Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
Opened October, 1976
Oral History Interview with
June 5, 1973
by Richard D. McKinzie
MCKINZIE: Mr. Howard, many students interested in this subject might wish to know how you came from William Jewell College, and the University of Missouri via Berkeley into the State Department in 1942. You headed for an academic career and then ended up in the State Department.
HOWARD: That's right, and then I went back to an academic career after I retired from the Department of State. Then I went back on a temporary contract basis to head the Middle East Studies
Program in the Foreign Service Institute in the Department of State during 1971-1973. I headed a similar program at the Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, 1971-1973 I will finish this program in the Department of State this week.
I came in during the war. I was asked to come down to Washington in June 1942 by a person in the OSS. I knew frankly that I really didn't want to go into the OSS. I arrived here, was staying with my brother, and talked with a person from the OSS that afternoon. I went out to my brother's house and he said: "Oh, you've just had a telegram from the Department of State." I opened the telegram and it invited me to take part in a section of the Department which was going to work on postwar programs. I knew this was what I wanted to do and what I should be doing, although I would have done anything, really, that I was asked to do. Well, I got back
to Ohio. Soon after word came asking me to come and I arrived in Washington on July 12.
MCKINZIE: Do you happen to know how this request came through from the Department of State?
HOWARD: I didn't know the people personally --later, of course, I became acquainted with them. But I knew this was what I really should be doing during the war. As a matter of fact, the man with whom I had studied at Berkeley and prior to that time at the University of Missouri -- Robert J. Kerner -- had been on the House Inquiry into the Conditions of Peace in 1918-1919. I knew that if I had a job to do, or could make any contribution, however small, it would lie in that particular direction. So I was asked to come and join what was at that time the Division of Special Research. It later became the Division of Territorial Studies. I worked on Eastern Europe and the Balkan area. I
did a good deal of research and writing on Turkey, especially the problem of the Turkish Straits. Anybody who did any graduate work with the late Robert J. Kerner at one point in his career wrote something on that problem. So I was asked to do work in the Department of State, among other things, on the problem of the Turkish Straits. In a very real sense I've been doing it ever since.
MCKINZIE: When you arrived to take up this work were you aware that there were a lot of other people around working on the same kinds of things for other geographic areas?
HOWARD: Oh yes. I should add that, while we in our part of the Department prepared research and policy papers, which would go up the line, we always met in various inter-divisional committees in which officers on the geographical divisions served. My own feeling, quite frankly, was that, as we
took our papers into committees of that kind, with regular Foreign Service officers involved, generally speaking we came out with better papers than we had when we went in. We sometimes had fights -- which were not too serious. I recall a time in 1944, for example, when a friend in a section on Eastern Europe, of which I was then head, wrote a paper on "Hungary, Terms of Surrender: With Whom to Deal." She had referred to the Hungarian Government as "an authoritarian government." Some of our friends in the Foreign Service who were on the committee didn't like that at all. I contended that we could hardly call it a democracy, even if it had a parliament. I also noted that I had been in that parliament in 1928 when all six members had been present and they were entirely superfluous. I also observed that we had not called the Hungarian Government "totalitarian," but had used the term "authoritarian"
because that was the best description we could use. When we left the meeting one of the Foreign Service officers, a very good person and a good friend, said: "You know, you people in the academic life come to visit a country. You stay a little while. You consult with people. You gather materials for your research and you go back to write a book or an article. We in the Foreign Service go to the country and we stay two or three years. We play bridge with these people. We play golf with them, and occasionally we get drunk with them, and I guess we become a little bit biased at times. " Well, this was as good a characterization of what can happen as I know. But I think, generally, by this kind of gathering that we had -- they with their diplomatic experience and their knowledge based on experience, we with our book learning, as it were -- we produced better documentary materials than we ordinarily would have.
MCKINZIE: You were dealing with areas that everybody must have known were going to be sensitive after the end of the war. Was there really a lot of dialogue between the people in the Divisions of Near Eastern and European Affairs?
HOWARD: Very much. For example, when we had a problem concerning Poland, we met regularly with people like Charles E. [Chip] Bohlen, Elbridge Durbrow, and Llewellyn Thompson, when the latter returned from Moscow to the Department of State. We always had very useful discussions. For example, I think of one occasion which is a good illustration of intelligent and informed balance in the mind of a person like Chip Bohlen. During a meeting, a specialist on Soviet affairs in Eastern Europe, remarked: "Poland is the test of whether we can collaborate with the Soviet Union in the postwar years."
Chip Bohlen observed: "It is not the test." He added that if he were an official of the U.S.S.R., he would distrust a number of people in the Polish Government-in-Exile in London. If he were a member of the Polish Government-in-Exile, he would certainly distrust the Soviet Government. He repeated that Poland was not the test. Czechoslovakia was the test. The Czechoslovak Government-in-Exile had signed an agreement with the Soviet Government on December 10, 1943. If the U.S.S.R. really implemented that treaty and did not violate it, then we would have an indication that it might be possible to get along with the Soviet Union after all. If the Soviet Union should break the treaty - -the Czechs having gone as far as anybody could expect them to go -- this might be an indication that cooperation with the Soviet Union would not be possible. Here was a balanced and informed mind dealing with very complicated problems, and
dealing with them in a very realistic fashion. His recent memoirs confirm that impression. If one went into a meeting with a person like Chip Bohlen, he came out of it with better papers, more balanced conclusions and more realistic recommendations.
MCKINZIE: May I here interject a question about Iran? Arthur Millspaugh wrote a book about Iran, in 1946, Americans in Persia. At one point he implied that President Roosevelt thought Iran might be the test of Soviet principles after the war.
HOWARD: Very likely, and in a similar sense it could be.
MCKINZIE: When you were working on postwar plans, was there any special emphasis given to Iran?
HOWARD: Not in the groups with which I dealt, although I have no doubt there were other groups which did deal with Iran. About as far south as I got in
that period was Turkey. I did deal with the Palestine problem somewhat, particularly in the period following the war.
MCKINZIE: Could you talk about your work on the Turkish question? I recently read an account that at one point the people in the Division of European Affairs -- Jack Hickerson, for example -- were inclined to entertain the idea of a revision of the Montreux Convention of 1936, and that members of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs were more rigid in their thinking about the role of the Soviet Union.
HOWARD: I think they knew more about the problem. At one point -- and this throws a little light on the problem -- during the period of the publication or possible publication of the Yalta and the Potsdam Papers, especially the latter, I was asked to be the clearing officer for the Bureau of Near
Eastern and South Asian Affairs. One of my friends in the Bureau of European Affairs called me up one day and inquired whether I had cleared such and such material. Had I cleared Jack Hickerson's paper dealing with the Straits. I said I had cleared the document for publication. This was a paper which Jack had written in 1945 just prior to the Potsdam Conference. I noted that Jack had been in error in the paper because about the only work on which he had relied and read was H. W. V. Temperley's History of the Paris Conference. It is true that there were differences of view between the Bureau of European and the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. The latter Bureau was inclined, let us say, not to be so much more rigid, as it was to take its stand, I would like to think, at any rate, on the basis of the facts in the case. I am not sure, offhand, what the precise position of the Office of Near Eastern Affairs was relative to the later Truman
proposition as to the internationalization of the Straits. I know what my own position was. I favored internationalization, if the United States were willing to face the implications of the Straits insofar as the Panama Canal was concerned, insofar as the Suez Canal was concerned, insofar as other waterways of international concern were involved.
MCKINZIE: Was your own feeling that those consequences could be faced?
HOWARD: My feeling was that they could be. I wasn't sure that they would be. President Truman evidently was willing to face it, as you know, at Potsdam, in the various plans dealing with this problem. Take the case of a year later, in 1946, when the Paris Peace Conference was in session and Secretary of State James Byrnes was in Paris. Joseph Satterthwaite, then Special
Assistant to Loy Henderson, Director of the Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, summoned me and showed me a top secret letter, signed by William A. Eddy, then Director of the Office of Research and Intelligence in the Department of State. I read the document, remarked that I was pleased that it was top secret, but really should have been "for the eyes only of," -- or, best of all, should never have been written at all. There was not a single factual statement in the letter which was accurate and, therefore, none of the conclusions or recommendations could stand even cursory examination. I was then asked to go to the people who had written the letter and delicately inform them that the communication relative to the Straits was completely wrong. I conferred with the writers of the letter and found that they knew none of the basic documents, whether of
the Lausanne Conference (1922-923) or of the Montreux Conference (1936). This was shocking, but, fortunately, not typical of the Department of State. At any rate, I was asked to write a paper on the Straits. In it I touched on some of the similarities between the Straits, on the one hand, and the Panama and Suez Canals, on the other. Papers of this sort, however, have to go through channels, and quite naturally so. Gordon Merriam, then Chief of the Near Eastern Division, and I discussed the paper with Loy Henderson, Director of the Office of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, a very able and distinguished officer. Loy hit the ceiling when he duly noted my position relative to the Panama Canal. He held that there could be no comparison between the Straits and the Panama Canal, and reminded me that I was no mere academician now, but an advocate. I replied that I was well aware that
I was now an advocate, but that the best advocacy had to rest on the facts, and that these were the facts in the case, well known to the Russians. I also observed that I was not saying that the Turkish Straits were identical with the Panama Canal, but that the similarities were quite obvious. Granted that the United States had built the Panama Canal and spent its blood and treasure in the process, and the Straits were "an act of God," I insisted that these were technical considerations, not basic distinctions.
