't approve it. They can't say the rate should be lower, how much lower or anything else. That was the point that my whole thing was done around, but there was also, I'm sure, something within the broad fifth freedom area that could be changed and things that involved compromises by us.
Welch Pogue would be a good source for this. He's a great individual and he was up to his neck in this from the beginning, because the Board had to okay this too, or the State Department wouldn't have done it. He was intensely active all through this. He may see it from some slightly different views. He, Stokeley Morgan and I, spent a part of everyday with three top guys from Britain, and then we were the central executive committee within our own group. He may remember better than I do what it was that formed this little final suggestion that drew it together, because he was particularly knowledgeable in the fifth freedom area. Whatever it was I suggested, the three of us worked out beforehand.
MCKINZIE: A fellow named Henry Smith wrote a popular book, Airways Abroad. He says about
the Bermuda Agreement signed on February 11, 1946:
BAKER: I'd agree with everything but the last of it. The meeting was terrifically significant in the way that he pushes in the background. I couldn't agree with him more on what he says about the relationships, though I think that the technical agreement was terrifically significant. I don't think you have to choose as to which was more; the fact is that everybody left there, with the exception of the Pan Am people, really very happy.
MCKINZIE: Is it a fair question to ask you what you said to the Pan Am people? Was it clear that you were going to take a position that was
very much different from theirs?
BAKER: They would have known by the time we went that we were going to take a strong position, I would think. We certainly couldn't afford to have them know anything that we couldn't afford to have the British know. You couldn't trust them. Under that particular management at that time they would have, I think, used it right away to get the British on their side. When we went, I would guess that it was known that we were, going to be firm on these three things: capacity, frequency, and rate control. The British knew that when we went because there'd been discussion with the British beforehand that Stokeley Morgan had had over in London. We knew roughly what their position would be and roughly what ours would be and I don't think there was any secrecy about that.
What we would give way on or what we wouldn't was something that the airlines wouldn't have known; we couldn't afford to have them know it. Pan American had a Mr. Bixby there; he was asked to come as a resource person and that's exactly what he was. He was excellent. There was some Pan Am guy, I can't remember his name, who was a tie-in to their public relations outfit. He did a lot of rushing around, always trying to get inside information to send back. That's what the home office expected from him. I would say most of his time was taken not in trying to convince anybody, but trying to get inside information. Bixby, I think, just played his role. He was there and cooperative. We knew before we went that Pan American was thoroughly opposed to this.
MCKINZIE: Would you call this agreement in Bermuda
a kind of model agreement then that was used in negotiating with other nations?
BAKER: Oh, yes. We went right over to France with it right afterwards and this was our model. Other nations followed it in varying degrees; some of them took it almost exactly. I would guess that most of the agreements that were signed over the next two years or three years were one of three kinds: (1) they were Bermuda type agreements in the strictest sense, (2) they were Bermuda type agreements with variations and more specific limitations, and (3) they were straight agreements of the kind the British originally wanted, with straight limitation on everything and pooling. For example, if you want to go from Paris to Frankfurt, you can go on any of three lines. You buy your ticket, but you don't have any idea necessarily of
which line it will be on. The revenues are pooled, the schedules are worked out together and so forth.
MCKINZIE: You had reason to feel when you completed the Bermuda Agreement that the most difficult problem of international civil aviation had passed?
BAKER: This was a great breakthrough; this is what people were hoping for and was a big success. We went back and it was startling to get up on the Hill in Brewster's committee and find out we were a bunch of bums. He got slapped down.
MCKINZIE: One comment now is that Senator Brewster was Trippe’s special advocate.
BAKER: He seemed to be for Mr. Trippe's viewpoint with an amazing consistency. He sort of led the fight on the Hill for the chosen instrument
type of approach to these problems. He was a Democrat and, subsequently he couldn't get re-elected. The press claimed that his relationship to Pan-Am was part of the problem.
MCKINZIE: When this concluded in Bermuda, you came back and had to go before the committee. Did you see that as the end of what you wanted to do in Government at the time?
BAKER: No. Incidentally, I don't think we had to get it ratified. I think we went to the committee because they demanded information. It was an executive agreement and therefore didn't have to be ratified.
I enjoyed the job in the State Department very much, indeed, and I had a chance to stay on and was going to be made Assistant Secretary. But I had four children and I had to get them all brought up and educated. I would have loved that life, my wife would
have loved it, and the children would have liked Washington, I'm sure. But a life at the Business School where I would be teaching in the field I was interested in combined an interesting life with more income. Since I had a choice, I believed I'd better take that one.
MCKINZIE: You were called back a number of times for various other Government appointments. You served with the United Nations Transport and Communications Commission for ten years.
BAKER: Yes, it was set up during my time in the State Department. It was the U.N. Temporary Transport and Communications Commission and its main job was to decide if there should be a permanent one. The Nordic countries didn't want it, but we, the British, and the French did; and a "permanent" commission was set up and continued for nine more years. The
last three years I argued that it be abolished and it finally was. It had served its purpose; it got together a lot of other organizations. The great need was to see that they set up an international aviation commission, a telecommunications commission and a maritime one. It took a long time to get the maritime one set up. There was the need to see that there was a viable unit in SEATO and in the African area and so forth; to find out what the problems were and whether you really needed some organization somewhere. Once all that was done there wasn't any need for the major organization. If you just had stuff piled up to it, it would just slow everything down and there wasn't any real need for it. In about six to seven years, I thought the job was done. Somebody wisely said that an organization gets a life of its own. It sure does, it doesn't like to die. This one died a little hard when
MCKINZIE: You were also appointed Vice-Chairman to the President's Air Policy Committee.
