Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the Butterworth oral history interview.
Opened May, 1983
Oral History Interview with
July 6, 1971
by Richard D. McKinzie and Theodore A. Wilson
WILSON: Perhaps we might begin in a straightforward way by asking how you came to receive the appointment as counselor in the Embassy in Madrid, and what you might remember about your experience in Spain.
BUTTERWORTH: Well, when 1 returned from the Embassy in London, after the Battle of Britain, in May of 1941, I was lent by the Department of State to Mr. [Jesse H.] Jones, who was Secretary of Commerce and head of the RFC.
After we got into the war I was asked to go to Spain to be in charge of our economic warfare. There was organized a corporation
called United States Commercial Company, which was the counterpart of the British corporation, both Government owned, called the United Kingdom Commercial Corporation. Both corporations were to be used to engage in the supply and preclusive or pre-emptive buying of strategic materials. And at the time we entered the war the British were still buying for supply reasons; but they did not control enough of the strategic materials which were surplus to their own needs, so they did not have very much leverage with the Spaniards and the Portuguese in the terms of pre-emptive or preclusive buying. And so I became First Secretary in the Embassy in Madrid and in the Legation in Lisbon as it was then, and the Director General for the Iberian Peninsula of the United States Commercial Corporation. I acted in this capacity until the pattern of our economic warfare had been established. When the bombing by the American and British Air Forces of the lines of communication through
France and into Germany had become very intense, very little moved from the Iberian Peninsula to Germany or German-occupied territory. Then Willard Beaulac, who was the number two in Madrid at that time, was assigned to be the .Ambassador in one of the South American countries.
WILSON: Colombia or Venezuela, I think?
BUTTERWORTH: I thought Paraguay, if I remember it right. Maybe Uruguay. But at any rate I replaced Beaulac and became the number two in Spain some little time before the invasion. I was on the spot and I had been operating there, and I suppose Washington in its infinite wisdom thought that would be the easiest thing to do.
WILSON: What was the attitude of Washington towards the United States position in Spain during the war? How would you sum that up? There was some confusion about it, it seems to us.
BUTTERWORTH: Well, I don't think there was any confusion at the operative top level, with the possible exception of Harold Ickes. But there were quite a few people whose actions were such that they laid themselves open to the accusation that they preferred to fight the Spanish Civil War all over again rather than World War II. And this, of course, at varying times posed some difficulty. I know when I was recruiting people before I went to Spain and Portugal in June of 1942, one of the people that I proposed to hire was a man who had good relations with General [Francisco] Franco during the Civil War, and had helped sell him oil on credit. Not only the New Republic and the Nation had got hold of this...and wrote acid articles about how he engaged in promoting Fascism -- but even the FBI was reluctant to clear him. So there was this hangover from the Spanish Civil War. It made it more difficult at times -- but
it did not change our purpose nor our pursuing the policy that we intended to and did pursue.
MCKINZIE: When you were doing that kind of work did you have any kind of awareness of how the American people were reacting to that kind of thing? I have the impression that the American public didn't quite understand preclusive buying and the business of economic warfare, but they pretty much thought it was a matter of battlefields and fighting.
BUTTERWORTH: I suppose that's true. But, you know, in the wartime atmosphere the idea that public opinion was going to understand every operation you undertake, and especially a lot of the technical operations, is not one that preoccupies you very much at that time. If you have the money, and you have the backing of your superiors, and you have the policy laid out firm and clear, then you go ahead and do it. You don't expect rousing cheers, and if there are
hisses, which very seldom there are, you don't pay much attention.
WILSON: Was it the assumption that the operations of U.S. Commercial Company were solely for the duration of the war, and that this sort of operation would cease with peacetime? Was that your assumption and also the assumption of the Spanish Government?
BUTTERWORTH: The British counterpart, a reflection of which the USCC was, was organized long before the war. .And, as I recall it, perhaps began life helping to guarantee Government transactions from Russia and certain other countries where the credit problem was difficult and so on. It was termed as a suitable existing instrument to engage in supply as well as pre-emptive buying, because the British were important importers of certain necessary things such as minerals: mercury from Spain, wolfram from Portugal and to a lesser extent Spain, and so
on. Not to mention sardines, cloth, oranges, and all sorts of things, insofar as they had ships in which to carry them. But we organized the USCG as a purely ad hoc wartime matter under the aegis of the RFC, financed by them, and directed later on by the Board of Economic Warfare, when it was organized under Wallace and Milo Perkins, and with State Department participation in the form of Dean Acheson.
WILSON: There were some suggestions late in the war that the USCC be given a new role in the immediate postwar period. That one way of providing dollars for the nations in Europe was to expand the operation of the USCC, and have it acquire and stockpile strategic items, and also, thus, provide dollars to European countries. Were you involved at all in that?
BUTTERWORTH: No. After I became the number two in the Embassy in Madrid I ceased my connection with USCC and with the economic warfare,
and then went back into the mainstream of the diplomatic service.
MCKINZIE: This may not be a question you want to answer, but how did you feel about the neutrality of the Spanish Government at that time? Did you think they really were neutral and that they would sell to whomever came up with the money to buy or...?
BUTTERWORTH: No. It can't be put in quite those simple terms. When I arrived in Spain -- I arrived in Portugal in June '42 -- and I came to Spain just after the 4th of July, which I remember I attended the celebration of in Lisbon. At that time the Spanish were convinced that the Germans were going to win. [Ramon] Serrano Suñer, Franco's brother-in-law, had been much impressed by the German Foreign Minister. When you went into any ministry you were given the Falangist salute, and your facilities were very much restricted.