During the Suez crisis in 1956, I wrote a brief paper dealing with "Some Essential Elements in the Suez Problem." The paper was four or five pages in length. Among other things, I compared the Suez Canal with the Panama Canal. I sent copies to a few people inside and outside the Bureau. One of our information officers was much interested, remarking that people in the USIA, who would be going to the London meeting to consider
the Suez issue, were really not acquainted with the issues involved. Since I was running short of copies and wanted to revise a sentence or two, I made some extra copies. Having received the latest Report of the Panama Canal Company, I was able to show only some 28 percent of the traffic was American domestic coastwise traffic, while 36 nations regularly used the Canal. In one of his public statements during this period, Secretary of State Dulles had insisted that the Suez Canal was vested with an international interest because 40 nations sent their ships through the Suez Canal. I gave a copy of the revised paper to my friend, who, the next day came, sheepishly, to return the paper. He remarked that the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs did not want the paper to go to the London meeting and, in any event, would permit no mention of the Panama Canal.
This was a good illustration of the kind of sensitiveness involved in matters pertaining to
the Suez Canal and the Turkish Straits. It was true back in the war years, in the immediate postwar years, and at Potsdam. President Truman faced the issue, and included the Panama Canal in proposals which he presented at Potsdam concerning "inland waterways."
MCKTNZIE: With whom did you have most of your discussions about the Straits during the war?
HOWARD: The group with which I worked during the war -- and somewhat after -- included the late G. Lewis Jones, later Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs; Foy D. Kohler, subsequently Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, and Ambassador to the Soviet Union; W. Loy Henderson; George V. Allen, later Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, Ambassador to Iran, India, Yugoslavia; Gordon Merriam, Chief, Division of
Near Eastern Affairs; John D. Jernegan, later Ambassador to Iraq and Algeria. I used to talk at length with Jack Jernegan, who returned from his post in Iran about 1943 to become Assistant Chief in the Division of Near Eastern Affairs. Later I conferred at length with Ed Wilson, before he went out to Turkey as Ambassador in 1945, when the Soviet Union was bringing severe pressures upon Turkey for concessions in the Straits regime.
MCKINZIE: What kinds of arguments could you use with people, let us say, in the Bureau of European Affairs, who were thinking about making concessions on the Straits as a conciliatory gesture toward the Soviet Union?
HOWARD: I don't recall any particular argument at the time in that connection. Insofar as the operative memoranda were concerned, I think the
late George Allen did as much work as anybody. Lewis Jones was also very actively concerned with this question. On occasion I was invited to initial cables relative to the problem. But I don't recall basic discussions or serious differences of view of the kind to which you refer. As a matter of fact, when the Soviet Government sent its note of August 7, 1946 to Turkey setting forth its claims with regard to the Straits, copies of which came to the United States, I was home in Missouri on leave I read the detailed note when I returned. Naturally I took no part in the top level conversations in the White House on August 15, when President Truman took the position that the United States must stand by Turkey.
MCKINZIE: The reason why I keep asking this kind of question is that there are a lot of historians now who are concerned about "policy alternatives;" what was suggested, and not implemented, and why
it wasn't implemented.
HOWARD: I don't recall any very serious discussion. I didn't take part in any at that particular time. Of course, in the case of practically any discussion of any problem that I knew of we always discussed these problems in terms of alternative solutions -- or options. In general we came up with a preferred solution, but stated the possible alternatives, with the possible consequences which might follow. As a matter of fact, I am sure that, over the years, I learned more as to the particular matter of alternative solutions of problems than I had ever even thought of in academic life. I don't recall any discussion of any problem in the war years in which we did not present the alternatives. The discussions and the memoranda would go from interdivisional committees, to a higher committee, to the Secretary of State and ultimately to the President.
MCKINZIE: How did you happen to go to San Francisco in 1945?
HOWARD: Well, by that time, the Division of Territorial Studies, its work more or less completed, was broken up, and members were distributed to various other divisions. I had written a book, together with Robert J. Kerner, on The Balkan Conferences and the Balkan Entente, 1930-1935: A Study in the Recent History of the Balkan and Near Eastern Peoples (1936). Basically it dealt with what we now call "regional arrangements" and represented something of the "regional" approach to international organization. I was asked to become a member of the Division of International Organization Affairs. I wrote many memoranda on regional arrangements, whether on the Balkan Entente (Greece, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Rumania), the Little Entente (Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Yugoslavia), or some other arrangement, understanding or alliance in Eastern or Southeastern
Europe as others worked on Latin America, the Far East, etc. So I was in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organization, as a "technical expert" on the staff of the United States delegation. Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg, of Michigan, was the United States representative on Committee III/4, which dealt with regional arrangements and I was his "technical expert." I took the minutes for the U.S. delegation. I suspect that the rough draft minutes which went into my journal are better -- and at least more expressive -- than the finished product, as a matter of fact, because there are things that I could write privately which I couldn't write publicly.
For example, at one point the Belgian representative was speaking in the Committee and Vandenberg inquired as to what he was saying. I explained he was presenting the Belgian proposal
on the right of a state, under an alliance, to respond to an attack -- a proposal practically similar to that of the French and Turkish delegations. Senator Vandenberg thought the Committee should not go into these details at the moment, and observed that the United Kingdom, the United States, France and the U.S.S.R. were trying to work out a formula at the Fairmount Hotel, the American headquarters. He noted, in any event that the United States was working on a new formula. But A. I. Lavrentiev, the Soviet representative, protested that he had never heard of the new formula and observed that May 5 had been set as the deadline for submission of new proposals and it was already beyond that date. Vandenberg contended that, since the United States delegation was taking a few words and phrases from the Australian and French proposals, the time limit did not apply! I duly recorded in my
rough notes my familiarity with Stephen Leacock's hero, who had jumped on his horse and ridden off in all directions -- Senator Vandenberg had turned the trick before my very eyes.
On other occasions we would have meetings of a subcommittee on regional arrangements. We met one day in May with some twenty-one members of the fifty-member committee, including some fourteen Latin Americans. The session lasted about four hours because every Latin American representative had to make the same speech which his predecessor had made. But he had to make a longer speech and a more flowery one. The one exception was the representative of Mexico, Francisco Castillo Najera, the Ambassador to the United States. He was a Major General, a doctor, a former Foreign Minister and representative to the League of Nations. He did not have to give a long, flowery speech to get his name in the papers. Castillo would simply arouse himself from his seeming
slumber and say: "Mr. Chairman, I agree entirely with my distinguished friend, the honorable representative of so and so," and ask that this agreement be recorded in the minutes. Then Castillo would continue his nap. Well, I would write that about Castillo on the one hand and then I would probably add that "Dr. So and So, the long-winded bastard from Paraguay, spoke for four hours at this point." We had to listen to such speeches hour after hour, and the next day we had seven hours in the full committee III/4. Senator Vandenberg fairly gasped, and I said: "Senator, I thought that, as a member of the United States Senate, you believed in unlimited debate." Well, this was entirely too much.
MCKINZIE: As Senator Vandenberg's adviser did you believe that he had any kind of real grasp of the condition of the world at the end of the war?
HOWARD: I think he learned. I think he showed it in that famous speech of January 25, 1945, in which he renounced his past isolationism as unsuited to the kind of world in which we were now living. He was much more conservative than I ever would have been, but I think he came to believe that something in the shape of the United Nations had to be constructed to meet the problems of the day. One of my friends, an economist on the staff of the United States delegation, the late William Brown, of Brown University, good Democrat that he was, was never prepared to admit that Vandenberg, a Republican, could be a statesman. Perhaps, he suggested one day in Geneva, Switzerland, he had learned to act like a statesman and had found that it paid But that was a clear cut gain.
I can remember times when Senator Vandenberg seemed to make fun of President Truman, as he did, for example, during the first meeting we had of
the United States delegation in the Department of State, just before we departed for San Francisco. This was, no doubt, to be expected in American domestic politics. I really came to like the man. He could smoke more cigars than any person I think I have ever known. He was a chain smoker of cigars and I think it probably killed him.
MCKINZIE: How serious was the possibility of regional arrangements other than in Latin America so far as the United States was concerned?
