George F. Kenan. Memoirs: 1925-1950. Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown and Company.
Pages 239 297 and 313 - 367
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* * *
I cannot recall that I felt any great elation over the end of the War in Europe. Like everyone else, I was glad that the bloodshed and destruction of the battlefields was coming to a close. I had never doubted the necessity of the total destruction of German Nazism. I could derive little comfort from the circumstances in which the war was ending. It was clear to me, as already stated, that no tripartite collaboration for the governing of Germany would be workable. Yet we Americans were continuing to base our plans on dreams of such collaboration. We had made no realistic plans, and had come to no adequate agreement with the British, for the establishment in the Western Zones of the constructive and hopeful sort
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of order by which alone, it seemed to me, one could hope to resist effectively the political pressures which the German Communists, with Soviet support, could be expected to bring to bear. Meanwhile, tales were reaching us in depressing abundance - in some instances from decent members of the Soviet armed forces, themselves disgusted with the behavior of their comrades - of the wild brutalities and atrocities being perpetrated by a portion of Soviet troops (rarely the fighting men themselves, more often the rear echelon people) as they made their way into Germany and other areas liberated from the German forces. Was this, I wondered, the sort of victory we had hoped for? Was the price not such as to make a large portion of the victory unreal?
It was May 9, one day after V-E Day in the west, before the Russians, still suspicious lest the Germans continue resistance in the east even after surrendering to the British and Americans, consented to accept the fact that the war in Europe was over and to let their people know it. The news got about in Moscow in the very early hours of the morning of the tenth; and by daybreak a holiday mood so exuberant as to defy all normal disciplinary restraints was gripping the city.
The American flag was of course hung out from our combined chancery and staff residence quarters in the center of town; and from the National Hotel, wall to wall with our building, there hung the national flags of those unfortunate Allied representatives who had been unable to find premises of their own in Moscow and who still conducted their official activities (as we had done for several months after arrival in 1934) from their hotel rooms.
About ten o'clock in the morning, contingents of young people, apparently students, marching with songs and banners along the street before these buildings, spied the Allied flags on the National Hotel and burst into cordial cheers. Then, as they moved beyond the hotel, they discovered the Stars and Stripes, reacted with what appeared to be in most instances a surprised delight, stopped their march, and settled down to demonstrate before the embassy building feelings that were obviously ones of almost delirious friendship. The square before the building was commodious - it could have
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held two hundred thousand people - and soon our initial well-wishers were augmented by thousands of others, who joined in the friendly cheering and waving and showed not the slightest desire move on. We were naturally moved and pleased by this manifestation but were at a loss to know how to respond to it. If any of us ventured out into the street, he was immediately seized, tossed enthusiastically into the air, and passed on friendly hands over the heads of the crowd, to be lost, eventually, in a confused orgy of good feeling somewhere on its outer fringes. Few of us were anxious to court this experience, so we lined the balconies and waved back as brave as we could.
As a gesture of reciprocation, I sent one of our people across the roof of the National Hotel and procured from the hotel a Soviet flag we hung out together with our own. This produced new roars of approval and enthusiasm. But it did not seem enough. Being at that time charge' d'affaires (the ambassador was away), I thought it incumbent on me to say at least a word or two in appreciation. The balconies were too high to permit one to be heard; so I went down to the first floor and climbed out onto the pedestal of one of the great columns that lined the front of the building. With me among others (for some cockeyed reason buried in the agreeable confusions of the day) came a sergeant of the military mission uniform - a man who was, as I understood it, a preacher in real life. Our appearance produced new transports of approval on the part of the crowd. The police, who had been holding the people away from the walls of the building, and one party agitator who obviously been sent to try to assume leadership of the people and get them to move on, were now good-naturedly shoved aside, and the crowd pushed over the little barrier that lined the sidewalk, and onto the grass plots at the foot of the building, so that they now surrounded the pedestal. I shouted to them in Russian: "Congratulations on the day of victory. All honor to the Soviet Allies" -which seemed to me to be about all I could suitably say. At roaring with appreciation, they hoisted up a Soviet soldier on their hands to the point where he could reach the pedestal. He pulled himself up into our company, kissed and embraced the startled
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sergeant, and pulled him relentlessly down to the waiting arms of the crowd. There, bobbing helplessly over a sea of hands, he rapidly receded from our view (and did not come back until the next day, I was told). I myself successfully escaped back into the building.
All day long, and well into the evening, this great crowd remained, waving and cheering, before the building. The Soviet authorities were naturally not entirely pleased with this situation, particularly because this was, so far as we could learn, the only place in Moscow where any demonstration of anything resembling these dimensions took place. A single polite though slightly suspicious cheer on the part of the crowd, accompanied by evidences of determination to destroy the "remnants of fascism" (meaning any form of opposition to Soviet political purposes), might, one feels, have been considered in order, but certainly not this warmth, this friendliness, this enthusiasm, demonstrated before the representatives of a government of whose iniquities, as a bourgeois power, Soviet propagandists had spent more than two decades trying to persuade people. It is not hard to imagine what mortification this must have brought to both party and police. Without their solicitous prearrangement not even a sparrow had fallen in a Moscow street for twenty-seven years, and now, suddenly - this! Continued efforts were made to get the crowd to move on. A bandstand was even hastily erected and a brass band put into operation on the other side of the square. But it was all to no avail The crowd stayed. We ourselves were even a little embarrassed; we had no desire to be the sources of such trouble on a day of common rejoicing. We had done nothing, God knows, to invite the demonstration, or to encourage its prolongation, once it had started. But we were more helpless than the authorities.
The evening of this memorable day brought an episode which, taken in connection with the epilogue it was to have four years later, seems to me to provide a striking illustration of the Stalinist- propagandist mentality. Mrs. Winston Churchill was, as it happened, visiting Moscow just at this time. A reception in her honor, to which I was invited in my quality as charge d'affaires, was scheduled for that evening in the premises of the Society for Cultural
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Relations with Foreign Countries. Shortly before my wife and I were to leave for this reception, I received a phone call from an English journalist, Mr. Ralph Parker, formerly correspondent in Prague for the New York Times, asking whether he and his Soviet- Russian wife might come up to our flat in order to watch the demonstration from the balcony. I knew Parker fairly well. I had helped him and a Czech lady friend to escape from Prague on the entrance of the Germans into that city in 1939, they being in bad odor with the Nazis for certain left-wing activities in which they had involved themselves. In Moscow we had had pleasant, but not close, social relations. He was known to be far to the left in his sympathies. His Soviet wife was widely believed in the diplomatic corps, correctly or otherwise, to be not only a faithful Communist but also a police informer. However, Moscow being a Communist city, we were accustomed to social relations with people who were party members, and even with some who were police informers. And so far as Parker himself was concerned, the wartime political association had tended to blur the distinction between honest anti-fascism and Communist political sympathies. I therefore thought nothing of telling him that he and his lady were welcome to come up and use the balcony in our absence.
They arrived just as we were leaving for the reception. He went out on the balcony for a few moments, then came back into the room in order to take leave of us before we left the flat. "Isn't this wonderful?" he asked me. I replied that it was, but that it also made me sad. Asked to explain, I observed that those people out there in the crowd had been through so much, and they naturally now hoped for so much from victory; yet the world was still full of troubles; Russia faced major problems of reconstruction; things would not be put back together again all at once; peace could scarcely be what these people dreamed of it as being.
So much for the incident itself. Four years later a book was published in Moscow, over Parker's signature, entitled Zagovor protiv Mira (The Conspiracy Against Peace). Parker had by this time given up his work for non-Communist Western newspapers, thrown in his lot completely with the Soviet government, and burned his
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bridges to the West. What his exact status was, whether a Soviet citizen, or a member of some Communist Party, I do not know. Obviously, he was entirely under Soviet control. I suspect that he was by this time in some way a blackmailed man. The book, in any case, was a vicious attack on the United States government and particularly on its embassy in Moscow - the most unscrupulous, mendacious, and nauseating sort of Stalinist propaganda. It is difficult to believe that he had written it himself. He was, after all, an intelligent man. But the authorship was ostensibly his.
In the foreword to this book, after first describing the scenes on Victory Day in the squares and streets immediately around our embassy, Parker went ahead to give the following account of his visit to our flat on the evening of Victory Day (passages in brackets are my own comments):
On Mokhovaya Street I made my way through the crowd of Moscovites that was pushing past [the reader will note the implication that there was no crowd assembled before the Embassy, only passersby] and entered the building of the American Embassy. At a closed window [the windows had been wide open all day long, with members of our staff coming and going to and from the balconies] stood the tall figure of George F. Kennan, the Counselor of the Embassy of the United States in Moscow. Standing in such a way that he could not be seen from below, he watched the crowd. [This language was evidently chosen to expunge from the record, as a "nonhappening," the fact that I had actually appeared before the crowd and had addressed it; the official version had to be exactly the opposite in each case: far from exposing myself to the crowd, I had tried to conceal myself from it; far from addressing it, I had preserved a sullen silence.] The noise on the street became slightly weaker, dying away to a dull, echoing roar.
I noticed on Kennan's face, as we watched this moving scene, a strangely unhappy and irritated expression. Then, casting a last glance at the crowd, he moved away from the window and said bitterly: "They rejoice. . . . They think the war has ended. But it is really only beginning."
Before leaving the Embassy I noted that in place of the portrait of Roosevelt - whose brilliantly smiling face had previously presided over the room -there hung on the wall a portrait of Truman. [This last
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was purest nonsense. Portraits of both Presidents hung in the office; there was no portrait of either in our flat. But the legend was now being built that Truman, sabotaging Roosevelt's policy of collaboration, had begun, from the day of victory, to launch and press the cold war.
On that particular day I failed to give proper attention to Kennan's words. But now, four years later, I recall them just as clearly as everything else that I saw and heard on the day of victory: the streams of people pouring into Moscow from the suburbs, the meetings of those who had solemnly sworn to each other to meet again "when the war is over," the sincere and friendly yearning of the Soviet people for peaceful collaboration with their former military allies.
The things that have occurred since that solemn and bright day have shown me that the real meaning of the words spoken by this American diplomat on the Day of Victory consisted precisely in the denial of this policy of peaceful coexistence.
I cite this passage as an illustration of the process of dreamlike distortion to which most reality having political implications has always had to be subjected before it could be made to fit into the image which the Russian Communist Party has cultivated of itself and its experiences. In tens of thousands of instances, over the course of the years, real events had to be denied, false ones invented, or true facts distorted beyond recognition, in order to produce a version that was compatible with the party's neurotic vision of the environment in which it lived and of its own reaction to that environment. Like a vast, collective Walter Mitty, it pictured itself moving fearlessly and heroically through a host of dangers, frustrating and defeating an endless series of dragons in human form. The result was that for every situation or event having political meaning there were always two versions: the true one and the fabricated one. There was usually some recognizable connection between them, but it was often so faint as to be discernible only with difficulty. The fabricated version having once been created, it at once became the authoritative one, and was then treated with all the respect and seriousness which would have been owing to the actual truth. If it invited indignation against the outrages of wicked enemies, indignation was manifested; if it suggested admiration for the
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superlative wisdom, shrewdness, courage, and altruism of the leaders of the Russian Communist Party, admiration was duly paid. Soviet officials, and indeed most of the literate public, were often perfectly well aware of the existence and nature of both versions, the real one and useful one; and they were capable of talking, if they so desired, in terms of the one or of the other, depending on circumstances. But it was seldom considered safe to talk in terms of the real one, once the other had been manufactured and made known. In this way two images of reality accommodated themselves to each other in the same breast, one to be brought forward in the presence, or even the suspected or possible presence, of the party, the other to be hugged to the innermost recesses of the personality and to be revealed, if ever, only in the most intimate and unpolitical family circle.
In describing a set of circumstances which did not actually occur on V-E Day but which bore a faint, dreamlike resemblance to something that did occur and which nurtured the image that the party liked to cultivate of itself and its experiences, Parker was merely functioning as the party's chosen agent in defining the second, preferred, and from now on authoritative version. It has never ceased to be a source of wonder to me that a political regime composed of men obviously perfectly sane and robust in their personal psychic makeup could, as a collective political entity, exhibit in so extreme a degree the characteristic symptoms of an advanced psychosis.
The cessation of hostilities in Europe clearly marked an historic turning point in Soviet diplomacy. The international position of the Soviet Union bad been fundamentally changed by the great widening of the area of its effective power produced by the advance of the Soviet armies into the heart of Europe. Stalin's dream of the acquisition of a protective glacis along Russia's western border had now been realized -in a measure greater, I am sure, than he had ever dared to hope - greater, perhaps, than he even found comfortable. Obviously, new considerations would now have to prevail in the inspiration of Soviet foreign policy; new responsibilities
Moscow and the Victory in Europe 247
would have to be met. Things could never again be as they had been before the war.
Reflecting on what all this meant for Russia and for the West and for their mutual relations, I experienced again, in the days following the cessation of hostilities in Europe, a need to put thoughts to paper. The result was another fair-sized document, entitled - this time - Russia's International Position at the Close of the War with Germany. It, too, having never previously been published, is reproduced in full in the Annex to this volume. Whereas the earlier paper, Russia - Seven Years Later, was addressed mainly to internal conditions in the Soviet Union, this one was directed to the problem of what was soon to be called the "satellite" area. In it were set forth for the first time - indeed, the writing of it evoked for the first time - thoughts that were to be basic to my view of Russia and its problems in future years.
The first words of this paper echoed the apprehension I had voiced to Parker when he came away from my balcony on the evening of V-E Day. "Peace, like spring," I wrote,
has finally come to Russia; and the foreign resident, weary of both Russia's wars and Russia's winters, finds himself wanly wishing that the approaching political season might not be like the Russian summer: faint and fleeting, tinged with reminders of rigors that recently were and rigors that are soon to come.
The relative expansion of Russia's power had come to pass, I pointed out, not through any great increase in her own strength (her demographic and industrial potential had not been greatly changed in comparison with the prewar levels) but through "the disintegration of the power of neighboring peoples." When the Far Eastern war was over, Russia would find herself for the first time in her history "without a single great power rival on the Eurasian land mass" and in control of large areas of that land mass outside her own borders - some of them ones to which her power had never before extended. This great expansion of real power involved responsibilities and problems for Russia as well as advantages. Some of the non-Russian areas now overrun by the Soviet forces had
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once been part of the Tsarist Empire; but they had proved in the end to be sources of weakness for the empire rather than of strength. The prominence of representatives of the national minorities in the revolutionary movement that led to the breakdown of 1917 had demonstrated this. The Soviet state, deprived of these areas during the first two decades of its existence, had probably been stronger by virtue of this circumstance. But now it was shouldering once more the burden of their possession - and more.
As an imperialist power, confronting the smaller states of Eastern Europe, Russia had of course great elements of strength. She also had important weaknesses. There was the natural and congenital difficulty involved in the ruling of people of different tongue, tradition, and national feeling. It took men to staff a Communist-type government. If these men were Russians, they would either be insensitive to a foreign environment, and in that case inept; or, if sensitive, they would soon become de-Russianized and disaffected. If they were natives, there would be lack of intimacy; nationalistic feelings would eventually break through; there would be loss of control. In addition to this, there were the problems of political appeal and ideology. Land reform on the Communist pattern might have a momentary appeal to the peasantry in these Eastern European countries; but it was a card one could play only once, and its effect would not be lasting. Russian control, furthermore, would probably be detrimental to living standards. The Russians had never shown themselves to be good economic administrators. Such industrial progress as they had achieved at home had been purchased at a terribly high price. Would the ideological appeal suffice to overcome these handicaps? Soviet Marxism was a dated doctrine. Even in Russia, its fire, as a political-emotional force, had largely died away.
What remains is capable of inspiring patriotism and nationalist sentiment, both for defense and for imperialist aggrandizement. But it is incapable of commanding that ultimate fund of human idealism on which the revolution, like the churches of all ages, was once able to draw. The deepest confidence, the most intimate hopes, the finest
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ideals: these are no longer the Kremlin's to command. It has before its gates a submissive but no longer an inspired mass of followers.
If this was true even in Russia, how effective would the ideological approach be when applied to the Eastern European countries, where it would have the forces of nationalism and the natural prejudice against imported foreign doctrines to contend with?
In view of all these weaknesses, I thought it would be difficult for Russia to maintain successfully its recently acquired power in Eastern Europe unless it could enlist in this cause the moral and material support of the West. Did it seem strange that one should expect and seek such support? Not to Soviet minds. The Soviet leaders knew that the American public, in particular, had been taught to believe that intimate collaboration with the Soviet Union was both possible and necessary; that without it further wars were inevitable; and that to obtain it one had only to establish the proper personal relationships of cordiality and confidence with the Russian leaders; if there were troubles, that could only mean that the Western statesmen had not tried hard enough. These propositions were of course not true. The Russians knew they were not true. In particular was it not true that peace depended on the sort of intimate collaboration with Russia that Americans had been taught to envisage and to hope for. All that was really required to assure stability among the great powers was "the preservation of a realistic balance of strength between them and a realistic understanding of the mutual zones of vital interest." This, too, the Russians understood. But these American prejudices naturally worked to Soviet advantage; and they were susceptible of further exploitation. This explained the hopes entertained by the Soviet leaders that the West, and America in particular, could be induced to lend moral and material support to the maintenance of a Soviet Empire in Eastern Europe that ill accorded with the brave professions of the Atlantic Charter. If the West should deny this support, then, of course, Russia would probably not be able to maintain its hold successfully for any length of time over all the territory over which it has today
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staked out a claim . . . The lines would have to be withdrawn somewhat.*
But in addition, the West in this case would be made to feel the full bite of Soviet displeasure. Moscow would, as Trotsky had once threatened, "slam the door so that all Europe would shake." But if people in the West kept their nerves and held to their line, Soviet displeasure would not be disastrous. There were limits to Soviet power.
