Oral History Interview with
Executive Officer to Chief of Operations, Office of the Chief of Transportation, U.S. Army, and Deputy Commander of the Port of Manila, during World War II; Consultant, Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, 1946-47; staff consultant on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, 1947-50; member of the Policy Planning Staff, U.S. 'State Department, 1950-53. Since 1953 Dr. Marshall has served in various capacities as an adviser, professor and author specializing in international studies and policy-making.
Charles Burton Marshall
June 21, 1989 and June 23, 1989
by Niel M. Johnson
[|Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.
Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.
Opened February, 1992
Harry S. Truman Library
[Top of the Page |Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
Oral History Interview with
Charles Burton Marshall
June 21, 1989
by Niel M. Johnson
Topics discussed include the Truman Committee (Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program); logistics of war; Army transportation policy in World War II; policies and procedures of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in the postwar period; Point IV program; Marshall plan; theories and policies regarding foreign aid; Mutual Defense Assistance program; Statement of the Managers regarding military assistance legislation; the "China lobby;" Korean aid bill of 1949; U.S. intervention in the Korean War; theories concerning foreign policy; U.S. communication with the Peoples Republic of China during the Korean war; U.S.-Chinese relations; dismissal of General MacArthur; cooperative planning by Joint Chiefs of Staff and State Department during Korean war; prisoner-of-war issue during the Korean war; personality of General Douglas MacArthur; NSC-68; U.S. strategic plans, 1950-54; theories of deterrence; Psychological Strategy Board; critique of "psychological warfare;" Operations Coordinating Board; loyalty controversy involving Jesse McKnight; Herter Committee; report of the Foreign Affairs Committee recommending the European Recovery Program to the Congress; and war aims in a nuclear age.
Names mentioned include S.L.A. ("Slam") Marshall, Charles Timm, William Y. Elliot, Charles McIlwain, Robert H. Wylie, George Pettee, Thomas Jefferson Davis, General Douglas MacArthur, Paul Nitze, Charles Eaton, Sol Bloom, John Kee, Abraham Ribicoff, John Vorys, Robert Chiperfield, James Webb, Thurman Chatham, Walter Rostow, James P. Richards, Homer Ferguson, Lawrence Smith, John Davis Lodge, Karl E. Mundt, George C. Marshall, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Joe Martin, Charles Halleck, Leslie Arends, Helen Gahagan Douglas, Andrei Vyshinsky, George Kennan, Herbert Feis, Dean Acheson, Phil Watts, Jack Everett, Felix Frankfurter, George Taylor, Saben Chase, Charles Bohlen, John Foster Dulles, E. Saquez de Breuvery, Louis Johnson, Omar Bradley, Robert Tufts, John Hull, Joe Collins, Forrest Sherman, William Fechteler, Ted Clifton, Geoffrey Blainey, L.C. Stevens, Charles D. Jackson,
Roger Hilsman, Arnold Wolfers, Kilbourne Johnston, Andrei Gromyko, Jesse McKnight, George Jaeger, John Lord O'Brien, Bethel Webster, George Ball, Ernest Gross, Boyd Crawford, Howard Piquet, Doris Leone, and Jim Cooley .
Donor: Charles Burton Marshall
Copyright: Donated to the Government of the United States
JOHNSON: Dr. Marshall, first of all I'd like to ask you where you were born, when you were born and what your parents' names were.
MARSHALL: I was born in Catskill, New York, on March 25, 1908. That makes me 81 years old now. My father was Caleb C. Marshall, born in Shropshire, England. He emigrated to the United States at the age of 16. My mother was Alice Medora Beeman; she was born in Shiloh
JOHNSON: Shiloh Valley.
MARSHALL: Yes, which is in the neighborhood of East St. Louis.
JOHNSON: What was your father's occupation?
MARSHALL: My father wound up as a brick manufacturer.
Actually he was from a working class background in England. He had left school after four years and gone to work as a day laborer at the age of 11. My mother had finished grammar school. Her father was a country school teacher, principally.
JOHNSON: Your father emigrated from England at the age of 16.
MARSHALL: Yes, the whole family. The family was working class, non-conformist, and republican. They just had a natural preference for the idea of the United States, and they moved here to the United States. Curious to recall, I was the only member of my family ever to finish high school. My late brother dropped out of high school at the end of his third year and went into the Army in World War I. He became a rather notable military historian, S.L.A. Marshall.
JOHNSON: Is he your brother?
MARSHALL: Yes. Rather, he was.
JOHNSON: "Slam" Marshall.
MARSHALL: The home life was a simple one. My parents were meticulous about the use of the English language, and they were people rather rigorously Christian and . . .
JOHNSON: What denomination were they?
JOHNSON: How many brothers and sisters did you have?
MARSHALL: There were two sisters and three brothers. Three of us survived childhood. My brother Sam (that was S.L.A. Marshall), died in 1977 at age 77. My sister is 90 years old and is still living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. So I was the fifth of six children.
I was stricken at about age four with what was diagnosed as rheumatism of the heart. I had what they called a sickly childhood; I spent a lot of time in bed and couldn't run and couldn't walk upstairs fast, and all that sort of thing, and didn't attend public school. I was instructed at home by my elder sister, the one that still survives at age 90.
My health cleared up completely at age 12. I coached hard for a couple of years and entered school for the first time at high school. That is an important detail there in my own life. Getting ready to enter high school, I studied very, very industriously. I read Whitney and Lockwood's English Grammar and studied it in detail, and [I studied] Scott and Wooley's College Rhetoric. I learned how to write so that I didn't have to re-draft. I entered high school with great trepidation, thinking I was going to be handicapped. That turned out not to be the case at
all. High school was just a real breeze for me. At the end of my first year of high school, my older brother was working on newspapers at that time and he got me a job as a cub reporter. I worked my way through high school then and through college and graduate school, working on newspapers. I learned to write at one draft.
JOHNSON: Where was it you got educated, then; where did you go to high school and college?
MARSHALL: At El Paso High School.
MARSHALL: And then three years at Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy, but I was not studying mining. I just went there because that was the economical thing to do. I finished college at the University of Texas. The Depression had overtaken the country and it was impossible to find a job of any sort in the newspaper business. So I stayed on and did graduate work at the University of Texas and worked for a professor named Charles Timm, who had some research money; I became his research assistant.
I want to mention one other circumstance from those early years. Having had a very protective childhood, I was very innocent. I didn't even know any
bad words when I started school. At the end of that first year of high school, I went to work as a cub reporter covering the police station in El Paso. I spent the summer getting acquainted with prostitutes and pimps and dope pushers and dope addicts and child molesters and wife beaters, and every kind of person you could imagine. That was a great educational experience for such an innocent child and it completely cured me of any idea I might have had that human nature is naturally good. That's about the silliest idea I can think of.
JOHNSON: Of course, the Baptists weren't exactly preaching the inherent goodness of human nature either were they? You were raised in a Baptist household, sort of like Harry Truman?
MARSHALL: Yes, that's correct.
In my second year of college, though, which was at the Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy in El Paso, I was trying to broaden out a little bit. I played a lot of poker and did a lot of visiting to Juarez and tried to be one of the boys. The result was a little bit of scholastic deficiency that I had to make up in my last year of college, which I spent in Austin at the University of Texas. I was working at night on the Austin American, working on the copy desk from about 9
p.m. to 2 in the morning. It occurred to me that it was a good idea--I should interrupt myself to say I was having to take six subjects to make up for my neglect of studies in my second year--and it occurred to me that it was a good idea to schedule my six classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday so I could sleep as late as I wanted to on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The only way I could round out my schedule was to take a course in international relations. That was of determinative importance because the professor and I hit it off in a kind of an interesting interaction. He was the one who took me on as a research assistant.
JOHNSON: What was his name?
MARSHALL: Charles Timm. Timm really did not know how to do his work on this research project and he really didn't know how to get ahead and get things done, and so I was more of an entrepreneur, if I can use that term here, than he was in these things. He felt much obligated to me, and he wrote letters and made telephone calls that got me a grant to do graduate study further, a grant from the Carnegie Endowment.
Well, the Depression was on, and I couldn't find a job. So, for the lack of something else to do, I went up to Harvard and did graduate work and eventually took a Ph.D. at Harvard.
JOHNSON: In international relations?
MARSHALL: International law is what I wrote my thesis in, but it was in the field of government.
JOHNSON: Who was the most influential instructor you had up there at Harvard, or did anyone in particular have that much influence on you?
MARSHALL: Well, one that had very great influence on me was W. Y. Elliot, but I never had a course from him. I gave two courses with him when I became an instructor at Harvard and at Radcliffe. Bill Elliot was a true friend and took a very great interest in me and in helping me along. Bill Elliot was the greatest influence, but not from the standpoint of classwork.
It is hard to say who was the most influential among my teachers at Harvard. I suppose [it would have been] probably Charles McIlwain, who was a very distinguished professor of political theory. I never really got acquainted with McIlwain, but he was a marvelous source as a professor.
JOHNSON: What year are we talking about?
MARSHALL: I was a graduate student at Harvard from 1934 to 1936. I returned to Harvard as an instructor and wrote my Ph.D. thesis. I returned in 1938. I stayed on at Harvard until 1942, the end of the summer in 1942.
I had a very heavy schedule of obligations at Harvard that last year. I might interrupt here to say
I had married in 1937 in the interval when I was not attending Harvard, not instructing there. When Pearl Harbor came along, without any question in my mind, I was going to go into the military service as soon as I had finished my obligations at Harvard, which carried me through the summer session. That was a very heavy year of work for me, because so many people had gone off into Washington activities from Harvard. So I found myself with an extraordinary number of tutorial students and doctoral examinations to sit on, theses to direct, and I was one of the two examiners for the whole Government Department. I was also the examiner in French and German for graduate students in that department. I was just very, very busy but I finished my obligations at the end of the summer session, and I wrote off to the Army and the Navy. I was married and had a child by that time, and I was interested in doing the best for myself as I could. The Navy responded to my request immediately, and I was set up to become a lieutenant junior grade in the Navy. The only thing that got in the way was that I had a degree of temperature when they gave me the physical examination, and I was told to come back a week later.
During that week, W.Y. Elliot came back to
Cambridge from his Washington activities. He called me up, talked to my then wife, found out that I was about to go into the Navy, and told her, "For God's sake tell him not to do anything of the sort. If he goes into the Navy he'll just be carrying a briefcase for an Admiral. He must go into the Army." He fixed up some appointments for me in Washington when I got in touch with him. I went down to Washington, and I talked to people, and here was Brigadier General Wylie, who was Director of Operations in Army Transportation. He received me and talked to me about two hours, and he cordially invited me into the Army. I said, "Well, where will I be serving?" He said, "At this next desk; I want you for my executive officer." So I thought if I could go into the Army as Executive Officer to a man who had a general's grade and so on, that would beat lounging around in the replacement depot. So I went into the Army with Wylie, and spent most of the war with him. I served in the Pentagon, but wound up in the Southwest Pacific where I eventually became the Deputy Commander of the port at Manila.
JOHNSON: Where were you on April 12, 1945 when Roosevelt died?
MARSHALL: I was still in the Pentagon. I remember that very well. Colonel Heiskell, who had heard the news by
radio, came into the room and said the President is dead, and we were all much touched by that. I was in the E-ring of the Pentagon at that time. It was a very short time later that I then went over to the Southwest Pacific.
JOHNSON: Had you paid much attention to the Truman Committee in '41, '42, well, up to '44?
MARSHALL: Oh, a good deal of attention. Here I may disappoint you. I thought it was kind of a nuisance, and that was the general view around the office where I was in the Pentagon. Yet, I must say in retrospect that I think it was a very useful committee, but sometimes you have a very great difficulty explaining the problems of logistics to such a committee.
JOHNSON: The branch of the Army that you were in was Transportation?
MARSHALL: Yes, but we were dealing with the large questions of logistics.
JOHNSON: Was that a G-3 or . . .
MARSHALL: No, we were not in G-3; this is the Army Service Forces, and G-3 is the general staff, corresponding.
JOHNSON: The Ordnance Corps was a part of that Army Service Forces.
MARSHALL: That is right. That was [General Brehon B.] Sommervell's part of the Pentagon.
JOHNSON: Did you ever testify or ever have to write up anything for the Truman Committee?
MARSHALL: Oh, I got involved in certain questions which were Truman Committee questions, and there was sort of a parallel committee by the way that I did very definitely get involved with. It wasn't the Truman Committee, but it was a committee that was headed by a Senator from West Virginia.
JOHNSON: Harley Kilgore?
MARSHALL: Kilgore, yes. In a way this is perhaps too much of a digression, but let me just make one point about the Truman Committee. Just a sample sort of a question. One of the great items in demand, in short supply, was copra. Down in New Caledonia there were tens of thousands of tons of copra lying around with no place to go, and yet we were bringing ships into New Caledonia and unloading them and taking them out empty, and not loading them with copra. That was outrageous in the mind of the Truman Committee. Imagine bringing empty ships home when all that copra was lying around in the sun and that item was in short supply.
The problem was this; that was a point at which
you were transloading from big ships to small craft in order to supply the operation at Guadalcanal. You were using all your port capacity for that, and if you stopped to pick up copra to bring it home, you would have lost the Battle of Guadalcanal.
JOHNSON: It was a priority of cargos?
MARSHALL: Of course. You get into similar questions when you are sending ships that are not completely loaded out on convoys. It's better to send a three-quarter load out on this convoy than to wait for another three weeks in order to load fully, and so on. I don't want to get into a lot of detail on this.
JOHNSON: So you had mixed feelings about the Truman Committee.
MARSHALL: Well, it was one of those things you had to educate all the time of what were the problems of logistics, but the Truman Committee was not alone like that. You had a devil of a time educating the general staff of the Army
JOHNSON: An educational job, it sounds like. .
MARSHALL: Well, let us put it this way--in logistic problems, the thing you have to do is get an even flow that you can keep. Don't try to be perfectionist; keep
the thing going. If you start trying to match cargo to ship so that, let's say, we'll put all of our exigent cargo into fast ships and then the routine cargo into slow ships, that just gets you all tied up. What you have to do is keep the lines clear, keep things going at a pace that you can sustain.
JOHNSON: So this is part of the experience that affected, apparently, your political philosophy too. "The best is the enemy of the good, or the perfectionist . . ."
MARSHALL: Well, I think so, but between Washington and the experience of Manila, I learned a lot. I learned about the whole logistical picture of conducting war, and the idea of getting the even pace that you can sustain rather than to get into a rush. You have got to get things into rhythm that you can sustain. That's the important thing.
And another thing fascinating to me about the World War II experience is--you engage your mind with a problem that you'd never before engaged it with, at all.
JOHNSON: Learn new things.
MARSHALL: Learn new things. And learn how to operate in a field in which you're a tyro.
Well, I was unemployed [after leaving the military
service]. I couldn't make enough money at teaching. I had a lot of terminal leave and I looked and looked and looked for a job. I couldn't get on anybody's payroll. Finally, the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, which was a Switzerland-based outfit, but it had a Washington branch, was looking for somebody that knew something about transportation. They had a big operation that they were trying to get underway with, of moving displaced persons out of Europe. That quest got back to General Wylie, whom I had worked for in World War II. Wylie had me in mind and mentioned me, and I went to work for the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees.
JOHNSON: What was his first name, Wylie?
MARSHALL: Robert Howard Wylie. Wylie was a good man. I was very fond of him. He had two weaknesses; one of them was women, and the other one was whiskey. But those weaknesses aside, I would have to say I found him a very able man. I learned one thing very important from Wylie. Soon after I went to work for him--I was a captain then and he was a Brigadier General--I went into Wylie with a question, to ask him what to do about something. Wylie said, "Marshall, I brought you in here because I thought you were smart. I brought you in here to tell me what to do, not to ask me what to
do." That's something that just stayed in my mind ever since; the boss is somebody you tell what to do.
JOHNSON: He turned the tables on you.
MARSHALL: That was one of the big lessons of my life. The boss is somebody you tell what to do.
JOHNSON: That was something, all right. He deferred to your judgment because you apparently had had the kind of expertise he needed.
MARSHALL: I don't think he was deferring to my judgment; he was saying, "You go out and find out what to do and don't bother me with the question. You don't see me about it until you know what to do and then you tell me what to do. "Wylie's idea is, "I brought you in here not to present problems to me; I brought you in here to solve problems before they get to me."
JOHNSON: Identify the problem yourself.
MARSHALL: Anyway, I was out of the Army and unemployed, but finally I got on this job, in the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees. I knew it was a temporary job, but it makes a lot of difference if you get a job; that is, if you're on somebody's payroll, then it isn't so hard to get on somebody else's payroll.
JOHNSON: What kind of duties did you have? Were you a
consultant to this committee?
MARSHALL: Yes, I told them how you operate ships, how many people you can put on one, what it is going to cost you, and what kind of a schedule you can go on. Actually, our plan was to use Army transports to haul displaced persons out of Europe, to Canada or to Brazil, or to Australia, wherever they were going. I prepared the letters that go over to the Pentagon, to get people interested in the idea of leasing Army transports for this effort and so on. So there was a lot of work to do. Here was a problem to be solved, and then you weren't going to spend any more time at it. But it certainly eased my situation to get on somebody's payroll.
I took an oral examination for collateral entry into the Foreign Service, and that was an interesting experience to me. I verified this later, and found out that I had gone to the top of the list of candidates.
I met a board of seven very senior Foreign Service officers, and all of the members of that board were later colleagues of mine in the State Department. At that moment I was the applicant, and the first question they asked me was what was the largest number of people that had ever worked under my authority or direction, or something of that sort. I said, "Oh, about 22,000." Well, that was a better number than any of them could
come up with. They asked me how I ever had that many people under my charge, and I said, "Well, I was Deputy Commander of the Port of Manila; that's the last job I had in the Army and when the port commander wasn't there, I was in charge. That was the number of military exclusive of Filipino civilians and Japanese prisoners of war working for us." That was an impressive number. So, the scrutiny was over; it was just a chat among equals from there on.
So I was nominated for the Foreign Service, Class IV I believe it was, and confirmed by the Senate. I had to turn down the commission, because my wife (now deceased) was beginning to show definite signs of mental breakdown. I just couldn't be moving around the world. There was a day when I went to tell the people in charge of the Foreign Service, thanked them for the commission, and told them that, as much as I regretted it, I had to decline the commission for which I'd been confirmed by the Senate.
I'm pretty lucky about these things. I left the State Department and got as far as Connecticut Avenue, wondering what I was going to do next. A taxi stopped, and here was W.Y. Elliot in it. He said, "Come on and get in." So he said, "How would you like to work as staff consultant to the Committee on Foreign Affairs?" "That's fine. How much will it pay?" He said, "Well,
it's a five digit figure," probably . . .
JOHNSON: That was quite a bit of money in those days.
MARSHALL: Gee, was that good news to me! Well, within half an hour we were up at the Capitol, I had met the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and I was hired.
JOHNSON: I have the names here of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, such as Sol Bloom, John Kee, Helen Gahagan Douglas, and Mike Mansfield.
JOHNSON: Is there anyone here that's especially notable that you worked with, or that . . .
MARSHALL: Oh, I worked with all of them, except Sol Bloom. These things sound so boastful; I'm almost embarrassed to say these things. I went to work in the 80th Congress. Now, that was Republican.
JOHNSON: What Truman called the "do-nothing, good-for-nothing Congress."
MARSHALL: Yes, that was a kind of a libel. As far as the Committee on Foreign Affairs was concerned, it certainly was a libel. I think the Committee on Foreign Affairs was a very supportive committee, and I think it did a very fine job. After all, that's the
committee that reported the Marshall Plan and led the House into approving it.
JOHNSON: That's right. In foreign policy a lot was done; it was on domestic policy where I think Truman had his problems with the 80th Congress.