HOWARD: Well, this is a very interesting question. My feeling at the time -- granted all the dangers of regional security arrangements, which could tend to become simply the old alliance system -- was that there was more possibility, more naturalness, as it were, in the regional approach than there was in moving along a completely universal plane. Certain regional arrangements had grown
up over the years. The League of Arab States had been organized on March 22, 1945. It was composed of states of Arabic language, Arabic culture, historical background and founded on sound geographical propinquity. It was a rather natural development, all elements considered. The Little Entente (Czechoslovakia, Rumania and Yugoslavia) came into being in the 1920s, while the Balkan Entente (Greece, Turkey, Yugoslavia and Rumania) came into being in 1934. These, too, were natural associations. Since they did not have the economies or military strength, without association with a Great Power or Powers, they could not, perhaps, contribute effectively to international peace and security. But if they contributed to the stability of the area through regional settlement of disputes, they would still have rendered a useful service. The Inter-American system was one of the oldest of these regional understandings or arrangements. Senator
Vandenberg considered it "the finest flower of peace that had ever bloomed," although he was unaware of its origins, and seemed to have heard or to have read little of the League of Nations.
As in 1919 in connection with the League of Nations, so at San Francisco in 1945, the Latin American states sought a very special place in the U.N. Charter. Ultimately regional arrangements were fitted into Articles 52, 53 and 54 of the Charter. Article 51, which dealt with the inherent right of individual and collective self-defense, was integrated into Chapter VII, which dealt with "action with respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the peace, and Acts of Aggression."
I wrote a portion of the Report to the President on the Results of the San Francisco Conference by the Chairman of the United States Delegation, The Secretary of State. In my draft submission
I insisted that the Arab League, the European alliance system, and the Soviet projects for alliances in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, fitted within the regional arrangements in Chapter VIII of the U.N. Charter, along with the Inter-American system. There could be no exception. The editor of the Report to the President did not agree. I commented that it was his own business if he did not want to include the statement, but I pointed out that any informed, intelligent European or American student of these problems, past the age when intellectually he goes to bed at 8 o'clock, would know that anything said in the Report about the inter-American system would apply to everyone of these regional arrangements under the Charter of necessity. There simply could be no exception, despite the contention of some American officials that there was.
At one point in Committee III/4, Senator Vandenberg made a plea for just twenty-four more hours of delay. He was not reporting failure as to the new formula, but was only asking for a day's grace to work out the new formula. Finally, Dr. Herbert Vere Evatt, the Minister for External Affairs of Australia, whom I came to know and like, spoke after Vandenberg had finished, and said that the least tribute which the committee could pay to the distinguished Representative of the United States, his distinguished friend, the Senator from Michigan, Senator Vandenberg, was to grant the delay. He added that "neither Australia nor France will sue the Representative of the United States for infringement of copyright."
MCKINZIE: But, higher up, even at that point, there wasn't much willingness to entertain the formation of regional alliances other than that which was
going to exist with Latin America?
HOWARD: I think the "higher" one got, the more people were inclined to be a bit conservative on some of these things. Moreover, Secretary of State Hull and others used to write and talk as though the United States and Americans generally were of superior "moral" quality and did not and could not think in terms of alliances, balance of power, etc.
MCKINZIE: You came back from the San Francisco Conference to be the Chief of the Near East Branch in the Division of Research. You were there until sometime in 1947, I gather?
HOWARD: I headed the Near East Branch in the Division of Research for a while. My own feeling frankly was that the Research Office, however important the function of research, was not working out too well at the time. I was not there too long
for the simple reason that by the fall of 1946 it was clear that the Greek question was coming into the United Nations, with disturbance throughout the country and guerrilla action along the northern frontiers with Albania, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. On December 19, 1946 came the resolution of the Security Council establishing a United Nations Commission of Investigation Concerning Incidents Along the Northern Frontiers of Greece. The next day, December 20, Joseph Satterthwaite, who later became Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, called me up and told me that I would be going out to Greece as a member of the American delegation. I was in Greece and Europe for about the next six months, and then commuted, as it were, between Washington, Athens, Salonika, and Geneva, Switzerland, working on the Greek question. Finally Loy Henderson took me out of the Research Office and brought me over into the Office of Near Eastern and South Asian
Affairs, first as an adviser in the Office of Greek, Turkish and Iranian Affairs (1947-1949), and then as U.N. Adviser in the Bureau (1949-1956), when I went to Beirut for some seven years.
I think one difficulty with the Research Office during this period was that many times the problems on which research was being carried on were not those in which the geographical (political) offices were basically interested, although that wasn't always true, by any means. Another difficulty was the delay in getting the research product to the person in the division who needed that research. For example, when I returned from Europe in the latter part of June 1947, Gordon Merriam, then Chief of the Near East Division, informed me that he had just received my memorandum on the Straits problem which I had finished when I left for Greece in January. The basic reason for the delay was that the memorandum had to pass through
too many hands, as it seemed to me, to be edited. I always met my problem in that respect by giving a carbon copy of the draft to Gordon Merriam or somebody else, so that six months later, when he got the finished product, he would have had the document anyway. The delay, in that sense, made no difference, although the procedure was somewhat irregular.
It impressed me in Greece on the U.N. Commission of Investigation that if somebody wanted something, he wanted it within a short time, not two or three weeks from the time of his request. I don't mean by this that everything had to be done under a strict and very quick deadline at all. But I think there was that trouble with the Research personnel. There were plans in the fall of 1947 to break up the Research Office and distribute its personnel among the geographical offices, although there was a danger in that -- namely that the research function,
the importance of which was recognized, would be subordinated to the prejudices of the various geographical offices I never ran into that. I think one solved that problem on the basis of his personal relationships with the various officers involved. If the people involved both liked and respected each other, the problem of delays or of other issues did not arise. I never suffered from it at all.
MCKINZIE: There arises another question concerning the product of the Research Office as it affected policy level. I think many historians get upset because they see a lot of work being done in the Research Office, but they find no connection between the research and policy action
HOWARD: I never felt that this was very important. When Benjamin V. Cohen returned from the Potsdam Conference in 1945, he complained that the United
States delegation had been very ill-prepared. It was not ill-prepared; it was very well prepared. Chip Bohlen was much nearer to the truth when he remarked: "We didn't have time to read all the things that we had." Now this is a bit disappointing in a way, but not too disappointing. I always had a feeling, for example, that if a paper were not used in the next five minutes, it might be in the next five months or even years. If so, the exercise would still be a valid one. So I never became much worried about that. I wrote a piece on The Problem of the Turkish Straits, which was published in 1947. I've always felt very pleased when five or even ten years later, people in the Pentagon, the Navy Department, or NATO Headquarters in Naples, would call or write to inquire about obtaining an extra copy or two. Specific questions would arise, such as the right of the Turkish Government to mine the Straits. Once,
my friend, Ambassador Parker T. Hart, wrote me from Ankara inquiring whether I could prepare a brief bibliography on the problem of the Turkish Straits for Admiral Rivero, Commander of the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. I complied with the request. I was never really troubled about this business of research not having an immediate impact on policy. In the ultimate sense it did have an impact, whatever the problem.
This is not to say that research had a complete impact or that policy would follow a recommendation literally. There are still complaints in the Department of State, heard year after year, about committee recommendations or committee government. As I said a few moments ago, my own feeling was that, generally, whenever we went into an inter-divisional committee, we came out with better documents. Of course there were differences of view, based on varying
evidence and experience Once during the war years, we assembled in George Allen's office. George was then Deputy Director of the Office of Near Eastern Affairs. This was either the Balkan Committee or the Greek Committee, or a combination of both. George Allen, Foy Kohler, Phil [Philip E.] Mosely, Cyril E. Black, John Campbell and I were there to consider and discuss the Greek claim to Northern Epirus, or Southern Albania. We came out against the Greek claim to Northern Epirus because, frankly, we thought it worthless. In our view there were not enough Greeks or Greek-speaking people in Northern Epirus, which was part of Albania. We couldn't find any political, economic or strategic justification for the Greek claim. George Allen, who had served in Greece and later was to be Ambassador in Athens, at one point plaintively asked: "Can't we do something for Greece?" We indicated that we were doing something for Greece. When the war
was over and won, Greece was going to get the Dodecanese Islands, for one thing, because ethnically they were Greek, and it might even get Cyprus, (However, we did not take any public position on the latter problem, contending it was an Anglo-Greek question. Greece was going to get something, but we could not justify its claim to Northern Epirus. At this point, Foy Kohler inquired: "What do you people do over there, just sit in a vacuum, in a brave new world?" I replied that when you carry on research of this kind, you're never really working in a vacuum at all or sitting in a brave new world." I added that, when we first entered the Department of State many of us considered people in the Foreign Service fascists and reactionaries, but now that we had become acquainted, we thought only most of them were. At any rate, when we asked George Allen how he decided when a policy was sound, he replied that if the Secretary of
State signed the document, it was sound! Actually, of course, he did not quite mean that.