Should the Western world stand firm . . . and should democracies prove able to take in their stride the worst efforts of the disciplined and unscrupulous minorities pledged to the service of the political interests of the Soviet Union, Moscow would have played its last real card. . . . Further military advances in the west could only increase responsibilities already beyond the Russian capacity to meet. Moscow has no naval or air forces capable of challenging the sea or air lanes of the world.
This, then, was my assessment of Russia's international position at the end of the war with Germany. There were three features of it to which I would invite special attention:
1. That the Russians, for reasons internal to their own structure of power, would probably not be able to maintain their hegemony successfully over the entire area they had taken under their control in Eastern Europe unless they had the blessing and the assistance of the West in doing so; lacking that support, there would have to be a certain retraction of their political positions.
2. That the sort of fulsome collaboration with Russia our people had been taught to expect was not really essential to the preservation of world peace -- a reasonable balance of power and understanding on spheres of influence would do the trick; and
3. That Moscow would have no reason to contemplate a further military advance into Europe; the danger for the West was not Russian invasion - it was the Communist parties in the Western
* (Italics added 1967, GFK.) This withdrawal did of course occur in the ensuing years: in Yugoslavia, in northern Greece, in Trieste, in Austria, and in a sense in Finland.
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countries themselves, plus the unreal hopes and fears the Western peoples had been taught to entertain.
The attentive students of the issues of the postwar period will not fail to discern in these three propositions the basics elements of the containment doctrine, as it was to be enunciated two years later in the X-Article. I emphasize them here to show that, right or wrong, my views about the problem faced by the West at it confronted Soviet power in the postwar years were ones arrived at not in the anxieties and disillusionments of 1947, when they first became publicly known, but rather in the impressions of wartime service in Moscow itself, and in the effort to look ahead from that vantage point, on the heels of the Allied victory, into the uncertain future of Russias relationship to the West.
This paper, too, was handed to the ambassador. Again, so far as I can recall, it was returned to me without comment. I have no evidence that it was ever forwarded to Washington. A faint prompting of memory suggests to me that it may have been read by Harry Hopkins, when he visited Moscow in that same month of May 1945. But by the time he returned to the United States he was a very sick man and was no longer playing a major role in the formulation of American foreign policy.
From V-E Day to Potsdam
IN AN interpretive report from the Moscow embassy, dated May 19, 1945, and based on the Soviet press coverage for the last weeks before V-E Day, the following observations were made:
It can safely be said that no group of people anywhere are more conscious of the critical quality of the post-hostilities period, of its dangers and possibilities, than the leaders of the Soviet Union. Themselves the bearers of a regime forged in the chaotic aftermath of the last war, they are keenly aware that it is in this period of civil and social confusion following on the heels of general military conflict that the lines are drawn which congeal into permanency and determine the overall pattern of the future. They attach even greater importance to the decisions of the next few weeks than to the decisions of possible future peace conferences. For these later decisions, in the Soviet view, will be largely the products of the actual blows that will have been struck while the iron was hot.
I, being not uninvolved in the authorship of this message, was understandably anxious that we in our government should now analyze correctly the problem we faced in the post-hostilities Soviet Union and should devise policies designed to hold to a minimum the damage already done to the prospects for European stability by the military and political situation to which the final phases of the war on the Russian front had led. For this reason not only did I fill my private notes with the record of various anxieties, but I plagued
From V-E Day to Potsdam253
whosoever might be prepared to listen, primarily the ambassador, with protests, urgings, and appeals of all sorts on matters of policy. The number of documents that poured forth from my pen during these months was, I blush to say, too great to permit their inclusion in any such volume as this. But since the thoughts they set forth were ones which would, at a later date, enter prominently into various statements of my views that received wide public attention, I would like to summarize them here. In doing this, I shall stick mainly to the problems of policy. The analysis of the Russian situation itself is clearly indicated in the two long papers to which I have already had occasion to refer.
I continued, throughout this immediate post-hostilities period, to be an advocate - the only such advocate, I suppose, in the higher echelons of our governmental service - of a prompt and clear recognition of the division of Europe into spheres of influence and of a policy based on the fact of such division.
The reasons for this were two. I remained convinced, in the first place, as I had been even prior to the German surrender, that it was idle for us to hope that we could have any influence on the course of events in the area to which Russian hegemony had already been effectively extended. I felt that we were only deceiving ourselves and the Western public by clinging to the hope that what the foreseeable future held in store for most of these countries could be anything less than complete Communist domination and complete isolation from the West, on the Soviet pattern. This being so, I saw no reason why we should go out of our way to make things easier for the Russians in this area either by aid programs of one sort or another or by sharing moral responsibility for what they were doing. I preferred that we should have nothing to do with what was now, only too obviously, going to occur.
When in February and March 1945 there began, for example, the difficulties over Rumania occasioned by Vyshinski's sudden visit to Bucharest and his brutal measures of reorganization of the Rumanian government, I opposed the tenor of the notes of protest with which we were assailing Molotov: notes in which expressions of plaintive surprise were mingled with empty pleadings to the So-
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viet authorities to do otherwise than they were doing. "I see nothing to be gained," I wrote, on March 8,
by continuing this fruitless polemic with Molotov. His tune has been set for him by whatever body determines Soviet policy; and he will not change it unless he becomes convinced, and can convince his associates, that there are tangible and overpowering reasons for doing so. No mere expression of opinion on our part would constitute such a reason. Unless we are prepared to take some concrete measure, such as a public disassociation of our government from the whole affair or a withdrawal of our representation from the Control Commission, it is not likely that the Russians will see any reason to pay attention to our views. It is by no means certain that they would alter their . . . policies in Rumania even if we were to take some action.
One month later the subject was Czechoslovakia. In contrast to the Balkan countries of Hungary, Rumania, and Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia had not been at war with the Soviet Union. Its status, officially, was that of a liberated ally. In some way or other which I have never fully understood - as a result, perhaps, of the great popularity Benes enjoyed in the Western countries -the impression got about in the West that an independent government was being re-established in that country. It was an assumption for which I saw no evidence. Personal acquaintance with the Czechoslovak ambassador in Moscow, Mr. Zdenek Fierlinger, had given me the impression that we had to do in his person not with the representative of a free and independent Czechoslovakia but with one who was to all intents and purposes a Soviet agent; and I was extremely skeptical about the real independence of a political authority that would be represented by such a man in the Russian capital. What little we were able to learn, furthermore, about what was occurring in that part of Czechoslovak territory occupied by Soviet forces made it evident that every device of infiltration, intimidation, and intrigue was being brought into play with a view to laying the groundwork for establishment of a Communist monopoly of power in that country. This impression was confirmed when, around the time of the German collapse, our own government found itself pre-
From V-E Day to Potsdam255
vented, by Soviet obstruction, from sending American representatives to the Czechoslovak regime now officially restored to its own territory. Washington, declaring it to be "highly desirable" that our representatives should arrive promptly at the seat of the Czechoslovak government, asked us to take this matter up with the Soviet government and to request that they be permitted at once to proceed to their posts. This, again, I opposed. The matter should be left, I felt, squarely with the Czechoslovak authorities. If they were unable to arrange it - if, that is, their position vis-à-vis the Russians was so ignominious that they were unable to receive foreign representatives except at the gracious pleasure of the Soviet government - that in itself was "so revealing of the character of their relations with the Russians that I think . . . it should be taken into account in determining the general desirability of our stationing representatives there at this time." The non-Communist members of the Czechoslovak government, I went on to say, were after all no more than honored prisoners of the Russians. American representatives with the Czechoslovak government would find themselves frustrated and powerless.
Their presence will merely be used to lend respectability to a stooge government and to discourage those people who still hope . . . for the restoration of democratic processes, for the Russians will exhibit them around the place as evidence that the Western world approves Russian policies and is associated with them.
Even in the case of Yugoslavia, I bristled at the concern shown in Washington over the question whether Marshal Tito's regime was "representative," and also at the suggestion that, if it turned out to be true that there was little opposition to his regime, we should at once take steps to ingratiate ourselves with it. I saw justification neither for the question nor for the conclusion.
We do not, after all, interest ourselves in the question of whether Stalin has or has not the majority of the population behind him in Russia and it would be illogical . . . for us to take a different stand with respect to a government so similar to that of Moscow. . . . Tito
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is a man of strict Marxist training. He will do for the capitalist world precisely that which he feels the interests of the Communist revolution demand. In this he will be influenced not by the personal cordialitv of the Western representatives in Belgrade but by the strength and decisiveness of the governments they represent.*
The first reason for my inclination to favor a "sphere of interests" policy was, then, the conviction that we could not expect to have any significant influence on events in the area under Soviet control and that it would be undignified and even misleading to keep on acting as though we expected to do so. The second reason was the impression I had gained that in deference to this pipe dream of a general European collaboration, and out of a fear, in particular, lest the Russians be offended if we took any important action without them, we were neglecting positive undertakings for the reconstruction of a vigorous and hopeful state of affairs in the part of Europe which really was accessible to our influence. It seemed to me that if we waited too long to create creditable conditions there, the resulting situation would be one on which the Communist parties of the western portion of the continent, now greatly strengthened by their recent association with the resistance movements, could easily capitalize. We were thus in danger of losing, like the dog standing over the reflecting pool, the bone in our mouth without obtaining the one we saw in the water.
It is possible that I overrated the extent to which things were being thus held up in deference to the chimera of Soviet collaboration. I had in mind, among other things, the United Nations Relief and Reconstruction Agency (UNRRA) operations, and also the elaborate plans being entertained by our Treasury Department (they had been launched at the Bretton Woods International Monetary and Financial Conference in July 1944) for establishment of an International Monetary Fund and an International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The motives for which the Russians might be expected to interest themselves in UNRRA would have little in common, it seemed to me, with the general altruistic
* Diary note, December 3, 1945.
From V-E Day to Potsdam 257
interest in European reconstruction by which our people were motivated: the Soviet leaders would use their participation in this organization primarily for political purposes, and would do what they could to see that relief was distributed in such a way as to benefit their political cause. And it seemed wildly unrealistic to expect that they, with their jealously closed and controlled economy, and with a currency that had no status on the world markets, with a wholly arbitrary and artificial price structure and a total monopoly of foreign trade, would be suitable partners for collaboration in the international monetary field, even if their purposes had been similar to ours, which they were not.
But the point on which my anxieties focused in this respect was, as always, Germany. Hostile ties were now at an end. The test of our attitudes and policies was now at hand. From all I could learn, the behavior and outlooks of the American military authorities were still deeply affected by what I had felt to be the disgraceful anti-British and pro-Soviet prejudices that certain of our military leaders had entertained during the war. Shades of the Azores crisis and of the European Advisory Commission rose before me when, on one memorable evening in the autumn of 1945, I had occasion to sit alone with a very high-ranking military officer at Ambassador Robert Murphy's house in Berlin and to endure reproaches leveled at me, and at us "State Department people" generally, for our anti-Soviet attitudes and our inability "to get along with the Russians" - an inability which, I was permitted to understand, we could easily overcome if we would only take an example from the military establishment. I continued, accordingly, in those immediate post-hostilities months, to fidget lest we, in anticipation of a Soviet collaboration that was never to be, delay in getting on with the establishment of sound and creditable conditions in the Western zones of Germany where we had the power to act. The Russians had, as they saw it, little to gain from a real collaboration with us in the reconstruction of Europe; but they had much to gain by dangling before our eyes the prospect of such collaboration and inducing us to defer constructive measures of our own until it could be realized. The continuing distress in the West could only play into the hands
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of the eager, waiting Communist parties of the Western countries. In an undated draft, reposing among other personal papers and obviously written in the summer of 1945, I find the following passage:
The idea of a Germany run jointly with the Russians is a chimera. The idea of both the Russians and ourselves withdrawing politely at a given date and a healthy, peaceful, stable, and friendly Germany arising out of the resulting vacuum is also a chimera. We have no choice but to lead our section of Germany - the section of which we and the British have accepted responsibility - to a form of independence so prosperous, so secure, so superior, that the East cannot threaten it. This is a tremendous task for Americans. But it is an unavoidable one; and along these lines, not along the lines of fumbling unworkable schemes of joint military government, must lie our thinking.
Admittedly, this is dismemberment. But dismemberment is already a
fact, by virtue of the Oder-Neisse line. Whether or not the remainder of the Soviet zone is rejoined to Germany is not now important. Better a dismembered Germany in which the West, at least, can act as a buffer to the forces of totalitarianism than a united Germany which again brings these forces to the North Sea.
While we should carry out loyally the obligations we have already assumed with regard to the Control Commission, we should entertain no false illusions or hopes about the possibilities of tripartite control . . . We are basically in competition with the Russians in Germany. We should not compromise in the Control Commission on anything which is really of importance in the running of our zone.*
It will be understood, against the background of these convictions, that I viewed the labors of the Potsdam Conference with unmitigated skepticism and despair. I cannot recall any political document the reading of which filled me with a greater sense of depression than the communique to which President Truman set his name at the conclusion of these confused and unreal discussions. It was
* This passage sounds, I must confess, startlingly similar to the arguments destined to be used against me some twelve years later by my celebrated opponents in their attacks on the 1957 BBC Reith lectures. I shall try, at a later point in this account, to explain why, after twelve years, I found myself on the other side of this argument.
From V-E Day to Potsdam 259
not just tile knowledge that the principles of joint quadrupartite control, which were now supposed to form the basis for the administration of Germany, were unreal and unworkable. The use in an agreement with the Russians of general language - such words as "democratic," "peaceful," and "justice" - went directly counter to everything I had learned, in seventeen years of experience with Russian affairs, about the technique of dealing with the Soviet government. The assertion, for example, that we and the Russians were going to cooperate in reorganizing German education on the basis of "democratic ideas" carried inferences wholly unjustifiable in tile light of everything we knew about the mental world of the Soviet leadership and about the state of education in Russia at that time.* Even more shocking was the announced intention on our part to collaborate with the Soviet government in reorganizing the German judicial system "in accordance with the principles of democracy, of 'justice under law, and of equal rights for all citizens without distinction of race, nationality or religion." For the further statement that "democratic" political parties would be not only permitted but "encouraged" to function throughout Germany "with rights of assembly and of public discussion" it is difficult to find any ameliorating explanation whatsoever. Anyone in Moscow could have told our negotiators what it was that the Soviet leaders had in mind when they used the term "democratic parties." Not even the greatest naivete could excuse the confusion worked on public understanding in Germany itself and the other Western countries by the use of this term in a document signed by Stalin as well as by Messrs. Truman and Attlee.
As for reparations, what was done at Potsdam under this [leading seemed to me only the further extrapolation of a program of wholly unreal hopes and intentions that had been inaugurated at Tehran and that was bound eventually to end (as indeed it finally did with General Clay's decision of May 3, 1946, to halt all further
* The fact that I, at that moment, had one of my daughters in a regular Soviet school probably served to intensify my feelings on this subject. I am happy to state that she was treated at all times with utmost tact and consideration by her Russian teachers, who were dedicated pedagogues of the highest quality; but to say that the school was concerned to inculcate "democratic ideas" into its pupils, as we understand this term, would be grossly inaccurate.
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deliveries of reparations from the American zone to the East) in complete breakdown. Some months earlier, I had had occasion to say, in a private letter, that it was silly to suppose that we could collaborate effectively with the Russians on such a program. Reparations would, I wrote, simply be a matter of "catch as catch can" in the respective zones. We would get precisely what we would be able and disposed to take in our own zone, no more. The Russians could be depended upon to do just as they pleased in the area under their occupation, and would not be inhibited in this respect by any agreements with us. I having entertained these views even in 1944, and the events of the intervening months having amply confirmed their correctness, it will be easily understood why I viewed without enthusiasm the continued temporizing with the whole reparations problem at Potsdam.*
There was, finally, the question of the trial of war criminals. This, too, was a matter on which tripartite discussions had been under way well before Potsdam; but the Potsdam communiqué', engaging once more the prestige of the three governmental leaders behind the program of an early joint trial of certain major figures, marked a point of no return. I have already mentioned my aversion to our proceeding 'jointly with the Russians in matters of this nature. I should not like to be misunderstood on this subject. The crimes of the Nazi leaders were immeasurable. These men had placed themselves in a position where a further personal existence on this earth could have had no positive meaning for them or for anyone else. I personally considered that it would have been best if the Allied commanders had had standing instructions that if any of these men fell into the hands of Allied forces they should, once their identity had been established beyond doubt, be executed forthwith.
* These views were, if my memory is correct, shared to a considerable extent by Ambassador Harriman. On April 6, 1945, he wired Washington that he had "no reason to doubt that the Russians are already busily removing from Germany without compunction anything (repeat anything) which they find it to their advantage to remove." Mr. Walter Millis, writing as editor of The Forrestal Diaries (New York: Viking Press, 1951, PP- 40-41), understood it to be the ambassador's view at that time that "it would be a long time before the achievement of any firm agreement with the Russians on reparations and restitutions."