JOHNSON: So you were in the cockpit here, so to speak.
MARSHALL: Well, now, Bill Elliot, in addition to his duties at Harvard, had been taken on as staff director for that committee. He had got me; he also got George Pettee, and a third fellow that really was a ringer. I forget his name now, but he was of no value at all. He was one that was recommended by some Princeton professor.
Now, I knew how to get along with Congressmen--to treat them as clients, to cultivate them.
JOHNSON: You started in '47. Do you remember what month?
MARSHALL: June 1, 1947.
JOHNSON: All right, but first we have something involving your work with the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees.
MARSHALL: I had a colleague there, who was Thomas Jefferson
Davis, a recently retired brigadier general. He had been Douglas MacArthur's aide for fourteen years, and he filled me in on Douglas MacArthur. Years later, in connection with something that I explain here, I made a memorandum of everything Davis told me about Douglas MacArthur.
JOHNSON: Maybe we can put this in our Miscellaneous Historical Documents Collection at the Truman Library.
MARSHALL: You can if you wish. Here is an impression of Douglas MacArthur that is very different from what the public grasped of the man then. Some of this had begun to come out about it, but from Davis I picked up the idea of MacArthur as the insecure man with a compensatory personality, trying to hide his insecurities.
JOHNSON: Do you want to put your name on this so that we know that you are the writer of this?
MARSHALL: Well, it's initialed up here, "From CBM"
JOHNSON: Well, we'll write it out so that we . . .
MARSHALL: I'll just write "C.B. Marshall" right here.
JOHNSON: Okay that's fine.
MARSHALL: I was reading the uncorrected proof of Paul Nitze's memoirs yesterday, and I read one paragraph
aloud to my wife. He explains in this particular paragraph, which I think occurs on page 102 of his uncorrected book, that after the Korean war had started, the U. S. had cooked up a paper with the British and the French, calling on the President to designate the commander of U.N. forces in the Far East. Nitze relates that Burt Marshall--he calls me by the name I go by there in the book--that Burt Marshall took one look at that and came to him and said, "This is a terrible mistake; we've got to get this corrected. You can't let this fellow think he's got two hats to wear. This fellow is too unreliable, and he is independent to the point of being insubordinate." That's what Nitze says. I said it much stronger than that. I said, "This fellow is a kind of a nut. This fellow has got something really wrong with him, and this is going to be terrible. You know there's going to be a real problem with this fellow. For God's sake, this thing is wrong; it should designate the President as commander and authorize him to designate his deputy in the field."
MARSHALL: Now, MacArthur would surely exploit this ambiguity about the chain of command. Nitze relates how we tried to get the thing changed, but it was too
late. Anyway, it was out of that long acquaintance with T.J. Davis, in the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, that I picked up this index to MacArthur's character. This is what I had in mind that day when I said, "You can't--this is wrong."
JOHNSON: We'll get back to MacArthur and his firing by Truman too.
MARSHALL: Oh, yes, we'll get back to that. But I just wanted to mention this.
Let's go ahead now to the Committee on Foreign Affairs. I knew how to get along with Congressmen; I knew how to cultivate them. I think I had a certain advantage in having just corning out of the Army as a lieutenant colonel. I was never cowed by working with Congress, for Congressmen. I really leveled with them.
Now, I never helped them on with their overcoats; I wouldn't carry their briefcase for anything in the world. You can't afford ever to get that kind of relationship with Congressmen. Talk right back to them. If they try to intimidate you, intimidate them back. Do things for them, but by golly always let them know you're doing it as a favor, not because you're obliged to do it, and so on.
Another thing that stood me in good stead is this--that I do not have to rewrite; I still don't have to.
I mentioned that earlier on. When I wrote my Ph.D. thesis it was the first draft that went to the bindery. Later on, when I was a professor, I used to tell the students that this was the standard by which one should write. I said, "Learn to make it right the first time you set it down. Don't write something that you're going to have to correct. Write it right." I used to tell them, "You don't take a bath that way; you get clean the first dip in the tub."
Anyway, I was able to just turn out a big volume of stuff.
JOHNSON: What were you doing for the committee specifically? What kind of work did you do for them?
MARSHALL: Oh, gad, that's so hard to explain. Again, one sounds so egotistical when one explains stuff like that.
JOHNSON: Well, they hired you for a job, didn't they? Did you kind of define your own job to a certain extent, or did you wait for them to initiate that?
MARSHALL: Well, let me explain here. Again, with due apologies, I tell you that being staff man at the Congress is a job you almost have to abuse; you almost have to assume more authority than you properly have. Hedrick Smith makes this point in his book on the
"Power Game." I was reading it within the last week and he makes that point; it's just inherent in the job. But let me explain a little bit about the chairman. When I went to work, the chairman of the committee in the 80th Congress was Charles Eaton of New Jersey. Eaton was a grand character, a grand man. Let me explain a little bit about his background. Back in the early 1900s he had been the prime Protestant minister in the United States. He was born in Canada; he had come to the U.S. to be pastor of the Shaker Heights Baptist Church in Cleveland. He had gone from that job to be pastor of the Park Avenue Church in New York. Then along about 1914 or '15, somewhere like that, Eaton's wife had been stricken. She had become paralyzed; she had become immobilized; she was just a complete basket case of some sort. Eaton struck up a liaison with his secretary, but he couldn't face his congregation anymore. He was living in adultery, and so he resigned from his church.
President Wilson appointed him the labor arbiter in the shipbuilding industry in World War I. That gave him something useful to do and was a source of income for him. Eaton after the war was prevailed upon by the Republican leaders of his district--I think it was Union County, New Jersey--to run for Congress, and he was elected. He stayed on and on in Congress. He
lived a very frugal life, because then there were no insurance policies or other resources to take care of that ailing wife who was in need of custodial care. Eaton was dearly loved by his secretary; he was very, very grateful and beholden to her. He and she told me about all this, about their long love affair, on--I think--his 84th birthday. They had a very small dinner party and invited me, and on this occasion they told me about all this. Eaton lived in very simple lodgings. He rode a streetcar up to the Capitol, had only two or three suits, and ate his dinners at Dole's Cafeteria, because so much of his income went into taking care of that wife who lived on year after year, unconscious, immobilized. Eaton had one goal in life: to stay in Congress long enough to enable that secretary to qualify for a pension. That meant 30 years. He was awfully tired.
JOHNSON: It took 30 years to earn a pension?
MARSHALL: Yes. Eaton said that when she finally got her pension, he was going to be through. He thought he would probably drop dead. That was about as it would happen. He died very soon after she qualified. Eaton was a charming man and a very fine person. I admired him tremendously, but Eaton had to do a lot of resting. He was really over the hill in respect of vigor, though
still bright in mind.
JOHNSON: He was chairman, though, of the Foreign Affairs committee?
JOHNSON: I see his name on here, Charles A. Eaton.
MARSHALL: Yes. He is listed there as senior Republican. After the 80th Congress, the Democrats came back in. [Sol] Bloom returned as chairman. The committee in a quiet way despised Bloom. Bloom tried to fire everybody that the Republicans had hired during the 80th Congress. He succeeded with one exception—I'm talking about the professional staff. He got only one committee member to go along with him on firing me, and that was the number two man on the committee, John Kee. The rest of them all voted Bloom down on the idea of firing me. So my colleagues moved on.
JOHNSON: So you're the only one who survived the purge, so to speak?
MARSHALL: Yes. Bloom never spoke to me again. I'd meet him in the elevator and he would not say, "Good Morning." He'd look the other way.
JOHNSON: Had you been known as a partisan Republican, or even as a Republican?
MARSHALL: No. I was a Democrat then. I don't call myself a Democrat now, but I was then. As I said before, I hit it off with that committee.
JOHNSON: Well, why would they try to fire you if you were a Democrat?
MARSHALL: Just because the Republicans had hired met that's But Bloom didn't succeed.
All right now, Bloom soon dropped dead, an event that the committee members in general took with, I think, the spirit of a small boy waking up on Christmas morning. They personally just didn't care a damn for Bloom.
JOHNSON: Do you remember what his relations were with the President?
MARSHALL: I don't have any idea at all. But Bloom was succeeded by Kee. Now Kee was a very nice old gentleman. The committee liked him, but Kee was a narcotic addict. He had got onto narcotics in some illness, and narcotics got a hold on him. Kee had no authority with that committee whatsoever; he could deliver only one vote. He didn't have the energy, or the voice of command; he didn't have anything. There wasn't anything villainous about him; he was a hell of a nice fellow, but way over the hill.
When we got to the second session of the 8lst Congress, there was a real difference between Kee and me on how to legislate. I knew my way around the Capitol; I talked to a lot of Congressmen, and I had a sense of what the political situation was. My view was that the committee could not again do what it had done in the preceding three sessions, through the 80th Congress and the first session of the 8lst. It could not take six or seven or eight separate authorization bills to the House. The House was tired of hearing this committee come up with successive bills to authorize diversions of funds from the treasury. The House just was not going to put up with it. I told the Committee something like this, "We are going to have one crack at it. We've got to get every big authorization bill and make it a section of one big authorization--an omnibus foreign aid bill." Kee, strongly advised by the State Department, thought that was a bad, bad idea. The State Department legislative people thought the various claims on the treasury would tend to sink each other. My idea was they would keep each other afloat. Anyway, the committee considered and voted overwhelmingly on my side of the issue. I said to myself then, "Gad, here I am, a flunky of the committee, and they are voting for me on a difference with the chairman on what's really the chairman's
business. I had better quit here while I'm ahead."
JOHNSON: You're talking about '48?
MARSHALL: No, this is '50.
JOHNSON: Oh, this is 1950.
MARSHALL: Now, we're in the second session of the 8lst Congress. So I looked around for a berth to go to.
JOHNSON: But now, before we leave that committee, you mentioned, of course, the Marshall plan coming in, Truman aid to Greece and Turkey . . .
MARSHALL: Yes, I shall get back to that. I want to get myself out of the committee and into the State Department, but I am answering a question in which you asked me what I did. I have explained what the chairmen were like.
Now, when I did leave, there was a dinner party given for me by Abe Ribicoff, who was a member of that committee. He was one of the new ones who had come in with the 8lst Congress. I knew Abe very well and respected him, and I became a friend of his family. Abe and I had a very good association. I enjoyed good relationships with a lot of the committee members.
I think out of 25 committee members, probably 18 of them attended that dinner. John Vorys was the big
wheel on the Republican side of the table; he was the real leader of the Republicans. John Vorys, I remember, made a toast to me on that private occasion, and he said, "We're saying good-bye to our flunky, our employee, and we all know that in the last two sessions he has been, in practical effect, our chairman."
Now when the Democrats on that committee caucused, I attended; when the Republicans caucused, I attended. When legislation was coming up, I studied it. I talked to the members. I would find out where all issues were, prepare a solution in advance when practicable, and so on. When it came to the taking of a bill to conference, I would prepare a manual for the conference and have it put into print by the Government Printing Office. The manual would locate and define the issues and suggest how they might be settled.
JOHNSON: You attended these caucuses, and that kind of alerted you to the issues that you should concentrate on?
MARSHALL: I found out what I needed to know from varied sources. I worked hard on that job.
JOHNSON: How many others were doing similar work? You mentioned other staff people. How many staff people were there working with that committee?
MARSHALL: There was just me really for the time being.
JOHNSON: Just you, doing the writing and research and that sort of thing?
MARSHALL: Well, that's about right. Bill Elliot and George Pettee and this other fellow, who was named Easton, just didn't know how to talk to Congressmen. Then, when Bloom came along, Bloom hired a fellow as a professional staff man. I can't recall his name now. I remember his being very apologetic to me. This poor old man had to walk with a cane. Hell, I call him a "poor old man," but he wasn't as old then as I am now by a long way. He was almost blind, and he had to toddle along, with a cane. Apparently, he had had a stroke. He explained to me why he was there as a professional staff member. He had been an editorial writer on the Washington Star. He had had to have a very expensive operation. The Washington Star had had no proper financing for such needs for its employees. Sol Bloom had loaned him the money for his medical expenses. This was some years before, and the man never had been able to make enough money to pay Bloom back. Sol Bloom put him on the payroll to get him some money to enable him to repay that debt. The old man had no duties. Well, later on a couple of other fellows came along as staff professionals, but by that
time I was getting out.
JOHNSON: So you were producing the studies. You were contributing the material for their speeches that they gave and that sort of thing?
MARSHALL: Oh, when I wanted to, but . . .
JOHNSON: Recommendations on how they should approach a certain issue, or vote on certain issues?
MARSHALL: Oh, you're never quite as vulgar about it as that.
JOHNSON: I see Robert Chiperfield was on that committee.
MARSHALL: Oh, Chiperfield, a lovely fellow. Chip and I were good friends and so remained after I left. Chip and I just got along very well together. Chip was a great fellow to go over at a quarter after 5 and drink a couple of ounces of bourbon with.
JOHNSON: I suppose you try to show equal treatment to both sides, so to speak, show impartiality?
MARSHALL: Oh, I don't know.
JOHNSON: Although you certainly did favor some over others; it's obvious.
MARSHALL: Here in the 81st Congress, the World Federalists
got to a lot of members of that committee. There were 25 committee members. At the World Federalists' behest, 19 members of that committee introduced identical resolutions calling on the President to assemble some global convention to see about establishing a world federal government. Most of those 19 probably felt there was no harm in doing so--a gratuitous favor for good people. I thought it was awful. Lawrence Smith of Wisconsin was on that committee. I drafted a minority report on that resolution. I took it to Smith. Smith was a Midwestern isolationist. He was an individual of high principles. I explained to him that I had written the draft in hopes Mr. Smith would circulate it if and when the committee actually got around to deliberating on this resolution. Smith liked the draft. I suggested he might circulate the draft in advance to show committee members the potential political liabilities involved in being associated with a resolution presumed to be innocuous.
Smith liked the idea so well that he converted the draft into a speech and gave it under special order In the House of Representatives, got it in the Congressional Record, and circulated copies widely. Support of the resolution fizzled away. Smith had thereupon got invited to address the American Legion and the Veterans
of Foreign Wars in convention--opportunities of a sort that a Congressman appreciates.
You asked whether I wrote speeches for the members. I did not consider myself as a hireling to write speeches. I would do so in special circumstances.
JOHNSON: It was a speech that you would have given. In other words, what you wrote was something that you would have given.
MARSHALL: Yes, it was something I would have been willing to say in my name so far as substance was concerned.
JOHNSON: I was going to ask you about some of these issues that especially concerned the White House, like aid to Greece and Turkey.
MARSHALL: That was before my time. That had been enacted before.
MARSHALL: All right, but we shall get back to that in a minute. Just let me turn you to the State Department, and then I'll take these things up. When I decided I was going to have to leave the committee, I had lunch with Jim Webb, who was Under Secretary of State. He would now be called Deputy Secretary of State. I
explained my situation and my wish to enter the State Department and serve on the Policy Planning Staff. Webb said, "I'll fix it up Marshall; no problem."
Weeks passed. I didn't hear back. I went to Thurmond Chatham of North Carolina, a friend of Webb's and a member of the committee. I asked his help. Chatham called up Webb. He taped the conversation. He told me I had better listen to this tape. He played it for me. Webb was recorded about like this: "I know Mr. Congressman; I made promises to Marshall and I haven't been able to fulfill them. I have met obstacles." Chatham said, "Well, what's the matter?" Webb said, "It's the opposition of Mr. Paul Nitze, the director." Chatham pressed for specifics. Webb said, "Mr. Nitze says Marshall is a willful, cantankerous so and so and he doesn't want him." Chatham responded strongly. Webb promised to press the matter with Nitze again.
A day or two later, I got a call from the State Department asking me to come over and fill out a form 57. So on the first of the month corning up, the first of June, I left and went over to the State Department. After I had been there a very short time Nitze asked me out to dinner at his house on Woodley Road. We dined alone and over brandy and cigars Nitze said, "There is something I want to take up with you and be candid
about before somebody else tells you." I said, "Oh, I know, I know. You said I was cantankerous and willful, called me names, and said you didn't want me." Nitze offered a gentlemanly apology. I said, "Don't apologize; I was flattered. If you're not like that at the Capitol, you're just helping them on with their overcoats."
Paul and I are close friends to this day. When Paul had his 80th birthday, the family selected me as toastmaster at the banquet.
JOHNSON: Well, great.
MARSHALL: The lesson was from Wylie--you don't ask the boss what to do; you tell him what to do. That's a good lesson.
JOHNSON: Well, it worked
MARSHALL: Thus I got to the State Department. I want to say something for the State Department in Truman's time. I rather forced my way on, as you have gathered. I was never treated like an interloper. I was in the swim of things from the first day I was there.
JOHNSON: Did you get into the Oval Office? Did you ever get into the Oval Office or meet Truman?
MARSHALL: I met Mr. Truman at a reception at Ambassador
Harriman's house in New York. That's the only time.
JOHNSON: Was that before he left the Presidency or after?
MARSHALL: I think that was after he left the Presidency.
I got into the Oval Office once in Kennedy times, but not in Truman times.
JOHNSON: To back up again a little bit, to the White House initiatives on foreign policy from '47 to '50; generally speaking, were you promoting the foreign policies of the White House, of the Truman Administration?
MARSHALL: I think that's probably 95 percent true, but here and there . . .
JOHNSON: Were there any that you took objection to?
MARSHALL: I was not enthusiastic about Point IV, and I did not do any work on Point IV. I did not have any enthusiasm for it at all. I intervened in it only once, and that was negatively, but it was not against anything in the bill; it was in an amendment which was put forward by Helen Gahagan Douglas and Jacob Javits. That was an amendment designed to put into the technical assistance agreements terms that would obligate recipient governments to enact and enforce policies applying free collective bargaining in labor
relations. In executive session I advised the committee members that such a response was something beyond the reach of U.S. legislation. It was an instance of trying to overload--of exaggerating the power of the U.S. to run other nations' affairs, of overlooking the cultural divergencies that obtain between organized societies. The idea was sidetracked, but I am not presuming here to claim the credit.
JOHNSON: They were trying to export the "Fair Deal" to the Third World, is that part of it?
MARSHALL: Yes, that was about it.
JOHNSON: How about the concept of Point IV, that it was sort of an extension of the Marshall plan, to grant aid to the Third World?
MARSHALL: No, it really was not.
JOHNSON: How did you view that?
MARSHALL: Well, I had no enthusiasm for it. The Marshall plan was a comprehensive undertaking to stimulate a revival of production, to re-establish conditions of trade and to renew the psychological climate of investment confidence in the future, to get a bunch of governments to doing constructive things again within
and among countries which had once been going concerns but had been badly damaged by the war and the experience of occupation and invasion, and had had the hell knocked out of their capital plants. The creative effort contemplated was to be mainly the work of the European societies themselves, with some material help contributed from this side. All that was vastly different in my mind from them trying to get a bunch of backward cultures interested in trying to get a foothold on the escalator of technical progress. The Marshall Plan was sui generis. It was by no means a model or a precedent for Point IV.
JOHNSON: These Third World countries had been colonies, and I suppose one could argue that they had been exploited by the colonizers and that . . .
MARSHALL: I really do not think that is the case, and I did not think so then. Later on I had a great deal of experience which I had not had at that time, as political advisor to the Prime Minister of Pakistan. I reassert what I said a moment ago--that these ideas of technical progress, of general benefit, and social dividends, really are missing in the cultures of the backward societies. I found this out in Pakistan. The progressive concepts which we take for granted in our public life are inexpressible in--and untranslatable
into--the indigenous tongues. The ideas are not in the culture.