Take again the question of Northern Epirus as an illustration. By January 1946, most of the people in our office by that time had gone, and I was then in the Division of International Organization Affairs (Office of Special Political Affairs). I had the papers which had been prepared in our office on Northern Epirus and other problems. The Greeks were now presenting various memoranda on that and other questions. So I took our background documents, along with the new Greek memoranda, and prepared another overall document on Northern Epirus. Lewis Jones and I went over to the Joint Strategic Survey Committee to discuss the problem with the admirals and the generals on the Committee, Admiral Davison, General Lauris Norstad, and others. We had no more than walked into the Committee conference room when one of them asked:
"What are you people from the Department of State trying to do -- get us into another war?" We replied that we were not trying to do that. We thought we knew something of the political, ethnic, and economic factors involved in the problem of Northern Epirus, but would like a military consideration of whether strategically it would be of any value to Greece, if Greece took Northern Epirus. They replied that if it were a matter of a local war, it would give Greece about two weeks' advantage. In a general war it would not "be worth a damn." We stood by this position at the Paris Peace Conference in 1946. A week later we took over the Greek memorandum demanding rectifications on the Greek-Bulgarian frontier in Western Thrace and received a similar response.
I should add that the question of Northern Epirus also came up in the U.N. Commission in
Greece. We really had a lot of fun with it. The Soviet delegation was always yelling and screaming that the Greek Government was chauvinistic, imperialist and aggressive. The question of Northern Epirus was trotted out to demonstrate the chauvinistic character of the Greek Government. But it just happened that the Greek Communists gave to the Commission a very large file of documents, all of which I read with great interest and care. One document was a piece of paper which contained a telegram sent by the Greek National Liberation Front (EAM), a group of leftist parties under the domination of the Greek Communist Party (KKE). That telegram was sent on July 30, 1946 to the President of the Paris Peace Conference, and sent on November 4, 1946 to the Council of Foreign Ministers, which was meeting in New York at that time. The cable declared that the EAM-KKE not only supported the Greek
national claim to Northern Epirus, and the Greek claim to rectifications on the Greek-Bulgarian frontier in Western Thrace, but claimed Eastern or Turkish Thrace as well.
Well, one day during the preparation of the Report of the Commission to the U.N. Security Council, Sergei Kudriatsev, one of the chief members of the Soviet delegation, passed along a Soviet draft for inclusion in the Report to the Security Council. Kudriatsev passed along a copy of the Soviet statement to a member of our delegation, Harding Bancroft, later a vice president of the New York Times. The document, of course, made the usual charges against Greek imperialism and chauvinism in Northern Epirus. Harding gave the document to me with the comment that it looked "pretty good" to him. I observed that the Greek delegation in Paris in June 1946 had denied the Soviet charges the very day that the matter had come up for
consideration. I further commented that if Kudriatsev insisted on inclusion of his draft, with this material in it, I would insist on including the cable of the Greek Communist Party supporting the claim to Northern Epirus. Two or three days later, Kudriatsev informed us that he would not insist on inclusion of this nonsense in the Report. We agreed not to include our material, although I did include it in a white paper which I wrote on the Greek question when it came before the United Nations General Assembly in the fall of 1947, under the title of Greece and the United Nations (1947).
We always told the Greeks, and did so at the Paris Peace Conference, that we would defend their right to present their position on the problem of Northern Epirus, without taking any evaluative position on the substantive issue. The British Government took substantially the same position.
The problem came up continually in the United Nations General Assembly, as it did in 1949. Although I had already published the Greek Communist cable in 1946, I always carried a copy of it in my brief case for at least two years just in case it should prove helpful. It did prove helpful one day in the fall of 1949 when the Soviet representative, Andrei Vishinsky, made his usual charge as to Greek chauvinism and imperialism in connection with Northern Epirus, and challenged Mr. Pipinelis, the Greek Foreign Minister, in the matter. "Was any other Greek party, outside the government coalition, supporting the "Greek national claim?" I knew, of course, that Mr. Cohen, the American representative, who did not like fighting in "the clinches," would never use the material I had. But sitting next to Ben was Hector McNeil, Minister of State in the Foreign Office and head of the British
delegation. I gave the material to Ted [later Sir Edward H.7 Peck, who inquired of Mr. Vishinsky whether any other Greek party supported the Greek claim. When Vishinsky replied in the negative, Hector read the Communist statement to the Committee. It helped the Committee on its way!
MCKINZIE: I don't mean to make this too disjointed. But how did you happen to go to Wiesbaden, Germany in 1945, in the late summer (August-November), on an interrogation mission?
HOWARD: My friend, the late David Harris, of Stanford University, then in the Department of State, asked me to go particularly to inquire into German policy and interest in Southeastern Europe and Turkey and to learn both from documentary materials and the interrogation of German diplomatic and some high-ranking military prisoners what we could about Nazi-Soviet relations during the war. I talked first with Admiral Nicholas
Horthy, the Hungarian leaden for about four hours. I never went back to him because it seemed impossible to get a straightforward response to any question. With one possible exception I did not have the impression that he was lying. He simply wandered all over the earth in responding. I talked with Edmund Wesenmeyer, an SS officer, for about a week and found him very interesting. He had been used to break up Czechoslovakia in the spring of 1939, was sent to Danzig in August 1939, and in April 1941 was sent to Zagreb. He could not understand, he told me, why he was always chosen for the "dirty work." It was very clear, however, that the reason was that he was very efficient at precisely that kind of work! Following Wesenmeyer I had a week or more of conversation with Hermann Neubacher, the former Burgomaster of Vienna. Neubacher was a very intelligent man who had not only been Mayor of
Vienna but President of the Austro-German Society for Anschluss from the 1930s to the outbreak of the war. He was a good Roman Catholic, who became a Nazi because the Nazis favored Anschluss and were anti-Communist. I wrote a long 70-page memorandum on Neubacher, which probably helped to keep him from being sent back to Yugoslavia, where he had been Chief German Plenipotentiary for the Southeast, and then summarily executed for war crimes which he did not commit. Like other members of our mission, I talked with a number of people -- Andor Henke, for example, who had been head of the Political Department in the German Foreign Ministry; Ambassador Herbert von Dirksen (Iran, Tokyo, London, etc.) and Count Hans Heinrich Herwart (who was never a Nazi and never a prisoner). Herwart was well informed about the Soviet Union, where he had served in the German Embassy, as private secretary to Ambassador Count von der Schulenberg.
Since von Dirksen, Herwart and Henke lived in our basement, I had almost daily walks and talks with them.
We learned much about Soviet and German plans in the Balkan peninsula and about Soviet policy as to the problem of the Turkish Straits from the German documents which, even at that period, were being found in scattered places in war-torn Germany. Many of the minutes of Hitler's conversations with the Russians, the Japanese, the Italians, and the Rumanians, for example, turned up and we had a chance to make preliminary studies of them. Moreover, I had a long talk with Paul Otto Gustav Schmidt ("Sprachenschmidt"), Hitler's interpreter, for example, in his conversation during November 12-13, 1940 with the Soviet Foreign Minister, Molotov. Schmidt said that he was very glad that we had captured the documents because he wanted the record out for scholars to study. As to Soviet policy the record
indicated that as a price for possible Soviet entry into the Axis, the U.S.S.R. wanted: 1) An alliance with Bulgaria, similar to the one which Germany had with Rumania, Bulgaria being in the Soviet security zone of the Straits, through which Russia had been attacked many times in the past; 2) a new regime of the Straits elaborated by the Black Sea Powers (the U.S.S.R.) and Turkey; 3) joint Turco-Soviet defense of the Straits, with the right to have Soviet military, naval and air forces in the zone of the Straits; 4) annexation of Eastern Anatolia, especially the Kars-Ardahan area; and 5) a new treaty of alliance with Turkey, similar to arrangements which were made later in Eastern and Southeastern Europe.
The Germans were told during November 12-13, 1940 that if Turkey did not willingly enter the Axis, it would be forced to do so. On November 25, 1940, Molotov made another point quite clear to the
German Ambassador, Count Friederich von der Schulenberg, namely that it must be recognized that Soviet interests lay south of Baku and Batum in the general direction of the Persian Gulf. This area was the center of gravity of Soviet policy and interest. This meant, of course, that the U.S.S.R. was interested in the entire Middle East -- a policy which did not change during the war or the immediate postwar era. For example, on March 19, 1945, the Soviet Union denounced the Turbo-Soviet Nonaggression Agreement of December 17, 1925, which had been renewed down to date. On June 7, 1945, the Soviet Government indicated what it wanted in the Straits and by way of territory from Turkey, which was identical with what the Germans had been told in 1940. If Turkey desired a new security treaty, it would have to be modeled on the Soviet-Polish or the Soviet-Czechoslovak Treaty, which would have made Turkey a satellite of the Soviet Union. This was what confronted
President Truman early in 1945 and in 1946. It was an aggressive, expansionist Soviet policy, which would have brought Turkey really within the province, as it were, of Soviet interest and cost Turkey its national sovereignty and independence. The Turkish Government then turned to the United States and to the United Kingdom, with the results which we know.