From V- E Day to Potsdam261
But to hold these Nazi leaders for public trial was another matter. This procedure could not expiate or undo the crimes they had committed. It could have been justified only as a means for conveying to the world public the repudiation, by the conscience of those peoples and governments conducting the trial, of mass crimes of every sort. To admit to such a procedure a Soviet judge as the representative of a regime which had on its conscience not only the vast cruelties of the Russian Revolution, of collectivization, and of the Russian purges of the 1930s, as well as the manifold brutalities and atrocities perpetrated against the Poles and the peoples of the Baltic countries during the wartime period, was to make a mockery of the only purpose the trials could conceivably serve, and to assume, by association, a share of the responsibility for these Stalinist crimes themselves. The only implication this procedure could convey was, after all, that such crimes were justifiable and forgivable when committed by the leaders of one government, under one set of circumstances, but unjustifiable and unforgivable, and to be punishable by death, when committed by another set of governmental leaders, under another set of circumstances. It was difficult to arrive at any other interpretation. It was not possible to accept the proposition that our governmental leaders were excusably ignorant of what had been done in the name of the Soviet state by the Stalinist police authorities. The record was reasonably adequate. Even the most minimal study would have sufficed to establish the evidence There were several of us who could have testified to it, had our knowledge and experience been consulted.
I know that these observations, and the earlier references to the deportations from eastern Poland and the shooting of the Polish officers, will be received indignantly in Moscow today. On the theory that "no real friend of Russia would tell the truth about us," the Soviet leaders, or their propagandists, will stamp what I have said as "vile slander" of the Soviet peoples and will interpret it as the expression of a vicious hostility to themselves and to everything Russian. I would like, for this reason, to add the following:
I doubt that there could be anyone in the Western world who has deeper feeling than do I for the qualities of the Russian people
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or greater respect for the paths of heroism and suffering by which this people has groped its way from the degradation of earlier despotisms toward the ideal of human dignity and social responsibility. I know of no people that is more sensitive, generally, to moral values, and none that has done more in modern times to clarify - through the treatment of moral issues in its great literature as well as through the tremendous earnestness of its political and philosophical debates - fundamental problems of social and political ethics. That great crimes should have been committed some years ago by persons acting in the name of the Soviet peoples is an ironic and tragic fact, which all of us would prefer to forget. But it is a fact of which not only the Soviet peoples but their present leaders will have to take account and with which they will eventually have to come to terms if they are to have any possibility of advancing further along the great historical path to which all that was valuable in recent and modern Russian intellectual and political life, beginning with the Decembrists, has been committed. There is no more reason to deny or to ignore the fact of these crimes than there was in the case of the injustices of Tsardom. On the contrary, no fully valid and useful approach to the problems of Russia's future will ever be evolved that does not take them into account and face up to their implications. I, in particular, have no more reason to pass them by in silence than did my relative, the elder George Kennan, have reason to conceal from the American public the mistakes committed by the Tsarist authorities in the establishment and maintenance of the Siberian exile system.
The overwhelming majority of people in the Soviet Union are not by nature cruel. They have no greater fondness for cruelty than people anywhere else in the world. They hold, on the contrary, extraordinary reserves of the capacity for kindness, for tenderness, and, at their best, for a sort of saintliness which, as reflected in their own literature, has entered into, and changed, the consciousness of great portions of mankind. If things have been done in their name that abuse and distort for the outside eye these magnificent qualities, that is a problem of historical interpretation and
From V- E Day to Potsdam263
of reconciliation with the national conscience: a problem to which the Soviet peoples themselves must find the answer. The sooner they undertake the search for this answer, the better. The foreigner, meanwhile, who has occasion to retrace the events of the Thirties and early Forties, to record his reactions to them, and to note their bearing on later developments, will be doing no favor to the Russians themselves, or even to their rulers, by ignoring these unhappy circumstances.
Not the least depressing, to me, of the published results of the Potsdam Conference, was the sanctioning and further refinement of the earlier decisions relating to the severance of East Prussia from Germany, the partition of that province between Russia and Poland, and the cession to the Soviet Union, in particular, of the administrative center and port of Königsberg. Mr. Truman cannot, in all fairness, be blamed for the general tenor of these arrangements. They had found at an earlier date the approval in principle of FDR and of Winston Churchill. But the casualness and frivolity with which these decisions were made, the apparent indifference on the American side, then and ever since, to their real economic and other effects, and the misimpressions conveyed at the time to the American public have all seemed hard to excuse.
Let us take just the case of the city of Königsberg. Why, in the first place, it was found necessary to stress specifically in the Potsdam communiqué the cession of this city to the Soviet Union, when it had already been made clear, in the description given of the new border, that Königsberg fell within the boundaries of the Soviet Union, is not apparent. But beyond this, one wonders why it was necessary for the American negotiators to accept without question the inaccurate and even nonsensical statements with which Stalin supported his demand for the city, and to connive at relaying these absurdities to the American public.
According to the records of the conference, Stalin, repeating what had already been said at Tehran, "complained that all ports of the Baltic freeze. They froze for shorter or for longer periods but
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they froze. . . . It was necessary [for Russia, that is] to have at least one ice-free port at the expense of Germany." *
This statement, implying that Russia needed Königsberg as an ice-free port, made no sense whatsoever. Russia already possessed on the Baltic Sea (assuming that one was prepared to concede the legitimacy of her possession of the Baltic countries, and no one, at Potsdam, seemed disposed seriously to challenge it) three perfectly good ports that were substantially ice-free: the former Windau (now Ventspils), Libau (now Liepaja), and Baltic Port (now Baltisky). Königsberg, on the other hand, lies forty-nine kilometers from the open sea, at the end of an artificial canal which is frozen several months of the year and has to be kept open, if it is to be kept open at all, by icebreakers. Königsberg is, furthermore, accessible only to moderate-sized vessels, with a draft not exceeding about twenty-five feet. In both of these respects its qualities are not materially different from those of the major port of Riga, which had already fallen to the Soviet Union through its conquest and annexation of the Baltic countries. Thus it was true neither that Russia lacked ice-free ports on the Baltic nor that Kömgsberg would have filled such a need had it existed. Yet Stalin's statements on this subject went unchallenged, so far as I can ascertain, at all the wartime conferences; and Mr. Truman made himself a party to the absurdity by solemnly informing the American public, in his personal report on the conference, that he had agreed to satisfy the age-old Russian yearning for an ice-free port.
These territorial changes seemed to me to be doubly pernicious, and the casual American acquiescence in them all the less forgivable, because of the fact that they served, like other territorial con-
*Foreign Relations of the United States. Diplomatic Papers. The Conference of Berlin, 1945, VOL II, p. 305. Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1960. An interesting sidelight to this curious set of circumstances is the fact that the second, post-World War 11 edition of the large Soviet Encyclopedia, published in 1953, specifically described Königsberg as "ice-free," although the earlier edition of this encyclopedia, published before the war, made no such allegation. The grounds for this assertion can be no other than Stalin's statement. The conclusion to which the reader is impelled is that what creates geographic conditions, in any given instance, is the political convenience of the Soviet government. If anyone thought, after 1945, that he saw ice in the canal at Königsberg, he didn't. It was an illusion fed by anti-Soviet prejudice.
From V-E Day to Potsdam 265
cessions to the Russians, simply to extract great productive areas from the economy of Europe and to permit the Russians, for reasons of their own military and political convenience, to deny these areas and their resources to the general purposes of European reconstruction. This observation concerns not just the moment of Potsdam but what became evident in the ensuing months and years: namely that this entire area was never to be developed in such a way that it could again contribute measurably in our time to the economic life of the continent. Although Stalin based his demand for Königsberg, for example, on the argument that Russia needed the place as a port, there is no evidence that it has ever subsequently been used in this way to anything like the extent it was used when it was part of Germany. And this is characteristic of the situation in the province of East Prussia as a whole. The disaster that befell this area with the entry of the Soviet forces has no parallel in modern European experience. There were considerable sections of it where, to judge by all existing evidence, scarcely a man, woman, or child of the indigenous population was left alive after the initial passage of Soviet forces; and one cannot believe that they all succeeded in fleeing to the West.* The economic life of the place was shattered beyond belief. I myself flew low, in an American plane, over the entire province shortly after Potsdam, and the sight was that of a totally ruined and deserted country: scarcely a sign of life from one end of it to the other.
It was idle for the Russians to pretend, or for others to believe, that they had prospects of redeveloping in any adequate manner this once highly developed area, and particulary their own portion of it (i.e., the portion that passed under Soviet sovereignty), from which they had swept the native population clean in a manner that had no parallel since the days of the Asiatic hordes. Yet whoever seizes a territory of this nature assumes, it seems to me, a certain responsibility to the world at large for its use as a productive entity.
* Stalin himself cheerfully affirmed, at Potsdam, that "no single German remained in the territory to be given Poland." (Foreign Relations of the United States. Diplomatic Papers. The Conference of Berlin, 1945, VOL H, p. 211. Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1960.) This was fortunately exaggerated. Over one hundred thousand Germans were still present at that time in the area in question. But they constituted only a fraction of the former population.
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Particularly was this true when the territory in question was an important agricultural province, and when Europe faced an enormous and urgent problem of food relief. There were some, I suppose, to whom 2.5 million human inhabitants of East Prussia could be regarded as expendable; but what about the 500,00 horses, the 1.4 million head of cattle, the 1.85 million pigs that were once to be found in the place. And what about the near 4 million tons of wheat, 15 million tons of rye, and 40 million tons of potatoes it had once produced annually? It is obvious that nothing was further from the thoughts of Soviet generals; as their forces swept over this province, than a concern for its productive capacity, or a sense of responsibility to the rest of Europe for the preservation of that capacity. All that sort of thing was left to us Americans. We could, if we wished, make up the deficit.
I have never been able to understand the indifference of our statesmen, and of our public, to these circumstances. It is one thing for a great country to develop a territory for its own uses. It is another thing for it first to devastate and then to appropriate to itself, or to its sphere of influence, an area which it is incapable of restoring, or is disinclined to restore, even to the levels of productivity that prevailed at the outset of this century. It is another thing, in other words, to take fertile territory merely in order to turn it, because this suits one's military convenience, into a wilderness.
Another question which at that time lay on the minds of most of us in the American embassy at Moscow was the future of Soviet-American economic and financial relations.
The American administrations of that day, both FDR's and Mr. Truman's, have often been reproached over the intervening years for the abrupt cancellation of Lend-Lease to Russia in the summer of 1945, and the failure to offer to the Soviet Union the large-scale loan which, in the view of some, the Soviet leaders had been encouraged to believe they would receive. Connected with these problems, as we were obliged to view them at the time, was the whole question of future trade between the United States and the Soviet Union. Connected with them, also, was the question of the extent
From V-E Day to Potsdam 267
to which the USSR should be a beneficiary of the arrangements being established at that time for relief and reconstruction in Europe under the facilities of UNRRA.
I must confess that if the United States government deserves criticism for taking a hard line in any or all of these problems, I deserve greater criticism for taking a still harder one, for taking it earlier, and for inspiring and encouraging Washington in its stiffness.
Far from disapproving the cancellation of Lend-Lease after the termination of our military partnership with Russia in 1945, I considered, as already mentioned, that barring some satisfactory political understanding with the Soviet Union, we should have considered at least an extensive curtailment of this program at the time of the Warsaw uprising, in the summer of 1944. And as for the problems of future trade with Russia and a possible credit to the Soviet government, my views were made plain as early as December 3, 1944, in a memo to the ambassador which I signed, together with two other officers, commenting on plans then being bruited about in certain of the Washington planning committees for extension of a credit of 3.5 billion dollars to the Soviet Union in the immediate post-hostilities period.
The Russians had evidently at that time already indicated their interest in receiving such a credit and had expressed a desire for terms which would include interest at 2.5 percent, with amortization to begin only after the lapse of ten years. Assuming these to be the terms, and assuming Soviet exports to the United States to run at a maximum of 100 million dollars per annum in the postwar years (and we thought this was definitely on the optimistic side),* our conclusions as of December 3, 1945, were as follows:
We would regard one and a half to two billion dollars as the maximum that could safely be extended in the way of an immediate postwar credit-on the understanding that this would have to include obligations carried over from wartime transactions (i.e., Lend-Lease, etc. ) . . We thus consider that credits in the amount of three and a half billion
* Actually, Soviet exports to the United States turned out to average, for the years 1947 to 1959, inclusive, only $ 15,740,000 per annum.
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dollars, exclusive of protocol items . . . would be unsound. A large portion of them could probably not be met upon maturity, and would have to be prolonged. This would only have the effect of mortgaging prospective Soviet exports to the United States for a period of further decades in advance, thereby complicating the problem of payment for future exports from this country to Russia.
We then went ahead to make the following comments on the Soviet attitude toward foreign economic exchanges generally, and on the implications of this attitude for our government and its economic planning:
We do not consider the intentions of the Soviet government have yet been made sufficiently clear in deeds to warrant the assumption on our part that in furthering the military industrialization of the Soviet Union during the post-hostilities period we will not again, as in the cases of Germany and Japan, be creating military strength which might some day be used to our disadvantage. . . .
Actually, the Soviet government views foreign trade in general as a political-economic weapon designed to increase the power of the USSR relative to that of other countries. It will view imports from our country only as a necessary means of hastening the achievement of complete military-economic autarchy of the Soviet Union. Once such autarchy has been substantially achieved, it is not certain that the Soviet government will continue to be interested in large scale imports from the United States, except on terms quite incompatible with our interests. On the contrary if, by virtue of a lopsided forcing of machinery and machine tool exports to Russia, large sections of our private industrial plant become dependent on the orders of the Soviet trade monopoly for the maintenance of their production and employment, the Russians will eventually not hesitate, if it suits their book, to exploit this dependence, together with their influence over organized labor groups, to gain political and economic objectives which have nothing to do with the interests of our people.*
* This last gloomy prognostication was based on my memories of the unhappy position of dependence on Soviet orders in which the machine tool manufacturers of Germany, and particularly of Saxony, had found themselves during the economic crisis at the beginning of the 1930s. It is a danger that has not matured in our case, but which should never be lost sight of when it comes to trading with a foreign governmental trade monopoly.
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I find these views reiterated, and made more explicit, in another undated draft memorandum, written to all appearances in the late summer of 1945. It will stand as a fair example of the views I was putting before the ambassador and the State Department at that time.
I know of no justification, either economic or political, for any further granting of Lend-Lease aid to Russia, for any agreement on our part that Russia, not being a contributor to UNRRA, should receive any substantial amount of UNRRA aid, or for any extension of U.S. government credit to Russia without equivalent political advantage to our people.
In taking this view I have in mind that:
1. The Russians have no great need for foreign aid unless they insist on straining their economy by maintaining a military strength far beyond the demands of their own security. Their resources and productive powers, agricultural and industrial, are sufficient to assure fairly rapid recovery without outside aid.
2. The present Soviet economic program is one of military industrialization, designed to serve political purposes antagonistic to our interests. Our government has no reason to further this program.
3. The only sound possibility of repayment of a credit is provided by Russian exports to the United States. Even if expanded to several times their prewar value, these exports would not be large enough to pay interest and amortization and large long-term credits and yet maintain a healthy level of current Soviet purchases in the US.
4. Soviet trade is a state monopoly. Much as we talk about our objections to trusts, monopolies, and cartels in our country, we seem to make an exception on behalf of the greatest of all trusts, which is the Soviet government . . . I approve of trade with Russia. But it should be conducted in such a way as to avoid any dependence of a large section of the American business community on the Soviet foreign trade monopoly.
I should add that in these respects, as in many others, my views, after undergoing a useful critical refinement at the hands of Ambassador Harriman's judgment, received his prudent and effective support and found acceptance, in the main, in Washington. I find, in
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retrospect, nothing to regret about this, either on my own part or his, or on that of the government. A large credit to the Soviet government, in the circumstances of that day, would have been obviously unsound and would unquestionably have led to bitter disagreements and recriminations at a later date, both as between tile two governments and in American domestic politics. As for Lend- Lease, a large proportion of the 11 billion dollars' worth that we sent, including shipments to the amount of 244 million dollars under the later Protocol of October 15, 1945 (for which no payment has yet been made), reached Russia after the termination of hostilities against Germany, and was used primarily for purposes which had nothing to do with the war against our common enemies. In addition to this, the Russians benefited by UNRRA aid to the tune of another 249 million dollars; and we turned over to them several million dollars more in the form of reparations from our zone of Germany (including finally, as I was infuriated to note at some point in 1947, a flock of karakul sheep which our military authorities declared to be German war booty on the basis of the character of their fur). All this being the case, it seems to me that we did not do badly by the Russians in that immediate post-hostilities period; and I find nothing to repent in the fact that I used my influence to prevent our largesse from going further than it did.
The Long Telegram
MY views on all that had to do with possible economic aid to Russia were influenced, I suspect, by the impressions of a journey that I had opportunity to make, within the Soviet Union, not long after the ending of hostilities in Europe.
On return to Russia in the previous summer, I had filed a request with the Soviet Foreign Office for permission to visit western Siberia - and particularly the metallurgical center at what was then called Stalinsk-Kuznetsk, some two hundred miles southeast of Novosibirsk and a similar distance northwest of what was then the border of Tannu-Tuva. The great steel mill there was one of the two major projects of this nature completed during the 1930s, the other being the better-known Magnitogorsk plant, in the Urals. Although many foreigners had visited Magnitogorsk, no Westerner, so far as I could ascertain, had been in Kuznetsk for several years. I had never seen any of the leading Soviet industrial plants and thought it would be interesting to see one that had been less commonly visited by foreigners. In addition to this there was, again, the example of my distinguished nineteenth-century namesake. I wanted, before leaving Russia again, to see at least a small portion of the vast Siberian territory where so many of his travels had taken place and with which his name was so widely associated.
For months following the submission of my request, there had been no response from the Foreign Office. I had concluded, by spring, that it was destined to join the long list of similar requests to
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which the Soviet authorities had not wished to say yes but had also not wished to say no and had therefore said nothing at all. I had, in fact, almost forgotten about the matter when, in the spring of 1945, I was suddenly called to the Foreign Office and told that I might go.