BAKER: That was the so-called "Finletter Commission." That was an intensely interesting job. It was to take a look at our military aviation posture and at our civil aviation policies. The military question was so vital at that time, in '47, that although there were staff at work on civil aviation, I didn't have much time for it and neither did any of the other commissioners. It was a general review with some suggestions, I can't remember what. All our energies went into the problem of what to do in the situation of the Russians getting modern means of delivery; such as jet propelled missiles. Then, they could wipe us out with conventional bombs. If they had atomic bombs
with conventional means of delivery they could also wipe us out. When they got both we would have to be ready for them. We estimated that this was going to happen about '53. Actually, they got it about '51, I think. They got the atomic warhead in '49, but they didn't get the inter-continental missile until a little later. All our energies went into figuring what the Government policy on that should be. We couldn't find any answer other than "you do it to us, you'll die." There didn't seem to be any other. We had to get an honest capability; there's no use saying it if it isn't so. If they did attack us we could rain destruction down on them within a matter of instants and they had to know that we could and would do it. That was the only way you could preserve the peace: if you had it and they didn't know it, it didn't do any good; if you said you had it
and didn't have it, it didn't do any good. Either way they could take us anytime they wanted. That was then immediately taken by some people in the Bureau of the Budget, who sold my good friend Jim Webb on it, that this whole thing had been nothing but a promotion of the aircraft manufacturers. It did have its roots to some extent in the meeting of the aircraft manufacturers and Government people in Williamsburg a year or so earlier, when they'd urged some study be made and getting some outside people to come in to do it. The Government bought that. The members were Thomas K. Finletter, who was an able New York lawyer with some Government experience, not much; John McCone, who was president of one of the large construction companies in the West; the president of Dunn and Bradstreet, Arthur Whiteside; and Palmer Hoyt, president of the Denver Post. There was
no problem in getting these people to agree; they faced an absolutely stark reality. John McCone -- multi-millionaire who had been building ships out on the West Coast in the war -- had come back from a bombing survey in Europe. Henry Ford was supposed to be the fifth member. He had an advisor in Washington who strongly advised him to resign immediately, because there was going to be a fight between a congressional committee set up for the same purpose as the Senate committee and since this would be a political business, it wouldn't mean anything anyway; he resigned. John McCone had accepted a staff job in charge of the military problem. This is unusual for a guy of this stature really; he was a hell of a hotshot and there was no question he was the best guy for it. We all nominated him to take Henry Ford's place on the commission and he took it. He was a tremendous
help. He went on to be Under Secretary of the Air Force, head of CIA, and later went back to private work. He's had a great public service record.
I was on leave for the Finletter job for five months. Later John McCone was asked to set up the organization for the new Department of Defense. I helped him do that. He was then asked by Vannevar Bush to help on some problems in the Research and Development Board of the military. He couldn't do it and Bush asked me to do it. That was to reorganize the aviation research and development committee of the Board. I went down there two days a week to do it for a year or so.
MCKINZIE: This was consistent with the work you had just finished?
BAKER: Yes it was, and the work I'd done in the last year and a half of the war when I was
working out what the production schedules would be in light of the problem of changing from a two-front to a one-front war. You really want to reduce production tremendously and yet not reduce it in a way that would compromise your remaining one-front effort.
MCKINZIE: Mr. Baker, thank you very much.
Baker, George P.:
biographical information, 1-3
Civil Aeronautics Board, appointed to, 3-6
conferences, view on the results of, 39-40
Defense, Department of, assists in the organization of, 55
General Staff Corps, special staff officer with, 24-25
President's Air Policy Commission: 35-37
Quartermaster General, Officer of the, reorganizes Requirements Division of, 7
Research and Development Board of the National Military Establishment, works with problems on, 55
Special Staff Corps, assigned to, 24
State Department: 9
United Nations Transport and Communications Commission, work in the, 49-51
War Department, general staff, work on aviation productions scheduling problems, 7-8
Bermuda Aviation Conference, 9-10, 20, 23, 25-27, 32, 37-42
significance of, 43 , 46-47
United States delegation, airlines officials as advisers to, 26-29
United States delegation, selection of, 25-26
Braniff Airlines, 10
Brewster, Owen, 47-48
Brownlow, Louis, 4
Budget, Bureau of the, 53
Bush, Vannevar, 55
Byrnes, James F., 30 14
Defense, Department of, 55
Bermuda Conference: 15-16
International Aviation and Transportation Association, involvement in debate on control of airline rates at, 40-41
loan to, 1946, 23, 24
International Aviation and Transportation Association, 40-41
Kuter, General Laurence, 26
President's Air Policy Commission:
Union of Soviet Socialists Republic, United States policy toward, as seen by the, 51-53
transportation, viewed as a part of our foreign policy by, 12-13
telecommunications conference with Great Britain, 20