When the Turkish Ambassador to the United States, Huseyin Ragip Baydur, called on Acting Secretary of State Joseph C. Grew on July 7, 1945, to discuss the problem of Soviet pressures, Grew indicated that the United States was very definitely concerned, but he had understood that the Turco-Soviet conversations had been friendly in character and that no concrete threats had been made. The Ambassador inquired whether the United States would not consider it a threat if the U.S.S.R. demanded San Francisco or Boston. When Molotov came to the San Francisco Conference
in 1945, he talked with President Truman in Washington, and the President spoke to him in no uncertain terms about aspects of Soviet policy which were, by now, very clear.
Then we have the story as it eventuates in 1946, with the discussions in the White House, leading to the President's decision to support Turkey against the U.S.S.R. and its demands relative to the Straits. The Truman Doctrine of March 12, 1947 was another step in the same direction in the development of American policy. The curious thing about the Truman Doctrine, as it seems to me, whether in the instance of Greece or of Turkey, is that the agreements for assistance say nothing about any political commitments on the part of Greece and Turkey toward the United States. The only time when the political commitments really became formal was on February 18, 1952 when Greece and Turkey, of their own volition, entered NATO, despite outright opposition on the
part of some members and reluctance even on our part.
MCKINZIE: There was much more talk about Greece than Turkey...
HOWARD: This is quite true.
MCKINZIE: ..in the discussions that preceded the request for $400,000,000. I wonder if you could talk a little about that? I guess the events in Greece were more dramatic. Would that be more understandable to Congress? Is it as simple as that, or are there other reasons?
HOWARD: Well, the situation varied across the "northern tier" in Greece, Turkey and Iran, Soviet policy, it seems to me, was relatively similar in each case, but implementation of the policy differed according to the circumstances. In the case of Greece, for example, there is no
question that the guerrilla movement, which in many ways was a domestic development, was, nevertheless, a movement dominated by the Communists, by the KKE through the EAM, which was a coalition of leftist parties. There was an outright direct guerrilla action with guerrillas fighting in Greece, and then withdrawing, retreating across the frontiers into Albania, Yugoslavia (until the summer of 1948), and Bulgaria. There was no question about this. Fortunately, we had in the Office of Military Attache at Athens, a very able officer, Colonel Allen C. [Ace] Miller, who had a sense of what was going on in Greece. Ace warned the Greeks against shooting their evidence. The Greeks captured guerrilla leaders on occasion and were inclined toward summary execution at times. Ace Miller insisted on the utility of evidence. He was attached to our U.N. Commission of Investigation and to the later U.N. Special Committee on the Balkans(UNSCOB) as Military Adviser.
In the case of Turkey, it was not a matter of the use of guerrillas at all, but of military maneuvers and demonstrations, on the part of Soviet troops along the Turco-Soviet borders. The Soviet pressures and the demands on Turkey forced Turkey to keep a much larger army in being than, in fact, it was able to support.
In the instance of Iran it was a matter of doing one of two things. It was a question, on the one hand, of tearing the country to pieces, recognizing a separate republic of Kurdistan (1946), recognizing Azerbaijan or taking Azerbaijan into the U.S.S.R. On the other hand, there was the possibility, through the Tudeh Party, of subverting the entire country and then making Iran a satellite of the Soviet Union. In other words, the U.S.S.R. would take over what Mr. Dulles later was to call the "northern tier." So, in the case of Greece, on the U.N. Commission of Investigation, we were sent out to find out what
was going on on the northern frontiers of Greece. We had at the time, I think, as fine a set of instructions as one could well ask for. We went to see Loy Henderson a day or so before departing for Greece, in January 1947. Mark Ethridge, Editor and Publisher of The Louisville Courier-Journal, and head of the United States delegation on the U.N. Commission of Investigation, asked Loy what his instructions were. He replied: "The instructions are to go out to Greece and the Balkan area, find out what is going on, and report. There were no other instructions. People have asked me about the effect of the Truman Doctrine on that concept of investigation. I think the answer is none -- that is, no deleterious effect. We were going to report according to the facts as we saw them, however right or wrong we might have been in the matter.
Some 256 witnesses appeared before the U.N. Commission of Investigation and it was on the basis
of their testimony and other materials that the report of the Commission of the U.N. Security Council was prepared. I recall a seventeen year old guerilla prisoner who appeared before the Commission. I never saw or heard of one of these guerillas, incidentally, who was ever embarrassed by being in the presence of the Commission. The Chairman asked him if he realized that he was in the presence of an international commission. He was unimpressed by that fact. I asked him at one point what he meant by military training, which he said he had received in a village in Yugoslavia. “Well,” he said, “everybody understands what military training is, but I guess there are some people here on the Commission who don’t. The Belgian representative, Commandant Hue, asked a silly question and got an excellent answer. He inquired about Marxism and Leninism. The witness replied, “As I told you, I am only seventeen, and I am illiterate. I cannot read or write, and I don’t know anything
about Marxism and Leninism. But," he said "I can tell you what our leader said. Our leader said we're going to get that big white house, right on the waterfront in Salonika." This had an authentic ring. I asked him about the village where he had been in Yugoslavia. He did not remember the name, or the month or the year when he had been there. But he advised me that if I did not believe him, he'd get me into an airplane and show me where he was. My Soviet colleague, A. A. Lavrischev, did not like the boy's testimony and protested that he was too young to testify. I held that the validity of testimony depended on the character and knowledge of the witness. I think we stuck to our guns pretty well. In fact the Commission did a very good job.
MCKINZIE: With a charge to determine what was going on arid to report accordingly, isn't there, at the same time, a kind of natural inclination
to want to make some recommendations as to what to do about it?
HOWARD: Yes. We were to draw conclusions and, of course, we did make a series of recommendations in our Report to the Security Council.
MCKINZIE: Would you say that the American delegation was agreed?
HOWARD: Yes, oh yes. Some members of our delegation were more or less conservative, like Norbert Anschuetz (of Kansas City, incidentally), while others were more or less liberal. But this had nothing to do with the problem which we all faced in connection with Greece. The primary recommendation -- on which we got five Soviet vetoes in the Security Council in August 1947 -- called for the continuation of a Commission to stay out there and observe and report concerning the situation. I had a feeling that the U.S.S.R.
might have accepted the recommendation, since a Soviet delegation could always sabotage such a Commission as it did the first one. Furthermore, the U.S.S.R. would have had people in Greece whom it might well have wanted to have there.
After the five Soviet vetoes, we took the problem to the U.N. General Assembly which, on October 21, 1947, established the U.N. Special Committee on the Balkans (UNSCOB), which carried on roughly the same sort of investigation as the original Security Council Commission. By 1950 the situation began to change in Greece, and finally we had a Peace Observation Commission, which really met only in New York.
I recall very well that in June 1950 I was going to Geneva, Switzerland to help write the Report of UNSCOB to the General Assembly. Since the situation in Greece was now much more calm, the United States was prepared to cut down UNSCOB or, perhaps, eliminate it and substitute the
Peace Observation Commission for it. I arrived in London and saw a British friend who had served with the UNSCOB -- the late Dick Barnes. Now in the Foreign Office, Dick was not going to London. Then I went to Paris on Sunday afternoon, June 25, 1950. I looked at the Paris papers, read what had just happened in Korea, and I knew that our policy relative to UNSCOB had just changed -- we would keep the Special Committee in Greece. I had no instructions. I don't even recall having seen new instructions the next day, but I knew good and well that in talking at the Quai d'Orsay we would say that the Committee should be maintained. I had always understood that the Korean Commission was not a very impressive body. But on that one day, June 25, 1950, it was terribly important that a U.N. body have some representation in Korea, so that whatever its judgment as to what had happened did not bear the U.S. label, but had at least the fiction of the U.N. over it. That was also true
in the case of UNSCOB. If nothing whatsoever happened in Greece, so much the better; if one day something did happen, we would have UNSCOB there and ready, with the evidence, to report. So, it was maintained.
MCKINZIE: On that premise? That if something should happen, there would be a U.N. presence there?
HOWARD: Yes, that was very important. But there were a lot of times when nothing very important happened. Often meetings of two or three hours were simply dull and boring. On one occasion in the summer of 1949, everyone had spoken except Sir Horace Seymour, of an old British diplomatic family. Sir Horace ended the meeting with the remark: "I couldn't care less." Generally speaking, with all his experience and wisdom as a British diplomat, Sir Horace was hardly audible -- in contrast to Lady Seymour, who was quite audible. She was also interested in Greek history and assumed
that if one had studied some history, he must know ancient Greece -- which I did not. On one occasion she inquired about Philippi, the ancient capital of Philip of Macedon. At first I assumed she meant Plovdiv or Phillipopolis, in Bulgaria. She was referring to Kavalla, the tobacco center of that part of the world. Well, one Sunday evening, when I was having Sunday supper with Phillip A. Mangano, of our delegation, Sir Horace and Lady Seymour were leaving. They and other members of the British delegation had gone to Kavalla the day before. She described the place: "Marvelous place, marvelous place. The most wonderful privies I've ever seen! Forty holes and all marble, right in the market place."