The trip was made some time in the summer - I cannot remember just when. I wrote a copious literary account of the experience - an account which the reader is now mercifully to be spared, because no copy of it can be found. The journey to Novosibirsk was made by rail four days and nights in the end compartment of a sleeping car, walled off from the other passengers by two NKVD officers in uniform who "chanced" to be occupying the adjoining compartment.
In Novosibirsk I spent some days seeing the various sights of this burgeoning Siberian Chicago. On the afternoon of the last of these days, the departure for Kuznetsk being scheduled for early the following morning, I was taken out of town to visit a state farm in the neighborhood. A very impressive farm it was, too, with great herds of fine cattle, and country that took your breath away with its beauty, its fertility, and its sense of space and strength. The tour of the farm finished, I suggested an immediate return to town, pleading the need for early retirement in view of the next day's departure. But I was told that "tea" was being prepared in the orchard, for my benefit, and was made to understand that this was de rigueur.
Tea turned out to be a long wooden table under the fruit trees, literally groaning with every sort of food, a total of ten or twenty people there to do the honors, and an insistence that the various courses be washed down with tumblers, not liqueur glasses, of very fine vodka. The repast lasted into the evening. Among my hosts was a burly young party secretary from Novosibirsk, obviously a person of considerable competence and power, informal to a degree that would have made him feel perfectly at home in the great American West (to which, indeed, Siberia has many similarities). At the conclusion of the "tea," he and I were both in exceptional good humor. He suggested I ride back into town with him in his jeep, which I did. By the time we reached town, the humor
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was even better. We agreed that sleep was a dreary idea, and he undertook to show me the night life of Novosibirsk. This he did with enthusiasm, in a tour that lasted long into the night. Memories of this tour are not as clear as one could wish. My NKVD escort was curtly dismissed by my companion, early in the game. For one lovely evening I was, to all intents and purposes, a member of the Soviet governing elite. We visited several theaters, barging in through side doors, staring down anyone who questioned our arrival, and installing ourselves without ceremony in the government box. I have a faint recollection that we watched some Isadora Duncan dancers performing on a bandstand in a park, and they were terrible. We visited a circus, watched a lady put her head in the lion's mouth, and after having a good second look at the lady agreed - to our great mutual satisfaction - that we were lost in admiration for the courage of the lion. We ended up by routing out, in the early morning hours, a very mussed and sleepy stationmaster and obliging him to give us a conducted tour of what, my host assured me, was one of Russia's greatest railway stations, not to be omitted on any properly conducted tour of the city.
The days in Kuznetsk were similarly agreeable. I arrived there, after a train ride of some eighteen hours during which, still fortified by the state farm "tea," I deplored the very thought of food, only to find myself confronted, at three in the morning, with another groaning table of hors d'oeuvres, accompanied this time with Siberian liqueurs (made in Kuznetsk, and the pride of the city), and required to endure all over again that well-meant but sometimes trying refrain of Russian hospitality: "You don't eat anything. You don't like it, huh? "
The same buffet table, with the same hors d'oeuvres, replenished from time to time as circumstances required, remained before us during the entire period of my stay there; it was our sole source of sustenance, but a very luxurious one; and three times a day my delighted hosts, for whom in wartime these delicacies were scarcely a daily fare, applied themselves vigorously to its destruction and pressed me to do likewise. They, too, like my party friend in Novosibirsk, were genial and thoroughly friendly.
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Most pleasant of all was the return trip, by air, to Moscow. It took three days and involved overnight stops in Chelyabinsk and Kazan. For some reason the NKVD seemed to have lost track of me at this point. The office at Novosibirsk was, I suppose, done with me, and the center at Moscow had not yet picked me up. The result was that I had, for once, the feeling of not being a stranger, of belonging to a company of ordinary Soviet people. My companions on the plane, in any case, did not seem to recognize me as anything out of the ordinary. At the airport in Ornsk, sitting in the grass under the shade of the wing of the plane in the heat of the day, I read aloud to a group of them, at their request, from a volume of Aleksei Tolstoy's Peter the Great which I had with me. In the evenings I shared their company in the little airport dormitories as though I were a common citizen like the rest of them. I felt immensely at home among them, and never did the artificial barriers that separated people like myself from Soviet citizens in Moscow seem more absurd and more deplorable.
On the last day of this journey, sitting on a crate in the stern of a DC-3 and watching the great plain of the region just west of the Volga as it slowly receded beneath us, I fell to thinking, in connection with these friendly fellow passengers, of the problem of American aid to Russia. It was a problem which, what with Lend-Lease, Red Cross aid, UNRRA, and talk of a major loan to the Soviet government, had been much on our minds in the preceding months. The Russian people, as the experiences of this visit had just emphasized for me, were a great and appealing people. The sufferings they had recently undergone were enormous. These sufferings had been incurred partly in our own cause. One would have liked to help, but could one? When a people found itself under the control of a strongly authoritarian regime, and especially one hostilely inclined to the United States, there was very little that Americans could do to help them, it occurred to me, without helping the regime to which they were subject. If economic assistance were to be extended, say in the form of consumer goods, the regime would first impugn our motives; then it would turn to the people and say: "Who but we could have been clever enough to get this aid for you
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from the wicked imperialists?" And finally it would simply divert to its own purposes an equivalent volume of resources which it would otherwise have had to make available to the people, leaving the total allocation to the civilian sector exactly what it would otherwise have been. If, on the other hand, we tried to bring injury to the regime, by means of economic pressure of one sort or another, the regime would simply find means to pass this injury on to the civilian population, using it as proof both of foreign hostility to the people themselves and of the indispensability of its own protection and authority. People and regime, in other words, were bound together in a common dialectical relationship, so that you could not help people without helping regime, and you could not harm regime without harming people. In these circumstances it was better, surely, to try neither to help nor to harm, but rather to leave people alone. It was, after all, their predicament, not ours. We could not interfere in it, whether benevolently or malevolently, without producing effects we did not mean and did not desire to produce, and without sowing confusion as to our own motives.
In the postwar years, as the problems of foreign aid gradually advanced to the status of a major item in our national discussions about foreign policy, I was to have many an occasion to return to these reflections. They have lain, ever since those hours on the plane, at the basis of the hesitations and skepticism I have experienced with respect to the possibilities of foreign aid in general - with respect to the whole concept of wreaking, by intervention, even benevolent intervention, from without - great and useful changes in the lives of other peoples.
In the period following the end of hostilities with Japan, Ambassador Harriman was repeatedly called away from Moscow for temporary duties elsewhere. This altered somewhat my own situation, insofar as it now became necessary for me to present views directly, from time to time, to the Department of State, and to handle personally the American official visitors who were now in increasing numbers making their appearance in the Soviet capital. In September, during one of the ambassador's absences, we re-
276 Memoirs: 1925-1950
ceived the visit of a group of members of Congress. They wanted to see Stalin. Although unenthusiastic, and not hopeful, I had no choice but to ask for the appointment. I knew that such a request would not normally be granted. The chances were particularly slim in this instance because I had been obliged to request a similar interview, just at this time, for Senator Claude Pepper of Florida, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, whose visit happened to coincide with that of the Congressmen. To my amazement both interviews were granted - to take place, if my memory is correct, within a day of each other. I escorted both parties to the Kremlin and interpreted for them both in their interviews.
I cannot recall the tenor of the discussion between the Congressmen and Stalin (the Washington archives, I am sure, would show it); but I have a vivid memory of our approach to this occasion. The interview was scheduled, I believe, for 6 p.m., in Stalin's office in the Kremlin. Just prior to it was scheduled a visit of the congressional party to the Moscow subway system. Having seen the Moscow subway on a great many occasions, I decided not to accompany them on that last venture, but arranged to pick them up, at 5:30 p.m., at the exit from the Mossovyet subway station, where their tour was to end. I came there at the proper time and waited until well after 5:30. To my growing concern no Congressmen appeared. Inquiry elicited the information that the party was being entertained at "tea" somewhere in the bowels of the subway system. I never discovered the premises in which this repast was being served, but frantic indirect messages finally brought my compatriots to the surface, at about ten minutes before six. To my horror I discovered that the "tea" served to them by their genial hosts of the Moscow subway had, like the tea of Novosibirsk, been not only of the nonalcoholic variety: varying amounts of vodka, depending on the stoutness of character and presence of mind of the individual concerned, had been poured into my charges while they were on the verge of their interview with the great Soviet leader.
We tore away, in two limousines, in the direction of the Kremlin, I riding in the front seat of one of the cars. As we approached the Kremlin gate, protected by what was probably the most vigilant
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and elaborate system of guarding of any place in the world, I was horrified to hear, from the interior of the car behind me, a raucous voice saying: "Who the hell is this guy Stalin, anyway? I don't know that I want to go up and see him. I think I'll get out." Elaborate arrangements had been made, including even the submission of every passport to the Foreign Office, to assure admission of the party to the Kremlin, and I knew that if anyone were missing, things would be royally gummed up. So I said with great definiteness: "You'll do nothing of the sort. You will sit right there where you are and remain with the party." There ensued the formalities at the gate. Doors were opened, identities were established, seats were looked under. A car full of armed men was placed before us, and another one behind. Thus guarded, we drove off up the short incline to the heart of the Kremlin. At this point the same raucous voice became audible once more behind me: "What if I biff the old codger one in the nose?" My heart froze. I cannot recall what I said, but I am sure that never in my life did I speak with greater earnestness. I had, as I recollect it, the help of some of the more sober members of the party. In any case, our companion came meekly along. He sat in Stalin's office at the end of the long table, facing Stalin, and did nothing more disturbing than to leer and wink once or twice at the bewildered dictator, thus making it possible for the invisible gun muzzles, with which the room was no doubt studded, to remain sullenly silent.
The episode was a small one, but I must say that it was one of the impressions (and there were many of them in the course of a Foreign Service career) that gradually bred in me a deep skepticism about the absolute value of people-to-people contacts for the improvement of international relations. On the other hand, I must also say that our congressional visitors varied, in their capacity to derive profit for themselves and to cause the interests of our government to prosper by their visits, from the very worst to the very best. Their number contained some shrewd and serious men, who not only were able to give us valuable support when they returned to Washington, but whose reactions and advice, while they were in Moscow, were useful to us and much appreciated.
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Actually, both of the interviews with Stalin passed off successfully, although that of Senator Pepper was also not without its minor difficulties. I had naturally, and without second thought, asked for his appointment with Stalin on the strength of his quality as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -as a statesman, in other words. It was granted on this understanding. To my consternation the Senator, on the eve of the interview, confided to me that he was combining his official interests on this journey with a certain amount of journalistic activity - writing articles, in fact, for publication by a syndicate of Florida newspapers. What did I think? Would it be all right for him to write a story on his interview with Stalin, and should he send it from Moscow or wait until he had left the country?
Had I known, of course, that he was coming as a journalist, the request for an appointment should have made this clear and should have gone through other channels. I cannot remember how the problem was finally solved. I recall only the sense of hopelessness I experienced in trying to explain to the Russians why a distinguished statesman, discussing serious problems of international affairs with a foreign governmental leader, would be interested in exploiting for a very minor private gain whatever value the interview might have in the eyes of the commercial mass media. I knew that ten years of patient explanations would not suffice to make them understand why this could be regarded as a creditable procedure; and I would have been the worst to undertake the explanation, for I fear my sympathies, in this case, were on the Russian side.
I should perhaps say a word at this point about Stalin. The impression one gains of a public figure from seeing him at first hand is of course a different thing, and far less important, than the impression one gains from long and careful study of his public career. I have set forth in another context* my view of Stalin as a statesman. Here a word or two about his person.
* Russia and the West under Lenin and Stalin, Chapter 17, Boston: Atlantic Little Brown and Company, ig6o.
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His was a low-slung, smallish figure, neither markedly stout nor thin, inclining, if anything, to the latter. The square-cut tunic seemed always a bit too large for him; one sensed an effort to compensate for the slightness of stature. Yet there was also a composed, collected strength, and a certain rough handsomeness, in his features. The teeth were discolored, the mustache scrawny, coarse, and streaked. This, together with the pocked face and yellow eyes, gave him the aspect of an old battle-scarred tiger. In manner with us, at least he was simple, quiet, unassuming. There was no striving for effect. His words were few. They generally sounded reasonable and sensible; indeed, they often were. An unforewarned visitor would never have guessed what depths of calculation, ambition, love of power, jealousy, cruelty, and sly vindictiveness lurked behind this unpretentious facade.
Stalin's greatness as a dissimulator was an integral part of his greatness as a statesman. So was his gift for simple, plausible, ostensibly innocuous utterance. Wholly unoriginal in every creative sense, he had always been the aptest of pupils. He possessed unbelievably acute powers of observation and, when it suited his purposes, imitation. (If he later destroyed his teachers, as he usually did, this was really the mark of his high respect for them.) By the same token he was, of course, a great, if terrible (in part: great because terrible), teacher of politics. Most impressive of all was his immense, diabolical skill as a tactician. The modern age has known no greater master of the tactical art. The unassuming, quiet facade, as innocently disarming as the first move of the grand master at chess, was only a part of this brilliant, terrifying tactical mastery.
Those of my colleagues who saw more of him than I did have told of being able to observe other aspects of his personality: of seeing the yellow eyes light up in a flash of menace and fury as he turned, momentarily, on some unfortunate subordinate; of witnessing the diabolical sadism with which, at the great diplomatic dinners of the war, he would humiliate his subordinates before the eyes of foreigners, with his barbed, mocking toasts, just to show his power over them. I myself did not see these things. But when I first encountered him personally, I had already lived long enough in Russia
to know something about him; and I was never in doubt, when visiting him, that I was in the presence of one of the world's most remarkable men -a man great, if you will, primarily in his iniquity: ruthless, cynical, cunning, endlessly dangerous; but for all of this - one of the truly great men of the age.*
Immediately after this interview with Stalin, I had occasion to make a brief visit to Helsinki. As a small respite from this heavy diet of political problems, but also because it illustrates something important in the life of every Westerner who lives in Russia, I adduce at this point that portion of the diary notes from this journey that deals with the passage from Russia into Finland.
I should perhaps remind the reader that the territory of the Karelian Isthmus, over which the train begins to pass as soon as it leaves the suburbs of Leningrad, had been bitterly fought over, fought over twice, in fact, during the war. Occupied by Soviet forces and taken formally into Soviet possession with the collapse of Finnish resistance a year earlier, it had at the time I saw it simply been left, like great parts of East Prussia, untouched by human hands and permitted to become a wilderness. The onetime modern Finnish town of Vyborg, as I recorded in my diary, had been completely destroyed and was, so far as I could see, devoid of habitation. On my return journey I left the train in early morning when it stopped at the Vyborg station, and roamed about among the ruins of the place. While I was doing this it began to rain heavily. I took refuge from the rain in what had once been the doorway of a fine modern department store, now gutted and wrecked. Not having seen a living being on my entire walk, I was surprised, standing there in the doorway, to hear a noise behind me. Looking around, I discovered that I was sharing the shelter of the doorway with a goat. The two of us, it seemed, were for the moment the sole inhabitants of this once thriving modern city.
* The above was written before I read Svetlana's book about her family. This has widened, and changed somewhat, my view of Stalin; but since the present discussion relates to the experiences of 1945-1946, I let the description stand as written.
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What the account of this trip may serve to illustrate is that curious feeling of relief and release which overcomes every sensitive Westerner as he leaves the charged political climate of Russia and returns to the more reassuring atmosphere of the West. It is the feeling which causes all Westerners, in fact, to use the terms "In" or "tout" to distinguish their presence on Soviet territory from their presence elsewhere. It is something apparently unaffected by wars, devastations, and political upsets. I am sure that this contrast between Russia and non-Russia, never wholly absent from the mind of the Western resident in Russia, affects subconsciously, and perhaps not unjustly, his judgments about a great many political problems that do not normally concern his person at all, My diary goes on to note:
September 6, 1945
[The train for Helsinki left in late evening.] The on1y other Intourist guest who was going there was a somewhat gloomy Mexican in a beret, who spoke with a perfect Texas accent. Just as we went out the front door of the hotel, the bus which was to have taken us to the station started up and disappeared without us into the darkness - to the amazement and consternation of the Intourist girl who had been delegated to accompany us. For a long time I stood out on the square, looking at the stately outlines of St. Isaac's Cathedral that loomed out faintly in the darkness, while the Mexican described to me the course of his diarrhea. Another bus, not ours, stood empty and deserted by the curb. A drunken Soviet soldier came weaving along out of the darkness, hammered indignantly at the door of the empty bus, and then asked the white-bearded doorman when it left. "That's not your bus," replied the doorman. "Where do you want to go?" "I want to go west," the soldier replied, "as near as you can get to the Soviet border." The Intourist girl, who had arrived on the scene just in time to hear this last crack, quickly hustled us back into the lobby, where we waited until another bus could be made ready.
September 7, 1945
When I woke in the morning we were just pulling out of ruined and deserted Vyborg. It was overcast, and there was a strong cold wind. Rays of early morning sunshine, slipping through the clouds, slanted across the earth, caught the gutted shells of apartment buildings, and
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flooded them momentarily with a chill, pale gleam. Below us the port lay quiet and empty. An abandoned water-filled boat washed gently beside the remnants of a pier. But the light of morning was fresh on the harbor. The water rippled gaily in the breeze, as though it were not bounded on three sides by these mute testimonials to man's capacity for desolation. A gull, wheeling and circling over the inner basin, rejoiced in the new day, in the prospect of fish below, and in its own graceful strength.
After leaving Vyborg, we moved slowly through a devastated and deserted country. Weeds and scrub trees were growing on the abandoned farms. The houses, doorless and windowless, were obviously sinking gradually back into the new vegetation around them. When you occasionally got a glimpse into the interiors, you saw that the floors were full of rubbish and offal. And you knew that the rank new vegetation still concealed tens of thousands of live land mines.