I had engaged a sitting room, bath and bedroom in the Ritz Hotel from Lisbon, and I arrived at the Ritz Hotel on something like the 5th, 6th or the 7th of July, just before luncheon. They said they had no reservations for me. I was carrying the package which we proposed to present to the representatives of the Spanish Government, as to what we would be prepared to give them in the way of supplies in return for the right to buy in Spain competitively with the Germans the things that we wanted, but nothing that the Spanish economy needed. We were not going to create any further shortages in Spain. There were already various shortages. We were buying surplus to domestic needs. Well, the man at the desk told me that there was no reservation. He acknowledged that I had sent a telegram, and that I had said that if there was any difficulty would he let me know and he hadn't done that. So, I told him that I was there on official business
representing the United States Government, I was accompanied by an American Embassy official, and I would like him, the desk clerk, to call up the Foreign Ministry and notify them that I was here, that he had told me that I could not have a suite in the Ritz Hotel, and to tell them that if there was no suite available I had asked him to make a reservation on the afternoon plane back to Lisbon, which left about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. I said, "I don't much care, I'll go out to lunch, come back after lunch, and I'll either pick up my ticket or have the suite." When I came back, I had the suite. But this is symptomatic of the way you had to operate -- not by threatening anybody, but by placing the alternatives clearly before them -- because we were the low man on the totem pole at the time. This was before Alamein had taken place and before Stalingrad. The expectation was that Germany and Italy were going to triumph. We'd lost the Far East and
were losing more, rapidly, every day.
In presenting the package that I was authorized to present, of so much cotton, so much copper sulfate (which was needed for their wines), so many tankers to be loaded with oil at Aruba at specified intervals, and so on, we clearly indicated that this was a bargain. In the course of the presentation -- at that time I didn't speak Spanish fluently, but I knew a certain amount of it, and, of course, I knew French and some Latin -- they asked me if I wanted an interpreter and I said, "Yes." He was not an ordinary interpreter but a member of the Spanish Foreign Office, and he sat at the end of the table in the Foreign Ministry, which was the old prison of the nobles; and around this beautiful oval room were cases of costumes of eras gone by.
I was making it clear that we were not asking for anything that the Spanish people needed; we were only asking to buy what was
surplus to their needs and in return we were making available to Spain material which was precious to us, which was not entirely surplus to our needs. We were making a sacrifice in making our goods available to them.
I went on to say, "But as we begin to win the war, our supply situation will improve." And the translator did not translate "as we begin to win the war;" he omitted it. I think he was frightened to say it before Serrano Suñer and other people who were present. And, so, I caught this.
And I said, "I haven't made myself clear. I'm very sorry, but now I will repeat what I have to say in shorter phrases." I repeated it and then I came to the point, and I said, "As we begin to win the war," you could see his face twitch but he translated it, "As we begin to win the war," and then I went on from there. But this was the kind of atmosphere. And when it was over they too were divided. Senor Huerte,
who was the head of the Foreign Exchange Agency, came up to me. He was an old man with a wizened face; he looked like a Goya painting. He shook hands with me and he put his hands around me and he said, "Hombre." Well, I knew I had a friend from then on, and he proved an extremely cooperative person in the things we had to do in the future, because he thought we were going to win.
WILSON: One part of your operation in order to obtain these kind of agreements would logically have been to feed them information demonstrating that the Allies were winning, or to...
BUTTERWORTH: Well, that was done but not by my operation. That was done, so to speak, by the Embassy as a whole, but with the main instrument the information service headed by Elmer Davis at that time. And, of course, we went to great efforts in putting out bulletins disseminating information and doing all sorts of things to
convince them that this was inevitable. And some Spaniards who knew the United States well were aware of this; but they were by no means in the majority, and they were very few in the Falange Party of Franco in the Government.
MCKINZIE: And as the Allies did begin to win the war, could you see any appreciable difference in the Spanish attitude?
BUTTERWORTH: Of course. And you pressed for more concessions, and there came a point a little while after the Battle of Alamein and Stalingrad when Carlton Hayes, the Ambassador -- who, as you know, was head of the history department of Columbia, and a very intelligent and nice man, who did things in a very methodical way -- and I went over what he was going to take up with Franco and then the order of priorities. This was not economic warfare, this was later when I was the Counsel. And in Franco's outer office there had always been a picture of [Benito]
Mussolini and [Adolf] Hitler and on this occasion they had departed. This was the signal. Ask for everything.
WILSON: Is his memoir about this period in Spain an accurate and reasonable one?
BUTTERWORTH: Yes, I think so. He doesn't tell all, because it was written a very short time after the war.
WILSON: But Spain's position in the Truman administration in the years after the war was an anomalous one. Spain was excluded from most activities. Was that expected by the time, or had that been anticipated by the time, you left?
BUTTERWORTH: No. After Carlton Hayes left, Norman Armour was appointed Ambassador to Spain. I can't offhand remember the exact month he arrived there. But I should say that he arrived towards the end of 1944. He brought with him a
letter that Roosevelt had signed, which was very demanding and interestingly enough it was signed after Roosevelt had returned from his conference in Russia.
WILSON: The Yalta.Conference?
BUTTERWORTH: The Yalta Conference. And his signature was very wobbly, which was noted, and nobody had bothered to date it. It was impossible in its over-reachingness. You would have thought that we could have waved a wand and Franco would depart from the scene. And, of course, the more we tried to threaten Franco the more we produced cohesion in the very heterogeneous group that supported him. People forget that Spain after the revolution, after the monarchy was pushed out, was really about half divided between left and right, and had an election which indicated this too. Many of the people who voted for the left -- as
things grew more and more unsettled -- came on the side of what we now call law and order; but many of them were not supporters of Franco per se, certainly were not Falange. Many were anti-Falange, many were business, industrial groups and so forth. The more we threatened the regime the more they would coalesce. And anybody who's had any intimate dealings with the Spanish character knows how obdurate and proud they are, and how they would resist the pressures. And the Civil War was so near and it had been so bitter. There had been so many more people killed behind the lines than there ever were killed in the fighting. This wasn't -- as I reviewed the press releases -- really very well reported in the American press. You would have thought the main fighting had been done by the Italians and the Germans. The main fighting was done by the Spaniards, and the main Spanish fighting was done by murdering people behind the lines. This had left, naturally, tremendous bitterness and
every Spaniard high and low had a secret list of about half a dozen people that he was very anxious, if given the opportunity, to bump off. This was an explosive -- potentially explosive -- situation. And no one, not even the Leftists, except maybe the very extreme Leftists, wanted a recurrence of the Civil War again. So this did not fall on very fertile ground, and I would say that it wasn't the Truman policy. I would say this policy had been misshapen by Roosevelt, but it was a reflection of an illusion which was ricocheting around Washington. This was one of our first delusions of grandeur, rushes of blood to the head that we could act like the big bad wolf, and we could puff and puff and we could blow the house down. This was not so, and I did my best to demonstrate that this was a counter-productive policy. Then we moved from an individual policy to one of the United Nations where we agreed with the other powers not to have the Ambassador in Madrid.