MCKINZIE: About this time, the Palestine question was beginning to come into the consciousness of people in the Office of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs. I wonder if you could discourse at some length on this -- from perhaps your discussions
HOWARD: I did not work directly on the Palestine problem during the earlier period. My own feeling, quite frankly, is that Mr. Truman made a fundamental mistake in his handling of the Palestine problem. That does not, insofar as I am concerned, detract from his position as one of the outstanding Presidents of the United States. He really did not understand the situation in the Middle East. He did not understand the Palestine problem. He did not understand the Balfour Declaration.
MCKINZIE: He did know, of course, about the Balfour Declaration.
HOWARD: Yes, but I think he misconstrued the Balfour Declaration, which had at the time (1917), little to do technically with a Jewish state in the area, but did have to do with a national home in Palestine for Jewish people. Well, leaving that
aside, I think he made a serious mistake there, for the simple reason that the basic population in Palestine was certainly not Jewish, but Arabic, even in 1947-1948. Back in the period of 1917 about 92 percent of the people of Palestine were Arabs, and only 8 to 10 percent were Jews. I think that what we did at the time in favoring the establishment of a Jewish state or common-wealth complicated the problem seriously and rendered it practically impossible of solution. I have seen a statement recently by a friend, who is a very strong Zionist, and a good historian, to the effect that if President Roosevelt had lived, probably there would not have been a Jewish State in Palestine. Roosevelt was "above the problem," as it were -- he "manipulated" in these matters. In 1947 it may have been somewhat inevitable, granted the development of certain details of policy that the thing turned out the way that it did. For example, if between 1945
and 1947, we had opened our doors and other states had opened their doors to Jewish immigration the pressure on Palestine might have been lifted.
MCKINZIE: But was that a thinkable alternative? We talked about policy alternatives...
HOWARD: Now, I was coming to that. There is a question as to whether it was thinkable. For example, there was discussion of liberalizing American immigration laws in this period. The Zionists opposed that liberalization on the ground that this would not be a solution as far as they were concerned. They wanted a political, not necessarily a humanitarian, solution --that is, they wanted a state. Mr. Truman himself has testified in his Memoirs that he was never under such pressure on any other problem. In this problem he was under terrific pressure. At one point he was so angry at the Zionists because of their pressures and unfair treatment that he gave orders around the
White House that he would not see another one of them, including Chaim Weizmann. His old friend and former partner as a haberdasher in Kansas City was brought into the picture to persuade him to see and talk with the Zionist leader. Truman protested to Weizmann about the Zionist pressures. Well, Loy Henderson can tell you a very great deal more than I can about developments during this period. I share his point of view.
The problem of Palestine was highly complicated and in the spring of 1947 a U.N. Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) was established to deal with it. Ultimately, in September UNSCOP, of which Ralph Bunche was Principal Secretary, recommended the partition of Palestine into a Jewish State, an Arab State and an international enclave at Jerusalem. A number of my friends, especially from Australia -- who had served on the U.N. Commission of Investigation in Greece -- served on
UNSCOP. One of them, responding to one of the Elders of Zion, who said he had understood that my friend had a solution of the problem, said: "Yes, I'd give the damned place back to the Turks.” That was hardly a solution.
UNSCOP made its Report to the U.N. General Assembly in September 1947, and, of course, the United States supported the majority plan on the partition of Palestine. But President Truman had at least reservation about the matter. He was determined that he would never use American troops to implement the plan. As late as 1957 he stated that he could not have anticipated all the trouble which followed his decisions in the period of 1947-1948. In any event, he evidently felt that the British troops, some five divisions, would suffice. In any event, in the spring of 1948, all hell having broken loose in the meantime, the President and his advisers changed course and urged a temporary trusteeship over Palestine,
without prejudice as to ultimate solutions. Philip C. Jessup, the American representative, was making the speech in favor of temporary trusteeship when, on May 14, came the word that the independence of Israel had just been proclaimed, and that the United States, within some nine minutes, had recognized the new state. Dr. Jessup had just had the rug pulled out from under his feet! Later on, the President claimed that the statement on retreating into temporary trusteeship was formulated behind his back and without his knowledge. But ask Loy Henderson the details of this aspect of the story -- Loy says that the President did know that the speech was to be made. A decade later, in 1957, President Truman still thought his Palestine policy had been "right" and added that he could not have anticipated all of the troubles which had followed.
I had been called back to Washington in
February 1957 to do some work in the Department of State to help it respond to the Senate investigation of our alleged policy in the Middle East -- especially our Palestine policy. I was in Washington when I read the Truman statement, made about April 1 before a Zionist meeting in Miami, Florida. I thought: "My God, you were told practically every day in the year by responsible officers in the Department of State who had had experience in and a knowledge of that area what would follow if we did adopt the policy which we followed. You were told practically every day by American representatives in the field. They all gave the same kind of warning without exception. You were told practically every day by every Arab representative in Washington that this is what is going to happen." Well, President Truman didn't believe it.
I could give you an example of two other
people who did not believe this sort of thing and make the story strictly nonpartisan, although the person who can clarify that, also, is Loy Henderson. Loy went up to New York in September 1947 on instructions from Mr. Robert Lovett, who was then Acting Secretary of State, with General George Marshall up in New York with the U.S. delegation to the U.N. General Assembly. Loy was asked to go to New York to brief General Marshall. While he was not to talk with the delegation, practically every member of it was present. Loy warned that the "partition" policy was dangerous, that what we were doing was against the national interest, and he could not support it. We were going to lose blood, treasure, and our moral influence in the Middle East. Mrs. Roosevelt asked him if he was representing the Arab States. He replied that he had been a Foreign Service officer of the United States practically all his adult life. Well, Mrs.
Roosevelt simply did not believe there would be all this trouble. The other person, to be strictly nonpartisan, who did not believe it either was John Foster Dulles, who said he would not support the partition of Palestine if he did believe it. So this was a strictly nonpartisan matter, in the sense of the Republican and Democratic parties. We supported the partition policy. While there may have been no other way out of it at the time, I think it was a very serious error on our part.
As a matter of fact, let us suppose Thomas E. Dewey had defeated Truman in 1948. The policy would have been the same general policy -- perhaps worse. For example, when he was Secretary of State, Mr. Dulles used to complain about partisan politics in connection with this question. We landed in Paris about September 17 or 18, 1948 for the session of the U.N. General Assembly. We got the news on the S.S. America that Count Folke
Bernadotte, the U.N. mediator, had been assassinated by Israeli terrorists. There was a feeling in the delegation, in Washington and in London, that now world public opinion would be so utterly outraged that the Palestine problem could be brought under control. Messages were exchanged between London and Washington with a view to issuing a statement or statements. We arrived in Paris on the evening of September 18. People came over from our London Embassy to frame the statement. They framed the statement and Secretary Marshall issued it, as I recall, that night. It was a pretty good statement. The next morning, Mr. Dulles, who was a member of the delegation, said: "Nevertheless that statement does not bind Governor Dewey or me." This meant that Governor Dewey wanted to be elected President. It meant that the Republicans were playing politics up to the hilt with it. Later on, Dulles would make his plea to be nonpartisan about our policy
in Palestine, of course, when he was carrying the responsibilities of Secretary of State. In this instance, nothing was done aside from issuing the statement which, after the Dulles statement, had little influence anyway. Of course, Mr. Dulles expected to be Secretary of State in January 1949. So did practically everyone else.
Carlos P. Romulo, of the Philippines, set up a dinner in honor of Mr. Dulles for November 5, to which, originally, as we understood, he was not going to invite General Marshall.
MCKINZIE: There are a number of aspects of the Middle Eastern situation now being elucidated by historians, which I wonder if you might comment on. One is the trotting out of evidence that Secretary of the Navy Forrestal and Secretary of War Patterson had as their primary consideration for not recognizing Israel, or for not taking an unpopular course in the Palestine problem, the necessity for
Middle Eastern oil in United States defense requirements. Some historians now come down hard upon the thinking about oil among personnel in the Division of Near Eastern Affairs.
HOWARD: You mean they are critical of them?