After an hour we reached the new Finnish border and stopped at the first Finnish station. Here everything was suddenly neat and cheerful. A new station building had been erected: simple and of wood, but with a certain distinctive modern touch. The platform was in good repair and clean. There was a freshly painted kiosk where newspapers were on sale. But the station was almost deserted. Food was not in evidence. The sky was gray. Everything was a little sad.
Our Russian locomotive retired, leaving our sleeping car, together with two "soft" cars full of Russians bound for the new naval base at Porkkala Udd, to wait for the Finnish train. We had long to wait. I paced up and down the platform in the wind, a slave to the Anglo-Saxon habit of exercise. The Russians stared vacantly out the windows of their car, and on their faces was that same stoical emptiness with which Russians stare out of train windows all over their vast, melancholy Russian world.
The sidings were full of freight cars loaded with Finnish goods being shipped to Russia as reparations. Little cars, wheels and tracks for a narrow gauge logging railroad, bright with shiny metal and new paint, were carefully stored and lashed on big gondola cars. On others there were piles of clean sawn lumber, neatly cut and carefully stacked. All these contributions bore the mark of orderly, conscientious Finnish workmanship. I wondered at first whether such offerings did not sometimes rouse pangs of shame among the inhabitants of the great shoddy
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Russian world into which they were moving. But on second thought I was inclined to doubt this very strongly.
The station platform was almost deserted. A lithe young Finn, with a knife in his belt, gave side glances of hatred and contempt at the Russian cars as he went about his work as a switchman. Wood smoke from the little switch engine was torn away by the wind and carried across the clearing, its odor reminiscent of the north woods at home. A Finnish railwayman in uniform rode sedately up to the station building, parked his bicycle, and went inside to transact his business. A peasant cart drove up with a family in the back. The family might well be hungry, but the horse was fat and sleek and trotted with a happy briskness which no Russian horse possesses. Over the entire scene there lay the efficiency, the trimness, the quietness, and the boredom of bourgeois civilization; and these qualities smote with triple effect on the senses of a traveler long removed from the impressions of bourgeois environment.
The Finnish locomotive finally appeared, picked us up and started off with us through the forests at a pace which seemed positively giddy after the leisurely lumbering of Russian trains. There was a dining car. There was not overly much to eat, but what there was was well prepared; the place was well run and inviting; the other passengers were friendly, unafraid, and unsuspicious. All day long we moved through a beautiful northern country, the forests broken with lakes, farms, meadows, and herds of cattle. The Russians continued to stare out the window with impassive and apparently unappreciative faces. By evening we were in Helsinki.
The Potsdam Conference, as will be recalled, established the Council of Foreign Ministers, on which were to be represented the five leading powers that had been involved in the wars against Germany and Japan, and had assigned to this council, as its first task, the drafting of peace treaties for Italy, Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Finland. The initial meeting of this council, at London in September 1945, broke down in wrangling over procedure, a breakdown which merely reflected, and was in fact the product of, deeper disagreements, primarily over the nature of the governments
284 Memoirs: 1925-1950
that were being established under Russian pressure in the Eastern European countries. To resolve this deadlock, the Americans, anxious to get on with the drafting of the treaties, proposed a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Big Three to discuss not only the problems of procedure that had arisen at London but a number of other problems that were proving troublesome. The proposal was accepted; and the three foreign ministers - Molotov, Ernest Bevin, and James F. Byrnes - met in Moscow, in December 1945.
I am frank to say that I regarded this meeting, rightly or wrongly, with the same feelings of detachment and skepticism with which I had viewed the earlier meetings of the heads of state. I had not been drawn in any way into the preliminary planning. The entire world of thought out of which these encounters arose was foreign and distasteful to me. I had never met Mr. Byrnes or had any communication with him. For the effort to rescue something of the wreckage of the Yalta Declaration on Liberated Europe, to preserve, that is, some fig leaves of democratic procedure to hide the nakedness of Stalinist dictatorship in the respective Eastern European countries, I had nothing but contempt. I simply did not believe in its reality. I found it absurd to suppose that anything essential was going to be changed by the inclusion of one or two non-Communist ministers in the cabinets of countries which already had a police system along the pattern of the Soviet NKVD, entirely under Russian control. I saw little to be gained by our having anything at all to do with the new regimes in these countries. If peace treaties were unavoidable, I saw no reason to preserve in this respect the facade of tripartite unity. I would have preferred that we negotiate such treaties independently, and that the documents be as brief and noncommittal as possible, consisting in fact of nothing more than a mutual agreement to terminate the state of war. I deplored any and every effort to convey to the American public the impression that our own government had any residue of influence in the Soviet-dominated area, or that the countries in question faced anything less than the full rigor of Stalinist totalitarianism.
It was, in these circumstances, with a weary sense of meaningless duty that I went through such minor motions as were required of
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me in connection with the visit of the Secretary of State to Moscow in that first postwar December, and my memories can add nothing to the record of the substance of the discussions that then took place. But such of my diary notes as concern this visit may be not wholly without interest, as evidences of the atmosphere and impressions of the time. The first of them related to the day of the arrival of the Secretary of State.
Friday, December 14, 1945
This was a lively day. We were expecting the Secretary and his party. A full blizzard was blowing. Calls to the Soviet weather people in the early morning brought forth the information that weather conditions were impossible and no planes would be coming in. About 12: 00 we were told that the Secretary's plane had left Berlin at 11:00. This came from a minor official of the Foreign Office. The Red army and the airport people said they knew nothing about it. At 1:30, just as was leaving for lunch, Brooks Atkinson came in and said he had just been told by the British embassy that they had heard that the plane had turned back to Berlin. Thinking this very likely, I went home and had a leisurely lunch; came back to find one of the attaches talking on the phone to a distressed Foreign Office official who claimed that the plane was just then coming in and might arrive at any time at the Central Military Airport. I asked where Ambassador Harriman was. They said he had gone to some airport 20 miles south of town because he had heard that the Secretary might arrive there. I grabbed Horace Smith and the little duty car and together we tore out to the Central Military Airport. A howling blizzard was blowing. The field was just one white blur, with no distinction between sky and snow. You couldn't see across it at all. However, a radio sound truck was driving out into the obscurity as we arrived, and there were a number of Russian cars about. We were taken up into a little building at the edge of the field. Two or three journalists came along and joined us. In a few minutes we heard the sound of motors and looked out to see a four-motored plane passing over the roof of the building. We rushed out onto the field. The snow flurry had passed, and visibility was now better. Dekanosov,*
*One of the Soviet deputy foreign ministers; a protegé of Beria, taken to diplomatic work directly from a career in the secret police; later executed (1953) in connection with Beria's demise.
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with one Foreign Office assistant and a lot of NKVD, was out there. Somebody had put up two iron posts with the Soviet and American flags. The plane, which had managed to land somehow or other, appeared out of the soup, taxiing up the field, wheeled around and stopped in front of us. The gangplank was pushed out through the snow and we went through the official reception. The Secretary, in a light coat and no overshoes, standing in deep snow, said his hellos and gave his speech over the microphone, while the wind howled through the little company. I then took him to the first available car and drove him, together with Ben Cohen and his military aide, to Spaso House. There Kathy gave them drinks and soup and kept them busy until the ambassador arrived from his wasted journey. Then I went back to the office to clear up papers.
Thoroughly enraged by a telegram from the department asking us to invite the Soviet government to a conference to work out mutual tariff reductions next March, I spent the evening writing an eloquent telegram demonstrating why it shouldn't be done.
Wednesday, December 19, 1945
Was invited by ambassador to attend the conference this afternoon. Unfortunately, the session turned out to consist of two brief meetings of about five or ten minutes each.
Bevin looked highly disgusted with the whole procedure. It was easy to see by his face that he found himself in a position he did not like. He did not want to come to Moscow in the first place and was well aware that nothing good could come of the meeting. The Russians knew his position, and were squeezing the last drop of profit out of it. As for Byrnes, Bevin saw in him only another cocky and unreliable Irishman, similar to ones that he had known in his experience as a docker and labor leader. Byrnes, as the British saw it, had consistently shown himself negligent of British feelings and quite unconcerned for Anglo-American relations. He had conceived the whole idea of this meeting in his own head and had taken it up with the Russians before saying a word about it to the British or giving them any warning that this was to be done. He had further off ended the British by giving a copy of the Ethridge report to the Russians but not to the British embassy, despite the fact the latter had opened its files to Ethridge
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when he was here and that his visit was largely at British initiative.* Finally, Byrnes had come to Moscow with a paper to present to the Russians on atomic energy which had been cleared with neither of the other powers [Britain and Canada) which shared in holding the secret of the manufacture of atomic energy, and this within six weeks after Attlee's visit to Washington and conferences with the President. When Bevin had remonstrated against the presentation to the Russians of any document on this subject which had not been cleared with British and Canadian governments, Byrnes had given him two days, namely until today, Wednesday, to submit this document to London and get the approval of the British cabinet. Bevin thought he had the assurance of Byrnes that meanwhile nothing would be submitted to the Russians; and indeed no other understanding would have made any sense. Nevertheless, on Tuesday evening, with no word to the British, Byrnes had sent the document to the Russians. Bevin could view this only as an instance of direct bad faith and was furious.
Molotov, conducting the meeting, sat leaning forward over the table, a Russian cigarette dangling from his mouth, his eyes flashing with satisfaction and confidence as he glanced from one to the other of the other foreign ministers, obviously keenly aware of their mutual differences and their common uncertainty in the face of the keen, ruthless, and incisive Russian diplomacy. He had the look of a passionate poker player who knows that he has a royal flush and is about to call the last of his opponents. He was the only one who was clearly enjoying every minute of the proceedings.
I sat just behind Byrnes and could not see him well. He plays his negotiations by ear, going into them with no clear or fixed plan, with no definite set objectives or limitations. He relies entirely on his own agility and presence of mind and hopes to take advantage of tactical openings. In the present conference his weakness in dealing with the Russians is that his main purpose is to achieve some sort of an agreement, he doesn't much care what. The realities behind this agreement, since they concern only such people as Koreans, Rumanians, and Iranians, about whom he knows nothing, do not concern him. He wants
* Mr. Mark Ethridge, publisher of the Louisville Courier-journal, had been sent by Mr. Byrnes on a special mission to Rumania, Bulgaria, and Greece, to make an independent assessment, for the United States government, of political conditions in those countries.
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an agreement for its political effect at home. The Russians know this. They will see that for this superficial success he pays a heavy price in the things that are real.
After the meeting I walked home with Matthews and he stayed for supper. Frank Roberts* and his wife joined us. By the end of the evening, Matthews looked so crestfallen at the things that he had heard from Roberts and myself that I felt sorry for him and had to try to cheer him up. In the introduction of newcomers to the realities of the Soviet Union there are always two processes; the first is to reveal what these realities are, the second is to help the newcomer adjust himself to the shock.
Friday, December 21, 1945
Talked with the Bulgarian minister this morning. He began by ensuring the opposition for not taking part in the [Bulgarian] election, claiming that they had voluntarily cut themselves off from participation in Bulgarian political life. Being somewhat impatient, I told him that what bothered us was not really questions of parliamentary representation or procedure but the fact that we were faced there with a regime of police oppression which did not hesitate to proceed in the most ruthless manner against the lives and liberties of individual citizens. It was our belief that in this atmosphere of terror and intimidation no real democracy could live. He became quite excited at this, and spoke thereafter much more frankly, admitting that the Communists were only a minority but pointing to the desirability of concluding peace and getting Russian troops out of the country.
Lunch with Roberts and Cadogan and two or three other people from the British delegation. Chip was there and I think he and I rather shook Cadogan's composure with our observations on the technique of dealing with the Soviet government.
Saturday, December 22, 1945
Was just settling down this evening for a quiet weekend when Page came over and told me the ambassador wanted a memorandum for the Secretary to present on the economic situation in Hungary. I went down to the office and worked until 3 A.M. with Horace Smith getting the memorandum up.
* Sir Frank Roberts, at that time my opposite number in the British embassy in Moscow. He was later to serve as British ambassador in Moscow, as well as in Paris and Bonn. I knew him not only as a diplomatist of outstanding experience and ability but as a loyal colleague and valued friend.
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Sunday, December 2 3, 1945
Went down to the office in the morning and finished work on the memorandum. After that I went to Spaso to a stag luncheon for Molotov and Bevin. Sat next to Tsarapkin, who was relatively human. Bevin caused much amusement among the Americans and considerable bewilderment among the Russians by the dour informality of his asides during the luncheon. When a toast was proposed to the king, he added good-humoredly, "and all the other dockers." He told a story afterward to explain this remark. When Harriman raised his glass to the success of the conference, Bevin assented and added: "And let's hope we don't all get sacked when we get home." Molotov left the minute luncheon was over. Later in the afternoon they were all hard at work again and worked most of the night.
The memorandum on the Hungarian economic situation, incidentally,
was never used.
This evening the Russians put on a special performance of Zolusbka (Cinderella) at the Bolshoi, for the visiting foreign ministers. I did not learn about it until late in the afternoon, and, feeling that Annelise and I ought to be there, took two of the last tickets on the list of those allotted to the embassy. When we got there, the theater was already packed to the last seat, spotlights were trained on the empty imperial box where the appearance of the foreign ministers was expected, and Molotov and his aides were waiting nervously in the hall outside. As is always the case when the big curtain is down, the theater was stuffy and hot and people were fanning themselves with their programs. The orchestra were all in their places waiting to strike up the national anthems. I found myself in a box with the ambassador's aide and one of his private secretaries. After we had waited another fifteen minutes, I said laughingly to the private secretary that I supposed the Secretary of State had forgotten to come. "Oh, no," the secretary replied, "they are only sitting up in his room at the embassy telling stories and having drinks and no one dares go in and interrupt them." I immediately tore out of the box and downstairs to the administrator's office, to telephone. The phone was in use when I got there and I stood in the crowded office for a moment waiting for a chance to use it. Just as the phone became free and I was about to dial the embassy a man in the shiny
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blue civilian clothes so characteristic of the secret police came into the office, walked up to me, and said with a slight smile on his face: "They have just left." I went back to the box and sure enough in five minutes Mr. Byrnes appeared, having kept several thousand people, including numerous members of the Soviet government, waiting for something like a half an hour.
The performance was absolutely first-rate; one of the best I have ever seen, but it fell very flat on the audience. I understand that Stalin was somewhere in the theater, though not in the imperial box, For this reason the audience, except for the diplomatic corps, was apparently composed mostly of secret police people, who were doubtless afraid that any excessive display on their part of enthusiasm for the performance might look as though they were being diverted from their duties.
It is axiomatic in the world of diplomacy that methodology and tactics assume an importance by no means inferior to concept and strategy. Over the eighteen months I had now spent on this assignment in Moscow, I had experienced unhappiness not only about the naiveté of our underlying ideas as to what it was we were hoping to achieve in our relations with the Soviet government but also about the methods and devices with which we went about achieving it. The two aspects of our diplomacy were, of course, closely related. Methodology was itself in large measure a reflection of the image we had formed of the Soviet leadership and of the manner in which it could be expected to react to various stimuli. But methodology was nevertheless a subject that deserved attention in its own right. Perhaps it was the visit of Secretary Byrnes to Moscow that caused the pot of my patience to boll over with relation to this area of our diplomacy, as it had boiled over with respect to so many others. My reaction to this boiling over was, in any case, the usual one of reaching for my pen; and at some time in the winter of 1946 I produced the first three sections of what was intended as another magnum opus, directed this time to the specific problem of Soviet-American relations. It was never finished. (Possibly it was overtaken, as a literary effort, by the major telegraphic essay of which I shall have occasion to speak presently.) Being unfinished, my recol-
The Long Telegram291
lection is that it was never used in any way. I include in the Annex to this volume an excerpt from it, on the subject of the technique of dealing with Russia (pages 560-565), which represents a crude attempt, but one of the first of its kind (the first in my recollection, at any rate), to draw up a useful set of rules for dealing with the Stalin regime.
I prefaced this set of rules with an analysis of the process of decision-taking in the Soviet Union, trying to bring out the fact that it was wrong and useless to attempt to appeal to subjective feelings on the part of Soviet statesmen or negotiators: they could be influenced only by their assessment of how a given proposal or desideratum advanced by a foreign government would affect the interests of their regime; it was idle, therefore, to appeal to alleged common purposes or to an assumed high-mindedness on their part; one had to demonstrate at every point what would be "in it for them" in the way of advantage if they accepted our views, or of disadvantage if they did not. There then followed the rules themselves, designed to constitute, in their aggregate, a guide to the technique of dealing with (I reiterate) the Stalin regime. (This was, after all, the only Russian regime with which I had then had personal experience.) I offer here only the main headings of these rules. The comment and elucidation of each will be found in the full text of the document, appended.
A. Don't act chummy with them.
B. Don't assume a community of aims with them which does not really exist.
C. Don't make fatuous gestures of good will.
D. Make no requests of the Russians unless we are prepared to make them feel our displeasure in a practical way in case the request is not granted. Take up matters on a normal level and insist that Russians take full responsibility for their actions on that level.
F. Do not encourage high-level exchanges of views with the Russians unless the initiative comes at least 50 percent from their side.
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G. Do not be afraid to use heavy weapons for what seem to us to be minor matters.
H. Do not be afraid of unpleasantness and public airing of differences.
I. Coordinate, in accordance with our established policies, all activities of our government relating to Russia and all private American activities of this sort which the government can influence.