Norman Armour had retired. He had had his thirty years service. At that time he was determined to retire after thirty years service, although later on the State Department persuaded him to come back and do other jobs in Venezuela, and in the Department of State. When he retired I was left as the Charge d'Affaires, and was told to be prepared to stay, to act as Charge d'Affaires for an indefinite period.
This left me with a somewhat uncertain feeling, because I had never experienced much confidence in the long range planning of personnel in the State Department as well as some other things. And sure enough, within a few months of this fulsome message, I received a telegram saying that they wanted to send my name up to the personnel board -- that a new broom was needed to run the Embassy in China, where General [George C.] Marshall had gone. This was just about the time he was leaving, and I got my orders ultimately and I proceeded to China.
WILSON: Did you have any sense from Madrid of where these ricochets had originated? One of the black sheep that we hear so much about is the EEA. The EEA was the center for these kind of illusions about how America could say, "Okay you must industrialize," or, "Okay, you must institute land reform," and, "Okay, you must get rid of authoritarian government," on the assumption that since the word was spoken...
BUTTERWORTH: Well, I don't know, because I wasn't there. When I went back to Washington (which I did frequently when I was doing economic warfare but not at all when I was Counselor) I would only go back for short specific trips, and I didn't try to take the temperature of the various organizations. I think that it was a very general illusion and I think...well, there was a division along religious lines in our country.
I myself am Episcopalian, but I think that
the Catholics were much more prepared to accept a Franco Government and the hard facts of the Civil War, and take into account what might well have been the alternatives than many of our more missionary Protestant groups as well as certain people who perhaps weren't religiously motivated but who responded to the cries of "anti-Fascism" and so on.
MCKINZIE: We have some indication that President Truman's own attitude towards Spain was based upon his own religious background. That being brought up in the Midwest in the Baptist tradition, he had the strong feeling that Spain did not treat the Protestants well, and that because of this they...
WILSON: Did not deserve American sympathy.
BUTTERWORTH: They certainly didn't treat them well. They wouldn't allow them to do anything.
I don't know if you can say you can
discriminate against people if you don't allow them around so that you can treat them worse than anybody else. I know this is a fine use of the English language, but Protestantism at that time was really prohibited in Spain.
WILSON: Yet as an Episcopalian you could attend an Anglican church, I assume.
BUTTERWORTH: Oh, yes. We attended the British Church.
WILSON: Was that accepted as Catholic?
BUTTERWORTH: Oh, no. The British Church was under the Embassy's diplomatic immunity and we could have had a church of our own if we had wished.
WILSON: I had someone refer to this as just chitchat, and I may be mistaken here, but I had some impression that the Anglican church was accepted as Catholic in a sense. The Anglicans did not accept the Bishop of Rome as the Pope, but they
still were Catholic in a general sense, and they weren't excluded.
BUTTERWORTH: Well, I don't know that the Spanish wanted to rationalize it themselves, but it was never represented by the British as a Catholic Church. And, in fact, we held our own services there, for instance, on Thanksgiving, and we said a memorial service for Franklin Roosevelt. But this was I think the first feeling that we had that we could -- no. [Woodrow] Wilson had had it, too, this making over the world in our own image with this puritan feeling -- I would say this as one coming from New Orleans -- this puritan feeling that there is only one road to heaven and our feet are right on the ladder.
WILSON: Did I detect when you were telling about your transfer from Madrid to Nanking -- did you have any sense of the status of morale or cohesion in the Department in Washington at
this time? There had been the [Edward, Jr.] Stettinius reforms and other reforms.
BUTTERWORTH: To be specific, about what things in general?
WILSON: Control over the Department's activities. I gather from your previous comment that you thought this was not too bright an idea.
BUTTERWORTH: No, I didn't really mind at all. I had not served in China before. My first post had been in Malaya. It was a challenging kind of job. I had been in Spain and on and off in Portugal for over four years. I was, you know, a fire-horse ready to respond to the fire. This was what I was in the Foreign Service for, not to lead a quiet life. I was aware enough of some of the difficulties so that I did take the precaution, although I was authorized to return via Washington to go out, of saying, "I would prefer to go directly to China." I arranged
to take a British troopship from Gibraltar to Bombay and I crossed India, sent a telegram to General Marshall and said, "Rumor has it that you are moving from Chungking to Nanking. You want me to fly to Chungking, or do I fly to Nanking?"
He replied, "No. We're on the point of leaving. Come to Nanking." So I got on an American troopship with my wife and two children and went to Shanghai and got on a plane and left for the short flight to Nanking. I did not want to have contact with Washington about China policy. I knew about the controversy that was going on about China, whether they were Communists or were agrarian reformers and I wanted to arrive in China directly from Spain.
WILSON: Insofar as you can sort it out from all the subsequent events and everything, what did you find when you arrived?
BUTTERWORTH: Well, I’ll go back slightly. The telegram came assigning us to Nanking in December. We were scheduled to spend the weekend with some Spanish friends of ours, who had an estate outside of Valencia. I was Charge d’Affaires, and on my own initiative, without consulting Washington, I made representations to the Foreign Minister, [Jose Felix] Lequerica, and urged him, with an eye to the future, to urge Franco to give an amnesty to political prisoners, so that only those would be kept in jail who had really committed criminal acts. Although sometimes these two categories are very hard to separate. Lequerica, who was a very sophisticated, savvy man, and who was very anxious to work his way home and to have Spain work its way home, thought this was a very good idea and he did this.
In Spain they customarily have amnesties of this kind. But it was said that this was a generous one, whether it was or not. Then this
telegram came and we had to tell our friends in Valencia that we wouldn't stay with them for Christmas. We had communications some time latex in Christmas week and they said, "We had a funny time on Christmas because in Franco's amnesty he let out one of the members from jail who had lived in our village, and he came back to live in the village with his wife and family. The day after he got back two other villagers accosted him in the street and shot him dead. They said Franco may pardon you for your crimes, but we are not going to.