Insofar as they are operative ideas at all, they are limited to communication within a very small proportion of the populace, the small percentage with some Western education. This is the problem with Africa, too. When I was a professor at SAIS, the School of Advanced International Studies, where I was for ten years, I enjoyed free interchange with the African Blacks there as students. They liked to come around and talk to me because, as they would tell me candidly, I understood something about the problems imposed by deficiencies inherent in their cultures, and the limitations of their languages. What they were learning in Western colleges and universities they couldn't talk about when they got home. They could not converse with their parents about it. The words were not in these native languages, and the ideas were not in the native culture. Backwardness is a result not merely of a lack of money. It is rooted in deficiencies deep in culture. How does one go about stimulating the climate of investment in a society which does not have the words to express the idea of investment?
JOHNSON: What did they need in your view?
MARSHALL: It is not necessarily true that all the economically backward societies are going to go up the escalator of progress.
JOHNSON: When populations are increasing, that puts pressure, of course, on the resources that they have available so they need a method or technique to exploit those resources.
MARSHALL: But the problems are not simply technical problems; they are organic problems. I stress the term organic. I want to explain a concept involved when I say that something is organic rather than technical. I can't remember the name of the German who expounded Gestalt psychology, but I remember this point from years ago, when I read some of his work. Technically speaking, one heart has everything in common with another heart. Organically, a heart has immeasurably more in common with a set of lungs than it will ever have with another heart. See what I mean?
MARSHALL: I thought really that the deficiency in the technical assistance approach was that it is trying to deal with organic deficiencies by technical improvements.
JOHNSON: How about medical care and cleaning the water,
reducing disease. That of course, is a two-edged sword, but still one can't argue against trying to save lives, either, right?
MARSHALL: I'm not arguing against saving lives. All I'm arguing here is that I thought there were inflated expectations behind the technical assistance undertaking.
JOHNSON: The idea of industrializing was probably misplaced, trying to industrialize?
MARSHALL: And the idea of creating the climate of investment.
Now, Walt Rostow embodied all these ideas in his book on stages of economic growth. It made a big hit. We know now that it was subsidized by the CIA and so on; this was going to be the bible for the future of economic development all over the world. There were only two negative reviews written on that. David McCord Wright wrote one in Fortune magazine, and I wrote one in the New Republic, saying this is expecting too much.
JOHNSON: But not a great deal of money was actually appropriated for Point IV.
MARSHALL: That is so.
JOHNSON: Three or four hundred million altogether.
MARSHALL: I would think that probably the rosy expectations behind Point IV really have not been fulfilled, in the same way as I think it is true of Kennedy's Alliance for Progress. The Alliance for Progress comes up showing very little when measured against the high expectations entertained at the send-off.
JOHNSON: It seems apparent, considering conditions in Latin America.
MARSHALL: Let me make another point from my Pakistan days concerning my idea about technical assistance. Here was economic aid to Pakistan, an ambitious program. The U.S. had a lot of people out there working on it. I became acquainted with them. They were nice people, many of them still friends of mine. There was not a one of them that I would turn my own money over to in hope to generate dividends for me. There is a difference between being a technical expert and being an entrepreneur. What you need is entrepreneurial expertise, not a bunch of technical experts. I've taken too much time trying to explain why I was not much interested in Point IV.
When it came to the Marshall plan I really threw myself into that one, and likewise for the Mutual Defense Assistance
Program was before the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the fall of 1949.
JOHNSON: Okay, that came after NATO. I believe that was in response to our obligations under the NATO treaty.
MARSHALL: Yes, that's right.
JOHNSON: Did you have some input into the NATO legislation?
MARSHALL: Well, NATO, of course, was a treaty, and that was acted on in the Senate. I mean to say NATO was a structure set up to give effect to the North Atlantic Treaty, which came within the Senate's scope.
JOHNSON: I see.
MARSHALL: Well, the House did not get into it at all.
JOHNSON: So you did not have any particular involvement in the NATO situation?
MARSHALL: Well, I did in a way, but not in getting the treaty accepted. It was in connection with the Mutual Defense Assistance program, that I got into it. By the way, John Kee made a generous comment in the House, complimenting me for a role in getting the Mutual Defense Assistance Program enacted. I want to emphasize my appreciation. Kee was a decent and intelligent man. His shortcomings as chairman had to do with
health problems only.
JOHNSON: This was an appropriations bill for the Mutual Defense?
MARSHALL: No, this was an authorization bill setting up the program. It was legislation establishing the institution. It came within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Now, this gets to a question of interplay between the Senate and the House. Over on the Senate side, the person principally involved in articulating the problem for the Senate was Homer Ferguson of Michigan. On the House side the members principally concerned were John Vorys of Ohio and James P. Richards of South Carolina. I want to explain something about Vorys and Richards. I doubt there is an equivalent to these two men now in Congress. Both of them enjoyed the confidence of the House of Representatives on foreign affairs. Both of them had great authority in the field--authority in the sense that members of the House in large numbers really respected and followed them. In my calculation, each one was worth 50 votes at least. If you had them on your side you would not lose in the House. If you had them against you, you couldn't win. I can confine this estimate to foreign policy issues.
JOHNSON: Were they on the side of the White House?
MARSHALL: You are anticipating. I shall get to this. I do not think either one of them would ever think of himself as being on the side of the White House. I think either one of them would have been insulted by an implication of his being on the side of the White House. This had to do with their reputations in the House of Representatives.
I take up Richards of South Carolina first. He was a new member of the Congress when the Roosevelt administration brought up legislation for fortification of Guam. That was when things were getting tense between the U.S. and Japan. The Roosevelt administration felt confident of support in the Senate but was not sure about the House. In the military authorization bill, the White House kept Guam fortification out of the House version. The Administration got it introduced and accepted later, on the Senate side. Then the Conference Committee included the provision in the conference version. The conference version came back to the House with this particular provision in it--a very important provision which the House had never had the opportunity to debate because the Roosevelt administration did not want it debated in the House. Richards, who, as I said, had been a new member at that stage, opposed the conference report on that ground.
As he said, in conscience as a legislator he could not support the important proposition in view of the fact that the Administration had gone to great pains to short-circuit the House.
The Conference version was allotted an hour's debate. Richards had been assigned all the time allotted to the opponents. The Speaker left the chair and went to the floor of the House--and that was Sam Rayburn--to support the conference report. It was Richards, the new member, against Rayburn. Richards beat him. The Conference version was rejected, the House still remembered that about Richards. Did his feat make any difference in the long run? Probably not. The fortification of Guam, even if approved, could not have advanced appreciably by the time of the Japanese attack.
MARSHALL: He had beaten Rayburn, and he had beaten the Roosevelt administration, on the question of conscience--that the railroading was an insult to the House.
JOHNSON: Don't by-pass the House, right?
MARSHALL: Now the first effort to repeal the embargo in 1939--that is, to amend the neutrality act--was defeated
in the House. Vorys was a new member of the House then. Vorys--a member of the minority, not the majority--single-handedly beat the administration by passionate, strong debate. Vorys was wrong on this one, and he later came to recognize that he had been wrong, but he, like Richards, had the reputation that he was formidable and no rubber stamp. Vorys, particularly, was enormously thorough. Vorys worked hard at being a Congressman. Anytime the administration sent up something that had a table of figures, Vorys would go to work on his adding machine to see if they were right.
MARSHALL: He really worked at it. Richards was not quite like that. Richards was a better natured fellow, but both of them were superb gentlemen and conscientious representatives.
JOHNSON: Did they seem to get along well with Truman? Truman was well-acquainted with both of them, wasn't he, from his experience in the Senate.
MARSHALL: Oh, yes. They got along well. I think it was either the first or second renewal of the Marshall plan, and the House had done very, very well. As you know, under the usages of Congress, the House members
are the ones that write the Statement of the Managers on the part of the House, and what the Statement of the Managers says will be taken as authentic in interpreting the legislation and enforced by the courts.
Now, you asked me what I did when I was up there. I always wrote the Statement of Managers on the part of the House, on any conference. That was always my work.
JOHNSON: This involved the conference committee?
MARSHALL: On any bill that the Committee on Foreign Affairs had jurisdiction over and that went to conference, I wrote the Statement of the Managers. I knew I was going to write it, and usually I drafted the Statement of Managers even before the conference was held.
JOHNSON: Did you have a counterpart in the Senate, someone doing the same type of work you were doing for the House committee?
MARSHALL: Certainly not so far as The Statement of the Managers on the part of the House was concerned. There is no Senate equivalent. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations had a staff. I hesitate to make comparisons.
You asked about getting along with Truman. On one of the renewals of the Marshall plan--I think it was the second, in 1950--the conference went very rapidly,
for reasons I may explain later. The conference was over in fifteen or twenty minutes in late afternoon--about 6 or 6:30. Truman in his generous spirit invited the conferees over to dinner at the White House. That had not been scheduled. The conference members responded with great delight and took off. Here was the Statement of the Managers. It had to be approved, but the House conferees had all taken off for the White House. They came back from that White House dinner about 10 p.m. In the House Foreign Affairs Committee room I was waiting for them because it was necessary to get this Statement of the Managers approved.
They came in silly tight. They were feeling so good that they were not in any condition to do anything. I called them to order. I took up the draft a paragraph at a time. They assented to them one by one. I finally announced an adjournment.
The next day, Jim Richards who was the senior Democrat and should have been chairman, said, "Hey, how come you were chairman last night?"
JOHNSON: The only sober one there.
MARSHALL: Somebody had to take charge. I think they got along well with Truman. They had a lot of respect for him. But that is the only time I can remember when they came immediately from Truman's company, and they
had got along too well.
Now let's consider the Mutual Defense Assistance Program. The bill as introduced contained a billion dollar authorization for the initial year. I'll deal with the question of the amount in a moment.
I was very zealously interested in the bill. Vorys was in favor of cutting the initial authorization to half a billion. He professed to be afraid that the administration would dish out too much money in too big a hurry. He wanted to make sure that the U.S. and its allies were really going to get underway with a genuine defense of Europe. He thought that result could best be effected by initial stringency.
Richards was under pressure in his home district for being too much interested in foreign affairs, and not enough interested in domestic affairs. He went along with Vorys. That combination made it certain that the House would cut the figure to a half billion. The critical question was whether the cutting would be done in committee or by the House.
Let me explain the parliamentary situation. If the committee would cut to half a billion, the House was surely not going to vote to raise. It would not go for more than half a billion. Suppose then the Senate should approve a billion dollar authorization, as seemed highly probable. In that case the conference
committee would split the difference in all likelihood.
JOHNSON: Split the difference.
MARSHALL: Suppose, however, that the committee has not cut the authorization. Then the House would cut. That would be virtually certain in view of Richards' and Vorys' position. There would be a split vote--probably 60 percent to 40 percent in favor of the reduction--in the House. With the Senate having gone for the higher figure and the House having cut in a divided vote, it would be politically feasible for the conference to accept the Senate's figure. So a quarter of a billion was at stake on the question whether the committee cuts or the House did the cutting.
I usually knew how that committee was going to vote. On that day there were 21 members in attendance, divided 11-10 in favor of cutting. Lawrence Smith of Wisconsin, who had the weakest bladder on the committee, was for cutting. He had to go to the men's room about every forty-five minutes. The thing to do was to keep discussion going until he had to leave and then get a vote before he got back.
I kept writing notes to John Davis Lodge to keep him talking against cutting until my secretary, as instructed, tugged on my coattails to notify me that Smith was out of the room. I then wrote Mr. Lodge a
note, "Hurry, get a vote." It was a tie; 10 to 10, and the committee had not cut.
My scheme worked. I had got the idea years before--in 1931, I think--at the University of Texas. Count Carlo Sforza--he had been Italy's foreign minister at the time of the Versailles Conference and was to be so again in the sequel to World War II--visited Austin briefly. He was then in exile from Mussolini's Italy. He gave a seminar, which I attended. He mentioned in one of the sessions the importance of the bladder in the conduct of diplomacy and related how it had served as a factor in making the French back away on an important issue at Versailles. I remembered.
After that session, Richards said to me, "What the hell did you get away with there?" I said, "I'm never going to tell you."
JOHNSON: You have to be on the alert.
MARSHALL: Later on, when I was in Karachi, Richards came out there as the representative for the Eisenhower doctrine. He went out to Hawks Bay with me for a day in the sunshine, on the beach. He said, "What the hell did you do that day in the committee when you ... " I told him. He said, "Goddamn!" and laughed.
JOHNSON: You had to look for those openings.
MARSHALL: You asked me to tell what sorts of things I did.
JOHNSON: You were never interested in running for Congress?
MARSHALL: Oh, gad no, I might get elected.
Anyway, we get to a question. Congress really wanted some kind of amalgamation of military authority and effectiveness in the North Atlantic area to result from the Mutual Defense Assistance Program. The most insistent and articulate advocate for this was Homer Ferguson in the Senate. In the House there were both Vorys and Richards, the main ones concerned.
Sometimes the thought was expressed as "an integrated force." Sometimes the desideratum was "a unified plan." The advocates wanted some assurance of effectiveness as a precondition for outright commitment of sufficient funding, but were vague on trying to put the notion into words. The Senate had adopted one configuration of words; the House another. Both versions seemed to me to be hung up on the notion of a documented plan.
JOHNSON: A kind of process?
MARSHALL: Yes. You want a process.
The House had adopted language. The Senate had different language. I thought that neither body had quite been able to articulate the purpose that it had
in mind. So when that bill passed the House and the Senate and went to Conference Committee for resolution of differences, how was the Conference going to solve that difference of language? It was at root a question of clarifying what the respective bodies had in mind and were groping to express. I stayed up one night in my office in the very basement level of the Capitol. I stayed there until 2 o'clock in the morning thinking, "How am I going to find the language that will satisfy them and that will work." I formulated some language on the Congress's view of the way the emerging NATO ought to work. I took it over to Senator Ferguson and showed it to him. He said, "I'll go along with that." Then I took it up to John Vorys and James Richards on the House side. Each said it was all right with him but what about Ferguson. I told them I had already talked to Ferguson and that he would go along with it.
My formulation solved the problem. When the conference committee's report came out, the Washington Post and the New York Times both came out immediately with editorials renouncing their doubts and assenting approval in view of the language of the conference report. I felt good about that. Chairman Kee made a little speech in the House of Representatives. It was in the Congressional Record. He named me specifically as the source of the clarifying and resolving wordage.
The first meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Council was held in Washington about three weeks later. That body adopted a resolution concerning principles to underlie collaboration in the North Atlantic Treaty. The Council's expression echoed word-for-word the language from the conference report. Congressman John Davis Lodge made a speech in the House--I was very happy when he did it--pointing out that this language had originated in the conference report.
JOHNSON: Apparently the White House was happy with it too, as far as you know?
MARSHALL: Yes. I had a prideful feeling. I was only a flunky but I felt that in my way I was actually playing a hand in important events.
JOHNSON: So you were very much involved in NATO legislation.
MARSHALL: I did get involved. I must sound distinctly boastful.
JOHNSON: No. You had your hands in a number of interesting things. How about Chiang Kai-shek? I don't want to forget about Asia. Aid to Chiang Kai-shek became quite an issue, whether we had given him enough, or whether we had . . .
MARSHALL: Yes. This came up first in the Interim Aid legislation and then in the Marshall plan legislation. The Republicans, some of the Republicans, added on a provision to try to get China in under the aid umbrella. The leading advocate of that in the House was John Vorys. Vorys was a Yale graduate. As a very young man he had gone out to teach at Yale on China.
He had very strong feelings about this. There were others in significant numbers of the same persuasion in the House. [Karl E.] Mundt [Republican, South Dakota]--later to go on to the Senate--was strongly of that view.
JOHNSON: You mean more aid to Chiang?
MARSHALL: Yes. Really there was no way whatever to force the President to spend the money on China if he chose not to. The advocates referred to "the general area of China." Money was authorized to be spent in "the general area of China"--subject to the President's discretion. The advocates wanted to pin the blame on the President for whatever might go wrong in that sector. The opponents wanted to leave the President untrammeled.
I wrote the formula for the Conference report on what was meant by "the general area of China." It was pleasing enough that Vorys and Mundt went along, but
it did not mean a thing.
Let me emphasize that the funds concerned were to be spent as the President might determine.
They would be unvouchered funds. A couple of years later Congressman John Davis Lodge, disappointed that the discretionary money had not achieved the effects hoped for by its sponsor, got the idea of trying to turn the spotlight on how the funds had been spent. He talked to me on the phone about getting a House resolution through to require disclosures. I expressed a skeptical view. I ventured that such an initiative would go down on a point of order. He wondered why. I said I thought it would be irregular for the House to try to require the Executive to tell how it had spent money that had been granted subject to a stipulation foreclosing that very thing. Lodge called me next day to say he had scanned the House rules and could find no precedent to suggest what I had predicted. I said, "That's right. It will go down in the books as the Lodge Precedent." He decided to abandon the idea.
JOHNSON: This was one of the last bills to aid Chiang while he was still on the mainland?
MARSHALL: Yes, but it did not quite nail down the intent.
JOHNSON: Well, the China Lobby, which became kind of a thorn in Truman's side, said we lost China and so on.
But I think you've said that China was not ours to lose, and you have argued, haven't you, that this was a misrepresentation by the China Lobby of our policy toward China?
MARSHALL: Yes. I shall put it in the way the argument crystallized. Among those Republicans, like Vorys and Mundt, and several others, there was a lot of feeling along this line in the House. I want to say something first of all about the public mood and the mood of Congress at this time. We had just come through World War II, and in the last part of World War II everything was clicking wonderfully. We wound up that war with more power than had ever been imagined. The U.S. got damn near a monopoly of airpower in the world. The U.S. controlled the seas virtually unchallenged. Everything was working on schedule on our side as hostilities between the main adversaries drew to a close.
It used to seem to me that some of the members attuned to the so-called China Lobby had a notion that a billion or so Chinese asked themselves, or their spouses, on arising each day, "What would the United States like for us to do today?"—and went on to conclude that if their collective actions did not suit our preferences, then the fault was ours for failing to give them proper instructions. That attitude was
reflected among Republicans far more than among Democrats in Congress, especially in the House, but never quite became dominant. The Administration's supporters, on the other hand, were, I think, inclined to shrug off the issue. What happened in China was unfortunate and importantly so, but there was not much of anything that the U.S. could do about it—the first rude reminder of the limits of our efficacy, but that was the spirit then. I mention that recollection as an aside only to illustrate the political climate of that time.
George Marshall performed a great service. Thank God, the U.S. did not try to take over China. We are still stuck with Korea. We did not know what to do about that marginal position in East Asia, Vietnam. That was more than we could handle. China would have been immeasurably worse.
JOHNSON: How about Truman's decision to intervene with American military forces in Korea in June 1950? Did you have a different idea from the prevailing view on that, or just what was your position on that?
MARSHALL: Let us begin with the situation near the end of World War II and in the immediate sequel. Remember this. American policy was preoccupied with a lot of things in the world then: Berlin, the future of Germany,
aid to Europe, and all that sort of thing. The President and the Secretary of State weren't worrying a lot about Korea. I don't think that they even talked about it much. It was marginal. The members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs did not know anything about it. People in the State Department certainly were not preoccupied with it.
JOHNSON: Acheson got into a lot of trouble about his so-called "perimeter speech."
MARSHALL: Let's go back to [Franklin D.] Roosevelt times. Korea was marginal.
The Japanese surrendered. The Korean peninsula had to be administered. There had to be somebody in Korea that the Japanese in Korea could turn their guns and other property over to. Somebody had to see to the running of the railroad, and somebody had to keep the ports operating. A lot of things had to be done in Korea. Korea had had no government of its own. It was drastically short of talent for the day-to-day operations that sustain a society.
When in the fall of 1949 the Korean aid bill got before the Rules Committee in the House, members of the Rules Committee asked the question why the U.S. had let the Soviet forces in. For the Soviet forces to move into Korea was like them moving from New Brunswick into Maine. For the U.S., the 24th Corps had to be moved
from Okinawa into Korea. Its supply base was in Leyte. In terms of distance, it was like moving from Charleston, South Carolina, into Maine from a supply base in Cuba. Again, there is this notion of a potential for perfect efficacy: if something went wrong it must have been our fault.