J. Strengthen and support our representation in Russia.
The student of Soviet-American relations who reads these rules today will have, no doubt, two questions in his mind as he completes the reading of them. One is whether they have been observed in the subsequent years and continue to be observed today. The other is whether they are still applicable now that Stalin is dead and the world situation has changed inn important ways. My answer to both these questions would be: only partly. But to explain this answer now would be to jump ahead of my story.
In mid-February 1946 I was taken with cold, fever, sinus, tooth trouble, and finally the after effects of the sulpha drugs administered for the relief of these other miseries. The ambassador was again absent; he was, in fact, now in process of leaving his post for good. I was therefore in charge. Bedridden by these various douleurs, I suffered the daily take of telegrams and other office business to be brought currently up to my bedroom, and coped as best I could with the responsibilities that flowed from it all.
Among the messages brought up on one of these unhappy days was one that reduced us all to a new level of despair - despair not with the Soviet government but with our own. It was a telegram informing us that the Russians were evidencing an unwillingness to adhere to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The message, it appeared, had been inspired by the Treasury Department. It should be remembered that nowhere in Washington had the hopes entertained for postwar collaboration with Russia been more elaborate, more naive, or more tenaciously (one might al-
The Long Telegram293
most say ferociously) pursued than in the Treasury Department. Now, at long last, with the incomprehensible unwillingness of Moscow to adhere to the Bank and the Fund, the dream seemed to be shattered, and the Department of State passed on to the embassy, in tones of bland innocence, the anguished cry of bewilderment that had floated over the roof of the White House from the Treasury Department on the other side. How did one explain such behavior on the part of the Soviet government? What lay behind it?
The more I thought about this message, the more it seemed to be obvious that this was "It." For eighteen long months I had done little else but pluck people's sleeves, trying to make them understand the nature of the phenomenon with which we in the Moscow embassy were daily confronted and which our government and people had to learn to understand if they were to have any chance of coping successfully with the problems of the postwar world. So far as official Washington was concerned, it had been to all intents and purposes like talking to a stone. The Russian desk in the State Department had understood; but it had generally been as helpless as we were, and beyond it all had been an unechoing silence. Now, suddenly, my opinion was being asked. The occasion, to be sure, was a trivial one, but the implications of the query were not. It was no good trying to brush the question off with a couple of routine sentences describing Soviet views on such things as world banks and international monetary funds. It-would not do to give them just a fragment of the truth. Here was a case where nothing but the whole truth would do. They had asked for it. Now, by God, they would have it.
I reached, figuratively, for my pen (figuratively, for the pen was in this case my long suffering and able secretary, Miss Dorothy Hessman, who was destined to endure thereafter a further fifteen years studded with just such bouts of abuse) and composed a telegram of some eight thousand words - all neatly divided, like an eighteenth-century Protestant sermon, into five separate parts. (I thought that if it went in five sections, each could pass as a separate telegram and it would not look so outrageously long.) These sections dealt respectively with:
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I justified this outrageous encumberment of the telegraphic process by saying the department's query involved "questions so intricate, so delicate, so strange to our form of thought, and so important to the analysis of our international environment that I cannot compress the answers into a single brief message without yielding to . . . a dangerous degree of oversimplification."
The text of this document is reproduced in the Annex. I shall not attempt to summarize it here. I read it over today with a horrified amusement. Much of it reads exactly like one of those primers put out by alarmed congressional committees or by the Daughters of the American Revolution, designed to arouse the citizenry to the dangers of the Communist conspiracy. The fact that this is so demands its explanation but -- again -- not at this point in the narrative.
The effect produced in Washington by this elaborate pedagogical effort was nothing less than sensational. It was one that changed my career and my life in very basic ways. If none of my previous literary efforts had seemed to evoke even the faintest tinkle from the bell at which they were aimed, this one, to my astonishment, struck it squarely and set it vibrating with a resonance that was not to die down for many months. It was one of those moments when official Washington, whose states of receptivity or the opposite are determined by subjective emotional currents as intricately imbedded in the subconscious as those of the most complicated of Sigmund Freud's erstwhile patients, was ready to receive a given message. Exactly what happened to the telegram, once it entered into the maw of the communications system of the capital, I do not know. To say the least, it went "the rounds." The President, I believe, read it. The Secretary of the Navy, Mr. James Forrestal, had it repro-
The Long Telegram295
duced and evidently made it required reading for hundreds, if not thousands, of higher officers in the armed services. The Department of State, not at all disturbed by the reckless use of the telegraphic channel, responded with a message of commendation. With the receipt in Washington, on Washington's Birthday 1946, of this telegraphic dissertation from Moscow, my official loneliness came in fact to an end - at least for a period of two to three years. My reputation was made. My voice now carried.
Six months earlier this message would probably have been received in the Department of State with raised eyebrows and lips pursed in disapproval. Six months later, it would probably have sounded redundant, a sort of preaching to the convinced. This was true despite the fact that the realities which it described were ones that had existed, substantially unchanged, for about a decade, and would continue to exist for more than a half-decade longer. All this only goes to show that more important than the observable nature of external reality, when it comes to the determination of Washington's view of the world, is the subjective state of readiness on the part of Washington officialdom to recognize this or that feature of it. This is certainly natural; perhaps it is unavoidable. But it does raise the question - and it is a question which was to plague me increasingly over the course of the ensuing years - whether a government so constituted should deceive itself into believing that it is capable of conducting a mature, consistent, and discriminating foreign policy. Increasingly, with the years, my answer would tend to be in the negative.
There remains, to complete this record of service in Moscow during and just after the war, one ominous matter to be mentioned. It was a cloud that appeared on the horizon in the last months of my service there, a cloud decidedly larger than a man's hand in the literal sense but not appreciably larger as it then appeared to me.
The reader will note that in all this structure of thought concerning Stalin's Russia and the problem it presented for American statesmanship, the nuclear weapon played no part. Those of us who served in Moscow in the last months of 1945 and the spring of 1946
296 Memoirs: 1925-1950
were of course aware of its existence and of the use that had been made of it in Japan. But I cannot recall that this awareness affected perceptibly my own view of our relations with the Soviet Union. I saw, then as later, no positive role for weapons of such power in the pattern of our relations with the Soviet Union.
I can find in my papers from that time only one document that dealt with this matter at all. Its tenor was strictly negative, the reflection only of an anxiety lest this matter be handled on the basis of the same effort to curry favor with the Stalin regime that seemed to me to have inspired our other policies up to that time. I reproduce it here in full, for this is a sensitive subject, on which there will be highly critical judgments, and I would like the record to be complete.
The document was a dispatch to Washington, dated September 30, 1945. What evoked it, I do not know. Probably I had picked up some reflections of the view, then entertained by at least some people in Washington, that we should place at Moscow's disposal, as a pledge of our good faith, complete information on the new weapon and the methods of its production. This, in any case, is what I wrote.
I have no hesitation in saying quite categorically, in the light of some eleven years' experience with Russian matters, that it would be highly dangerous to our security if the Russians were to develop the use of atomic energy, or any other radical and far-reaching means of destruction, along lines of which we were unaware and against which we might be defenseless if taken by surprise. There is nothing -I repeat nothing - in the history of the Soviet regime which could justify us in assuming that the men who are now in power in Russia, or even those who have chances of assuming power within the foreseeable future, would hesitate for a moment to apply this power against us if by doing so they thought that they would materially improve their own power position in the world. This holds true regardless of the process by which the Soviet government might obtain the knowledge of the use of such forces, i.e., whether by its own scientific and inventive efforts, by espionage, or by such knowledge being imparted to them as a gesture of good will and confidence. To assume that Soviet
The Long Telegram297
leaders would be restrained by scruples of gratitude or humanitarianism would be to fly in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence on a matter vital to the future of our country.
It is thus my profound conviction that to reveal to the Soviet government any knowledge which might be vital to the defense of the United States, without adequate guarantees for the control of its use in the Soviet Union, would constitute a frivolous neglect of the vital interests of our people. I hope the department will make this view a matter of record, and will see that it is given consideration - for whatever it is worth - in connection with any discussions of this subject which may take place in responsible circles of our government.
I realize, in reading this over, that it might seem to run contrary, though only partially and obliquely so, to the views of several very wise and farseeing people, in Washington and elsewhere. I am free to recognize that it is the product of only the tiniest smattering of knowledge and reflection. It represented nothing other than an honest and earnest reaction to available information. Had I then known what I now know, I would, obviously, have seen little point in writing it at all. Had I known, in particular, how profound and fearful was the problem I was thus casually biting into, in how much deeper a range of philosophic reflection than any I then conceived the answers would have to be sought, and how formidable a measure of unpreparedness lay between us all and the discovery of those answers, my heart would have been even heavier than the clumsy naiveté' of our wartime responses to Stalinist power had already made it.
PAGES 313 - 367
313The Truman Doctrine
I SEEM to recall that at some time during the first weeks of 1947, while I was still at the War College, Mr. Dean Acheson, then serving as Under Secretary of State, called me to his office and told me that General George Marshall, who had only recently assumed the office of Secretary of State, had in mind the establishment within the department of some sort of a planning unit - something to fill, at least in part, the place of the Divisions of Plans and Operations to which he was accustomed in the War Department. It was likely, Mr. Acheson indicated, that I would be asked to head this new unit when my tour of duty at the War College was completed. I gained no very clear understanding of what was involved; I am not sure that Mr. Acheson had gained a much clearer one from General Marshall. But that some such thing was in store for me, I understood.
I was, therefore, less surprised than I might otherwise have been when, on February 24, Mr. Acheson again summoned me to his office, told me of the crisis of policy that had arisen for us as a result of the decision of the British government to abandon its special support for Greece, and asked me to participate in the deliberations of a special committee that was being established to study the whole problem of assistance to Greece and Turkey.
The committee met that same evening (February 24), as I recall it, under the chairmanship of my old friend and colleague of Riga and Moscow days Loy Henderson, who was now chief of the Di-
314 Memoirs: 1925-1950
vision of Near Eastern Affairs in the department. It was my own recollection that we had before us, on that occasion, the task of recommending whether to respond affirmatively at all to the problem posed for us by the British withdrawal, or whether to leave the Greeks and Turks to their own devices. Henderson's recollection (and in the divergence between the two you have a good example of the danger of relying on pure memory, unsupported by written evidence, as a source for diplomatic history) was that this question, so far as the Department of State was concerned, had already been decided in principle by the Acting Secretary of State and himself over the preceding weekend and that the task of the committee was to outline in more detail the course of action that should be recommended to the President and General Marshall (then in Moscow) and to make suggestions as to how it should be explained and justified to other governmental departments, to the (whose action would obviously be necessary to give it effect, and to the public. However this may be (and I gladly yield to Henderson's recollection as more likely to be right than my own), I gave it as my opinion that we had no choice but to accept the challenge and to extend the requisite aid; this was the consensus of the group as a whole, an appropriate recommendation was drawn up; and I returned to my home late that evening with the stimulating impression of having participated prominently in a historic decision of American foreign policy. If, on this occasion, I somewhat overrated the effect of my own voice, it would not be the last time that egotism, and the attention my words seemed often to attract on the part of startled colleagues, would deceive me as to the measure of my real influence on the process of decision-taking.
Mr. Joseph Jones, in his excellent book The Fifteen Weeks,* has described in great and faithful detail the various discussions, consultations, clearances, and literary struggles that took place within the government in the ensuing days before the President was in a position to present to the Congress, two weeks later, his famous Truman Doctrine message. It was (I learn from Mr. Jones's book) on the day before the State Department's final draft of this message went to New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1955.
The Truman Doctrine 3 1 5
the White House, presumably about March 6, that I came over to the department to have a look at the paper. What I saw made me extremely unhappy. The language to which I took particular exception was not the product of Henderson's pen or of any of his associates in the geographic divisions. It had been produced, at the initiative of the department's public relations office, in a subcommittee of the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee (SWNCC), which evidently felt itself under the necessity of clothing the announced rationale for the President's decision in terms more grandiose and more sweeping than anything that I, at least, had ever envisaged. (More about that later.) I remonstrated, by my own recollection, to Henderson. Mr. Jones says I also remonstrated to Mr. Acheson; and I have no doubt that I did, although I do not specifically recall it. I produced, in any event, some alternative language, though I have no record of what it was. Whether these remonstrations met with much understanding in substance, I cannot remember. In any case, they came too late. No one wanted to repeat the agony of collective drafting that had been invested over the preceding days in the production of this historic piece of paper.
Faced, as any autobiographer is, with the danger of mistaking hindsight for recollection, I am fortunate in finding among my papers one that not only sets forth in detail the reasons, as I saw them at the time, why it was desirable that our government should respond to the challenge of the British move but also explains, by clear implication, the reasons for my unhappiness over the wording of the President's message. We in the faculty of the War College used the Greek crisis, just at that time, as the basis for a problem which we assigned to various committees of the students. We asked them, in effect, to supply some of the individual components of the President's decision on this question. Twice, on the heels of the President's presentation to Congress, I discussed this problem informally before the student body. On the first of these occasions, March 14, two days after presentation of the President's message, I commented on the terms of the War College problem itself. On March 28, after the student answers were in, I discussed the solutions to it and gave the reasons why I, personally, had felt that we
316 Memoirs: 1925-1950
had been right to accept the challenge of the British action. It is the stenographic records of these two statements that I find in my papers.
First, as to my understanding of the background of the decision: I accepted the conclusion, to which many others in the government had arrived, that (and I use the words of the War College presentation) "if nothing were done to stiffen the backs of the non-Communist elements in Greece at this juncture the Communist elements would soon succeed in seizing power and in establishing a totalitarian dictatorship along the lines already visible in other Balkan countries." I did not view the prospect of such a Communist takeover as "in itself any immediate and catastrophic setback to the Western world." I considered that the Russians and their Eastern European associates were poorly set up to take responsibility either for the governing of Greece or for the support of the Greek economy' Eventually, I thought, all this might boomerang on them in the form of serious economic difficulties and other problems, which the West might even ultimately exploit to good advantage. But Communist rule, I thought, "would probably be successfully consolidated in the long run and might some day have most unfortunate strategic consequences from the standpoint of any military adversary of the Soviet Union." And more important still were the probable repercussions which such a development would have on neighboring areas.
In this last connection, I took up first the question of Turkey. I pointed out that the situation of Turkey differed quite fundamentally from that of Greece. There was no serious Communist penetration in Turkey - no comparable guerrilla movement. The Turks had nothing to fear but fear. "If . . . the Turks do not lose their nerves, if they keep their internal political life relatively clean and orderly and refuse to become involved in negotiations with the Russians on a bilateral basis over complicated questions such as that of the Straits, they will probably continue to enjoy a temporary and precarious immunity to Russian pressure." But, I pointed out, should they be increasingly encircled by Communist-dominated entities, it would plainly be harder for them to maintain this stance.
The Truman Doctrine3 I 7
Aid to Greece was therefore important as a support for stability in -Turkey as well.
It should be noted that this view of the problem of Turkey afforded no rationale for the mounting of a special aid program for Turkey itself. The accent was put on internal morale and on firmness of diplomatic stance, not on military preparations. It was for this reason that I was not happy to find in the draft of the President's message to Congress a proposal for aid to Turkey as well as to Greece. I suspected that what was intended primarily was military aid, and that what had really happened was that the Pentagon had exploited a favorable set of circumstances in order to infiltrate a military aid program for Turkey into what was supposed to be primarily a political and economic program for Greece. Since it was important, in my view, that the Soviet threat be recognized for what it was - primarily a political one and not a threat of military attack - it seemed unfortunate that the picture of what was needed in Greece should be confused by association with something that was not needed - or, if needed, was needed for entirely different purposes - in Turkey.
To return to the expose' at the War College: From Turkey, I moved on to the subject of the Middle East. What would be the repercussions there of a Communist takeover in Greece? Here again my conclusions were somewhat different from those of other people. I did not underrate the seriousness of Russian- Communist penetration among the restless intelligentsia of the Moslem capitals. But I questioned the ultimate ability of the Russians to disaffect and dominate the entire Moslem world. Not only was their ideology in conflict with the Moslem faith, but they were just not that good. Even in northern Iran and among the Kurds their recent performance, as political intriguers, had not been impressive. If they were to expand still further in this area they would "soon encounter the far more vigorous political society of Arabia itself and contiguous areas, where the fire of Moslem ideology burns - with a purer and fiercer flame, and where resistance to Communist political pressure would be of a far sterner quality than in the lands to the north and east." It was not, then, for the long term that I
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feared the fillip to Soviet penetration of the Middle East which a Communist coup in Greece would certainly provide. But I had to recognize that the immediate repercussions might be ones unsettling to such fragile stability as the region then enjoyed. And this in turn might have effects in relation to the situation in an area even more important from the standpoint of our security: Western Europe.
It was hard to overestimate, in those days of uncertainty and economic difficulty, the cumulative effects of sensational political events. People were influenced, as I pointed out on that occasion to the War College, not just by their desires as to what should happen but by their estimates of what would happen. People in Western Europe did not, by and large, want Communist control. But this did not mean that they would not trim their sails and even abet its if they gained the impression that it was inevitable. This was why the shock of a Communist success in Greece could not be risked.
In Western Europe, too, I added, it was not likely that Communist domination could last indefinitely. But while it lasted, it could do great damage.
Because floodwaters must - by the laws of nature - some day subside is no reason that one should welcome them on his place. . . . We have no cause to assume that Europe as we know it - and as we need it - would never recover from the blow which even a brief period of Russian control would deal to her already weakened traditions and institutions. . . . The waves of Communist authority might some day recede but we could have no reason to expect that American prestige and influence could easily reenter the territories thus liberated. . .