Now then I arrived in Nanking, and a day or two later the man whose place I had taken gave a garden party, and there were a number of Chinese at the party. There was Chou En Lai leading the Communist Chinese delegation, which was there under our protection. There were all sorts of members of the National Government. There were various diplomats, and they were all having orange juice, whiskeys and soda, and whatnot
together, and chatting as amiably as you please. And, of course, I said to myself, "What kind of a world is this? Don't they know that the Communists are really serious? Do they really think that the lambs and the lions are going to live together and drink orange juice?" I found this atmosphere incredible. The reality, however, behind it was just as true as it was in Spain. But the ancient civilization with its patina over the centuries could afford to indulge in this kind of amiability on the surface. General Marshall had just gotten back shortly before from Washington, where he had gone to try to get an authorization for a large Export-Import Bank loan. He thought he had pasted it together sufficiently so it would hold while he went back to Washington to get this facilitated, which would perhaps add the necessary adhesive. But it began to fall apart while he was away. I was never optimistic that an accommodation of this kind could be reached,
particularly if it hadn't been reached between December  and May , with recurring attacks in Manchuria and North China and all over the place. I think that was the basis on which General Marshall and I saw eye to eye about all sorts of things, not necessarily this problem. He asked me shortly after his return -- I was running the Embassy, and wasn't in the mediatory mission -- what my view was, and I told him straight. He never made any comment about it at that time, but from then on he treated me with great courtesy, which he always did, and with some desire to know what I thought about this, that, and the other. And, of course, he brought me back to Washington after he became Secretary of State.
WILSON: You arrived then in late 1946?
BUTTERWORTH: I arrived in China in the spring of 1946, and General Marshall ordered me back to
Washington on consultation shortly after. I left in an airplane with General [John Paul] McConnell, who has recently retired from being head of the Air Force. He was head of the air advisory group at the time. One of their big planes had to have its periodic servicing, which couldn't be done in that part of the world. McConnell had to go back on business of his own, and so he and I flew in this plane back to Washington, and we left the day after the 4th of July party. So I can place that date. When I got back to Washington, General Marshall asked me to stay.
WILSON: That's a very apt description, this orange juice garden party sort of thing. I trust that not many Americans failed to look beneath this veneer of civility.
BUTTERWORTH: Well, that depended, you know, because after all the Chinese had asked for this mediatory mission. There was an old history of Communists
and the National Government reaching temporary accommodations. You remember Chiang Kai Shek once when he was having negotiations was captured, kidnapped by them, and held. So those who were more familiar with Chinese customs were perhaps more inclined to give credence to this kind of goings on.
WILSON: Did you find a local variation by that time of the view that well, these two groups are not this different anyway -- the agrarian view?
BUTTERWORTH: No. I don't think so. I think this was greatly exaggerated in the press -- agrarian reformers and all this sort of thing. This was Pat [Patrick J.] Hurley's contribution to misunderstanding.
WILSON: He must have absolutely destroyed the Embassy.
BUTTERWORTH: I don't know. I wasn't there at the time. Well, not so much when he was in China,
because his record in China rather belies what he said when he got back to the United States. But the subsequent actions, including the McCarthy era, really destroyed a whole generation of very capable and able Foreign Service officers. And in the end there were practically no China language officers who had been China language officers before the war, anywhere near China. They were Consul Generals in Frankfurt or Stuttgart. Tony [Fulton] Freeman was in Rome and later on Ambassador to Colombia and Mexico and so on.
WILSON: Leaving aside the Hurley sort of charge, which was neurotic from the record, what about the idea that some historians and others have brought up that some of these people because of their rather unusual -- unusual for the Department -- situation in which so many of them had had some experience as children in China, they came from missionary parentage and this
sort of thing, that they had an attachment to China that made them not objective? Is that a fair statement of their role?
BUTTERWORTH: Well, as in all things, this differed with different people. Total objectivity is very hard not only to acquire but to measure. I don't know how you'd measure total objectivity, because you have to have total objectivity yourself, if you are going to measure total objectivity. And this takes a godhead to intervene to make it possible. I would say that -- generalizing about all Western countries -- given the attractiveness of the Chinese people, the fact they are the only continuous civilization in the world, the fact that they are a mine of cultural and historical treasure, the fact that the climate of China isn't as intolerable as other places are, why, all these people became attached and caught up in the charm of China. Just as people who go to live in Paris become attached to French
culture, French cuisine, the French way of life, so do the people of England and Florence and so on. But I think even more so in China, because the difference is so great. So it is true that many of the Foreign Service officers who were born there had this long attachment. They at least spoke the native dialect. Many of them spoke Mandarin as well, and they had a facility for getting along, and they liked it very much. I think their missionary background in many ways (I'm not a great supporter of missionaries) led them to translate these impulses into the diplomatic and political life. By and large, they were a very able and interesting group of people. By and large, I don't think any other country was served better by the China language specialists. Now, besides that, there were a great many outstanding Foreign Service officers. The two most outstanding in my opinion, of two separate generations, were Philip Sprouse and Tony Freeman. Neither of them
were born in China, nor were their fathers missionaries. And there were a lot of people like that who for one reason or another were attracted to go into the China service, just as there are people who are attracted -- like, say, Chip [Charles] Bohlen and George Kennan -- to go in the Russian service. None of them were born in Russia or had any deep Russian connections, except George Kennan I think had either an uncle or a cousin out there.
WILSON: Yes. His uncle in Siberia.
BUTTERWORTH: So, I think we were well served by them, but at that time when they had just moved down from Peking the China Government was hitting very heavy weather, and the conflict with the Communists was in full swing.
They were trying to administer areas which were larger than any Chinese had administered within living memory, because the principal cities which had had extraterritorial status
were handed over to the Chinese to run -- like the French concession at Shanghai, Tientsin, Canton, and the rest. They just didn't have the people to do this. They had been confined to this limited area under rather terrible conditions, not knowing very much about what was going on in the world, and they had lost their revolutionary ardor if you will. They had become the settled party in a situation which required really something that was tantamount to revolutionary zeal in order to take over this enormous problem with which they were faced.