The Roosevelt administration had the idea of placing Korea under a U.N. trusteeship, with the U.S. and the Soviet Union and Chiang Kai-shek's China as the trustees. That was a reflection of the Yalta spirit. Nothing came of the notion. It was after getting in there that the U.S. found out that the two occupying forces had entirely divergent and incompatible notions about how to go about organizing the place. Their images of the future were wholly opposed. Eventually the United States Government recognized that a reunified Korea was unattainable and that something must be done to make a going concern of the U.S.-occupied zone unless the U.S. were to stay there indefinitely with a colony on its hands. The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended, in view of the stringency of the budget, that the XXIV Corps should be withdrawn to Japan. Dwight Eisenhower, as acting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, signed that recommendation. Later on as a Presidential candidate, he tried to blame the Truman administration for fecklessness without mentioning
his own role in the progression of events.
Anyway, withdrawal posed a lot of questions. To keep the XXIV Corps there indefinitely would mean having a colony on our hands indefinitely. To move out while leaving the flag there along with a trip-wire force such as a regimental combat team means ceding control to a local regime that he can get you involved in war. (That is like the problem one gets into with Mr. Dulles' idea of unleashing Chiang Kai-shek.) To keep control of events so as to prevent that means, in effect, keep hold of a colony. To withdraw forces while giving a guarantee of security would entail defining the scope guaranteed--thus implicitly legitimizing the division of the country.
JOHNSON: A dilemma.
MARSHALL: That was the situation we were in, in Korea. There was no happy way of doing this.
Anyway, the Korean aid bill came from the Administration before the Committee on Foreign Affairs in 1949. That committee did not know anything about Korea or the background events. As staff consultant, I immersed--if that is not an overstatement--myself in this subject of Korea. I spent a lot of time with State Department people, and with the Library of Congress Legislative Reference Service, learning as
I could about it.
Parenthetically, after I got into the State Department Policy Planning Staff on June 1st, and then on the 24th [Washington, D.C. time] the war came along, I knew something about Korea. To that extent I was one up on my colleagues. Korea, as I have said, was marginal.
Let me consider the issue as it came before the House. Vorys typified the opposition. In his view, the thing that counted out there is China. It made no sense, as he saw the matter, to get concerned about Korea when the U.S. had washed its hands of China. Why fiddle around with the margins while letting the heart of the matter go by default.
JOHNSON: But by this time, of course, the mainland was under Communist rule.
MARSHALL: Yes, sure. And he's blaming the Administration for having lost China, and he says, "I'm not going to support them; I'm against supporting them."
The senior Republican for the Korean aid bill was Charles Eaton. I've already explained that Eaton's over the hill. With the Republicans on the Foreign Affairs Committee split 50-50, the bill cleared that committee.
JOHNSON: This is a bill to provide aid?
MARSHALL: It was a bill for a program of economic assistance in South Korea.
JOHNSON: To Korea.
MARSHALL: To Korea. And for reconstruction…
JOHNSON: This is before the invasion.
MARSHALL: This was '49. This was the bill that the House defeated by one vote when it came up in the House on January 14 of 1950, and it lost by one vote. I want to explain that, because I have never seen this explained anywhere, what happened. No history of Korea tells it; I just happen to know.
Shortly before the bill finally got before the House, the Republican Policy Committee met. It consisted of about 25 members. Joe Martin was the chairman. Vorys was the protagonist of a motion to oppose the bill and make a party issue of it. Eaton was the senior Republican for it. It was up to him to make the case opposing Vorys' motion. Eaton called up Joe Martin, the chairman, an hour or so before the meeting and asked whether it was all right to bring me along.
He said, "I tend to forget all the details; I need somebody to help me." (Eaton was an old man; well, maybe not any older than I am now, but I think he was a lot fuzzier than I am now.) Joe Martin
consented. Did he think I was John Marshall, or George Marshall, or whoever?
When we got over to the room where the Republican Policy Committee was to meet, there was Joe Martin at the door to greet me. He escorted me to the platform, seated me at his side, and started the meeting by saying it was an honor to have me present. He called on Vorys, as proponent of the motion, for five minutes. Vorys made his speech. Joe Martin said, "We'll now hear from Mr. Marshall." I got up and extemporized a rebuttal. I hurried out, but they voted before I cleared the door. My side won. The Republicans were not going to make it a party issue. Why no one made a point of order against my being there and debating with Vorys is something I shall never know.
Time lapsed. The bill did not come up before the House until the start of the second session. The House then was meeting in the Ways and Means Committee Room, because the House chamber was being refurbished.
Jim Richards was in charge of the bill for the Democrats. I was at the committee table with Richards. Joe Martin was the Republican leader. Halleck was the Republican whip, and [Leslie C.] Arends was the assistant whip. The three came by to talk to Richards and said, "Jim, we're not going to make a partisan issue out of this, so let's get it over with soon. Let's not
have any fur flying, no trouble. We can adjourn early." Richards said, "Okay." They said, "Do you know what that means now in terms of keeping your people quiet?" He said, "Sure I know." So he said, "Burt [Charles Burton Marshall], take care of the Helen problem," meaning Helen Gahagan Douglas.
Helen Gahagan Douglas had a great reputation. I said before that I counted Richards and Vorys as worth 50 votes each. I counted her as a minus 45. One of the problems was to get her to keep quiet on close issues. With a margin so big that losing some votes did not matter, it was okay for her to talk. On close ones, it was risky. I remember when Jim Richards was presiding once. He said, "Helen, we all know you're a great actress, but don't you know any roles but Joan of Arc?" She loved controversy; she hated agreement. The smell of concord had on her the affect of a red flag waved in the face of a Mexican bull.
So my task was to sit by her, flatter her, and keep her from talking if possible. She would say, "I've got to get into this debate." I would say, "Save your ammunition for another one, another day. This is going well." She would say, "No, I'm not going to let this get by." So Helen finally would not be contained anymore. She was up railing against Republicans for their support of Chiang Kai-shek. Martin, Halleck, and
Arends came over to reproach Richards for breaking faith. His apologies were unavailing, so they passed the word: "Go ahead, some of you fellows, and vote no." They overdid. The bill lost on a squeaker. The Republican leaders were chagrined by their success. They quietly explained to Richards that they intended only to make the vote close, not to beat the bill. Later on when a similar bill approved by the Senate got to the House it was readily passed.
JOHNSON: Now this was an administration bill; this would have been in support of the administration bill.
MARSHALL: This was an administration bill, and Helen Gahagan Douglas spoiled it.
JOHNSON: Got them riled up, the Republicans?
MARSHALL: Got them riled up, and they felt that they were breaking an informal parliamentary agreement with Jim Richards.
JOHNSON: It misfired. But how much difference would it have made to defending South Korea?
MARSHALL: I don't know. After the Korean war was on, and [Andrei] Vyshinsky and the Soviets had come back to the UN, Vyshinsky talked to one of the Scandinavian representatives at the UN. I think it was a Swede.
I remember he made a Memorandum of Conversation and passed it on to the U.S. Government. Vyshinsky said, in effect: "You Swedes have no appreciation of what kind of a problem we Soviets have in dealing with as mercurial and unreliable an adversary as the Americans. Look at this Korean thing. The place was divided just sort of absentmindedly after the war; we've got a divided Austria, a divided Germany, a divided Berlin, a divided China, a divided Korea. Most of the population now is in this American part of it, and most of the industrial resources are in the Soviet-occupied part of it. The place just is not really viable economically, and it's even worse to have it divided like that. The Americans had the XXIV Corps in there, but they pulled it out and they didn't leave any guarantee or anything. So the North Koreans talked to us about getting one of these places tidied up and the 8th wanted to tidy up Korea. Well, we considered the situation. It looked as if this was not a very risky one. So we said we would give them what they needed and help them. They finally moved to tidy the thing up. The Americans then bellowed to high heaven that this was a threat to peace and humanity. They came charging back and make a great big war out of it. Now, what the hell do you do with people like that?"
JOHNSON: Well, we had given the wrong signals apparently.
MARSHALL: It was more than signals. I do not know of any signal that could have forestalled trouble. I have already raised this question: do you keep the flag there and let the other fellow get into trouble--Syngman Rhee would have done it sure as the world--or do you keep charge and get a colony on your hands? We did not want either one. So we trusted to luck. I do not know what was the signal to give. But the other side did not see it the same way as we did. There's no question about it. So we got the Korean war.
I was new in the State Department when the war occurred. On June 1 I had gone on the Policy Planning Staff. On the 24th day of June [the 25th in Korea] the thing was kicked off in Korea. On the 25th I got to work early in the morning. I had not read the morning paper. I was living alone; my marriage had broken up. My wife, as I explained, was out in Michigan and was a mental case. I did not listen to the radio. I got to the Department that morning not knowing anything about the Korean war. George Kennan was acting director in the absence of Paul Nitze, who was off on vacation. Kennan assembled all of us that morning. He wished to read the draft of a memorandum to the Secretary of State on what the Secretary should recommend to the President about this situation.
Kennan never wanted any argument on anything. All
Kennan ever wanted was a claque. This time, though, he read his draft and he said he wanted a show of hands because he wanted to see whether we were unanimously with him. He wanted to be able to say so to the Secretary if that was the case. I voted no, and Herbert Feis voted no. Kennan asked us to state our reasons. I said, "We made a decision not to get involved in China. We chose not to get involved on the Asian mainland. It was too big and too complex. We had defeated the Japanese basically by island-hopping. We did not deploy on the mainland of China. We just had to walk by on the other side of the road on this one. Intervening in Korea is getting us back onto the continent, militarily, of Asia. That is a big thing. This memorandum says that we've got to make a symbol of concern by a show of naval and air power." I said, "I've never been there, but I know something about this piece of territory. I say that it is not going to be like that. You are going to have to fight for this thing mile by bloody mile. This is not something that is going to be over in a summer, solved by a military gesture. This is going to take a big bloody effort. This adversary is coming in great strength. From what we know already he has prepared the signal environmental and got a lot of armor into the effort. He means business. We are getting involved militarily on
the continent of Asia. We ought to know what it is that we are getting involved in before we take a national decision to get thus involved."
JOHNSON: Were you saying that the cost was not worth the reward?
MARSHALL: Oh, no. No, I did not say that. I am not saying I was right. I was saying that this is an impractical recommendation. This undertaking would call for one hell of a lot more than a show of force. This is a lot more difficult a thing. That was my point.
JOHNSON: We'd need to get our land forces involved?
MARSHALL: That was the big thing. I t was an enormously difficult piece of terrain. It was full of defiles and mountains. It was not to be the kind of terrain that we were used to fighting in. It was not like rolling over the plains of France.
JOHNSON: In your view, militarily it was a bad choice to make that decision?
MARSHALL: I now recognize that it was a necessary thing to do. I think we were damned lucky eventually to have pulled it off.
JOHNSON: Of course, Truman viewed this as a test of the viability of the United Nations to resist aggression.
MARSHALL: Yes, I understand that. I said a moment ago, that I may have been wrong in being negative about it. I am not saying that. Once we made the decision and went in, I was not going to sulk and say, "We should never have done it, and so to hell with it." No, but I thought that if we were to go into this thing, then we must go in on the basis of a realistic appraisal of what it is we were getting into. I said, "We are going to get involved militarily in East Asia." We did get involved. I can construct a corollary by which the involvement in Korea led logically to the involvement in Vietnam. We have paid, in the long run, an awfully big price for getting involved in East Asia.
JOHNSON: Now, we'll have another session. But before we conclude this one, this comes to mind: did your brother "Slam" Marshall influence your thinking on the military aspects of this sort of thing?
MARSHALL: No. Not at all.
JOHNSON: And did you ever ask him for his opinions on this sort of thing?
MARSHALL: No. As you know, my brother has been under attack from that article about him in the American Heritage magazine in March. There's a lot of literature on that, which maybe will be interesting to you.
I want to say this about it. I was a disappointment to my brother because my brother thought I was going to be "little brother" all my life, and he used to have great ideas about collaboration. "Wouldn't it be nice if we would get us a country newspaper somewhere, or a small city paper, and I could be editor and you be managing editor." So he would say. Well, I always took the view that--I can express a parallel--"if I ever should get to be Attorney General, it would not be because my brother had been elected President." Let's put it that way.
So, the fact of the matter is this: that my brother and I were very different in our whole concept, in our approach to war. My brother made himself a great authority on tactics. I am not.
JOHNSON: You are the strategic thinker, right?
MARSHALL: You make me sound too presumptuous. My daughter once made a remark about my late brother, "Isn't it too bad that Uncle Sam never got to ride with Old Stonewall?" Sam thought strategy was for sissies and that it was what happened out on the line of fire that really counted. I think that approach is too beguiling. In the Vietnam experience he was far more sanguine than I. He thought that outdoing the adversary on the line of fire must eventually pay off in
victory. To contest for mastery over a country as far removed against an adversary who wants in whereas you want out is bound to payoff in eventual defeat. Such was my far from sanguine view.
Oral History Interview Number Two with Dr. Charles Burton Marshall, June 23, 1989, Washington, D.C. By Niel M. Johnson, Harry S. Truman Library.
MARSHALL: You mentioned the book, The Limits of Foreign Policy (Charles B. Marshall, The Limits of Foreign Policy. Henry Holt and Co., 1954 (Republished in enlarged edition in 1968 by The Johns Hopkins Press)). I misstated how long it took me to write that. It was not in the evenings of one week; it was in four consecutive weekends. But it was all in my head; I did not have to write creatively as I went along. So let me explain the antecedents to that.
Recall that President Truman's choice for Under Secretary of State was James Webb, who had been head of the Bureau of the budget. He was a good fellow. I liked him. He was very helpful to me. He was at sea, though, in the field of foreign policy. The people down the line would not take questions up to be resolved by Webb. He could not really function much in that job. Acheson was pretty contemptuous of him. Webb knew it. Webb tried to be useful. One of the things he did—and he did this on the quiet and did not tell anybody he was doing it—was to have a New York management firm survey the planning process of the State Department. These fellows came up with a big report really excoriating the whole planning process.
It landed in Nitze's desk. Nitze was away. Nitze
had recently removed a dead rabbit from the mouth of a dog on his farm down in Maryland and thereby acquired tularemia, which made him really ill. He came back to the Department altogether too soon. He was down to skin and bones and was very edgy. He did not know a thing about the survey and report. In the meantime, while Nitze was out, Phil Watts, the Executive Secretary of the Policy Planning Staff and a very fine chap now deceased, gave the report to me and asked me to go over it and to prepare some responses to it for Nitze whenever he was to come back. Nitze did not know anything about my analysis and prepared responses. On his first day back he got into a meeting with Webb. Webb made some crack, without Nitze's knowing the background, about the Policy Planning Staff's having gotten into operations altogether too much, for it should not get into operations at all. Webb said he had a management report to that effect.
Nitze was completely blind-sided by this. He said, "The only reason why we get into operations is to fill that great void in the Office of Under Secretary of State." Webb said, "You can't say that to me." Nitze said, "I'll say it to you again." They were up like a couple of gamecocks, fists clenched and red in the face. That became such a hot issue that it could never be mentioned again. The whole thing had to be
dropped. That was just a dead letter, that report.
In the meantime, I had the analysis that I had written out. It led off from a consideration of what is the nature of foreign policy, as a basic point of criticism of the report. There was the analysis in my files. Hans Morgenthau, who was the professor of international affairs at the Walgreen Foundation at the University of Chicago, came by my office, introduced himself, and invited me to give a lecture to his outfit at the University of Chicago.
I accepted. Now I could use my notes. I concocted a speech from them. I did not do anything else with it then. About three months later some of the fellows from the Department's secretariat and the Public Affairs Bureau of the Department showed up at my office in the morning and said they were in a fix. Could I bail them out? They had a big assemblage of ministerial figures--Protestant, Catholic and Jewish men of the cloth--down in the auditorium waiting to be addressed by the Secretary of State, and the Secretary had been called over to the White House on an emergency. Could I go down and fill in for the Secretary.
I had a discourse in my head pretty well, but I did not have my manuscript from Chicago. I agreed, went down, and made this speech again off-the-cuff. I
told the clergymen that they thought that the conduct of foreign policy was all about goals. I said, "We've got enough goals to get to utopia and back several times over. What you do not appreciate is that foreign policy by definition involves dealing with things beyond the span of our jurisdiction." "Foreign policy," I said, "consists of the things that you are going to do something about and that you have the resources to do something about. It is not dreams."
The audience responded very well. In the question period the clergymen asked practical questions about operational realities rather than theoretical questions about goals in a hypothetical world. The people in public affairs were very pleased by this. They thought that was just what they needed for that audience. They asked me for the manuscript. I said that I had been talking off-the-cuff. Didn't I have a manuscript? I said I would put one together for them, replicating a lecture I had given at the University of Chicago. I brushed it up and changed it around a little bit. They put it in the State Department Bulletin.(Charles B. Marshall, "The Nature of Foreign Policy," The Department of State Bulletin (XXVI, No. 664), March 17, 1952, 415420.) Because it had been so long since the event at Chicago, it was published as an article.
Jack Everett, the president of Hollins College,
saw it in the State Department Bulletin. He carne up to Washington, saw me, and asked me to give a set of lectures on the theme. He had a grant of money to have some lectures given in honor of the former president of that institution, Hollins College. So I gave this set of lectures. I chiseled on the law, because I was in a pretty necessitous situation then with an ill wife, and two children to support. It was really against the law for me to accept pay, but I salved my conscience by going on leave without pay. I put the fee in the bank to my credit and reported it to the IRS, but I did not tell my superiors in the State Department.
Anyway, that is the way that book came about, and it was up to Hollins College to arrange the publication.
JOHNSON: Hollins College.
MARSHALL: Hollins, in Roanoke, Virginia. They owned the copyright. They tried to sell it to Oxford University Press. Oxford University Press got in touch with me and wanted me to make the manuscript three times longer. I declined.
Next Hollins tried Henry Holt and Company. One of the persons at Henry Holt and Company got in touch with me and explained that there was a real division in the company on whether to publish this manuscript. He
asked me whether I could name five notable persons that would give an opinion on this in order to bolster his position as the leading advocate on the side that they should publish it. I got five people. One of them I asked was Felix Frankfurter because Acheson had shown the text to Frankfurter, and Frankfurter had written a very complimentary letter about it to Acheson. Frankfurter had told me that he would write such a letter but he had to be asked--and asked by Henry Holt and Company, not by me.
So I told my man at Holt. He got a letter to Frankfurter. Frankfurter wrote a long answer. It covered about three pages single-spaced. In effect it double-dared Holt not to publish it. The company was now hooked and had to publish it. Still it was an issue within the company, and the promotional people who had been opposed to publishing it would never put any resources into advertising it. It did, however, go into three printings and was a critical success. My friends at Henry Holt and Company told me that it got more immediate reviews than any book they had turned out with one exception, namely Ruth Benedict's Patterns of Culture.
Another thing while I'm in a boastful mood about that small book--it remained in demand, and people sometimes wrote me about having had to pay through a
book broker to get it. The highest price ever quoted to me was $21 for a $3 book. One other thing about it, at a lunch given me by the copy editors up at Henry Holt and Company, they informed me then, that to their knowledge, this was the first time the company had had a manuscript with no errors in it. Now, enough of boasting about The Limits of Foreign Policy.
JOHNSON: I think we need to back up, and then I want to go to the Policy Planning Staff again. But there is this episode in which you apparently went to Hong Kong to make some kind of contact with the Communist Chinese.
JOHNSON: We haven't put that on the record yet.
