Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972; Anderson, Clinton Presba, 1895-1975; Dodd, Norris E. (Norris Edward), 1879-1968; Schwellenbach, Lewis B. (Lewis Baxter), 1894-1948; Wallace, Henry A. (Henry Agard), 1888-1965; Acheson, Dean, 1893-1971; Forrestal, James, 1892-1
Cabinet meetings; International relations; International relief; Food aid; Food relief

Cabinet Meeting Minutes, August 2, 1946. Matthew J. Connelly Papers - Notes on Cabinet Meetings I.

CABINET MEETING, FRIDAY, AUGUST 2, 1946

PROPOSED AGENDA

1. Discussion of proposal for a world food board. (This was suggested by Secretary Anderson. Under Secretary Dodd accompanied Secretary Anderson to this meeting.)

THE PRESIDENT

Asked if the Cabinet was agreeable to adjourning regular meetings until the middle of September. Exceptions will be made, of course, whenever necessary.

The members agreed.

SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE ANDERSON

Recalled the meeting of the Cabinet sometime ago when the creation of an international food board was discussed. Stated that since that time there have been some differences between the Agriculture and State Departments on the procedures to be followed. The representatives of the Agriculture Department who have conferred with the British believe that no commitments should be made by the United States with respect to such a board at this time. Under Secretary Dodd is to attend the next meeting, with members of the other governments present to discuss the creation of this board and the objectives to be obtained. It is the desire of the Secretary of Agriculture to have Dodd attend this meeting and be in a position to inform the other delegates that he is appearing at the meeting with the support of the President and the Cabinet. The Secretary asked Mr. Dodd to attend this Cabinet meeting and outline his views.

UNDER SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE DOOD

Read a memorandum outlining recommendation for the matters to be discussed at the conference. Dodd stressed the recommendation that the United States take the position that the entire question should be submitted to further study before any decision should be entered into. (Copy of memorandum read by Mr. Dodd is attached.)

SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE ANDERSON

Read a memorandum outlining problems of establishing a world food board and it is his desire to delay any acceptance of any program until further study of the entire situation has been made. (Copy of memo is attached.)

SECRETARY OF LABOR SCHWELLENBACH

Is against any plan which will grant price differences between world markets and our own domestic markets on any commodities to be controlled by any such board.

SECRETARY OF COMMERCE WALLACE

Food situation in his opinion is to become very grave in the not too distant future. We will have a surplus caused by high prices for domestic commodities and there is great danger that the markets will be glutted with such commodities. He believes the situation will attain more serious proportions than after the last war.

THE PRESIDENT

Asked the members of the Cabinet if there was any objection to authorizing Dodd to withhold agreement to any plan for world food control submitted by the British or any other government. There was none.

The Chinese situation has reached a very critical stage. Only yesterday he had a letter from General Marshall, his personal representative in China, which was very pessimistic. The President is of the opinion that it will be necessary to restate our policy with respect to China.

ACTING SECRETARY OF STATE ACHESON

It is not our policy to tell China what kind of government it is to have We, of course, favor a democratic form of government. However, the President stated in his policy with respect to China that we were interested in achieving two results. (1) To get the Japanese Army out of China. (2) To bring together two factions, Nationalists and Communists, and get them to agree in order to prevent a civil war in China. In the early stages General Marshall was very successful in pursuing these objectives. The Japanese Army has been withdrawn and steps have been taken to unify the two factions in China. However, in recent weeks the extreme conservatives in China have successfully prevented the ratification of the agreement proposed by General Marshall. Conservatives have strong influence in the Nationalist group. Fighting has broken out in Manchuria following the withdrawal of Russian troops. This was followed by outbreaks in southern and central China. All this occurred while General Marshall was on a visit to the United States. Upon his return to China Marshall succeeded for a time in ceasing hostilities and was successful in getting the Communists Army to withdraw from some areas. However, following such withdrawal there developed political disagreement between the Communists and the Nationalists. This resulted in a serious situation. Acheson is of the opinion that the only thing we can do is to give complete support to the efforts being made by General Marshall to bring about a lasting agreement between the Communists and the Nationalists. Acheson is of the opinion that it would be seriously wrong to withdraw the United States Marines now in China. We must insist that both sides get together or there will be a civil war which will result in famine and chaos in China during the coming winter months. Acheson anticipated, however, that we will be faced with a very strong pressure to withdraw the Marines. There are 21,000 stationed in China at the present time. However, this withdrawal of the Marines would be foolhardy. Acheson made it clear that we are not interfering in Chinese affairs but we will prevent by our very presence and by the presence of our Marines some other country from interfering in China to our own regret.