MCKINZIE: There were all sorts of people in Washington at that time who had some sort of tentative solution to the Chinese problem. Bringing stability through industrialization was one of them. About the time you arrived, there was circulated in Washington, at least among some people, a 5 volume study called "On the Industrialization of China." Indeed,
I think they had assembled at one time about 1,300 Chinese, and were going to bring them to the United States for purposes of training them in American industrial techniques. Were you aware of that kind of potential solution?
BUTTERWORTH: Oh, yes. For instance, we had one of the big engineering firms who had tried to open the railway from Canton to Peking and Hanchow. They did a study and proposed that instead of having a dozen and a half workshops between Hanchow and Canton, there would be one big workshop. Instead of a dozen or two coolies pulling at chains to lift a locomotive up for them to get into its innards, they would press a button and the damn thing would bounce up. This I thought was pluperfect nonsense and I successfully blocked it with General Marshall, because the one thing China had was labor. It didn't matter a damn if there were twenty-five fellows pulling these chains, and if it took four hours
to do it. What was the hurry? It was twenty-five more people employed. What's more the machinery was very simple and could be repaired by them, but if you got them one of these complicated machines and something went wrong, why then it is kaput. I remember suggesting at the time that instead of this kind of nonsense we should buy from the United States and Europe all the late nineteenth century industrial equipment that we could put our hands on, which was non-labor saving, but efficient, useful and readily repairable, and supply that to the Chinese. But it wasn't a question of an economic panacea. There was no economic panacea. This was where our fellow countrymen go astray. We always want to do things the easy way. The easiest way for the affluent is to think you can spend money. And you just cannot do it this way. That wasn't the problem.
Yes, the problem over a long range was economic development. But the first thing for
economic development was to have peace, and to have order. I think of these people who go back to China now and say what marvelous development has occurred. I don't doubt that during the last twenty-five years they have done quite a lot of things, built a lot of bridges, and put large factories out in various areas. But the greatest benefit that occurred to China from the industrial economic point of view was the breakout of peace. It didn't matter which regime won; it was the fact that one regime was in control throughout the country.
WILSON: The United States Congress, I gather, was operating under the same philosophy of excess zeal about the presence of the United States in China, about the moral commitment to the Nationalist cause?
BUTTERWORTH: My recollection is there weren't very great difficulties until after President Truman surprised the Republicans by winning the election.
Before then we had protagonists such as Henry Luce of Time, who had been born in China, and whose father with Dr. [John Leighton] Stuart had created Yenching University. Henry Luce's father being the fellow who raised the money in the United States and Dr. Stuart being the administrator. And there was Scripps-Howard, and if the truth be told a lot of the churches and church groups, and the China lobby, with people like [Dr. Walter] Judd and Senator [Styles] Bridges for example. But this wasn't what the Irish call "A really live thing" until after the election. It was already in being, but, you see, we got through a China Aid Act. Now, you are interested in aid and undoubtedly you've come upon this before. My recollection is that our computations, which were accurate and authentic, showed that the National Government at the time we were formulating the Marshall plan had enough gold and foreign exchange and had enough military equipment, so that it needed no aid
The aid program arose out of the fact Senator [Arthur] Vandenberg let it be known that the chances of getting through the Marshall plan would be vastly improved if there was a China aid program. So, the China aid program of fairly modest character was formulated. It contained no military aid, and this was modified in committee to indicate that a hundred and twenty-five million dollars, as I recall the figure, could be spent by the National Government for anything it wanted to, no strings attached. The understanding being that this would be used for military aid.
My impression now, a couple of decades or so later, is that no military equipment -- maybe one shipment which was captured, I think -- was ever landed on the mainland, and not through any undue delay as sometimes has been alleged. General [David] Barr, who was head of the military advisory group said in his report,
which was published in the White Paper, that the National Government never lost a battle or never lost a town or position due to the lack of military supplies and equipment.
MCKINZIE: So then this aid simply injected a new issue into an already...
BUTTERWORTH: Well, any important amount of aid never really came to the mainland; it was the first branch of aid to Taiwan. But its origin, to the best of my recollection, arose out of Vandenberg's appreciation that he -- I don't say he said that he couldn't get the Marshall plan through or exactly what words he did use -- gave the Administration to understand that he thought that an aid program to China was necessary as a sop to certain circles.
WILSON: This was apples and oranges in a way. The argument was that the Administration was asking the Congress to vote this enormous outlay
of money first for the Greek-Turkey Aid program and then for the Marshall plan basically to stop communism; and yet you are allowing China to go down the drain, to be taken over by Communists. This was the assumption then by the people who were mixing the apples and oranges, the Judds and the Voorhis and the Bridges; and [William] Knowland in California, I assume, would be in this group. Were there efforts to try to explain to them -- to make clear to them?
BUTTERWORTH: Yes. There are none so blind as will not see. They did not want to see, and they had in many instances their own reasons for not wanting to see, and certainly Senator Bridges was closely connected with the China Lobby.
WILSON: Now there are a number of explanations of the genesis of the China Lobby. One is the sort of moralistic one, that Judd having his background and Luce and a number of others
having a particular moral sort of interest in China, and there's a rather sort of crude explanation that these people had directly or indirectly economic interests in China.
BUTTERWORTH: Well, I don't know that you can have a lobby that's all made up of either first century Christians or villains. One of the arts of politics is to get people who have different origins and different motives to come under the same banner, sometimes to make them believe that they understand the same thing when they don't. So, I don't doubt that Walter Judd with his missionary background, his zeal, had deep moral convictions about the matter. He is still prepared to accept fancy fees for his lectures on the subject. But I also don't doubt that there are other people whose motives did not originate in either any. knowledge of China or any connection with China. For this group it was a matter of their political stance and their
political campaign funds and so on.
MCKINZIE: There are also a lot of people, for whatever reason, who tended to focus very heavily in the years right after the war, before the fall of China, before the exodus to Taiwan, on the idea of economic integration in various parts of the world, a kind of solution to the problem of stability. And there were people, of course, who were arguing for a kind of integration of the whole Far East, including I assume, something to do with the rebuilding of Japan. Do you recall any of that kind of discussion?
BUTTERWORTH: Well, I don't know about integration in the Far East. Tracy Voorhees, when he was in the War Department, and I used to have long dreary discussions. He always sounded to me like he was trying to recreate the Japanese, what do they call it, the...