I went on, then, to point out that if we were to leave Europe to the Communists, the resulting problem of security for the United States "might not be one of external security alone."
Remember that in abandoning Europe we would be abandoning not only the fountainheads of most of our own culture and tradition; we would also be abandoning almost all the other areas in the world where
The Truman Doctrine 3 19
progressive representative government is a working proposition. We would be placing ourselves in the position of a lonely country, culturally and politically. To maintain confidence in our own traditions and institutions we would henceforth have to whistle loudly in the dark. I am not sure that whistling could be loud enough to do the trick.
I know that there are many people - and probably some among you - who will reply indignantly that I am selling short the strength and soundness of our institutions - who will maintain that American democracy has nothing to fear from Europe's diseases and nothing to learn from Europe's experiences.
I wish I could believe that that were true. I wish I could believe that the human impulses which give rise to the nightmares of totalitarianism were ones which Providence had allocated only to other peoples and to which the American people had been graciously left immune. Unfortunately, I know that that is not true. After all, most of us are only Europeans once or twice removed; and some of us are less removed than that. There are openly totalitarian forces already working in our society. Do you think that they could fail to derive new confidence and new supporters from such a series of developments? And it is not even with these small existing groups of extremists that the real danger lies. The fact of the matter is that there is a little bit of the totalitarian buried somewhere, way down deep, in each and every one of us. It is only the cheerful light of confidence and security which keeps this evil genius down at the usual helpless and invisible depth. If confidence and security were to disappear, don't think that he would not be waiting to take their place. Others may full themselves to sleep with the pleasing assumption that the work of building freedom in this country was accomplished completely and for all time by our forefathers. I prefer to accept the word of a great European, the German poet, Goethe, that freedom is something that has to be reconquered every day. And in that never-ending process of reconquest, I would hate to see this country lose all its allies.
So much for the reasons for our limited intervention in Greece. Why, then, approving this action, did I take exception to the language of the President's message? I took exception to it primarily because of the sweeping nature of
3 20 Memoirs: 1925-1950
the commitments which it implied. The heart of the message and the passage that has subsequently been most frequently quoted was this:
I believe it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting subjugation by armed minorities or by out-side pressures.
I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.
This passage, and others as well, placed our aid to Greece in the framework of a universal policy rather than in that of a specific decision addressed to a specific set of circumstances. It implied that what we had decided to do in the case of Greece was something we would be prepared to do in the case of any other country, provided only that it was faced with the threat of "subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures."
It seemed to me highly uncertain that we would invariably find it in our interests or within our means to extend assistance to countries that found themselves in this extremity. The mere fact of their being in such a plight was only one of the criteria that had to be taken into account in determining our action. The establishment of the existence such a threat was only the beginning, not the end, of the process of decision. I listed, in my presentation to the War College, three specific considerations that had supported our decision to extend assistance to Greece:
A.The problem at hand is one within our economic, technical, and financial capabilities.
B.If we did not take such action, the resulting situation might redound very decidedly to the advantage of our political adversaries.
These considerations, I pointed out, did not necessarily apply to all other regions. I doubted, for example, that any of them would fully apply in the case of China: the first most definitely would not.
The Truman Doctrine3 2 1
But if this was the case, then why use language that suggested that all that was required was proof of the existence of a threat of "subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressure" - that this was the sole criterion of our response?
Were I reacting today to the Truman Doctrine message, I would certainly have added to this list of specific requirements the willingness and ability of the threatened people to pick up and bear resolutely the overwhelming portion of the responsibility and effort in their own defense against both direct and indirect aggression - not just to sit back and hedge against the possibility that resistance might not be effective and leave the burden of the struggle to us. I would also take exception to the repeated suggestions, in the text of that message, that what we were concerned to defend in Greece was the democratic quality of the country's institutions. We would find it necessary to give aid, over the ensuing years, to a number of regimes which could hardly qualify for it on the basis of their democratic character. It was unwise to suggest that this, too, was an essential criterion. But these omissions, the recognition of which does indeed reflect the promptings of hindsight, only reinforce the validity of the objections to the language of the message that suggested themselves at the time.
I was not alone in my awareness of the danger that the sweeping language of the message might be subject to misinterpretation. Mr. Acheson was himself at pains to try to dispel among the members of the Congress the impression that what the President had said represented some sort of a blank check. The fact that we were prepared on principle to extend aid in such situations did not mean, he explained in his testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on March 24, 1947, that our action in other instances would always be the same as in Greece. "Any requests of foreign countries for aid," he said in his opening statement,
will have to be considered according to the circumstances in each individual case. In another case we would have to study whether the country in question really needs assistance, whether its request is consistent with American foreign policy, whether the request for assistance
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is sincere, and whether assistance by the United States would be effective in meeting the problems of that country. It cannot be assumed, therefore, that this government would necessarily undertake measures in any other country identical or even closely similar to those proposed for Greece and Turkey.
Nevertheless, the misapprehension already conveyed was, as I see it, never entirely corrected. Throughout the ensuing two decades the conduct of our foreign policy would continue to be bedeviled by people in our own government as well as in other governments who could not free themselves from the belief that all another country had to do, in order to qualify for American aid, was to demonstrate the existence of a Communist threat. Since almost no country was without a Communist minority, this assumption carried very far. And as time went on, the firmness of understanding for these distinctions on the part of our own public and governmental establishment appeared to grow weaker rather than stronger. In the 1960s so absolute would be the value attached, even by people within the government, to the mere existence of a Communist threat, that such a threat would be viewed as calling, in the case of Southeast Asia, for an American response on a tremendous scale, without serious regard even to those main criteria that most of us in 1947 would have thought it natural and essential to apply.
On many occasions, both before and after this Greek-Turkish episode, I have been struck by the congenital aversion of Americans to taking specific decisions on specific problems, and by their persistent urge to seek universal formulae or doctrines in which to clothe and justify particular actions. We obviously dislike to discriminate. We like to find some general governing norm to which, in each instance, appeal can be taken, so that individual decisions may be made not on their particular merits but automatically, depending on whether the circumstances do or do not seem to fit the norm. We like, by the same token, to attribute a universal significance to decisions we have already found it necessary, for limited and parochial reasons, to take. It was not enough for us, when cir-
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cumstances forced us into World War I, to hold in view the specific reasons for our entry: our war effort had to be clothed in the form of an effort to make the world (nothing less) "safe for democracy." It was not enough for us, in World War II, that the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor and that both Japanese and German governments declared war on us: we did not feel comfortable until we had wrapped our military effort in the wholly universalistic - and largely meaningless - generalities of the Atlantic Charter. Something of this same compulsion became apparent in the postwar period in the tendency of many Americans to divide the world neatly into Communist and "free world" components, to avoid recognition of specific differences among countries on either side, and to search for general formulas to govern our relations with the one or the other. I think, in this connection, of the periodic wrangling in Congress, in connection with the annual aid bills, over the question whether most-favored-nation treatment should be extended, or various forms of aid be granted, to "Communist" countries or to countries "forming part of the Communist conspiracy" or whatever general language one chose to employ - the idea being always to define a category of states and to compel the executive to behave in a uniform way with relation to all of them. Seldom does it seem to have occurred to many congressional figures that the best thing to do would be to let the President, or the Secretary of State, use his head.
To this day I am uncertain as to the origins of this persistent American urge to the universalization or generalization of decision. I suspect it to be a reflection of the extent to which we are a people given to government by laws rather than by executive discretion. Laws, too, are general norms, and Congress, accustomed to limiting executive discretion through the establishment of such norms in the internal field, obviously feels more comfortable when its powers with relation to foreign policy can be exercised in a similar way. Unable to control executive decisions on a day-to-day basis, many Congressmen and Senators feel, I suspect, a need for general determinations defining the latitude within which those decisions may betaken.
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Whatever the origins of this tendency, it is an unfortunate one. It confuses public understanding of international issues more than it clarifies it. It shackles and distorts the process of decision-taking. It causes questions to be decided on the basis of criteria only partially elevant or not relevant at all. It tends to exclude at many points the iscrimination of judgment and the prudence of language requisite to the successful conduct of the affairs of a great power.
The Marshall Plan
ON April 28, I947, Secretary of State Marshall returned from Moscow, where he had been attending the latest meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers. He returned shaken by the realization of the seriousness and urgency of the plight of Western Europe, where economic recovery had failed to proceed as expected and where something approaching total economic disintegration seemed now to be imminent. The result of the talks with the Russians had compelled him to recognize, however reluctantly, that the idea of approaching the solution to Europe's problems in collaboration with the Russians was a pipe dream. It was plain that the Soviet leaders had a political interest in seeing the economies of the Western European peoples fall under anything other than Communist leadership. The general realized that for us to delay action to shore up these economies, merely lest independent action disrupt great power "collaboration," was simply to play into Communist hands. We had already delayed too long. The hour was late. Time was running out. "The patient," as he put it in his radio address to the nation on the day of his return, "is sinking while the doctors deliberate."
The following day he summoned me to his office. It would not be possible for me, he said, to finish out the year at the War College as I had planned. I would have to come over to the State Department and set up the Policy Planning Staff without delay. Europe was in a mess. Something would have to be done. If he did not take
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the initiative, others would. Others, particularly people in Congress, would start coming up with ideas of their own about what ought to be done for Europe. He would then be forced on to the defensive. He was determined to avoid this if he possibly could. He wished me to assemble a staff and address myself to this problem without delay. I had a limited time (I cannot remember whether it was ten days or two weeks; I remember only that it was brief) in which to give him my recommendations as to what he ought to do. He then added characteristically (as several historians have already correctly recorded) that he had only one bit of advice for me: "Avoid trivia."
Once again, the background of the conception of the Marshall Plan has been so well and accurately set forth by Mr. Jones, in his book already referred to, that there could be no useful purpose served by going over the same ground here. I can do no more than relate in somewhat greater detail the circumstances of my own participation.
General Marshall's order placed me in some difficulty. The staff, as of that moment, did not exist. I myself had speaking engagements -four just for the next fortnight, and three of them outside of Washington - which it would be most awkward to cancel, and which in fact I kept. In addition to preparing and delivering these lectures, I now had to find and equip staff premises in the new State Department Building, into which the department was 'just in process of moving. I was supposed, on no notice at all, to scratch together something in the nature of a staff. Then, in company with these newly and hastily selected staff members, I was supposed to review the whole great problem of European recovery in all its complexity, to tap those various sources of outside advice which we would never be forgiven for not tapping, to draw up and present to the Secretary the recommendations he wanted, and be prepared to defend these recommendations against all governmental critics, including ones unavoidably more deeply versed in the details of the subject matter than myself, and ones who could be expected to show no charity or mercy toward a man who came as an invader of their hitherto private bureaucratic premises.
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The staff was formally established on May 5, 1947. The departmental order setting it up defined as follows the major functions it was to fulfill:
1.Formulating and developing, for the consideration and approval of appropriate officials of the department, long-term programs for the achievement of U.S. foreign policy objectives.
2.Anticipating problems which the department may encounter in the discharge of its mission.
3-Undertaking studies and preparing reports on broad politico-military problems.
5.Coordinating planning activities within the Department of State.
It was idle to suppose that one could assemble, on such short notice and against such pressure, a staff of distinguished outsiders, broadly representative in competence, whose names might have carried weight with the public. Nor was this what the Secretary wanted. The opinion of such a group (even if it could have arrived at any clear and concise opinion; few such groups could) would have carried too much weight - would merely, have put both Secretary of State and President on the spot and would have left them little scope for their own judgment. It was clear, in the circumstances, that we would have to draw on people whose greatest qualifications, as in my own case, were simply that they were favorably known and available. I am sure that many other groups, no less qualified than the one I gathered around me, could have been culled at that time from the senior echelons of the department, if availability had not been a factor. To the extent that the fortunes of American policy may be said to have rested on us, at that particular moment, they rested in effect on the general level of competence of people of our rank and reputation in department and Foreign Service.
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My associates, so hastily gathered together, fortunately turned out to be, without exception, able, honorable, and intellectually hard-headed people, sufficiently familiar with the department to draw at many points on the wisdom and expertise which the lower echelons of that institution always harbor (however little or poorly they are used), and sufficiently stout in argument to put me personally over the bumps, to drive whole series of cliches and oversimplifications out of my head, to spare me no complications, and to force me into an intellectual agony more intensive than anything I had ever previously experienced.* They included Joseph E. Johnson, who had previously taught at Williams College and would later become president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Colonel Charles Hatwell (Tick) Bonesteel III, a talented officer of the regular army (at present our commander in South Korea) who had been seconded to the Department of State as special assistant to the Under Secretary and who was to play a prominent part in later phases of development of the European recovery program; Jacques Reinstein, able and imaginative economist, who had only recently occupied himself extensively with the problems of the economy of occupied Germany; Ware Adams, a Foreign Service officer of experience and good sense, then on duty in Washington; and Carleton Savage, erstwhile personal assistant to Cordell Hull, whose long experience with Washington outside the department as well as within it, and whose fine instinctive feeling in particular for the reactions of American public opinion generally and of people in Congress in particular, were of great value to us.
Together, aware of the almost fortuitous quality of our association but aware, too, of the awesome responsibility that rested upon us, we sweated as best we could through the examination of Europe's problems and of our own country's possibilities for being helpful with relation to them. We had advice and assistance, of course, from many sides. We were far from being the only people, or even the first, in official Washington to sweat over these same
* So earnest and intense were the debates in our little body in those harried days and nights that I can recall one occasion, in late evening, when 1, to recover my composure, left the room and walked, weeping, around the entire building.
The Marshall Plan 3 29
problems. We had access to the valuable views and studies of people on the economic side of the department. (Will Clayton, then serving as Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, did not get back from Europe until mid-May, and the important memorandum he prepared on the subject of European recovery came too late to be of use to us in the preparation of our initial paper; but his views filtered through to us, I am sure, in other ways.) The appreciations and judgments that entered into Dean Acheson's speech of May 8 before the Delta Council in Cleveland, Mississippi, were both helpful and authoritative for us in the approach to our own task. We were able to examine (at a preliminary stage, as I recall it) the studies of the special committee of the State-War Navy Coordinating Committee which had been set up some weeks earlier, by consequence of Mr. Acheson's foresight, to examine the possible needs of the various countries for assistance. We were able to draw personally into consultation a considerable number of qualified people around the department and in other branches of the government. We endeavored, in this way, to pull together all the elements of the intensive study of this problem, and the thinking about it, that were going on by this time in many parts of the government.
I do not have at hand, as I write these lines, any records of the staff discussions or consultations that preceded the final drafting of our report to Secretary Marshall. I do have, however, the text of a lecture dealing with the entire problem of European recovery which I delivered at the War College on May 6, the day after the staff's official establishment, just as we were entering upon our struggle with this problem. Since the picture of what was at stake, as portrayed in this lecture, differs somewhat from the picture of it that flows from other official representations of that period, some passages may be of interest.
I began by examining the reasons why the Russians had not thought it to their advantage to come to any agreement with us over Germany at the recent meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers. They had been moved, I thought, by two considerations: one, the belief that we would soon suffer an economic crisis that
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would serve to reduce our interest and our weight in world affairs; but second, by the expectation that we would not alone be able to halt the economic deterioration now taking place in Western Europe and that this deterioration would soon begin to play politically into the hands of the Communist elements there. They thought it probable that we Americans, in particular, would not
be able to muster, as a nation, the leadership, the imagination, the political skill, the material resources, and above all the national self-discipline necessary to bring material stability, confidence, and hope for the future to those areas of Western Europe which have been brought low by the effects of the war. . . . The Russians consider that the economic problems of these countries cannot be solved without the aid of the resources of those areas of Eastern and Central Europe which they now control; and for this reason they feel that they have only to continue to deny those resources for a while longer in order to put themselves in a position where they will be able practically to name the political price on which they will make them available. . . . They feel, in other words, that Europe is in reality theirs, although Europe may not know it; that they have already woven an invisible network of economic dependence around those proud nations of the continent which still fancy themselves to be free; and that they have only to await patiently the day when American failure to relieve the intolerable economic conditions of those areas will allow them to begin to draw tighter the cords of that invisible network and bring the west of Europe into the shadows which have already enveloped the east.
I then went on to discuss, in turn, the situations that prevailed in Italy, France, Austria, and Germany.
In Italy economic recovery had progressed, in many respects, not badly. There was lack of confidence, to be sure, and a flight of capital. There was need for a long-term foreign loan, and for stringent measures of financial and social discipline. The problem of finding money for a loan did not look too difficult. But when one came to the financial and social discipline, it was another matter.
The Communist Party . . . has over two million members and controls 19 percent of the seats in Parliament. . . . It has substantial con-
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trol of the key positions in the labor movement. From these strong positions, it has the capacity to interfere seriously with any measures which might have the effect of stimulating confidence in a non-Communist future for Italy.
In France the pattern-was not dissimilar. In one respect the situation there was even better.
France, alone . . . of the countries we are dealing with, has an overall economic plan: a four-year plan known as the Monnet Plan, around which she is endeavoring to orient her economy . . . [a plan] designed to put her by the end of 1950 in a position where she will no longer require any special sort of assistance from the outside world.
The financing of this plan, insofar as it had to come from outside sources, did not present insuperable difficulties. It appeared to require only about one and a half billion dollars, of which a third was already available. But the successful completion of the plan demanded increased imports from other European countries, notably Italy and Germany, imports which would scarcely be forthcoming unless recovery took place there, too. The initial progress made in implementation of the Monnet Plan had not been encouraging. Again, much depended on the political support which the execution of the plan would now receive. If "all important factions in French political life" were determined to see it succeed, there would be no serious cause for concern.