MCKINZIE: No, not particularly critical, but that the considerations about oil weighed very heavily in the…
HOWARD: If you read The Forrestal Diaries you certainly got the idea as to the importance of Middle Eastern oil. The whole question of the pipeline -- which had come up by 1944 -- was still a question and a rather active one. That was one thing. Secondly, the fear that the Soviet Union might exploit this situation. As a matter of fact, one of my very good friends, the late Hans Kohn, wrote to me about 1946 saying that the U.S.S.R. wanted to eliminate Great Britain from the Middle East,
to destroy any possibility of a democratic development within Palestine. Hans Kohn was a follower of Judah L. Magnus and Martin Buber. He was a very reasonable person who had lived in Palestine for a while. He was fearful that the Soviet Union might intervene in that area. With the Palestine problem developing in the way that it was, Soviet intervention might be facilitated. I am sure that people in the Office of Near Eastern Affairs had a feeling similar to the views Forrestal had expressed -- Loy Henderson certainly. I should say that there were possibilities in that direction, even though my own feeling would be -- looking back on it twenty-five years later -- that the force of Arab Nationalism, of Turkish Nationalism, of Iranian Nationalism would have prevented the Soviet Union from achieving whatever object it might have had at that time, if the object were one of dominating the Middle East. There was no easy road to the achievement
of Soviet policy, but the danger was there. Granted the energy crisis as we now know it, and the oil, situation in the Middle East, I would say that one would be more justified now in saying what those people said in the 1940s. I think we are going to run into difficulties, in part, because of past policies. In Western Europe people are seeing this, in my estimation, better even than we are -- in Great Britain, France, Germany. They were not going to follow our policy in the Middle East, if they can avoid it in any way. So, I am not inclined to hold this against people in that period. I think they probably saw the situation fairly clearly. If you read the 1947 volume of U.S. Foreign Relations on the Middle East you get this picture very well. Jack Jernegan wrote some very interesting memoranda which are now published. And, of course, you can read the Acheson memoirs. You remember his statement
that he could not talk with his old friends Justices Frankfurter and Brandeis about the matter -- that they were too emotionally involved, whereas Acheson was not emotionally involved at all. He thought our policy relative to Palestine "ignored the totality of American interest in the area." That expression summed up the situation very well.
MCKINZIE: You were talking about the fear of Soviet influence in the area. There is an unresolved historical question involved as to whether President Truman actually threatened to put the Sixth Fleet in the Persian Gulf in 1946, if Stalin did not withdraw troops from Northern Iran. William Franklin, the head of the Historical Office of the Department of State has told me that he's never been able to find any communication with the Russians; that this never happened.
HOWARD: I think Bill probably would be right. We had a question about that in 1953, when I was still U.N.
Adviser in the Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs. Truman had said that he had sent an ultimatum to Stalin relative to Iran. Well, everybody scurried around to find the ultimatum. I know I looked for it. I am sure people in the Historical Office looked for it. Nobody could ever find an ultimatum. I think probably what happened was that Mr. Truman made a statement, and he used the term ultimatum in a general sense, not in a technical, specific sense. At any rate, nobody ever found it. I suppose that is the time when he may have been said to have threatened to use the Sixth Fleet.
In 1946, of course, President Truman sent the body of the late Turkish Ambassador, Mehmet Munir Ertegun, to Istanbul, on the U.S.S. Missouri, I am sure, as a tribute and a courtesy to the Ambassador, who was a very fine man, but also as a kind of naval demonstration. At one time or
another in 1953, we sent some 800,000 tons of warships through the Turkish Straits to Istanbul. The British sent through about 300,000 tons. The Soviet Government raised hell with the Turkish Government, which explained that these were courtesy visits which, under the Montreaux Convention, were not limited to tonnage. But to the U.S.S.R. these were naval demonstrations.
MCKINZIE: You were an adviser to the U.N. delegation at the time that a lot of relief activities were being sponsored by the United Nations. I speak specifically of the Arab refugee problem. Do you recall particular problems in getting domestic acceptance -- that is, acceptance in the Department of State, for that? There was some talk against some of these projects as being "international WPA."
HOWARD: Yes, and that the money was all wasted and the Arab refugees were living high, and so on.
While I did not deal, with the problem in the beginning, I did get a first hand acquaintance with the problem. I served as the Acting U.S. representative, which was not a very important position incidentally, on the UNRWA Advisory Commission. I got around to practically all of the refugee centers during the seven-year period that I was there. Generally speaking, I think even Americans who have dealt with the problem -- even officers in the Department of State who have dealt with it -- have not understood what has happened. This is certainly true of many Senators and Congressmen who have visited the area. We have put into UNRWA more than $500,000,000 We have assumed that the Arab States have done nothing at all, except raise hell about the problem. As a matter of fact, by my own calculations, at any rate, which are based on U.N. documentation, the Arab host governments and other Arab governments, directly and indirectly, have probably
contributed in the neighborhood of at least $200,000,000 in goods, services and cash. The assumption here is that they do nothing constructive at all. Secondly, I think there is an assumption that these people, who are poor, are not worth the candle. Thirdly there is a misconception that all the refugees have done is to lie rotting in camps, being too lazy to work in the earlier years, and they are now guerrillas fighting in their frustrations. It is assumed that all UNRWA has done is to spend money on food and shelter and keep the problem from being "solved." UNRWA also has an educational program now which meets some of the educational needs of close to half a million people, from the first grade up through secondary school. It has scholarships of about $550 per year which send qualified Arab refugee students to the American University of Beirut, the American University in Cairo, Damascus University, and the new Jordan National University.
It has one of the best vocational training programs. As a matter of fact, the largest percentage of UNRWA funds now go into education and training, not into relief -- i.e., food and shelter. One of my friends, who used to direct it, tells me that the UNRWA Health Service, run on the basis of some four cents per day per refugee, is probably the best public health service in any developing area. As a matter of fact, the entire budget for UNRWA represents about ten cents per capita per day. At one time, when the U.S. representative at the U.N. General Assembly was raising hell about the UNRWA budget charging that UNRWA was supporting guerrillas who were attacking Israel, and urging various cuts in expenditure, the UNRWA Commissioner General, Lawrence Michelmore, replied: "Let's get very clear what we are talking about. We are talking about ten cents a day for people, you know, not $50, or $100, or $200 a month, which we have here in this country, but ten cents a day."
I, frankly, was very much impressed with what I saw and what was done, and, as I say, I went all around.
MCKINZIE: All that was assumed to be quite temporary?
HOWARD: We assumed in the beginning that it would be very, very temporary, and it is very interesting to read the records on this point. Back in 1949 and 1950, it was assumed that the problem was going to be solved within roughly a year or so. This was a basic assumption, I would say, clear down to 1956 -- that any day now it was going to be ended. Well, it wasn't ended. People like Gordon Clapp, who used to head the TVA, and who headed a U.N. Economic Survey Mission in the Middle East during 1949, had a much clearer view of the long-range, complex character of the refugee problem. Gordon Clapp made one basic point about some of the things which were then being contemplated
as a solution. He said that to engage in large scale economic development projects as a solution to this problem was only to invite frustration and failure. The Arab refugees were not ready for this approach. Neither were the Arabs generally nor the Arab Governments. Three years later, in January 1952, we went in for a big $150,000,000 program. We tied all that up with refugee resettlement. That ruined it, immediately.
President Eisenhower sent out Eric Johnston as his personal representative, to examine the situation and push the project. Ralph Bunche told me once that Eric Johnston was the worst qualified person he had ever known going out to the area to work on that problem. Among other things, he was a member of the American Christian Palestine Committee, a strongly pro-Zionist group. Well, every time Eric Johnston went out to the Middle East, he would come back here and make a statement. One statement, for example, in 1955, said:
"We are now at the one inch line." He did not say which goal post it was. He added that as soon as the project, largely covering the Jordan Valley, was completed, some 250,000 refugees could be resettled. He had no idea, of course, that he was killing the project with the remark about resettlement. The average Arab response to that kind of statement was: "The hell you say, you are not going to resettle anybody." That did not mean that the Arabs did not believe in economic development. It did mean that they were not going to support economic development if we were going to tie it up with refugee resettlement.
I’ll give you another sample. In 1961 Senator W. Stuart Symington was out in the Middle East. He is a very able Senator and, among other things, wanted to look into the refugee problem. We took him down to UNRWA Headquarters for a briefing session. He had just read a very dreadful article by Martha Gelhorn, also from St. Louis, on the
refugee problem in the October 1961 Atlantic Monthly. It was one of the worst articles I've ever read on the subject, although he obviously believed it. We got together other items for him to read, including Don Peretz's book on Israel and the Palestine Arabs, one of the very best books on the subject. Both Don and Martha Gelhorn happen to be Jewish, although Don is a scholar and knew something about the subject, while Martha Gelhorn knew nothing about it. After the briefing session with UNRWA officers, we took Senator Symington, with John Newhouse, his assistant, down to the new vocational training center for refugees near Sidon (Saida), and also took him through the Ein Hilweh refugee center nearby, which is not a bad place. John Newhouse and I were determined that we would also get Senator Symington, if he had time, to see the worst, since, like Martha Gelhorn, he had the impression that the Arab refugees were living high
off the lamb, if not the hog.