MCKINZIE: Greater East Asian...
BUTTERWORTH: Yes, Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. All he was really trying to do was to try to reduce the War Department's appropriations. But, no, I don't think that this movement had any real steam in it. This stuff about a Marshall plan for Asia never really got off the ground, because the basic ingredients were not there. In Europe you have a competent number of industrial countries who needed certain raw materials, foreign exchange, and freer intercourse between themselves, and who had the management, the skills, and complementary economies. But in the Far East, which is primarily an underdeveloped area except for Japan, you didn't have any of this. They were producers very often of the same things and had the same problems. Now the British tried this with the Colombo scheme, which was launched by a fellow called [Sir Esler] Dening British Ambassador to Japan. I never really
thought much of it, I thought it was a British scheme to wave the Empire flag. When I was there we didn't play in that game. Later on we did, and I don't think the success of it is particularly noteworthy.
WILSON: What about the point IV idea that was first directed, at least in theory, toward the Far East?
BUTTERWORTH: Oh, I don't really think it was. I remember very well sitting in on the policy meetings when we were going over the President's -- what do you call it to the Nation?
WILSON: Inaugural speech?
BUTTERWORTH: Inaugural - I don't know whether it was his Inaugural speech or not?
BUTTERWORTH: Yes. Perhaps it was. And, of course, this was really drawing upon our Latin-American
experience up to that time; and to a lesser extent on our prewar Philippines experience. But the Latin-American thing was the main ingredient -- and applied it to those areas. Because we never envisaged that we were going to give aid to all of the world in the quantities that we did. Of course, it's ironic that we could never change, although we made a try at it, the name of Point IV, and call it by some title which reflected its activity. Because it just happened to be the Point IV in the Inaugural Address it's always been known in that way.
WILSON: Dean Acheson said when we talked to him last week that he remembered you and Bohlen and someone else, who were responsible for the State Department's review of the idea, and that your reaction, pretty much the Department's reaction, was that there had not been enough preparation for this. It was not going
to be very successful, because there hadn't been enough thinking about what it was supposed to accomplish as "a public relations gimmick." I think he used those words. Is that correct?
BUTTERWORTH: Yes. And I think this perhaps was brought out, because the Point IV only acted as the curtain raiser to aid programs which in turn we hadn't thought out.
MCKINZIE: Now, this is hypothetical, but would that idea have made some beneficial difference if it could have been introduced in China, let's say, in 1946?
BUTTERWORTH: I tried to point out earlier that in my view there was nothing in the realm of economic or financial assistance that could overcome the military and managerial difficulties that China was experiencing in that immediate postwar period. All the nations had to have some careful economic controls and the unwillingness
of T.V. Soong really to stop the inflation or to try to stop it certainly was a difficulty.
You were mentioning these opinions in Washington about China and the reaction before President Truman was reelected. Don't you think, as historians, that the United States has harbored illusions about China almost from the very beginning? Going back to the clipper ship days, China put its best face forward to us to some extent. Even with the beginning of the clipper ships sailing into port with all the accompanying fanfare and the strange and interesting things. The way our missionaries took to China. The way the Chinese responded to our attitude after the Boxer Rebellion. We didn't treat the Chinese very well when we imported them into this country to use as railroad laborers. And then there was all this illusion that if we could add another inch or two on every Chinaman's shirttail this would bring
prosperity to the United States. All this contributed to this atmosphere. But the greatest contribution, after President Truman was inaugurated, was the disappointment and the bitterness that was injected by the Republicans, having been in the wilderness for so long, and having thought that power was in their grasp without any doubt. Then it wasn't and they really turned on the administration and were prepared to do all sorts of things.
MCKINZIE: In fact, Dean Acheson makes a very strong point of this.
BUTTERWORTH: China was the case in point. I was thinking of it the other day when I listened to Bill [J. William] Fulbright on these hearings that were on TV, and he kept saying to those people that testified; "Well, if the Senate is going to play a part -- I don't know that it is -- but if it's going to play a part in the formulation of foreign policy, what will we have
to do? How did we get into this position?" Well, I can think of answers that those who testified didn't have. One of them is that if you are going to play a part it's going to have to be a more bipartisan foreign policy than it's been since the first Truman administration. And that Senators, if they are going to not only have information about the general line of policy, but about the immediate moves of the game, will have to treat the information with more sense of it being confidential than has hereto been the case.
WILSON: Your appointment as Assistant Secretary came just at that time?
WILSON: You can speak of the increasing bitterness from the point of view of your own career. Did you just -- "Well, this is something that's been thrust upon me and I've got to go through
with it?" Were you...
BUTTERWORTH: I told my friend Dean Acheson that I thought it was unwise for him to appoint me. And when I was testifying in the committee, Senator Vandenberg -- who always treated me with great friendliness -- asked me this same question that you asked me.
And I said, "Well, I can only answer that question frankly, which is that I advised against my own appointment; but I am a Foreign Service officer and I'm supposed to do what I'm asked to by my superiors in such circumstances." I mean, one could see this thing coming. I'm an old boxer and this is what you call an uppercut that starts at the ground. You can see it coming, and if you stand there with your chin transfixed, you know what's going to happen to you. I urged General Marshall when they appointed me not to appoint me, to appoint somebody who had better expertise about the Far Fast, and who
preferably had a reputation other than as a civil servant.
WILSON: That had been tried before in some ways, and maybe he was wise not to have done that. The sort of special mission approach and all of that.
BUTTERWORTH: He looked at me, with that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lion visage, and he said, "Butterworth, I trust you." What are you going to do then? But if you are going to preside over, as Assistant Secretary, or call it what you will, Director of the Bureau, for an area that is as disturbed, and as turbulent, and as in violent transition as the Far East, you know you are in for trouble and you know your successors are in for trouble. In fact when I took my oath of office I made a speech to the staff in which I said that I was the first of a long line of expendable Assistant Secretaries of State for Far Eastern Affairs.
The line hasn't stopped yet. It's still falling.
MCKINZIE: This must have had an effect upon the general morale of the Division to know that they were under such attack on Capitol Hill?
BUTTERWORTH: Well, part of your job in a Division like that is to minimize that, and to conduct your own self with independence and not be intimidated.