MARSHALL: In connection with that, I want to turn here to Paul Nitze's version of that in his forthcoming book.(Paul H. Nitze, From Hiroshima to Glasnost: At the Center of Decision. (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1989).) Nitze makes some errors in recollection. I want to set these straight. There are also certain aspects of it that perhaps he has forgotten about or had maybe not even known.
The Chinese delegation came over to the UN, then meeting at Lake Success, New York, in November of 1950,
just when they were a looming presence in the Korean war, and the war was suddenly widened and complicated by the entrance of Communist Chinese forces. As I recall, it was the number-three man on that delegation who was not a member of the Communist party, but he was a member of the Young China Party, which was a leftist party in coalition with the Communist party at that particular juncture. He had at one time studied under Professor George Taylor. Taylor was a very fine man, English by birth as I recall, and a naturalized American. He had been of great service to the United States in intelligence matters during World War II. This young Chinese, whose name eludes me now--I have a hard time remembering Chinese names anyway--got in touch with George Taylor with the idea that there were certain ideas that the United States should understand. He wanted to get them across. He wanted to use George Taylor as a channel.
How was that channel of communication arranged between the two? I have no sure idea. I surmise that they talked by long distance telephone in a Chinese dialect. Taylor got in touch with the State Department. I was designated to talk from the American side. I talked to George Taylor, Taylor talked to the Chinese, and the Chinese then talked back to George Taylor, and Taylor talked to me.
The Chinese purported to say that it was just too sensitive for him to let his superiors know that he was in contact with someone of the U.S. Government. We really did not believe that in the State Department. We believed that the Chinese in authority were trying to get over some ideas without really taking responsibility for them. They were trying something for size. The informant did give a very interesting piece of information that was plausible. I cannot say it was correct, but it was plausible, about the Chinese anxieties and about the divisions within the Chinese regime on getting into the war--what the fears of the Chinese regime were, and so on. When the delegation left to go back to China, he gave the word that he wanted to keep in touch. He sent the word through that awkward channel. We never knew exactly how it worked out from the other end, but at some moment he just sent word that the Chinese forces were going to relax the tactical pressure in Korea on some particular day. They did. Then later on, he reported that they were going to intensify the tactical pressure at a certain time, on a certain day. They did. So, we began to attach some authenticity to this channel. Maybe there was a potential for genuine but surreptitious communication with the Chinese--something of real importance if true.
Let me say a word in parenthesis about the plight we were in from the standpoint of communication. The United States had no reliable way of getting the word through to the Chinese on anything at that time. Let me recall what governments were in touch with both the United States and China. One was the Soviet Union. It was virtually impossible to communicate with the Chinese through the Soviet Union because the Soviets were going to twist any mediatorial role to their own advantage. They could not mediate, for they were part of the enemy. India? Well, we did not really trust India for such a role. Some of the main figures in the Indian foreign policy establishment were highly questionable, and the Indians had their own refractory way of looking at the world. A couple of Scandinavian countries, I think probably Sweden and Norway, were in touch with both China and the U.S. There was nothing against them, but they were not going to get tangled into being middle men in any such process. They were not central players in these things, and they did not want to. That was so for the Swiss.
So that left the British. The British had recognized the regime, and they even had an envoy on the scene in China, but he could not get the Foreign Office to return his phone calls, and when he asked for appointments the Chinese ignored his requests. The
British told us, verbally, "Look, we're only formally in touch with them, and practically we're not in touch with them at all." It was the same with the French. As a matter of fact, they had recognized China, but as yet the Chinese had not, as I recall, agreed to receive a representative in China, and they had not sent anybody to Paris. So there was no channel there. So this was a very dangerous situation--to be in war with somebody, with no way to work things out quietly.
This potential, surreptitious channel looked like a pretty good opportunity, at least possibly so. As I recall, at a certain juncture we sent out a message--I peddled it out--saying, in effect, "If you fellows are really serious and want to talk with us, we'd be amenable. Let's get a little signal from you of your earnestness." We named a certain American who was being held prisoner in China--and I can't remember the name--and we said for the Chinese to release him to the U.S. Counsel General at Hong Kong, on a given hour on a given day if the Chinese genuinely wished to establish a quiet channel. What they did was to release word at that hour, on that day, that they had shot the man. That was the end of that channel.
JOHNSON: Where were you at this point?
MARSHALL: I was in the State Department in Washington.
Years later the people in the Historical Division of the State Department had come across what there was of a written record about this whole episode. They were getting the account ready to put into the Department's Foreign Relations series of publications. They interviewed me at considerable length. In their view and I think they were correct, the Chinese had been fiddling around at the margins on the idea of opening up a channel of communication. What the Chinese wanted to do, among other things, was to head off that General Assembly resolution, then pending, to label the Chinese as aggressors in Korea. When that had failed, and when the U.S. had pressed ahead with that resolution, the Chinese said, "To hell with this." Also, up to that time--and in this I am simply trying to explain it, and it is true that I cannot document this--the Chinese had been playing around with the idea, in which they had Nehru's India as an advocate, of getting themselves seated in the UN.
We rejected that notion as a scheme to "shoot their way into the UN." That was the phrase at the time. Once they had been turned down cold on all these overtures, then they spurned the UN. Thereafter we went on for several years with the government of Taiwan being nominally the representative of China in the UN.
JOHNSON: Weren't you in Hong Kong at one point?
MARSHALL: Now we go on to Hong Kong. We get to the time of the MacArthur imbroglio, and to this whole situation of being at war with an enemy that we could not communicate with even indirectly and surreptitiously. The situation was very fraught with danger. The U.S. was most desirous of getting some kind of controls on this situation. At the same time there was .an enormously difficult political situation in the United States, with fellows like [Senator Joseph] McCarthy and [Senator Pat] McCarran in the wings, and a public that was all aroused on this and that greatly overestimated the efficacy of the United States as a military factor in the Far East. This was something that it was necessary to keep quiet about. Oh, if the McCarthys and the McCarrans had ever found out the United States surreptitiously was trying to get the word to, and back and forth, with the Chinese, that would have been a hell of a mess.
Let me say another thing about the mood of the United States at that time. Abe Ribicoff, then in the House and later on a Senator, got me up to Connecticut as a guest for a weekend to talk to the newspaper editors and publishers of Connecticut. This was at the time when things were getting more intense and dangerous between the United States and China in the
Korean war. I tried to explain to these people the great danger that was involved in getting the Chinese into that war. I portrayed as best I could what problem U.S. policy was up against. The attitude of all of these newspaper publishers and editors was, "By God, if they do, let us let them have it. By God, let's teach them a lesson that the Chinese will never forget." I said, "No, that's big talk. That's a great sort of Falstaffian bombast, but I want to tell you that if we get the Chinese into that war, it ain't going to be fun. We are going to be in a very dangerous situation." "Oh," their answer was, "you State Department fellows are always sissies. 'By God, we just say, 'let's march all the way up there,' and 'by God, let them have it with both barrels, '" et
cetera, et cetera.
I found the same thing when Jack Everett had me down to Roanoke to talk to a bunch of publishers and editors on Virginia papers. If the Chinese made trouble by getting into the Korean war against us, just let 'em have it with both barrels. That was their mood. These fellows could thump their chests and fight a great fight. I put it up to the editors in terms of what it was going to entail--renewal of rationing, the reimposing of economic controls, and big boosts in the income taxes they would have to pay--to have an all-out
war against China. Were they prepared to endorse and support such steps? Their response was, "No, no." Of course, they were not. They wanted quick, painless victory.
Now, back to the Hong Kong venture. It was assumed that the Chinese probably knew my identify from these surreptitious talks that had taken place with professor Taylor as channel, and that if I showed up in Hong Kong and let the word out that I was there, and did not tell anybody to keep it a secret, someone with Peking connections might get in touch with me. I was given one of these one-time code cooks to communicate back to the Secretary of State if necessary. Mr. Acheson told me that if I got a response from the Chinese and could really get into some discussions with them in a genuine interchange, I might even be accredited with plenipotentiary credentials and find myself cast in the role of a negotiator. That appealed to my fancy a lot. I just thought of all the fame and éclat that devolve upon me if that happened. Nothing that good would happen.
What kind of an instruction did I have? No written instructions. No one told me why there were no written instructions. I knew perfectly well. If this venture fizzled it would have to be denied. Furthermore, any written instructions might find their
way into the hands of adversaries up at the Capitol. So I was out there as it were on my own, so far as the written record was concerned. Acheson's instructions to me when I saw him before taking off were, "Burt, my boy, you know this situation as well as anybody. Get out there and see what you can do." There was a more thorough orientation from Doc [H. Freeman] Matthews, the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Doc went over the situation with me for two hours, I recall, not so much instructing me what to say, as asking hypothetical questions. "Suppose such and such a situation develops. How will you handle it?" Or "Suppose somebody in the Peking nexus says this to you. What will you respond?" He seemed to be satisfied with my hypothetical answers, and I was sent on my way. In the absence of that kind of response, I still had a lot of things to get out to the Chinese for them to think about. There were things to inform them about, short of getting into negotiations with them.
Four persons were rounded up by the CIA as possible intermediaries in Hong Kong. One of them was Chang Kua-tao. He had been a member of the Chinese Communist Politburo, but he'd been ousted. As he explained it to me, he was still on good personal terms with the party hierarchs. He still got birthday greetings from Mao and Chou En-lai. His wife could go
back to China and be well received. As he explained, "China was a great civilization when the Russians were still painting themselves blue and wandering around the swamps wearing bearskins on them." He said that if, at the time of being ousted from the Politburo, he had been in Moscow he would have been taken down to a basement of the Kremlin and knocked off. The Chinese, he continued, were a little different in this respect--more restrained by civility. There was a bit of ethnic pride reflected there. Chang Kua-tao, as I talked with him, obviously saw things through a Marxist-Leninist prism. He was in my judgment not to serve as a reliable go-between. I dropped the idea.
The second one was Eric Chou. He was the editor of the Communist newspaper in Hong Kong. Don't ask me to spell the name of it, I cannot recall it. He was an able newspaperman, very sophisticated and not himself a communist. He was a man of the world. He had good comprehension. It was very easy to talk to him about things. He was responsive and reflective. I got a definite impression that he was, in words of a cliche, walking on eggs in his relations with the party. I decided against approaching him as a messenger.
The other two were Chinese persons in business in Hong Kong. One of them was in some agricultural business. I don't know what the other one was in; I
can't remember now. One was quite young. The other one would look young to me now, but he looked old to me then. Both of them were very decent and intelligent men, but not backgrounded really in the theories and actualities of international affairs and politics.
One of them, as I recall, had a wife who was related to Mrs. Mao [Tse-tung[ and had entre. There was a question of trying to get a message over to him that his wife could carry back to Mrs. Mao and possibly to Mao—a question of comprehension and nuance.
The other one was a younger man, and he had been to a university somewhere in China. He had sort of a faculty sponsor, adviser, favorite professor—a guru I guess we would call him—and this guru was the same one that Mao had had in the university. That was a possible channel.
I waited in Hong Kong for five or six weeks for a response. To anyone I talked to I let it be known that I was a part of the Office of Secretary of State of the United States and that I wished to talk to people. I had the security people for the U.S. Consulate General make a survey of my suite at the hotel in Kowloon and was much disappointed that there were not any listening devices in the walls, or the bed springs or under the rugs, because I wanted to be spied on, but no such luck.
JOHNSON: What month is this now?
MARSHALL: Oh, this was right at the time of the MacArthur hearings. They took place in Washington while I was in Hong Kong.
JOHNSON: This was after the firing of MacArthur then.
JOHNSON: April 11th, 1951, was the firing. So, we're talking about the end of April, or in May?
MARSHALL: Yes, along there, yes. Well, my memory fuzzes up on a lot of these things, but . . .
JOHNSON: A lot of things are going on in that period there.
MARSHALL: I get on to the question of picking up information. They sent along with me a Foreign Service officer, now deceased, named Saben Chase. Chase had a Chinese background. I did not. I think that was a handicap to him. I think there was advantage to me not to have one. Let me give you an example of what I mean.
I remember spending a good deal of time with a Chinese high school student who had just been brought out, a very bright and informative youngster of 16 or 17 years. He was informing me about the nature of the lessons in high school. He cited algebra lessons for
illustration. Every algebra problem was built upon a parable. Typically a Chinese youth is cheated of his birthright by his parents, but the local Communist party chairman hears about this and comes in to the rescue. What is the value of what the party chairman saved for the youth from the grasp of the designing and avaricious parents? There were other such illustrations. I found the high school boy's accounts convincing. The gist was that, among all institutions, only the Communist party was righteous. The party was systematically trying to educate the young toward communal control as opposed to the family. My colleague Chase dismissed that implication. He said, "Oh, I pay no attention at all to that kid. I talked to him too. Why, he's trying to tell me that this regime is against the family. I'm telling you 'the family is so integral and basic an element of all Chinese society that no one would ever think of doing anything like that." So you see what I mean when I say it is possible to have too much background.
Chase, as my counterpart, was to perform the intelligence function while I was there. I came to the conclusion that Chase was not reliable. So I undertook to gather information on my own, and I had a lot of spare time for it. I talked to dozens and dozens of people at great length. Then I set down notes on what
they had to say, and I took these things back with me. Nitze here, in his book, mentions the great value of the information I brought back from Hong Kong. I remember with pride a time when Chip Bohlen observed offhand that "the only real information on the situation within Communist China that has been picked up in all these years is what Burt brought back from Hong Kong."
That effort, so I felt, made the whole trip worthwhile. What information I harvested was closely held because in the political climate of the time it would have been imprudent to let the word get around that the State Department had had a fellow trying to get in touch with the Chinese. The President saw a good part of my haul of information. Acheson saw it. John Foster Dulles, who was working on the Japanese peace treaty, was let in on it. The Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs--that was [Dean] Rusk--saw it. I would think that for the time being probably no more than six or eight people saw this information.
There were some important things in this information. As one important thing--the prevailing assumption on this side had been the idea that the Chinese were hurting as a result of having intervened in the war. Actually, to the contrary, a tremendous
advantage had resulted for the Chinese from this war up to that point. They had made great gains in the control of their domestic situation. The Chinese were getting to the point of diminishing returns on all of the advantages that they had been reaping, and thus might soon be in a mood to talk, but that prospect rather than the notion of rising desperation on the other side was the plausible basis for hoping for negotiating a way out of hostilities.
JOHNSON: How about those reports that you're talking about, that you brought back? Where did they end up?
MARSHALL: Well, I think some of them at least found their way eventually into Foreign Relations.
JOHNSON: So they end up in the State Department files rather than in the White House?
MARSHALL: Oh, yes, that's right. Another thing, the assumption in Washington was that great shortages were being created in China, great stringencies from the standpoint of supply, and food, and so on, by that war effort. I remember mentioning this idea to a very knowledgeable and very excellent man--a French Jesuit named Father E. Saguez de Breuvery, who himself is worth a great story, whom I became acquainted with in Hong Kong. He was recently out of Shanghai and a very
acute observer. De Breuvery answered that a shortage of food was a tremendous instrument for stability and power for a regime that had a monopoly on the food supply.
Many have thought the Chinese were hurting from the enormous attrition of their manpower in the war. Actually they had been using largely old aggregations of troops inherited from the Chiang Kai-shek regime. They were getting them mowed down and replacing them with Communist-raised forces actually more reliable from the regime's point of view.
JOHNSON: That's a little bit ironic. Originally, these were Chiang Kai-shek's former soldiers that we were killing in Korea?
MARSHALL: Oh yes. Yes, a lot of their army was still inherited from the Chinese Nationalists, and the Communists were tidying up their military control very well as a result of that attrition.
JOHNSON: Wasn't there a lot of typhus that was going through about that time?
MARSHALL: I don't know about that. Well, so much for the mission to Hong Kong. It is one of those things which is tremendously interesting to do. There were a lot of aspects to it that were really exciting. There were
times when I met people on the mountaintop at midnight and that sort of thing.
JOHNSON: So, as far as you know, it had no impact on the . . .
MARSHALL: Well, there was one of the two Chinese whom I had talked to and whose names I do not remember—not politically astute and acute people. One of them, I found out later, had gone to Peking, returned, and had informed the U.S. Consulate General. He had been able to communicate what I had to say to people in the regime at Peking.
JOHNSON: What was it that you had to say as far as this central idea is concerned?
MARSHALL: I sent you a copy of the speech of a few years ago at the Naval War College back in 1977. There I went into that. Do you want me to repeat it, or can you just pick it up from there?
JOHNSON: We can make an appendix of this.(The text of the address at the Naval War College is attached as Appendix I to this transcript.)
MARSHALL: Well, all right.
JOHNSON: Can we basically summarize it?
MARSHALL: All right. Here in this paraphrase I shall juggle tenses. The present tense will be from the vantage of 1951, not today.
Basically, Americans like Chinese. Basically, the United States had entertained great hopes of an independent China emerging as a great power. We supported that idea in World War II. Now, great numbers of Americans feel very dismayed that the China which has emerged as a great power and in an independent position is very different from the one we envisaged. Right now, there is a bitter feeling, a feeling of disappointment.
When the Chinese Nationalists moved off the mainland into Taiwan the U.S. kept its embassy still in China, and kept a Charge' d'Affaires there. The Chinese harassed him and his staff so much that the U.S. had to move them out. The U.S. consuls still were there, however. The Chinese then began harassing them. It looked to us as if the Chinese regime did not want to have any relationship. They didn't want to talk, and they preferred to have the U.S. as an enemy. That is understandable. A regime taking over and having to enforce its will over a great territory psychologically needs an external enemy. That difficulty has now eventuated into this war in Korea, and it is a very dangerous war.
It still is the case that the strategic adversary of the United States is not China. It is the Soviet Union. The situation between the United States and the Soviet Union is a very touchy one. Stalin is in what may prove to be his last phase there. Stalin seems to have frozen up into a cold war attitude. Our Ambassador in Moscow has a hard time getting into touch with the Soviet Union on anything. Their Ambassador in Washington won't communicate about anything, because he is afraid of saying the wrong thing and being called home and shot. We are just at almost a standstill in relations with the Soviet Union. We do not know when some situation might slip into war, into real honest to goodness all-out war with the Soviet Union, as much as we try to avoid any such thing.
Well, there's one thing that the United States and China do have in common in all this trouble. It is definitely against the interests of the United States to have China on the side of the Soviet Union in any general war. It certainly is to the interest of China to stay out, because a lot of unfortunate things would happen to China if it should get into that war. Here is one thing in which the U.S. and China have a common interest: that China not get into a general war on the side of the Soviet Union. It is of salient importance for the U.S. and China. Let the knowledge of that
reciprocal interest temper their animosities. It will be a long time before things can mellow enough to make it feasible to establish rapport and an open diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and China. We in the U.S. anticipate that that time will come when China will find that you have an alternate enemy, an alternate threat in the exterior world. Things may well eventuate into such a situation. Then maybe there will be the possibility of some warming up in relationships between the United States and China. In the meantime, this thought should be kept in mind. keep this feeling of hostility from getting the U.S. and China hornswoggled into a situation where they are adversaries in a general war. it is high time to get this Korea thing knocked off. It presents a protracted danger to both the U.S. and China.
JOHNSON: Was the idea floating around at least in the U.N. that an armistice could be arranged?
MARSHALL: Oh, yes, sure this idea was being circulated.
JOHNSON: Did your message to the Chinese include the statement that we would accept a dividing line through Korea, or anything like that?
MARSHALL: Oh, no. No, I was trying to get over only the idea to them that, look, we cannot afford to have an
absolute, mutual hostility.
JOHNSON: It was in their interest to bring peace over there.
MARSHALL: That was all. That is as far as I was going. I did not get into any particulars about any arrangement whatsoever.
JOHNSON: You imply that at that point we were considering the possibilities of war with the Soviet Union, in '51.