As it turned out, Senator Symington did have an extra day or two in Lebanon. So we took him over to a refugee center named Gouraud, named after the French Field Marshal, just around the corner from the ancient ruins of Ba'albek. This was an old Ottoman army barracks, used after World War I for some 300 French soldiers. Some 3,000 Arab refugees were now housed there. It was about the dirtiest, filthiest place that one could imagine. As we went through the refugee center, Senator Symington kept repeating: "This is very sad, this is very sad," and I will never forget it. I think he did forget it, but we will let that pass. I told the UNRWA area officer, Khalil Ja'abari, a Palestinian Arab from Nablus -- something of an extremist, that Senator Symington was very pro-Zionist, and very able as a Senator, and should be completely free, in view of the character of the place, to go wherever he wanted to. Senator
Symington kept repeating that this was all "very sad," and my friend, Khalil remarked: "Well, Senator, I guess you have seen another side of this problem."
Senator Symington asked me to ride back into the mountains with him when we had finished the tour. On the way I offered to take him through another dreadful refugee center, named after the British Field Marshal Wavell, but he protested that he would become ill if we did. Then he asked the usual silly question -- the fundamental question: "What do you think is the solution of this problem?" I replied: "Well, if you are thinking of a political solution, I don't even think in those terms at all." Senator Symington remarked: "Don't you think that is primarily because of Prime Minister David Ben Gurion's intransigence?" Symington would never have said this publicly. I remarked that, in my opinion, as long as Ben Gurion lived and as long as his spirit dominated the political scene in
Israel, there would be no hope of a political settlement, and that I would not now want to wager that the Arabs would make an adjustment if Israel did move in the direction of compromise and peace.
Then we talked about projects for economic development. I told Senator Symington that Eric Johnston used to come out to the Middle East on the matter of the development of the Jordan Valley and the sweet waters of the Nile Valley. But he made the same fatal mistake every time he returned to the United States, of saying: "When we finish the project some 250,000 people will be resettled." I added: "That ended the project." "But," Senator Symington added: "If he didn't say that, he'd never get the money out of the United States Congress." I replied: "This is precisely the case. If Mr. Johnston did not say it, he wouldn't get the money out of the United States Congress; if he did say it, he would not get the project." That was simply that. This has really been part of the
story all the way along.
There are nuances in this kind of development which, I am afraid, Americans have never really understood or appreciated. Harry Labouisse left his post as Director of UNRWA in the spring of 1958 and soon became Director of AID and ultimately Director of UNICEF. When he paid his farewell call on Prime Minister Samir Rifai of Jordan, the latter begged him to ask the United States Government not to force him to make a public statement of his own conviction that the Arab refugees would be staying right where they were, not returning to their former homes. But he would be murdered, he thought, if he said so publicly. Well there was much in that sort of thing, and I think we have never appreciated this nuance in this country -- not at all.
When Norman Burns was head of the AID program (USOM) in Jordan back in 1959, he negotiated
an agreement with the Jordan Government on the construction of the East Ghor irrigation canal, which included land reform. The project involved only the United States and Jordan, not Israel. You will read the agreement in vain to find any reference to the fact that there were some 100,000 refugees in the East Ghor of the Jordan Valley who would benefit both from the irrigation and the land reform. The Jordan Government and the United States Government knew this. Both knew that to put it down on a piece of paper would be disastrous for the project, so there was no mention of it in the agreement. In other words they met the imponderable by not mentioning it at all. Now, if Eric Johnston had had the good sense to say nothing about refugee resettlement, regardless of Senator Symington's position, we might conceivably have been a little bit better off relative to this matter. One of our troubles is that we react to words, and the
words tend to become realities and, in this sense, they become an obstacle to sound achievement.
I used to feel, in connection with the Arab refugee problem that the term "resettlement" was such a word. Now let me point to an UNRWA center at Yarmuk, in the vicinity of Damascus, with a population of some 30,000 Palestinians. The refugees built it themselves with the assistance of the Syrian Government, mind you. UNRWA provided some 80 Syrian pounds to put a roof on it. This has been done ever since 1949. But if one called the process "resettlement," he would ruin it and destroy the possibility of further accomplishment. I made this point once to Senator Albert A. Gore. He asked: "Why not call it what it is?" "Well," I said: "The assumption there is that we Americans always call a spade a spade -- we speak directly to the point. I went back to the presidential campaign of 1952 in the United States when the word "containment”
fell into bad odor, as you know, and we had to speak of "liberation." "Containment" came to mean "surrender."
Well, the Arabs are this way, too; there are certain words which are not to be used in this connection. Once when I went through Yarmuk, for example, the Arab officer, who held a doctorate from the Sorbonne, corrected me when I spoke of the Yarmuk "camp." He commented: "This is not a camp. It is a village."
As already observed, the Palestinian refugees had built the village themselves, with UNRWA and Syrian government assistance. One could go to other places and see the same sort of thing. Or he could go to Lebanon and see a place like Shatila, which was absolutely awful -- where there are now many well-armed guerrillas.
MCKINZIE: Let me ask you about a couple of other points which bear upon what you have been talking about.
After the war, there was much talk among advisers and career officers about "the revolution of rising expectations!” There is a tendency to lump together all of the "underdeveloped world," and talk about the "revolution of rising expectations." There were a number of proposals. Gordon Clapp led the U.N. Economic Survey Mission in the Middle East in 1949. There was the Rockefeller International Committee on Development, which recommended a river project. Point IV made some studies on the Litani River in Lebanon, and then Edwin Locke -- who served as U.S. representative on the UNRWA Advisory Commission in the earlier years -- recommended a massive injection of capital into the Middle East. So you have a very mixed picture of the nature of the population and of the proposals to keep that area stabilized.
HOWARD: This is interesting. I remember Locke and something of his proposals. I met and talked with him, although I never really knew him. Gordon
Clapp, I think, had the most sensible, perceptive view of all of this. He cautioned against the big projects and urged the development of smaller development projects, which would train people in multiple skills, the end results of which could be seen as practical and viable. For example, the big mistake which was made -- according to some, at any rate -- in Iraq by the Iraq Development Board was that it always thought in terms of big projects, not in terms of small projects involving an access road, or the construction of a school, or something of that sort. The Iraqi Development Board did not think in terms of small projects the results of which could be seen and felt. Well, you know what happened in Iraq, partly as a result of that failure. As already stated, Gordon Clapp's advice was to concentrate on the smaller projects. Three years later, on January 26, 1952, we supported a resolution in the U.N. General Assembly for the expenditure
of some $250,000,000 on large scale projects. I think Edwin Locke had something to do with recommending the grandiose projects.
MCKINZIE: Well, his argument was that if there were not development projects, there would be social revolution. There would be violent revolution because of the very bad social conditions.
HOWARD: I think one can argue that position -- as to whether economic aid promotes stability. I have thought that a better word than "stability" was "orderly development," or something of that sort. There is going to be change, whether we like it or not, and stability implies a sort of maintenance of a status quo. I think it is arguable as to whether large development projects or any development projects really support stability. They may create disorder. You can argue about the public school system in this country. You can argue whether Sir William Byrd, colonial Governor in Virginia, was
correct in thinking it was a dangerous idea to teach people to read and write. It is a dangerous idea. But it's dangerous not to do it, too.
In the case of Jordan we have had some significant, if rather small projects. Of course, we have given a great deal of budget support to the Government. We built the new road between Amman and Jerusalem, coming down to the Dead Sea, and then going out into the hills into Jerusalem. It is shorter than the old road, and there are some access roads like farm-to-market roads in the Middle West. In the case of Jordan, the expenditure has been worthwhile. Of course there have been waste and inefficiency, but I agree with the remark of one of our public road engineers, who told my wife one day that he did not "mind pouring money down a rat hole," although he did not like "seeing it slop all over the edges." This was a very perceptive remark. There would always be some waste. The basic question was whether there were
The situation in Lebanon seemed somewhat different. One of my friends in the Embassy in Beirut used to tell me that an AID program was not really needed in Lebanon at all. All that was needed was one person to sign the checks, since that was all that really interested the Lebanese. The Lebanese wanted no advice or technical assistance. For example, in Lebanon they built what seemed to be a very fine road between Beirut and Tripoli -- quadruple lane all the way, as I recall. It was opened when we were there. During that period there were stretches of the road which looked as if it had been built about twenty years before and that little or nothing had been done to maintain the road. Evidently banana peels, rotten tomatoes and garbage had been thrown into the foundations. I asked our American Public Roads adviser one
day what should be done about the road. He replied: "There is really only one thing to do about it and that is to tear it all up and start all over again." To put matters in better perspective, however, I must say that, returning home, I came to question our much vaunted efficiency and the quality of our work.
MCKINZIE: Mr. Howard, thank you for your candid expression.
Dulles, John Foster, and Palestine issue, 74-76
Ethridge, Mark, 58
Gelhorn, Don and Martha, 89
and Communist position on border question, 43-49
"Greece and the United Nations-1947" (White paper), 45
and U.N. Commission to investigate civil war, 58-62
Harris, David, 47
Oil, and U.S. interests in Middle East, 76-80
Satterthwaite, Joseph, 12, 13, 33
United Nations, Charter Conference of, 22-25
U.N. Special Committee on Palestine, 69-70