WILSON: I gather from all we've heard and from what you've said, you did feel, though, that within the immediate line of authority above you were getting all the support that you could use?
BUTTERWORTH: All the support you could possibly get…
WILSON: From the President?
BUTTERWORTH: ...right on down. Let me give you
an illustration about Mr. Truman, which is why people who worked for him felt so deeply affectionate towards him, respected him so much.
It became clear that the Chinese Communists were going to pursue a hostile policy towards our Consulates and Embassy, and they decided to seize part of our compound in Peking, which we were going to use as a chancery. It had been the old barracks in the days of the Marines, and was being made into a consulate. It was going to be our Embassy chancery or compound. We sent messages to them through various channels saying that they could take the area in front if they wanted to, a big space, but if they violated our diplomatic establishment we would consider this was a very serious problem. And they did. So I had drafted a memo recommending that we take all our consuls out and not be nibbled by rats and that we withdraw the whole shooting match. On several other occasions they had not responded to the
signals we had given them that we looked forward to formal, regularized relations with them; not intimate but proper. I don't know where Mr. Acheson was, but Jim Webb went over to the White House with me, and I delivered the memo. The President asked me what it was about and I explained it. He read the memorandum and asked me a question or two. Then he said, "I agree." I think it was an important step, because, you know, the history of China tells you that you don't get people in there very easily, so we don't pull them out very readily especially if you have any respect for history, the Chinese character, and the situation. So, Jim Webb and I got up to go.
President Truman said, "Wait a minute, Butterworth." And he took his pen and wrote "I approve," on the memorandum and put his initials on it.
He said, "You better take this for your protection." Well, I hadn't even thought about
protection. This was the kind of considerate chief he was. So, when you mentioned support I would put some icing on that cake.
WILSON: Just one question. This came up at the conference last year, and was dealt with quite thoroughly. Throughout this period the Department had this odd sort of relationship with the occupation authorities in Japan and with [General Douglas] MacArthur. Was it a matter in which you as Director of Far Eastern Affairs and as Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, just accepted that you were going to live with, or were there efforts to change it, to try to get more information out of Japan about what was going on, to try to impose...
BUTTERWORTH: Oh, I don't think we had much trouble getting information out of Japan. No. This is too long a story to tell and I think we covered it pretty well in this conference. My personal relations with General MacArthur were
always very good, because I had known him in Washington when he was Chief of Staff. I had just entered the State Department Foreign Service, and so he always treated me, not as if I were some unknown little bureaucrat who was sticking his nose in his affairs. I also had occasion when I was in China to go to Tokyo and I always saw him. He always would ask me to lunch. Problems arose with General MacArthur partly out of his character and ambitions, and partly out of the entourage he was surrounded by. It was like Catherine the Great's court or something. They didn't always keep MacArthur informed of the verities. I remember I asked General Marshall once about MacArthur after Marshall had ceased to be Secretary of State. I went out to Leesburg and had lunch with him to talk to him about Taiwan and its strategic importance and various other things. And he said that whatever difficulties he causes you, in my experience in the end, if the problem is
important enough he'll do the right thing. Now later on I think General Marshall modified that opinion somewhat, because he told me that when the hearing came on -- I was no longer in Washington, this is when I came back once from Sweden and I went to see him -- he put in the front row all the old associates of MacArthur from the Navy and the Army when he appeared before Congress to make his speech, hoping that their presence would have an ameliorating effect on his eloquence. He said, "I couldn't detect any."
An illustration -- I don't know that we covered this in Kansas City at the Truman Library -- was when Joe [Joseph] Dodge was appointed to go out there. Did we cover that part?
MCKINZIE: No. We did not.
BUTTERWORTH: The impulse to send Joe Dodge, and to correct the inflationary situation in Japan came really from the State Department, strongly backed by the Federal Reserve, and later by the
Treasury. The Pentagon was quite happy with the inflation. The Japanese industrialists considered these as grants, and the workers' wages were going up and they were doing well. The Government considered them as loans. Everybody was operating in this never-never land, and as you remember a commission was set up. Then Joe Dodge, who was in Germany before, was appointed. As soon as he was appointed, the generals, I don't know which ones, appointed a committee of themselves to whom he should report. And we countered that by giving Joe Dodge the rank of Minister, which was the highest rank we could give him. And as I recall it, the Secretary sent a special message to MacArthur, wrote him a letter, about Joe Dodge's qualifications, experience and so on.
MacArthur was very susceptible and Joe Dodge had no trouble any time he wanted to see him, and got every cooperation from him. This was symptomatic I'd say. [Sir Winston] Churchill once said about a situation, "It's
not black or white but piebald." And the situation in dealing with the occupation was usually piebald.
WILSON: We've taken up far too much of your time. I would like to ask you just a couple of questions, though, about your service in Sweden. It's occurred to me from what you've said earlier, and I may be wrong, that you may have found some of the same problems that you found during the war, in a sense that there was this issue of East-West trade when you went to Sweden. There was the problem of Swedes finding themselves in a way in a neutral position. Anything that you recall in general about that?
BUTTERWORTH: Well, when I got to Sweden in August of 1950 the Swedes were -- pardon me if I tell you about the Government -- not altogether happy with their relations with the United States. We had maintained that we did not really want them in NATO, but in fact we had applied a
good many pressures that many people would be very happy if they joined. They had not liked this. There were also one or two instances of speeches being made in Sweden by U.S. people who talked about Russian policy, communism and so on, which the Swedes did not like. And there were various other things. Hard upon the heels of this came the business about CoCom, and particularly the ball bearings, which had had a long and rather unhappy history in World War II, where we had sent a special envoy to Sweden to deal with ball bearings problems. I am in no position to judge how well he had done, but what he had done had left scars on the Swedes. So, these were two things that I addressed myself to.
WILSON: When you came back to Europe, it was in the full flowering of the aid programs -- well, they had been modified by the Korean war -- but what did you find?
BUTTERWORTH: I found the aid program also, and it was going in Sweden. Shortly after I was there I had a meal with a Swede who was one of the chief directors of the Enschilde Bank, and he told me that the head of his foreign affairs department was about to go to the United States on a trip, and he was very grateful that our aid mission was paying for this.