MARSHALL: Well, sure. It is necessary to consider the dire possibilities of war. That does not mean that you are looking for one, nor that you are trying to embellish the probabilities of one. You have to think of it as a lurking peril, not as a desideratum.
JOHNSON: Well, I'm thinking about the probabilities.
MARSHALL: No, this is a ticklish situation in which we never know. War occurs when the two adversaries really get out of focus with each other, with respect to the consequences of war.
Well, this gets me into theories of warfare and that topic would take the rest of the morning.
JOHNSON: Was it not a theory--if you want to call it that--at that point that the Soviet Union may have been using Korea as a diversion, diverting our attention and our
resources so that they might spring something in Western Europe? Wasn't that part of the thinking of the State Department that the Soviet Union may be planning a surprise in Western Europe?
MARSHALL: I really don't recall anything as specific as that. I think the danger we sensed was the danger that this thing was going to get out of hand. I think we have a pretty good comprehension by then that the Soviet Union was taken by surprise by our response in Korea. The Soviet Union really did not expect that kind of response from the United States at all. We were perfectly aware that the Soviet Union, in a sense, hauled up--and hauled in its horns a bit. We in the government were very careful, mind you, all this time, never to say that the Soviet Union was the real enemy in Korea. The U.S. official discourse did a lot of pussyfooting. We talk about world communism being the enemy or we would talk about the Marxist-Leninist impulse. We were very careful about that. The United States in its discourse about this Korean war and the causes of it, and so on, was very scrupulous on the idea of not identifying the Kremlin and Stalin and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union as the malefactor. We did not want to get the Soviet Union's pride, as it were, involved in the outcome. So our spokesmen were very restrained in how they expressed the matter.
JOHNSON: But when you went to Hong Kong, Truman had already established a limited war policy in Korea. He had, in fact, fired MacArthur over this issue.
MARSHALL: Yes, MacArthur wanted to have a general war in the Far East.
JOHNSON: How about the Policy Planning Staff? We know what the Joint Chiefs of Staff had to say to Truman on this, and apparently they were unanimous that in the words of General Bradley, as I recall, that a direct all-out war with China would be the "wrong war at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong enemy."
MARSHALL: I'm critical of that remark in a certain sense.
JOHNSON: Okay. As regards Nitze and the Policy Planning Staff, do you recall their position on MacArthur's strategy in Korea and on Truman's action, or reaction, in finally dismissing MacArthur? Do you recall any conversations?
MARSHALL: Gad, figuratively speaking, the champagne corks began to pop when at long last he relieved MacArthur.
JOHNSON: That was a relief to the Policy Planning Staff as well.
MARSHALL: Oh, heavens yes. Oh yes. But this gets me into a long subject now; the MacArthur subject.
JOHNSON: Can you summarize what the Policy Planning Staff's position and opinion were?
MARSHALL: Let me say one thing. We were into the Korean war, and Louis Johnson was still Secretary of Defense. Louis Johnson, as you probably know, was a sick man at that time. He was suffering, unbeknownst, from a brain tumor that probably affected him, because whatever the situation was, enemy number one, as far as Louis Johnson appeared to be disposed, was the State Department and Dean Acheson. He was definitely against any communication between the Pentagon and the State Department. He would rebuke and would punish any officer in the Pentagon who was getting into touch with the State Department about anything. Why, the information business--the sharing of knowledge--was just as tight as it could be because the whole Pentagon was intimidated by Louis Johnson's attitude.
When Louis Johnson was out and George Marshall was in as Secretary of Defense, that situation mellowed, but it did not mellow right away. We had the greatest interest in getting into rapport and into communication across the Potomac, with this war going on, so that there could be a seeing eye-to-eye on the problems. Nitze took an initiative toward getting into an exchange of views with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He got nowhere. There was a day when my brother, Sam,
whom we've mentioned before a little bit, was in having lunch with me in the State Department. He sat around with some of us, talking about things, and he became knowledgeable about this. My brother had access; he was well-liked, and he was somebody who could call on [General Omar] Bradley and talk to him. My brother said, "I'm going over and talk to General Bradley about this." I said, "Godspeed." He called me up later in the day and said, "I talked to Bradley and I told him he was putting the State Department in an impossible situation. He expressed a little mistrust of you fellows over there, but I told him he had you all wrong, and he has mellowed, I think. I think he'll go along; he won't oppose this sort of thing."
Right then--and here again I bring in the personal pronoun--I drafted an Executive Order for the President's signature, calling on the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a selected group of five from the State Department to be in regular communication about the problems arising from the Korean war. So those meetings took place. The President accepted that order. Bradley withdrew any objections he had to it. Those sessions started at 9 o'clock, on Thursday morning, and usually lasted until about noon. They were very, very advantageous.
Now, we had five slots to fill in the State
Department. One of the conditions though that the JCS [Joint Chiefs of Staff] laid down was that there must be no note taking. So somebody had to go along, listen hard and do a lot of remembering, because as soon as the session was over we from the State Department would sit down and wrack our brains remembering and setting down the relevant details of the interchange. The primary fellow that went along as remember--I use that term because one dared not be seen writing anything down--was Robert Tufts.
JOHNSON: Mental notes.
MARSHALL: He was very good at this. Paul Nitze always went. Sometimes Doc Matthews would go, and sometimes Chip Bohlen went. If only three of the top crust had to attend, then I would go along as a sort of co-listener also.
JOHNSON: You'd meet at the Pentagon?
MARSHALL: We'd meet at the Pentagon, with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Tufts and I would sit there not participating in the interchange at all, but remembering everything we could. And then singly, or if it was both of us together, we would turn out a memorandum on the meeting, just for State Department top-secret information. We never exchanged it with the
Pentagon side. We assumed they were probably doing the same kind of thing.
JOHNSON: These went into the State Department files? These memos of conversation?
MARSHALL: I suppose so, but I do not know.
I made my own estimate of the caliber--not as military leaders, but we'll say for statesmanship--of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Number one, I would put [General] John Hull, who sat in when [General] Joe Collins was not there. I think Hull was just a natural-born statesman. I would put next to Hull, Joe Collins himself, a superb officer, really a splendid man, and about even with him Admiral [Forrest] Sherman. Then I would put in, in fourth place, Bradley. Then the rest of them I would not give much of a rating to. Sherman's replacement, Admiral [William M.] Fechteler, is the one I would put last of all. It was beyond Fechteler to maintain a line of reasoning in an argument. About all he could ever add to the interchange was something like, "Well, now, by God, gentlemen; by God." Then he would be out of ideas. In contrast Hull and Collins and Sherman were just very, very acute.
Remember I have served in the Army. Maybe a little bit of identity gets into this. I do believe
one can find greater comprehension in the Army than in the other services about the whole nature of war. This was once put so well by Joe Collins in one of these discussions It was about the prisoner issue in China . Collins said, as well as I can recall, "War is so technical a thing to the Air Force and to the Navy. It is a human thing to the Army. The flyboys get into a plane that somebody else has kept in condition. They fly over an area to some coordinates where they are told this is where you are to drop the bombs. They drop them. They look from two miles up and they see a couple of rosettes on the ground. They then head back to their depot, and go to the Officers Club and have some beer while somebody cleans up the plane." He said, "They never hear any screams; they never see any blood. They see little designs on the ground." He went on, "As far as the Navy is concerned--the 'Mighty Mo' stays 20 miles offshore and lobs some shells. They may or may not get a faint echo of those shells landing, depending on how the wind is blowing that day. When they have fired their target allotment for the day, they go to the ward room and have some coffee. They never see the stuff land. But if prisoners are going to have to be coerced into returning (in reference to the armistice terms), it is soldiers who are going to have to put the bayonet in the small of
their backs and drive them back to torture and maybe death. It will demoralize the Army. They will see it. It won't hurt the Navy. It won't hurt the Air Force."
War is more than a technical thing. I think the Army just naturally knows that better than the Air Force or the Navy knows it. When for seven or so years, I was a regular lecturer at the National War College, at the Army War College, the Navy War College, and the Air University, this thought came to me repeatedly. That difference was reflected in the prisoner issue. Joe Collins comprehended that issue much better than his counterparts in the JCS.
JOHNSON: Well, I mentioned Bradley's statement, opposing the expansion of the war, and you had a caveat of some sort.
MARSHALL: Well, Bradley's phrase maker was Ted Clifton. He was his public relations man. Clifton was a Canadian-born chap. He had gone to West Point. He was an able phrase maker. I knew Clifton pretty well.
JOHNSON: You think that that's his phrase; that's Ted Clifton's phrase?
MARSHALL: Oh yes, sure. All these fancy phrases of Bradley's were Clifton's.
Well, my answer to that is this: if you want to
have the "right war, in the right place, at the right time, with the right enemy," then you are going to have to start it. All wars are at the wrong time at the wrong place, and you have got to do the best you can with every one of them that comes along. You do not say, "Oh God, I don't like this war. I'm going to think of another war, which would be under more comfortable and pleasing and manageable circumstances." To hell with that. That phrase doesn't get you anywhere. But if you want to say "Look, we don't want to have the determinative contest of the future involving the problems of nations everywhere and the destiny of mankind on that miserable peninsula in Korea," that I can understand. You cannot be choosy about wars. When they come along you've got to manage them.
JOHNSON: In other words, you've got to limit the war. That was the kind of step that was a little difficult . . .
MARSHALL: No war is infinite; all wars are limited. Strategy in war consists of working with the interaction of a whole array of limiting and limited factors.
JOHNSON: But you remember these publishers and editors had decided it would be better to go to an all-out war than to . . .
MARSHALL: They did not even realize it. They thought that the United States had so much power that all it had to do was unleash it for a weekend and the whole thing would be over. Editors can . . .
JOHNSON: But they influence public opinion.
MARSHALL: Of course.
JOHNSON: And the American public, or perhaps the majority, had a hard time accepting the idea of limiting this, and accepting, if not defeat, only a partial victory. Of course, a majority of them supported MacArthur when he was fired.
MARSHALL: A majority. But I want to tell you one thing about that; I just want to remind you of it. T here was one place in the United States where MacArthur did not have any claque at all. MacArthur did not have a constituency in the military profession.
JOHNSON: Yes, that's an interesting situation.
MARSHALL: He did not have one in the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He did not have one in the whole military profession, with the exception of a few toadies who were his protégés whom he had brought along and were members of his court. Those were the only military constituency that MacArthur had. The people who cheered themselves
hoarse along Constitution Avenue, when he was riding up to the Capitol, were not in uniform.
JOHNSON: That's true.
MARSHALL: I was leading up to a point here about these conversations, these interchanges, between the State Department, the five, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It was educational from both ends because civilians tend to indulge in what some writers call "the civilian fallacy." That is the idea that the military can do anything--just assign them a mission and tell them to go to it, and they'll bring it off for you." That's the civilian fallacy. The "military fallacy" is that diplomacy, properly conducted, can always bring home the bacon. If our spokesmen just talk in the right tone of voice, use finesse, write some clever paragraphs, and so on, our side can prevail at no cost or risk. These are the twin fallacies in the conduct of policy.
I turn now to these sessions week-by-week at the Pentagon. Both sides of the interchange learned week by week a sharper appreciation of the limitations on diplomacy and on strategy and tactics.
In considering, say, relations with the British, or the Indians, or the Japanese, or any other external political entity, the military professionals were
inclined to say, "Well, by God, just stick it to them." Well, what do you mean by "stick it to them?" The answer would be, "Well, let them have it with both barrels" or "Let the chips fall where they may," or "We better talk turkey to them on this."
Turkey is a bird that's half drumstick and half wishbone. Metaphors do not constitute policy. The military spokesmen caught on to that point stage by stage. The civilian participants learned some things too--to wit, that the military machine is a very, very ponderous machine, that it is both tough and fragile, and that moral factors are as basic as material ones in the efficacy of the military in whatever environment.
In that interchange, there was never any real friction or miscomprehension between the State Department and the military on the conduct of the Korean war. At the Washington level they really did understand each other for all intents and purposes completely.
JOHNSON: Because MacArthur's point of view was not acceptable to either side?
MARSHALL: Nitze says in his book somewhere that there were radio intercepts that revealed that MacArthur really wanted to have a general war with China, and he leaves it at that. He is being altogether too reticent, and
maybe I'm violating security by explicating that paragraph a little bit.
I'm telling you here about documents that I never saw, but I think I was reliably informed of their existence. We had at that time, and the world did not know we had, that mechanism that had been developed during World War II for decoding ENIGMA. I'm talking about a code breaker that we had picked up that the Germans I think had developed, and we got it from a Polish source, and so on. We were in war at that time--I mean the Korean war--and so every government's messages were being decoded. MacArthur never knew about that decoding business, by the way, the same as MacArthur never knew what the nuclear resources of the United States were. MacArthur was talking big in a Falstaffian way to the Spanish and the Portuguese Ambassadors in Tokyo. He was giving them information that they were cabling back to Franco and Salazar. The messages were going in code, and the United States was decoding the messages. So the U.S. Government knew what MacArthur was telling Franco and Salazar and that he was not telling Truman. He was telling Franco and Salazar that he was going to see to it that the U.S. got into a general war against China.
JOHNSON: That's what Nitze is publishing for the first time?
MARSHALL: Nitze says, and I think for the first time, that the U.S. picked up MacArthur's intentions from electronic intercepts, or something of the kind.
JOHNSON: It was Spain and Portugal that he was communicating this to.
MARSHALL: Franco and Salazar, yes. Nitze is pretty circumspect there in that paragraph.
JOHNSON: Okay, this is the book that's going to come out by Paul Nitze, From Hiroshima to Glasnost. Well, that's going to have a big readership, a big audience, you can be certain of that.
What did they call this group? Was this a joint JCS-State Department Policy Staff . . .
MARSHALL: It never had a name; we never had a particular institutional name for that interchange.
JOHNSON: The Policy Planning Staff at least . . .
MARSHALL: It was the State Department.
JOHNSON: But now, these are Policy Planning Staff people that were meeting at JCS, right?
MARSHALL: That is right, and we in the State Department were the originators of the idea of having these meetings. Yes, we drafted the Executive Order that
Truman signed. Nitze used to be the one constant attendant there.
JOHNSON: He was the chairman of the Policy Planning Staff.
MARSHALL: He was the director. That was his title. So, who else went along to discuss things across the table, that depended on what was the problem. It might be the Deputy Under Secretary for Political Affairs; it might be the Counselor. It depended on what was the problem at the moment.
JOHNSON: Korea now is only one, perhaps the most important one, but . . .
MARSHALL: But we were really focusing on Korea. Other things were tangential.
JOHNSON: But Germany was . . .
MARSHALL: We were not taking up Germany.
JOHNSON: Okay, you weren't dealing much with Germany.
MARSHALL: No. We were, not dealing with the German problems. We were dealing with things that were borne upon, or bore upon, the conduct of the Korean war. There was no institutional name for it, but it was a very, very important forum of interchange.
It was interesting to me to watch the MacArthur
problem develop. I gave you my memorandum of conversation, my memorandum about Davis and MacArthur, the other day.
JOHNSON: Okay, it must be this item.
MARSHALL: Have you had opportunity to look at that?
JOHNSON: I have not gone over it yet.
MARSHALL: I do not want you to publish it, but you can put it in your archives, yes.
JOHNSON: It will be available for researchers.(This document has been filed in the Miscellaneous Historical Documents Collection, Truman Library, as item #670.)
MARSHALL: that gives a very long and intricate picture of what I had in mind when I expressed alarm over the U.N. resolution which called upon Truman to designate the U.N. commander in the Far East. We went into that the other day. In my estimate, and this was the body of knowledge on which it was based, MacArthur in my mind was sort of a kook. MacArthur was a highly unstable character. Far from being the strong, imperturbable man, in public view, MacArthur was an insecure fellow.
JOHNSON: Perhaps there is "megalomania" here.
MARSHALL: Well, that was one aspect of it. I remember the
crack going around at the time, that "there is trouble in paradise because God thinks he's MacArthur." That was the way it went. Well, that was an aspect of MacArthur.
JOHNSON: Truman used that term in regard to MacArthur; Truman called him "God."
MARSHALL: Yes. But there was the other part of it, and please read that memorandum. MacArthur was a terribly insecure fellow, full of self-pity, sensitive; but the essential thing here was that he was alienated from Washington.
JOHNSON: I want to bring up something else now in connection with the Policy Planning Staff and the communications that pertain to it. In reading documents in the Foreign Relations series in 1951 on National Security Policy--Regulation of Armaments, I notice sometimes a lack of clear thinking or at least of clear writing. One lengthy report by the Munitions Board relating to NSC-68 and a JCS strategic plan was so muddled that Truman described it as "a lot of top secret malarkey, and bunk."
Another example is a memo for record of a State-JCS meeting on January 24, 1951 in which there is this statement by the JCS: "Our ability to defend the
United States against air attack is steadily improving, but in view of the nature of modern weapons, the chances of a successful attack probably increase more rapidly than the capabilities for defending the United States against an attack." What do you think of this kind of logic, or rhetoric? To me there's an internal contradiction in that statement.
MARSHALL: I think what they are saying here is that we are developing more and more paraphernalia for intercepting the air attacks on the United States, but the problem is that there is being developed more and more capability for making such an attempt. So, the ratio is becoming more and more unfavorable, even though we are getting more and more stuff. That is what they are trying to say. They have not chosen the right words.
JOHNSON: In other words, the offense is improving faster than the defense.
MARSHALL: Yes. The defense is improving absolutely but not relatively. That is all we need to say.
JOHNSON: In the same set of statements the JCS said, "In general, from a military point of view, time is on our side, and our prospects for victory in the event war comes are steadily improving." At the same time, however, strategic planners were assuming that the
Soviet Union could overrun Western Europe within a few weeks, at least until 1954 when the U.S. buildup would presumably be sufficient to deter the Soviets. The JCS said that even in this interval, that is between 1951 and "54, "if war comes ..... though we would probably not lose it, we would have a difficult time winning it." I guess my question is how did JCS and the Policy Planning Staff define winning at this time. In other words, they're saying the Soviet Union could overrun Western Europe with its conventional forces and I guess there was an assumption at the time that we would not engage in nuclear war. But they seemed to be saying, "All right, the Soviet Union could overrun Western Europe before we get this buildup ready by '54."
MARSHALL: I think I know what they were trying to say.
JOHNSON: How did they define winning in this respect?
MARSHALL: Yes, I understand your question. If you mean winning, in the sense that we would be better off than we were at the outset, no. But if you say when the firing stops we will be in better position to get up off the floor than the other side, that is, I think, what you mean by winning there.
This gets us into the whole theory of warfare. I think the book The Causes of War by Geoffrey Blainey of Australia is in my estimate one of the most informative
treatments of the theory of warfare. I was so pleased a few years ago, by the way. I happened at a luncheon party to be sitting next to the Australian Ambassador. I mentioned my admiration for this book by Blainey. A couple of years passed. During Christmas week my phone rang. The voice at the other end said, "This is Geoffrey Blainey." The Australian Ambassador had told him of my remark, and he wanted to get in touch with me. We had lunch. So enough of that aside.
Blainey, I think, tells very clearly when wars occur. Wars occur when two potential adversaries
--that is to say their policy-makers--can not accept the perceived consequences of not fighting. Assume the end of the war. One side says, "We wish we had never gone to war, and it would have been a hell of a lot better to have faced the consequences of not fighting than it is to face the consequences now." Suppose the other side is in position to say, "That was a hell of a thing. We wish we would never have had to do it, but we think we are better off than we would have been if we had had to face the consequences of not fighting." The second side has won.
JOHNSON: I see what you mean, again this relative factor.