SECRETARY OF THE NAVY FORRESTAL

Stated that he believed the presentation made by Acheson was a lucid and fair description of the situation within China as he saw it on his recent visit there.

SECRETARY OF LABOR SCHWELLENBACH

Sees no reason why we should have troops in China. Any participation in Chinese affairs should be on the same basis as the conciliation service in the Department of Labor in connection with labor disputes between management and labor.

SECRETARY OF THE NAVY FORRESTAL

Stated that Schwellenbach's position was a fine black and white presentation but it is not practical. He recalled that we reasoned the same way about interfering in German affairs before the war and as a result of such reasoning we lost thousands of American lives. He stated that we cannot overlook the fact that China is now our Eastern frontier.

SECRETARY OF COMMERCE WALLACE

Agreed with the position taken by Acheson and Forrestal. Stated that there are many groups who would like to influence American sentiment and Russian sentiment with a view to projecting war between the USSR and US. He believes that everything possible should be done to avoid such a development.

SECRETARY OF THE NAVY FORRESTAL

If the Marines pull out of China there will be starvation and anarchy within China especially during the winter months. Such conditions would provide an excellent breeding place for the spread of Soviet influence.

ACTING SECRETARY OF STATE ACHESON

Reminded the Cabinet that we are in China at the invitation and request of the Chinese government. Our position is not similar to that of the Japanese before the war as we are not in China for the purpose of fighting.

SECRETARY OF COMMERCE WALLACE

Stated that he hopes when the world looks back on this administration some twenty years hence we will not be criticized for supporting a dictatorship in China.

ACTING SECRETARY OF STATE ACHESON

That is one of the things the President's policy is designed to offset.

SECRETARY OF WAR PATTERSON

He believes it is very important to issue a restatement of our policy toward China. It is very desirous that the United States not be placed on the defensive in connection with the assistance being given to China in working out its problems. He believed the policy outlined by Acheson is sound and practical and believes it would satisfy any fair-minded person.

THE PRESIDENT

We must face the fact that we will have a tremendous propaganda barrage from both sides for home consumption and we must be ready to offset effect of such propaganda on our people.

SECRETARY OF LABOR SCHWELLENBACH

We started a policy with respect to China in 1898 and up to date we have not carried out our agreements with the Chinese.

THE PRESIDENT

Recalled for Schwellenbach's information that the reason that policy was not carried out was because of the interference of the British and other governments. He said for the first time we now have a voice in China and for the first time we will be in a position to carry out the policy of 1898. It is our immediate desire to do everything we can to prevent a civil war in China and the chaotic results which would accompany such a war.

THE PRESIDENT

Stated further that this government will soon be in a position to announce a restatement of our policy toward China and thereby clarify in the minds of the American people and in the minds of all people our intentions with respect to promoting a peaceful government in that country.

EXCERPT FROM "PROPOSALS FOR A WORLD FOOD BOARD" READ BY SECRETARY ANDERSON

AT CABINET AUGUST 2, 1946

The functions of the World Food Board would be:

1. To stabilize prices of agricultural commodities on the world markets, including provision of the necessary funds for stabilizing operations.

2. To establish a world food reserve adequate for any emergency that might arise through failure of crops in any part of the world.

3. To provide funds for financing the disposal of surplus agricultural products on special terms to countries where the need for them is most urgent.

4. To cooperate with organizations concerned with international credits for industrial and agricultural development, and with trade and commodity policy, in order that their common ends might be more quickly and effectively achieved.

Statement Read by Under Secretary Dodd at Cabinet Meeting, August 2, 1946.

After considerable discussion of the draft Proposal for a World Food Board as presented by the Director-General of FAO, the FAO Interagency Committee unanimously concluded at a meeting on August 1, 1946:

1. That the problems at which the Director-General's proposal are aimed-- the stabilization of agricultural prices at levels which will be fair to producers and consumers, and the improvement of nutrition throughout the world-- are important and both of an immediate and a long-term character;

2. That international collaborative action among nations is definitely needed, and offers the soundest approach to the solution of these problems;

3. That an international committee should be established by the Second Session of the FAO Conference at Copenhagen to analyze alternative proposals and prepare a specific plan of international action for coping with these problems, and no action should be taken at this session of the conference which prejudices the work of the committee;

4. That this committee should make its report to the Director-General of FAO at the earliest possible date, preferably not later than December 31, 1946, and the Director-General should take the initiative in bringing the report to the attention of the member nations of FAO for their joint consideration, and to the attention of the Economic and Social Council, at the earliest possible date.

The committee, therefore, wishes to instruct the United States delegation to the Second Session of the FAO Conference to take a position which expresses these conclusions.


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