Well, then I set things in motion to find out why the hell we should pay for the head of the foreign department of one of the biggest banks in Northern Europe to go to the United States. I found it was his job to go to the United States probably twice a year anyway. While we were not engaged in making grants to Sweden, we were engaged in making loans to Sweden on very favorable terms. And their foreign exchange position was really quite good the moment the war was over. So, I eventually decided that we should close up the mission. I had established a close working relationship
with Dag Hammarskjöld, who at that time was the Secretary General of the Foreign Office in charge of economic affairs. Later on Dag became sort of a nonpolitical member of the cabinet, that was the latest thing, As a result of this luncheon I got a letter from him saying that he thought the time had come for the aid mission to be wrapped up. With this in my pocket I sent a message to Washington representing this. I waited for the answering wails of anguish from the aid mission in Paris, and Washington, and they came.
Bill Foster zoomed up, and we had a meeting with the head of the aid mission -- a very nice fellow -- and he said he didn't think it should be closed, that this would leave the Swedish Government with only the Embassy as its contact.
I said, "Isn't that too bad. Don't you believe in monogamy?"
"Well," he said, "the Swedish Government I'm sure doesn't want this."
And I said, "If I can prove to you that the Swedish Government not only wants it, but strongly desires it, will we stop talking and do something about closing it?" So, therewith, I produced the letter from Dag Hammarskjöld. As it was it took nine more months before they closed it. This was the first aid mission that was closed. We made progress in the matter of the NATO military thing, and informal contacts were quietly promoted between appropriate people in our Army and Air Force in Germany and the Swedes. They were then,, and I suspect still are, spending at least as much as other NATO countries, exclusive of us, on military equipment. So, we became rather satisfied with the fact that they weren't formally in
the alliance, but they were keeping up their military posture. And we perhaps had more knowledge of what their situation was, and they had a knowledge of what ours was.
As regards the ball bearings this happily worked out very well. It took long, difficult and tedious negotiations, but the SKP finally came round, and they cooperated with us much better than we had expected, and Dag Hammarskjöld told me much better than he expected.
WILSON: It must have been an interesting vantage point from which to observe and in part participate in this enormous program of aid to Western Europe, particularly military aid, after the start of the Korean war.
BUTTERWORTH: I don't know. These listening posts, I think, are pretty much the bunk.
BUTTERWORTH: Yes. I think this idea of listening
posts is a romantic view. People who are in places where there isn't sufficient action then compensate themselves by regarding it as a listening post.
WILSON: One of the themes of our study that has been impressed upon us has been the bureaucratic theme, relating to the kinds of problems that came up; because there was this decision to set up a separate agency to administer Marshall plan. There were all these country missions, and there were all these Treasury representatives, and agricultural attaches, and all this. Some of them under the embassies and many of them not. And that's an enormous amount of energy expended? Some people said, "Well don't worry about that, don't worry it didn't make that much difference," because people in the ECA mission in country I knew the people in the Embassy, they were often in the same building and this sort of thing. How would you react to that?
BUTTERWORTH: Well, I think that if you have a strong ambassador who takes seriously the fact that he does not represent the State Department alone, he represents the President of the United States, and if the missions and agencies are not too big and too numerous, he is able to control this. I think Americans are more malleable when they are abroad. They coalesce against the foreign scene, and cooperate better in foreign countries with each other than their mother agencies do in Washington. And if the ambassador is willing to take a strong autocratic line -- one of the charms of diplomacy is that it's the last of the autocratic situations -- why I think order can be kept and effectiveness and non-duplication can be achieved. Now, places like London or Paris in the days when the ECA headquarters were there are certainly very different. It's almost a superhuman job for any one man to have the kind of preoccupations the ambassador has there and deal as he would have had to in those days
with three, if not four people with the rank of ambassador, with these big agencies, and so on. I think we survived this in Western Europe because we had a lot of good and able people like Bill Foster, Averell Harriman, and so on, who really weren't petty enough to want to run with the ball if they saw reason. And, also, we were dealing with Europeans, who wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. If you want to do this in a society like some of the Far Eastern ones, you are in much more trouble, because there is really a need for more order. With career officers you've got fine people who are ambidextrous, who know enough economic and financial theory so that they can appreciate what's going on, and talk sense about it. The difficulty is to get them so they are independently-minded enough that they are confident of support they will get back in Washington. How are you going to get this, for instance, in Western Europe today where there are only two ambassadors who are
career ambassadors. And one of them is in Portugal. I'm told he is there by the grace of the fact that Colonel [John] Eisenhower was a career Army officer and a nice fellow.
Eisenhower said, "Mr. Nixon, I won't take this job in Brussels if it means that Ridgway Knight is out in the cold."
WILSON: Then you place stress on the kind of relationship that is established and upon the sort of man who takes the post. We've had it told to us that one complicating factor was that Europeans knew that ECA, or knew that Treasury -- these people really had the money -- and that the State Department representatives...
BUTTERWORTH: I think that's very possible -- and they would dispense it with ease. But, still and all, if the ambassador really had something worthwhile in mind he could damned well stop it. But he can't just play the easygoing, good fellow. Our democracy is so big and so
unruly that you have to decide when the chips come down you are not going to play with kid gloves on. And then, when the other fellow gets this clearly in mind, ninety-nine cases out of a hundred you don't have to -- you can keep the gloves on all you want.
Alamein, Battle of, 10, 14
Armour, Norman, 15, 19
Barr, David, 41
as Counselor in the Embassy in Madrid, 1-2
and Franco., Francisco, 15
and MacArthur, Douglas, 58-61
and Madrid, Spain, 1-2, 7, 17-21
and Nanking, China, 26-28
and Spain, 1-2, 7, 17-21
in Sweden, 62-65
and Truman, Harry S., 57-58
and the United States Commercial Company, 6-7
Canton, China, 35, 36, 37
Falange party, 8, 14, 17
MacArthur, Douglas, 58-61
"On the Industrialization of China," 36-37
Stalingrad, Russia, 10, 14
State, Department of, 1, 7, 19, 48, 60, 69
Stettinius, Edward R., Jr., 24
Stuart, John Leighton, 40
Stuttgart, Germany, 32
Suner, [Ramon] Serrano, 8, 12
Sweden, 60, 62-65, 66
United Nations, 18
United States 62