MARSHALL: I want to say war occurs when peace breaks down. Peace occurs when war breaks down. War breaks down
when one side says, "God, we can't face the consequences of going on with it." Keep that in mind. In terms of victory and defeat, when do you fight and when do you quit fighting also involve the weighing of probable consequences. You deter war--and you keep from having to avoid war by giving in and letting the adversary have his way--by keeping him in a pessimistic psychology. That is to say, you keep your adversary in the position of saying, "I can't face the consequences of letting this thing go to where we square off in war." That's the psychology you want. What you are everlastingly trying to do is to keep your potential adversary pessimistic.
JOHNSON: Mutual assured destruction, something of that sort?
MARSHALL: Not mutual assured destruction.
JOHNSON: Since the buildup of nuclear arsenals on each side, there apparently as been a growing sense that nuclear war is unwinnable. Do you subscribe to that?
MARSHALL: Well, if you say that nuclear war is such that you are going to be worse off when the fighting is over than you were when you started, that is probably true. If you say it is unwinnable in the sense that no entity who gets into one can get up off the floor afterwards,
that I just do not know is true at all.
JOHNSON: Another question here. I suppose it was generally assumed by strategic planners that the Soviet Union's ultimate intentions were to communize the whole world, and some even felt that the chances of the Soviets initiating war for Western Europe before mid-'54 were greater than 50-50. Yet in January, 1951, Admiral L.C. Stevens, who had been Naval Attaché' in the Moscow Embassy from 1948 to '50, told the National War College, "When I first went to Russia three and a half years ago, I believed there was a general tendency to underrate its capabilities," and I'm omitting some material here. Then, he said, "I ended up with a firm conviction that we vastly overrate them." He went on to say, "The seriousness of an underestimate is obvious, so it is extremely difficult to curb the tendency to err on the safe side." He recommended that one should live in Russia to get a better estimate of their intentions and capabilities, and he concluded, "Unless the West itself initiates a war which would be devastating on both sides, it seems probable that for many, many years we shall be confronted with much the same sort of dangerous uneasy world in which we now live."
Was this kind of statement ever taken seriously by the Policy Staff?
MARSHALL: Well, I hope we never took anything from Admiral Stevens seriously. I'm not undertaking here necessarily to rebut what he says there. I remember Stevens very well. There's a certain type of fellow that I want to typify here. There are people who know a lot of things but you would never turn to for advice on any question involving prudential judgment. I would have to put Stevens in that category. I can't imagine myself ever having a real hard question as to which I would say, "Get Admiral Stevens on the phone for me; I want to talk to him. Maybe he can give me some light." He was not a light giver.
JOHNSON: But do you think there was some truth in what he had to say that we were overestimating the Soviet military potential?
MARSHALL: How do I know?
JOHNSON: Well, he felt he knew better than those back here in Washington, since he was there on site.
MARSHALL: Oh, I understand that. You know, there's a certain type of fellow--let me mention a prominent name, a fellow that is in such a category, [that is] George Kennan. I would be with Dean Acheson's estimate of George Kennan. "He knows everything except what to do about anything."
JOHNSON: How about Nitze? What's your estimate of Nitze?
MARSHALL: Well, Nitze really is a problem-oriented man. Nitze will never waste a bit of time in deploring the nature of reality or saying, "God, in a well-ordered world a problem like this would not even come up." Nitze will never waste his time with that. Some people say he's altogether too much of a problem solver. Anyway, Nitze is a very different kind of a fellow from Kennan.
JOHNSON: I believe some people think Nitze was a cold warrior, that he was raising the alarms when there wasn't that much to raise the alarm about.· It's safer that way, of course.
MARSHALL: Well, I suspect that I am a cold warrior too. I don't think Nitze ever raised any false alarms.
JOHNSON: Nitze and the Policy Planning Staff, did they not continue this containment principal? Didn't they continue that principal enunciated by Kennan on containment?
MARSHALL: I have trouble with your questions. I do not know of anybody who is not for containment, except maybe some far-out fellows who really would be cheered up by the spread of Soviet dominion.
JOHNSON: Diplomatic historians, I think, generally use the term "containment" to describe American foreign policy, not just in that period but later on in the '60s and '70s.
MARSHALL: I understand. Let us accept the cliche and say "yes." suppose the United States still is for a containment policy.
JOHNSON: Well, the alternative to that presumably was enunciated by John Foster Dulles, in his "rollback" or "liberation" doctrines.
MARSHALL: But we had rolled back, had we not? It got us in a lot of trouble. The only time that rollback worked was when we captured Pyongyang in the Korean war.
JOHNSON: And that was before Dulles became Secretary of State.
MARSHALL: That's right. The momentum of war carried us there, and the Chinese got into that war, and they sure gave us a plastering for a while. We had to give up the idea. We were caught in a real fix then. That gets into the whole conduct of the Korean war.
JOHNSON: I believe Dulles' doctrines were being applied to Eastern Europe, that we were going to help liberate some of the satellites of the Soviet Union . . .
MARSHALL: The irresponsibility, in that respect, of U.S. policy in the early years of the Eisenhower administration is, to me, a galling story.
JOHNSON: Massive retaliation, how did that strike you?
MARSHALL: A great piece of nonsense. Massive retaliation was delivered at a time and for the purpose of intimidating the communists who were trying to take over Indochina in the sequel to the French withdrawal. A lot of good it did! Massive retaliation--that gets us into the Eisenhower administration, and I can expound on Dulles for hours.
JOHNSON: In the Policy Planning Staff, prior to Truman's departure from office in January of '53, were you discussing such concepts?
MARSHALL: As what?
JOHNSON: As massive retaliation, rollback.
MARSHALL: Well, I think we never had any idea whatsoever that you could deter communist incursions in Southeast Asia by threat of general nuclear war.
JOHNSON: Or by threatening Moscow?
MARSHALL: No, that is a fantastic idea. But Dulles was completely incapable of thinking in what I would call
JOHNSON: Psychological warfare--would you describe it that way, that perhaps he was indulging in some kind of psychological warfare?
MARSHALL: Yes, I am afraid he was. The Eisenhower administration was loaded up with people that had that kind of approach to things. C. [Charles] D. Jackson was brought down here from Time-Life to be the President's adviser on this sort of thing. Bobby Cutler, who was the President's NSC man, was full of it. These fellows were full of a lot of malarkey. Do you want to talk about the Psychological Strategy Board?
MARSHALL: When you are conducting a war and you are fighting the enemy and you are discharging a lot of energy, bringing a lot of energy to bear and discharging it destructively on particular parts of the enemy's establishment you may get a little bit of advantage out of trying to keep your enemy off balance--fool him, deceive him, confuse him and so on. That's fine when you are conducting war. When you conduct policy that way in a non-belligerent situation, it is not worth a damn. You are going to fool yourself more
than you do your adversary, real or putative. Peace looks for stability. You shouldn't be trying to fool anybody when you're conducting policy in peace.
JOHNSON: but now I suppose . . .
MARSHALL: Do you understand what I mean?
MARSHALL: You should not be trying to keep people off balance, trying to deceive them, trying to fool them. You should be trying to let them know in a pretty steady, sure way what to count on in the realm of fact.
JOHNSON: But was this the idea of "fighting fire with fire?" In other words, we're under a barrage of Soviet propaganda, and finally we get fed up with this and we say, "We've got to devise counter-propaganda that will blunt this, if not negate it."
MARSHALL: But look, propaganda may be all fine to explicate your policy. But propaganda is never a substitute for policy. Let me go to another situation to explain what I mean. I remember when Roger Hilsman in Kennedy times had a big meeting up at Camp David, and this involved getting a lot of people like me and Arnold Wolfers and professorial types up there to Camp David to have a weekend session on Southeast Asia in general and on
Vietnam in particular. Hilsman explained how we were going to manipulate the situation in Vietnam. "Manipulate" was his verb that stood for all of those things, all of that dazzling stuff, fooling opponents, getting them in a stage of anxiety, and all that sort of thing. It was psychological warfare baloney, and this, as he presented the case, was going to handle the situation in South Vietnam for us. I answered him from the floor. I said, "Manipulate is from the Latin for carrying a handful of vegetables. It is connected with the Roman notion about the carrot and stick policy. Manipulating is the carrying of the enticements, the little rewards." And I said, "It works for coaxing a jackass across a plain, but when you're dealing with foreign affairs, you are dealing with an entity that is in the same moral plane as you are. Don't think you're going to manipulate him into doing what you wish him to do. You are not going to do it. He will manipulate you just as well. We are going to wind up being manipulated by Vietnam rather than manipulating Vietnam." We did exactly that. We wound up getting manipulated by Vietnam.
This is what I mean when I say, "By God, when you get to conducting policy by fooling people, you are going to wind up fooling yourself."
JOHNSON: Well, apparently the State Department did object
to the idea of counter-propaganda that involved exaggerations, falsehoods, you know, anything but what was truthful.
MARSHALL: I have such recollections of that year that I stayed on into the Eisenhower administration.
JOHNSON: Didn't you help staff the Psychological Strategy Board for them?
MARSHALL: No, that was in Truman times. I was there and I did my best to prevent that project from realization.
JOHNSON: Yes, it was established during the Truman administration, in 1950-51. What did you have to do with that in its earlier stages?
MARSHALL: The proponent of that whole idea, I can't remember his full name, but his name was Johnston. (Kilbourne Johnston [with a "t"]. His father omitted the "t.") He was a brigadier general; whether he still had Army credentials or was retired, I don't know, but he had some CIA connection. He was the son of Hugh Johnson who had headed NRA in Roosevelt's time. I went into some interdepartmental meetings on this scheme; Johnston was the proponent and I was the opponent and I didn't like Johnston worth a damn. Johnston is one of these fellows who argues in a bureaucratic framework,
such as this was, by intimidation. He goes in with the idea, "Everybody that's arguing with me is an ass; doesn't know what he's talking about. I'm going to bamboozle them; I'm going to intimidate them and shout them down."
That's the kind of fellow Johnston was, but Johnston had with him certain Army types, military types, who had had to do with psychological warfare during World War II.
Two types of people were for the Psychological Strategy Board. One type was the fellow who would think we could make great headway to the future and conduct policy by all kinds of tricks, by trying to keep other countries bamboozled. [This type of person] also has no concept of the limits of power. I remember in all these discussions the fellows in this category liked to bring up the case of the surrender of the Italian fleet in World War II. A great effort had been made in beaming psychological warfare stuff in on the Italian fleet to persuade it to surrender without fighting. The Italian fleet did so--a great victory. Psychological warfare specialists doted on that example of the efficacy of their craft. The rub was this. Later on it was learned that none of the psychological warfare messages had got to the targeted fleet. It had surrendered not because of a bunch of messages but
because the fleet knew that it was going to get the hell beat out of it if it tried to take on the British and American Naval power in the Mediterranean. That's why it surrendered.
There are these people who think that somehow or other, by clever tricks, by a device of scheming how to bamboozle and deceive and all that sort of thing, great successes can be won on the cheap. My answer is, "Look, the other fellow's going to do it to you too, and you're going to wind up fooling yourself." Psychological warfare is an auxiliary but not a substitute for material factors.
There's another type of fellow who is for the Psychological Strategy Board. The type was epitomized in Johnston himself. That type sought to set up some super cabinet thing with White House blessing so as to take the control of foreign policy away from the State Department and away from Acheson. Acheson and the State Department would be reduced to something that just carried out directives from this contrivance called the Psychological Strategy Board.
Acheson was not paying any attention to this project. Acheson was too busy with other things. The top-level fellow involved as far as the State Department was concerned was Jim Webb. The fellow I reported back to from these meetings was Jim Webb. I
urged him, "We've got to throw in all the power we have, and get Acheson involved too, to prevent this thing from coming into existence." Webb said, "I don't think it will do any harm. It won't really amount to anything. We can contain it." Webb pointed out it would be impolitic to oppose some of the people, particularly certain members of Congress interested in the scheme. I was overruled. Webb finally concurred in an interdepartmental paper, and the thing was set up. It eventually got a director, (The first director of the Psychological Strategy Board was Gordon Gray.) but in the interim it was headed by a three-man board. I was the State Department's interim member.
I thought it was one of the silliest ventures I ever saw. I remember the first meeting. There were several Army lieutenant colonels staffing the thing. They put in front of each of us on the three-man board a case containing coordinate paper, Mercator map projects of the world, a protractor, and a number of colored crayons. They said this was a planning kit. [Laughs]
Well, anyway, for how long, maybe for six weeks, maybe for three months—I have only a dim recollection—I went to meetings once a week in the psychological Board headquarters on Lafayette Square. I was one of
the triumvirate that was supposed to be heading it up. As long as I was there, the Board just did not do a damn thing. It never did; I think Webb was correct as to its inconsequentiality.
JOHNSON: The CIA I suppose got involved with this.
MARSHALL: Yes, Johnston was a CIA man. I remember a big argument with him. He said, "There's nothing in the law that says that the State Department is to be in charge of foreign policy. There is nothing in the Constitution that says it. There's absolutely no reason at all why you can't superimpose some super thing to really coordinate this." I said, "Look, it's in the very nature of things. It does not have to be in the Constitution. It does not have to be in the law of the land; it is in the very nature of things that there has to be a foreign office, and if it is not the State Department it is going to be something else. Now, what you're proposing is a new foreign office."
JOHNSON: It was a threat to the authority of the State Department, as far as you were concerned?
MARSHALL: Yes, and I did not see anything but mischief coming out of this. I was wrong. What materialized was inconsequentiality. These staff fellows had some of the silliest schemes you could ever imagine. One of
them shows the caliber. [Andrei] Gromyko was corning over here for the signing of the Japanese peace treaty. The Psychological Warfare chaps had it planned that somebody was to draw him aside, talk to him a while, and then introduce him to a big real estate operator. They would have him photographed talking with this real estate operator and then get the word put out surreptitiously that Gromyko was talking to real estate people with the idea of acquiring a piece of property so that he could duck out and desert from the Soviet Union.
JOHNSON: Defect to the United States.
MARSHALL: And that would get him into trouble with Moscow, and he might even get shot. How far-fetched . . .
JOHNSON: Did they ever put anything like that down on paper?
MARSHALL: I forget whether that was written down or not.
JOHNSON: They're going to fight fire with a forest fire I guess. Did you have to suggest people from the State Department to serve on the Psychological Strategy Board?
MARSHALL: I don't recall. This was not a thing that I was really giving vivid attention.
JOHNSON: But were you the only one from the State Department to attend those things?
MARSHALL: There may have been others. In fact, I can think of a particular case later on--whether they still called it the Psychological Strategy Board I don't know--but I remember something coming up when I was still in the State Department in the Eisenhower administration. My membership of the interim board had long since lapsed.
JOHNSON: Yes, they changed the name later on.
MARSHALL: They called it the Operations Coordinating Board. It was the same thing, different name.
There was a State Department fellow who was serving at least part time on the staff there, Jesse McKnight. He was a good, routine kind of a fellow--no great sparkplug but sound. After the cease-fire in Korea certain repatriated prisoners of war restored to duty as U.S. military officers were serving on the staff of the Operations Coordinating Board. These ex-prisoners bore understandable grievances against the Chinese captors who had given them a rough time. They prepared a project for a great propaganda campaign against the Chinese for abusing prisoners of war. They wanted to spend millions of dollars on it. They were going to get pictures and testimony in great volume to
demonstrate in full scope and detail the nature and extent of Chinese atrocities against U.S. prisoners, organize the material into a comprehensive book, and put a copy of it into every mail box in the U.S., plus a large distribution abroad. The book was to be an official U.S. Government publication.
McKnight, the State Department's spokesman at the Operations Coordinating Board's staff, sought guidance from Robert Bowie, Paul Nitze's successor on the Policy Planning Staff. Bowie referred him to me, I turned thumbs down on the project. Here were my views: governments conduct propaganda about atrocities when they are waging war and are trying to undermine confidence in and support of their enemies, to build up morale on their own side, and to fire up the martial spirit. In the Korean situation the U.S. had already opted for a cease-fire, not for prolonged and intensified hostilities. The whole world and all the American public would be utterly confused by a massive government-sponsored propaganda campaign against the Chinese--without any follow-up in terms of policy. This was not to gainsay the massive cruelty that Chinese conduct had manifested.
McKnight acted on his instructions, and the scheme was quashed. Soon thereafter I left the Government. We moved to New York.
On business in Chicago I got a phone call from Washington. The message: something had happened to somebody, whose name should not be used on the phone. I had some connection with it. I must come at once. The phone call was from a colleague of McKnight's named George Jaeger. On arrival in Washington I learned that McKnight has been suspended under a security charge and a loyalty charge. Some military fellows had sworn out an affidavit that he was on the side of the Communist Chinese. They had so charged before the State Department Security Board. McKnight, suspended, could not imagine what had hit him. He was dumbfounded and did not know what to do. His wife was afraid he might commit suicide or something. McKnight was in New York looking for a lawyer and he could not get one because he could not afford the fee.
I said to get him back and not to worry about the fee.
I went to Dean Acheson the next day and gave him the account. Acheson called in John Lord O'Brien, and I repeated the story. The two of them said they would put the finger on somebody to take the case pro bono. Where did McKnight want to fight--in New York or in Washington? O'Brien said to Acheson, "If he wants this thing worked out in New York let's get Bethel Webster for his lawyer, put the finger on him." (Webster was
the president of the American Bar Association.) O'Brien added, "If he prefers Washington, let's try George Ball." I got McKnight on the phone. He opted for Washington. Acheson buzzed George Ball and said, "George I've got a case for you. No, it's pro bono. We'll get the fellow in to see you tomorrow. He'll explain. It's a security case. John Lord O'Brien and I decided on you. You'll be the lawyer. That's all."
JOHNSON: How did he come out?
MARSHALL: George Ball, who later gave me this account, took him over there to the Security office of the State Department, banged the table, and said, "This is the goddamndest silliest thing I ever heard in my life." He just blasted them.
JOHNSON: They backed off then?
MARSHALL: Oh, they backed off. They said, "Well we'll get the clearance papers through by tomorrow morning."
JOHNSON: We have his papers.
MARSHALL: Jesse McKnight's?
JOHNSON: Yes. I haven't looked through them, but I'll have to look through them now. When did you leave the Eisenhower Administration?
MARSHALL: The first of December, of 1953. It was right before I was leaving, as I recall, that this thing came up. It was right after then that I got him that lawyer. In a way that's kind of an interesting story. That is power when two fellows can put their finger on any lawyer.
JOHNSON: McKnight was working with the OCB?
MARSHALL: I don't know what his status was then, but this was the Operations Coordinating Board, OCB.
JOHNSON: So now the worm turned. He was the victim of some psychological warfare.
MARSHALL: Anyway, this is the caliber of stuff you're likely to gather up from that kind of operation.
JOHNSON: But that's one of the things that came out of the Psychological Strategy Board.
MARSHALL: Its successor, yes.
JOHNSON: Well, we've covered the Truman period and we've gotten into that first year of the Eisenhower period. Is there anything else we need to add to what we have been discussing?
MARSHALL: We have got through the MacArthur thing, and the prisoner issue in connection with the Korean war.
There's a lot on the Marshall plan. Nitze mentions a lot of this, and Nitze mentions me very favorably but he's got some errors in the account.
JOHNSON: In regard to what?
MARSHALL: The legislation of the Marshall plan. There are things I'd like to talk to you about.
JOHNSON: Do you want to correct that? Do you want to clarify, or correct that?
MARSHALL: It would be clarifying, and correcting, but I don't know how much time you have.
JOHNSON: Well, go ahead if it involves the Marshall plan. Yes, let's do it.
MARSHALL: Here is a paper on the Marshall Plan. This is something turned out by the USIA.(Reproduced in Appendix II.) I shall explain to you the genesis of that. Two years ago, Nitze called me and said the USIA [United States Information Agency] wanted him to write a 1200-word piece on the origin of the Marshall plan. He had said, "no," because he was just about to take off for Europe for a brief diplomatic mission. He had told the USIA to get me, so within an hour or so the USIA called me. They wanted about a 1200-word article that really was full of some
news about the Marshall plan, etc. They said this would be subject to Mr. Nitze's approval. I said, "Why?" They said, "Well, it will be published under his name." I said, "The hell it will. I won't touch it." They said, "Well, you have written for people on other occasions." I said, "I've done ghost writing on a one-to-one basis, but I never will do it on a triangle basis." They said, "Well, what's the difference?" And I said, "Well, it's the difference between romance and pimping." So I turned them down. A couple of nights later, I was dreaming—literally—about the question of what, if anything, fresh could be said about the origin of the Marshall plan. There is such a great volume that has just been published in connection with the Marshall plan anniversary. Next morning I drafted this article.
Later I was talking to Nitze about something else. Nitze, back from Europe, apologized to me because he said he had no idea that the USIA wanted me to ghost write. I showed my article to him. He said, "I'll see to it that it gets published under your name."
JOHNSON: "Creating the Marshall Plan Was a 'Complex Process;'" that's the title here. Where was it published?
MARSHALL: The USIA European Service. Anyway, that says a
lot of what I would say about the Marshall plan. The thing I want to say about the legislative process here, then, in part is said there. There was never any question really about the enactment of the Marshall plan. It was going to be enacted.
The enemies of the Marshall plan were concentrated in the Rules Committee of the House and in the House Appropriations Committee. The problem in the legislating of the Marshall plan was to get so overwhelming a majority behind it that the Rules Committee would have to give a favorable rule and that the Appropriations Committee could not cut the undertaking down to a futile fraction in the appropriation stage.
There's another thing in the legislation of the Marshall plan. When it came before the Foreign Affairs Committee in the authorization stage it was necessary to sidetrack a lot of impractical ideas that the so-called Herter Committee had hatched. You've heard about it.
JOHNSON: Christian Herter?
MARSHALL: Yes. I do not know who invented these foolish ideas. Herter really wasn't the chairman of the committee. They had made Charles Eaton the nominal chairman of the ad hoc committee, but Eaton would never even recognize that he had been appointed chairman.
That step was supposed to mollify him and honor him, but he snubbed the undertaking and he would not take any part in producing its report. Anyway, under Herter's actual leadership, the Herter Committee investigated in Europe and came back with a lot of ideas, some of them counterproductive. I mention a few. One was the idea of placing the program under a government corporation. Another one, of no value at all, was the idea of having the administration headed up by someone who was in charge of the whole economic policy of the country. Then European aid would become a claimant against his main responsibility, as it were. Furthermore, the Congress had abolished all economic controls. Did the proposal mean reestablishing them? The Herter Committee had some members who were important people on the Foreign Affairs Committee, notably Vorys, whose power I've already mentioned.
The other problem was to keep the whole European Recovery Program from being vitiated by particular interests intent on getting a sizeable amount of the gold ladled their way. The insurance underwriters wanted to be sure that they could hold onto their big share of maritime insurance underwriting. The flour millers, for the first time in their lives, had really got a big piece of the European market because the flour mills in Europe have been destroyed to such an
extent. The millers want to hold on to that share. The candy makers wanted to see that no hard currency would go to the production of candy--because, with the scarcity of hard currency in Europe, the Americans had the inside track on the world supply of first-rate chocolate and the American candy manufacturers had now edged out the Swiss, etc. Many sorts of things like that that had to be squelched at the same time that it was necessary to generate a big majority.
JOHNSON: The interest group is a factor of course.
MARSHALL: A big factor. The House was better than the Senate on these things. Oh, there was a complex one from certain GIs who had married into Moroccan families and to whom the father-in-laws had deeded their property so that their enterprises might escape French exchange controls by claiming rights as Americans under our capitulatary treaties with the old sultan of Morocco. Those veterans had a lot of power. Yes, there were special interest groups of wide variety.
In January of, 1948, as I recall, Truman sent up his message on the Marshall plan. Eaton, the Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, talked to me and he said, "You're not an economist and you're not a lawyer. Lawyers and economists always talk in jargon. All this stuff that is coming up on the Marshall plan
preparation is being done by economists and by lawyers. I want you to read into all this stuff and then write me a memorandum on the Marshall plan. Explain it to me in language that a bartender can understand." I wrote a long memorandum to Eaton. He sent it off to the Government Printing Office. He had it reproduced and he sent a copy to every member of the House of Representatives. It never became an official document. It never got an index number on it. I do not have a copy. I do not know how to find one. It was one of the best things I ever wrote, I think.
JOHNSON: Is there any way I could get a copy?
MARSHALL: I do not know. It is not in the Government files. It never took on official status.
JOHNSON: What was the substance of it, then?
MARSHALL: I just tried in layman's language to explain what this authorization was going to do and what the U.S. was trying to get done. Some of that comes out in this USIA article. I explain that we were trying to revitalize the community of Europe. We were trying to get governments to making policy again. We were trying to recreate the climate of investment. I focused on these purposes. I did not talk about the data of availabilities. I did not scan tables of figures, and
The Senate acted on the legislation first. The bill then was acted on in the House. The committee having jurisdiction was the Foreign Affairs Committee. The hearings were comprehensive and exacting--far, I believe, beyond the thoroughness characterizing action on the Senate side. I shall skip the substantive details. My memory of them would be redundant to what is already available in boring completeness for anyone impelled to delve into them. Rather than labor again the minutiae of policy, let me recall the adventurous details of action.
In recounting the sequence of events, Nitze's book is a day off. My recollection is sure on that point. As I recall, the Committee on Foreign Affairs finished its deliberations and voted affirmatively on a certain Friday in late March, March 20 to be exact. Nitze's book recalls the day as a Thursday. Whatever the day, the Committee's leadership went at once, in midmorning, to the Rules Committee. Much to their astonishment, the Rules Committee was as accommodating as one could imagine--no nit picking, no carping, nothing but affability. The Rules Committee, without cavil or hesitation, granted a rule providing for consideration by the whole House to begin at 10 a.m. on Monday and stipulating the Foreign Affairs Committee's
report must be filed—meaning handed over to, and receipted by, a messenger from the Government Printing Office before midnight of Saturday night (only 36 or so hours ahead).
The members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, whose task it was to take the bill to the floor and to make the case for it in breadth and in detail, were flabbergasted. They had tacitly assumed that there would be an interval of six or seven days for getting a report ready. They strongly suspected that the Rules Committee's real intent was to confound them by setting an impossible deadline—with the effect of damaging the Foreign Affairs Committee's prestige.
At that point nobody on the Foreign Affairs Committee or its staff had focused on the content of a report commending the legislation to the House. The Committee met shortly after noon, sat for about six hours, talked in an unfocused way, accomplished nothing, and adjourned till 9 a.m. Saturday. The endeavor to grind out a report shifted to the professional staff's cramped office. The State Department officers of considerable importance—namely Paul Nitze, then the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs and one of the true masterminds behind the Marshall plan, and Ernest Gross, who was, if I remember correctly, Assistant Secretary for Legislative
Affairs--were there to help. Another State Department hand was James Cooley. Howard Piquet, an economist from the Legislative Reference Service of the Library of Congress, was a resourceful helper. George Pettee-who was a good friend from prewar times when we had been a fellow instructor at Harvard and now was a colleague on the Committee staff--was another that I recall. Four or five very capable women from the Committee's secretarial staff, with their notepads and typewriters, and of course, the perennial Committee clerk himself, Boyd Crawford, rounded out the available personnel. William Yandell Elliott, whose title was professional staff director, was not on the scene. That day was a teaching day at Harvard for him.
The trouble was this: no one was in charge. I know that I was going to sound vain in a very Falstaffian way as I recount all this, but I shall do it shamelessly. I am an old man now and such a career as I had is long since behind me. From this vantage I look back on those two days--March 20-21, 1948--as the occasion of the best and hardest work I ever did. Let me quote from Nitze's account: "Burt"—that means me--"took command." No one told me to do so. I saw what had to be done and did it.
During that Friday afternoon I had set down on note paper a succession of themes or catchwords in what
I saw as a logical order for explicating the concept, genesis, purpose, and content of the European Recovery Program. I drew heavily but not exclusively from the memorandum I had done some weeks previously for Chairman Eaton. With my outline in hand, I assumed the voice of authority and issued the people on hand assignments. Their responsiveness was remarkable.
They produced wordage till well past midnight. Some endeavored the whole night through.
I myself got to producing. I am a fairly rapid "hunt-and-peck" writer. The staff secretary helping me--Doris Leone--was a whiz. I would dictate to her for a while, peck away while she transcribed, then resume dictating when she had caught up. I pasted in a lot of snippets from the memorandum to Eaton. She and I continued the collaboration for more than a dozen hours. Between our product and what the others turned out there was an estimable volume of manuscript to put before the Committee when it reassembled at 9 o'clock Saturday morning.
That Saturday' session was an exercise in futility. The Committee fiddled around for about five hours, conveyed its responsibilities to an ad hoc subcommittee of five, and adjourned. That subcommittee did no better. Bill Elliott was now on the scene trying to fill his role as director of the professional staff but
hampered by unfamiliarity with the conceptual scheme underlying the outline that I had projected the day before.
As the hours wore along the volume of unapproved manuscript actually expanded as some of my colleagues and I continued the process of rounding out and tidying up. At about 6:30 I decided once more to take charge. I announced my conclusion that the ad hoc subcommittee could not possibly perform its task in time or even at all. I said I was assuming responsibility, gathered up the manuscript, bore it to the far end of the Committee table, and warned that I was not to be interfered by anyone. Mrs. Leone joined me there with notepad and typewriter to turn out transitional passages whenever required for coherence. With her help I finished a comprehensive editing job in time to hand the manuscript to the Government Printing Office's courier at 10 minutes to midnight.
When the House of Representatives convened on Monday morning the printed report was ready for distribution--a coherent document with no glitches and about a hundred pages long. Conceptually, the whole thing was mine. A little more than half the wordage was mine. I was the one who strung it all together. I was rewarded by thankfulness for having got away with my presumptuousness, by a sense of achievement, and by
a fair share of pats on the back--one of the best from Nitze, who has said that the Foreign Affairs Committee's report made a more cogent case for the European Recovery Program than the Executive Department itself had put forth.
Nitze's book recounts the events of the two critical days involved in getting out that report. He repeated them as one of the two speakers before the Marshall Foundation's celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the Marshall plan. My wife and I attended and I was delighted when Nitze said, "The real hero of the occasion is in the audience," and pointed me out. I was pleased anew at the Secretary of State's reception for the same anniversary. Jim Cooley was present and said to me that he would never forget the scene when I "just usurped the authority, told everybody to stay out of my way, and got away with it."
One thing in Nitze's account calls for comment. He relates that at one juncture, after I had presumed to take charge of getting the manuscript in shape to meet the deadline, Bill Elliott attempted to supervise what I was doing, and I seized a chair, made threatening motions with it, and backed Bill away. That incident must have happened, for several persons present later told me about it. What I wish to say is that I have no recollection of it.
I had not been to bed since 6 a.m. of the preceding day and had been on duty with the Committee on Foreign Affairs since 8 a.m. of the preceding day. My meals in the interval had all been nibbled at a desk. I had been out of the Capitol only for a shave. I was groggy with fatigue after more than a day and a half of unremitting work. I was so intent on what I was doing that I did not look up when Boyd Crawford had keeled over with a heart attack and been carried away by an ambulance crew. So maybe I really did make that gesture of violence to Bill Elliott. In any event, my friend forgave me. Later on I was his choice to present the toast in his honor at the banquet signaling his retirement from the Eaton Professorship in Government at Harvard and his surviving wife's choice to give the eulogy at his funeral.
JOHNSON: So you really played a part in that Marshall plan legislation.
MARSHALL: I really did.
JOHNSON: And I'm sure Truman appreciated it.
MARSHALL: Truman never heard a word about it. Also I went to the floor with the committee to keep them prompted in debate and so on. I did that, also, on the first renewal, and the second renewal of the Marshall plan.
JOHNSON: Did you ever get a chance to talk to Truman or to mention anything about your part in this?
JOHNSON: Did you ever meet with him?
MARSHALL: I never met with him.
JOHNSON: But were you in the Oval Office?
MARSHALL: Not in the Truman administration, no.
JOHNSON: One final question. I think this will be a final comment. I did want to note that the JCS apparently in August of 1950, after the war had started, wanted more clear cut U.S. objectives than could be found either in NSC-20/4 or NSC-68. They wanted, I guess, a restatement of NSC-68, and there was great difficulty in settling on a statement of objectives.
Apparently, this dragged into 1953 without a final draft. That would have been a successor to NSC-68, and I think to NSC-135. Does that ring any bells, NSC-135?
MARSHALL: That does not. I think there was something pertinent in NSC-79, which Nitze mentions in his book. That was the designation of a study prompted when the Joint Chiefs of Staff wanted a delineation of war aims in case the U.S. were to get into war with the Soviet Union. Nitze explains that he put it up to me first of
all, and I told them, after contemplating the subject, that this was impossible, that we did not want such a document. It is there that Nitze quotes me as saying, "Trying to decide war aims in such a contingency is like 'asking: 'When you play bridge next week, what should you lead?'" (See Nitze, From Hiroshima to Glasnost, p. 118. ) You can't answer that. This is just too damn hypothetical. If you start spelling out war aims just in the abstract, you are going to be inventing Utopia again. Remember this about a hypothetical war with the Soviet Union--a war that involves a nuclear exchange--we would all be in a hugely worse situation than we had been before we had that war. To come up with a bunch of great goals to be achieved in a general war of such magnitude is one of the most misleading things you could possibly do. I said I just could not bring my mind to bear on such a futile fantasy. Some other people tried it. Finally, as Nitze recalls there, some draft of this whole effort finally got up to Acheson, and Acheson said, "You better salt this away and never let it see the light of day." He was right. The word would surely have leaked out. It would have been highly dangerous to let word leak out that the U.S. was making plans for a war with the Soviet Union. Drew Pearson would get hold of that. Then what?
JOHNSON: Thank you for all this information.
[Top of the Page |Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
List of Subjects Discussed
Acheson, Dean, 61, 76, 81, 90-91, 96, 106, 126, 135-136, 141-142, 158
Arends, Leslie, 66, 68
Ball, George, 141-142
Bloom, Sol, 18, 26-27, 31
Bohlen, Charles, 96, 108
Bowie, Robert, 140
Bradley, Omar, 105, 107, 109, 111
Breuvery, E. Saquez de, 97-98
Central Intelligence Agency – CIA, 137
Chase, Saben, 94, 95
Chatham, Thurman, 35
China lobby, 58-60
Chiperfield, Robert, 32
Chou, Eric, 92
Clifton, Ted, 111
Collins, Joe, 109-111
Committee on Foreign Affairs, 17-18, 22, 44-45, 61, 63
Congressmen, relations with, 22
Containment Policy, 127-128
Cooley, James, 152, 155
Crawford, Boyd, 152, 156
Cutler, Bobby, 130
Davis, Thomas Jefferson, 20, 22, 119
Douglas, Helen Gahagan, 18, 37, 67-68
Dulles, John Foster, 63, 96, 128-129
Eaton, Charles, 24-26, 31, 64-65, 146, 148-149, 153
Eisenhower, Dwight D., 62-63, 130, 133
Elliot, William Y., 7-8, 19, 31, 152, 153, 155
European Recovery Program, 147
Everett, Jack, 79, 89
Fechteler, William, 109
Feis, Herbert, 71
Ferguson, Homer, 45, 55
Foreign service exam, 16
Frankfurter, Felix, 81
Gromyko, Andrei, 138
Gross, Ernest, 151
Halleck, Charles, 66-67
Herter Committee, 146-147
Hilsman, Roger, 131-132
Hong Kong classified State Dept. Mission, 90-96
House Committee on Appropriations, 146
House Committee on Foreign Affairs, 18, 146, 150-155
Hull, John, 109
Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, 14, 19, 22
Jackson, Charles D., 130
Jaeger, George, 141
Javits, Jacob, 37
Johnson, Louis, 106
Johnston, Kilbourne, 133-137
Joint Chiefs of Staff, 62, 105-108, 117, 120-122
Kai-shek, Chiang, 56-57, 63, 67, 98
Kee, John, 18, 26-28, 44, 55
Kua-tao, Chang, 91-92
Kennan, George, 70, 126
Kilgore, Harley, 11
Korean Aid bill of 1949, 61, 63
Korean War: 61
Cooperative planning by Joint Chiefs of Staff & State Dept., 62, 105, 106-107 , 114-115
Peoples Republic of China:
communications with, 82-90
Post WWII Occupation, 62, 69-70
benefits gained from intervention, 97-98, 100
Prisoner of War issue, 110-111
U.S. intervention, 71-73, 128
Leone, Doris, 153-154
Limits of Foreign Policy, The, 76, 78-82
Lodge, John Davis, 52, 56, 58
Logistics, military, 10-13
MacArthur, Douglas: 20-22, 88, 94
Mansfield, Mike, 18
Marshall, Alice Medora Beeman, 1
Marshall, Charles Burton, 21
Committee on Foreign Affairs, 18
Marshall, Caleb C., 1
Personal background, 1-8
SAIS (School of Advanced International Studies), 40
State Department, 36
Marshall, George C., 60, 106
Marshall Plan, 19, 38-39, 43, 48-50, 57, 144-156
Marshall, S. L. A. (“Slam”), 2, 73-75
Martin, Joe, 65-67
Massive Retaliation, policy of, 129
Matthews, “Doc” H. Freeman, 91, 108
McCarran, Pat, 88
McCarthy, Joseph, 88
McIlwain, Charles, 7
McKnight, Jesse, 139, 141-143
Mundt, Karl E., 57, 59
Mutual Defense Assistance program, 43-45, 51-55
NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), 44, 56
Nitze, Paul, 20-22, 35-36, 70, 76-77, 82, 105, 108, 115, 117, 127, 144-145, 150-152, 155, 157-158
NSC-68, 120, 157
O’Brien, John Lord, 141
Operations Coordinating Board, 139, 143
Peoples Republic of China, See Korean War
Pettee, George, 19, 31, 152
Piquet, Howard, 152
Point IV Program: 37, 38-43
Cultural, technical and economic barriers, 39-43
Policy Planning Staff, 77, 105, 120, 129
Psychological Strategy Board, critique of, 130-136, 138, 143
Rayburn, Sam, 47
Republican Policy Committee, 65
Ribicoff, Abraham, 29, 88
Richards, James P., 45-48, 51-53, 55, 66-68
Rostow, Walt, 42
Rusk, Dean, 96
Statement of the Managers, 49-50
Sherman, Forrest, 109
Smith, Lawrence, 33, 52
Soviet Union (USSR), 101
Stevens, L. C., 125-126
Sforza, Count Carlo, 53
Sommervell, General Brehon, 11
Taylor, George, 83, 90
Timm, Charles, 4, 6
Truman Committee, 10-12
Truman, Harry S., 19, 36, 48, 50, 72, 76, 96, 105, 116, 118, 119, 120, 148, 156-157
Tufts, Robert, 108
U.S. - Chinese Relations, 82-91, 100-103
U.S.I.A. – United States Information Agency, 144
U.S. Strategic Plans – 1950-54, 122, 124-126, 130
U.S.S.R., 122, 125
Vorys, John, 29-30, 46-48, 51-52, 55, 57, 59, 64-67, 147
Vyshinsky, Andrei, 68-69
War Aims in a nuclear age, 103, 109-112, 121-125, 129, 157-158
Watts, Phil, 77
Webb, James, 34, 35, 76, 135-137
Webster, Bethel, 141
Wolfers, Arnold, 131
World Federalists, 32-33
Wylie, Robert H., 9, 14-15, 17, 36
[Top of the Page |Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcrip | List of Subjects Discussed]