But . . . the real question is the Communist Party. . . . With 28.5 percent of the votes and with control of the French labor movement, the French Communists, whether in the government or out of it, probably have a decisive capacity to influence the fulfillment of the Monnet Plan.
The French Communists, I pointed out, had to be careful how they handled themselves with relation to the problem of economic recovery. They
cannot afford to put themselves openly in the position of opposing economic rehabilitation of France. That is their weakness. . . .
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What is the moral for us? I think it is the same as in the case of Italv. Any assistance extended to France by us, directly or indirectly, must be anchored in some sort of undertaking which will bind at least the French government, if not French labor as well, to see that there is no dirty work at the crossroads.
Turning to Austria, I pointed out that we had in effect waited for two years, in the hopes of reaching some sort of agreement with the Russians, before attempting to face the problem of Austria's rehabilitation. This line of procedure had not helped us much, and - it had certainly not helped the Austrians. One could of course go on talking. Something might come of it. You never knew in international life - anything was possible.
But I think it may be fairly stated, as a working rule for dealing with the Russians, that only those people are able to get along with them who have proven their ability to get along without them. And I think it would not be misplaced effort if we were to do some planning right now for the rehabilitation of the three western zones [of Austria] alone, leaving out the Soviet zone. I cannot find that much thinking has been done along these lines in our government. It undoubtedly presents greater problems than the planning for Austria as a whole. But the problems do not appear . . . insuperable. The cost . . . ought to be well under the half-billion-dollar mark. . . . The day may come when the price of a firm position in Central Europe will run much higher.
That brought me to the question of Germany. I think it may properly be said that the emphasis placed on the correction of our previous occupational policies and on the prompt and vigorous rehabilitation of the German economy was the point at which my own view of the problem of European recovery differed most sharply from the views then being held in other quarters in Washington. For this reason, I shall quote in full the passages of the May 6 lecture dealing with this problem. I must say that as I spoke these words, I was conscious of the futile pleas for the use of the Germans in the postwar process of European recovery with which I had returned from Germany in 1942 of the bitter memories of the European Advisory Commission, and of the fatuous provisions of
The Marshall Plan 333
the Potsdam Conference relating to four-power control and administration of Germany - provisions that had caused us to lose nearly two years of valuable time.
Let us recapitulate the situation. We carried the war to completion and accepted the unconditional surrender of Germany in accordance with a set of arrangements which left us with the sole responsibility for a section of Germany which had never been economically self- supporting in modern times and the capacity of which for self-support had been catastrophically reduced by the circumstances of the war and the German defeat. At the moment we accepted that responsibility, we had no program for the rehabilitation of the economy of our zone, preferring to leave all that to later settlement by international agreement, and we had no agreement with our Allies on any program of rehabilitation of German economy on a national or even regional scale. We were not even clear in our own minds whether we wanted German economy rehabilitated. Sometimes we thought we did. Sometimes we thought we didn't. Sometimes we just agreed to disagree among ourselves.
In these circumstances we let the economic situation slide for two years, refraining from drawing up any real program for the rehabilitation of our zone (and by real program, I mean one that had a visible, definite goal connected with the interests of this country), and we gave precedence in our occupational policy to a political program designed to accomplish the denazification and democratization of German public life. Since we were unwilling to let people starve entirely, we made up from the pockets of our own taxpayers the very considerable costs of keeping the Germans in our zone barely alive. But in the absence of international agreement with the Russians, we made no serious effort to restore German economy to a point where it could play any appreciable role in solving the general economic problem of Western Europe and/or removing from our shoulders any important part of the burden of keeping life going in those areas.
Today we find ourselves before the recognition that the economic rehabilitation of Western Europe is of urgent and primary importance. The restoration of German productivity, if only in a part of Germany, is essential to that rehabilitation. We cannot wait for Russian agreement to achieve that restoration. For this reason it might be supposed that the decks were now cleared for an intensive program to restore a high level of productivity as far as possible throughout the west of Germany.
For the first time now we have indications that even the French might go along with us on such a matter. We have indeed taken certain steps in that direction, chief of which has been to agree in principle with the British o the economic unification of our two zones and on their joint development under a program which should make them within some two or three years at least no longer the object of the charity from part of the Big Three.
But I have not seen convincing evidence that we have yet allotted to this program the priorities which it is going to have to receive if it is to have any chance of cutting through the obstacles which lie in its path. Many of these obstacles are to be found in the political concepts with which we have been working in Germany. I do not see that any of these have been substantially modified in deference to the needs of the economic program. . . .
Finally, I see that while we have agreement with the British in principle on the economic unification of our two zones, we appear to be deadlocked in disagreement with them at the moment over the channels whereby that program should be implemented.
I do not blame any of our people in Berlin for this failure to agree. I hope I will never be one of those who assume that whenever an American fails to agree with somebody else it is the American who is wrong. But in this case that which is at stake is an economic program of crucial urgency: a program on which tens of millions of people are waiting as a matter almost of life and death, a program which may prove decisive for the balance of power in Europe. The achievement of agreement with the British on this issue thus deserves the highest attention of our government; and if such agreement cannot be achieved promptly by the best good will and the broadest view on our part of the factors involved, then it is high time we drew some far-reaching and very unpleasant conclusions for the future of our whole occupation of Germany and of our policies in Western Europe.
In my opinion it is imperatively urgent today that the improvement of economic conditions and the revival of productive capacity in the west of Germany be made the primary object of our policy in that area and be given top priority in all our occupation policies; and that this principle be adopted as a general line of procedure of this government, binding on all of its departments and agencies.*
* Italics added by GFK.
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If this is done, I think that here, again, the economic problem before us is not insoluble. Although it is harder than any other we have discussed, the figures still do not run into impossible dimensions. But unless it is done, we must inevitably continue to flounder and our chances of proving the Russians wrong in their calculations about Western Europe will be very much diminished.
It was, as the near future would show, the Marshall Plan which, in addition to the beneficent influence it exerted on our European allies, finally broke through the confusion of wartime pro- Sovietism, wishful thinking, anglophobla and self-righteous punitivism in which our occupational policies in Germany had thus far been enveloped, and placed us at long last on what was, and for six years remained, a constructive and sensible path.
So much for the intellectual background of the Planning Staff recommendations on the problem of a European recovery program. The paper embodying these recommendations was handed to General Marshall on May 23. The ideas by which it was inspired came from many sources; the drafting was largely my own. It has never, to my knowledge, been made public in its entirety. Extensive portions of it, including the most important ones, were quoted in Mr. Jones's above- mentioned book and in Harry Bayard Price, The Marshall Plan and Its Meaning.*
Being under the impression that it would take a long time, at best, before a comprehensive program of European recovery could be worked out and have any significant psychological effect, we began our paper by dividing the problem into its short-term and its long-term aspects. For the short term, we recommended a crash program for the immediate improvement of European coal production, designed to eliminate what appeared to us to be the most urgent and serious of bottlenecks in the economies of the Western European countries generally - namely, the supply of industrial fuel.
Turning then to the long-term problem, we described this as one resulting "in large part from the disruptive effect of the war on the economic, political, and social structure of Europe." The war had
* Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1955.
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produced "a profound exhaustion of physical plant and vigor." The staff did not see Communist activities as the root of these difficulties. It recognized
that the Communists are exploiting the European crisis and that further Communist successes would create serious danger to American security. It [the Staff ] considers, however, that American effort in aid to Europe should be directed not to the combating of communism as such but to the restoration of the economic health and vigor of European society. It should aim, in other words, not to combat communism but the economic maladjustment which makes European society vulnerable to exploitation by any and all totalitarian movements and which Russian communism is now exploiting.
We then went on to stress the need for a sharp line of division, in point of responsibility as well as procedure, between our own role in the approach to this problem and that of the European countries immediately involved.
It is necessary to distinguish clearly between a program for the economic revitalization of Europe on the one hand, and a program of American support for such revitalization on the other.
In a passage which later found its way, almost verbatim, into General Marshall's Harvard speech, we went on to spell out, as we saw them, the implications of this division of responsibility:
It would be neither fitting nor efficacious for this government to undertake to draw up unilaterally and to promulgate formally on its own initiative a program designed to place Western Europe on its feet economically. This is the business of the Europeans. The formal initiative must come from Europe; and Europeans must bear the basic responsibility for it. The role of this country should consist of friendly aid in the drafting of a European program and of the later support of such a program, by financial and other means, at European request.
There followed a listing of requirements which seemed to us essential for the success of any such undertaking.
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The first was that the European countries get together and agree on a coordinated program of recovery on a European scale.
The program which this country is asked to support must be a joint one, agreed to by several European nations. While it may be linked to individual national programs, such as the Monnet Plan in France, it must, for psychological and political, as well as economic, reasons, be an internationally agreed program. The request for our support must come as a joint request from a group of friendly nations, not as a series of isolated and individual appeals.
The reason for this last requirement is, I think, fairly obvious. Had it not been insisted upon, the United States would have been confronted with a whole series of competing national demands, all padded and exaggerated for competitive purposes, all reflecting attempts to solve economic problems within national frameworks rather than on an all-European basis. This would have forced us to make choices bound to be politically unpopular in many quarters, with the respective European governments in a position to shift onto our shoulders the blame for any features of the programs that were particularly disagreeable to sections of their electorate. But beyond this, we had serious doubts about the success of any movement toward European recovery that rested merely on a series of uncoordinated national programs; we considered that one of the long-term deficiencies of the European economy as a whole was its excessive fragmentation, the lack of competitive flexibility in commercial exchanges, the lack, in particular, of a large consumer's market. By insisting on a joint approach, we hoped to force the Europeans to begin to think like Europeans, and not like nationalists, in their approach to the economic problems of the continent.
The second requirement was really a warning light, raised in connection with the prospective reactions of our own Congress:
This European program must envisage bringing Western Europe to a point where it will be able to maintain a tolerable standard of living on a financially self-supporting basis. It must give promise of doing the
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whole job. The program must contain reasonable assurance that if we support it, this will be the last such program we shall be asked to support in the foreseeable future.
It was clear that we could not in good conscience recommend to the Congress another interim program which failed to get to the heart of the problem. Dean Acheson had listed, in his recent Delta speech, the impressive series of contributions we had already made, since termination of hostilities, to economic recovery in other parts of the world. We had, as he pointed out, contributed nearly three billion dollars in foreign relief. (Much of this, obviously, had gone to Europe.) We had made a direct loan of three and three- quarters billion dollars to Great Britain. We had taken the lead in organizing the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Monetary Fund, and had subscribed liberally to these two institutions. Yet obviously, all of this had not been sufficient. Congress, it was clear, would not now be prepared to give further support unless it could be convinced that this would do the trick and that there would not be further demands.
In addition to the above, we thought it essential that:
(a)there be maximum use of existing international facilities and resources;
(b)that there be safeguards to assure that the European governments exerted the full force of their authority in execution of the programs; and
(c)that wherever possible, other than at the expense of the success of the program, there be arrangements for reimbursement of this country.
The problem of the area to which a European recovery program might suitably be extended was treated, in the May 23 paper, only in connection with the relationship of the arrangements in question to the Economic Commission for Europe. This was a time when enthusiasm for the United Nations Organization, and hopes for its predominant role in world affairs, ran high. There were many in Washington who still felt that it would be wrong for us to encour-
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age the preparation and promulgation of any European recovery program otherwise than through some body, connected with the United Nations, on which the Russians and the Eastern European Communist countries were represented. A suitable body of this sort seemed now to be in existence, in the form of the Economic Commission for Europe, which had only recently been established by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The commission had been formed and was just then in session at Geneva. There were many of our consultants who feared, and not without some reason, that if, in stimulating the preparation of a recovery program of Europe, we bypassed this commission, into whose area of responsibility the economic recovery of Europe plainly fell, we would be damaging the usefulness not only of the commission but of the United Nations itself in the entire field of world trade and economics.
I addressed myself to this problem in the War College lecture of May 6. The ECE, I pointed out, was beginning to absorb several of the ad hoc organizations that had been set up to deal with various phases of Europe's economic problems. In some of these, the Russians participated; in others - not. If the Russians, I said on that occasion,
had similarly refrained from participating in the new overall European Commission, there might have been a relatively good chance of clearing through it a plan for general Western European collaboration. And perhaps it was for this very reason that the Russians surprised everyone by showing up unannounced at the last moment with a delegation of twenty-three members. . . . In any case, the Russians are there, and we have to reckon with them. Any proposals for the ordering of the economic life of Western Europe will have to undergo their minute and suspicious scrutiny. I do not think they can afford to blackball outright any effective and promising scheme if people understand that the future of Western Europe depends on that. But they may try to worm themselves into the administration of it, and then they will drag their feet so that the thing will never work at all unless it works to their benefit.
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Despite these obvious dangers, I thought initially that the ECE would have to come into the picture at some point. The best procedure, it seemed to me, would be to let the Western European countries work out a tentative program and submit it to the commission. If it found acceptance there, the United Nations could accept sponsorship of it and submit it to this country for support, as a United Nations project. But what if the commission failed to accept it? What if - as I posed the question in the War College lecture -
the Russians spiked it by bringing in a plethora of extraneous questions or by trying to link it to Russian participation in the administration of the Ruhr or put themselves in other ways in a position where they could control the execution of the program and exploit it for their own political purposes? What do we do then?
The answer I then gave to my own question was one which was destined to constitute my own basic line on this question, and that of the staff, throughout the coming weeks:
In that case I think we can only say "no" to the whole business as pleasantly and firmly as we know how, and proceed to deal with the countries individually or severally outside the United Nations, laying down essentially the same requirements as we laid down in the European Commission.
If they were not willing to meet those requirements - if Communist influence within those countries was strong enough to cause them to hold back - if they were not willing, in other words, to guarantee that our money would be spent carefully and economically to achieve the purposes for which it was granted - then there would be no use in our giving it at all. If the peoples of Western Europe were to reject American aid on those terms, then that in itself would be equivalent to a final vote for Russian domination. And then there would be nothing more that we could do except to make crystal clear precisely where the responsibility lay for the hardships that lay ahead.
The question . . . is going to be fought out on political ground. Unless the Communists get key positions in the administration of such a program, they will fight it everywhere, tooth and nail. They will portray it as a sinister effort to fasten American hegemony onto the
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peoples of Western Europe. The only thing which can silence them and force them to acquiesce . . . will be public opinion . . . enlightened public opinion, a public opinion which understands that this is the only way Western Europe can be saved from disaster.
This view found its reflection in the Planning Staff paper of May 23- It would be best, the staff thought, to stimulate initiative in the first instance from ECE, but to do so in such a way that the Eastern European countries would "either exclude themselves by unwillingness to accept the proposed conditions or agree to abandon the exclusive orientation of their economies." * The staff paper ended with a plea that an effort be made, in connection with the advancement of the idea of a European recovery program, to correct what seemed to us to be the two main misimpressions that had been created in connection with the Truman Doctrine. These were:
(a)That the United States approach to world problems is a defensive reaction to Communist pressure and that the effort to restore sound economic conditions in other countries is only the by-product of this reaction and not something we would be interested in doing if there were no Communist menace;
(b)That the Truman Doctrine is a blank check to give economic and military aid to any area in the world where the Communists show signs of being successful. It must be made clear that the extension of American aid is essentially a question of political economy in the literal sense of that term and that such aid will be considered only in cases where the prospective results bear a satisfactory relationship to the expenditure of American resources and effort.
We then went ahead to describe those specific qualities of the situation in Greece that had justified our limited intervention there very much as I had defined them in my earlier presentation of
* Actually, our hopes for the possible use of ECE as a center for European recovery received a severe setback from the account Will Clayton gave us, on his return from Europe, of the behavior of the Soviet delegation at the first meeting of that body.
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March 28 to the War College. It ought to be made clear, we thought, that "in other areas we should have to apply similar criteria."
This, then, was the Planning Staff's recommendation to General Marshall. Copies went, I believe, to Mr. Acheson, to Will Clayton, to Ben (Ben'jamin V.) Cohen as counselor of the department, and to Chip Bohlen, then serving as special assistant to the Secretary. The following morning, General Marshall had a meeting in his office, at which all of these latter gentlemen, in addition to a number of other senior officials of the department, were present. Here, the general went around the circle, asking for comments on the paper.
Several of the comments were critical. Doubt was expressed, in particular, that the Europeans would themselves be able to draw up an effective program. The extension of the offer to Europe as a whole was also questioned: what, it was asked, would we do if the Russians accepted?
When all the others had spoken, I was asked to answer the criticisms. This I did, along the lines already indicated. I thought the Europeans could get together on a satisfactory program; if they couldn't, there was nothing we could do for them anyway. As for the Russians: we would simply play it straight. If they responded favorably, we would test their good faith by insisting that they contribute constructively to the program as well as profiting from it. If they were unwilling to do this, we would simply let them exclude themselves. But we would not ourselves draw a line of division- through Europe.
When my piece was spoken, General Marshall thanked us and dismissed us, keeping his own opinion to himself, as was his wont, until he had opportunity to reflect and to make his decision. I cannot recall that I was further consulted in the ensuing days. The general was an orderly man. He had asked us for a recommendation and he had received it. He had enlisted with relation to it the best critical advice he could get. It was now, as he - I am sure - saw it, his responsibility. I learned of his final decision when I saw the text of the Harvard speech, in which the substance of our paper found
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-- along with the thoughts and suggestions of several other people -- almost total acceptance.
The authorship of the Marshall Plan has been variously claimed, and variously imputed. Obviously, a considerable number of people, of whom Messrs. Acheson, Clayton, and Bohlen were only the most senior and distinguished, had a prominent hand in its origins. The function of the Planning Staff was primarily to bring together the knowledge and views of all these people, to cull out of them a workable recommendation for the principles on which our approach to this problem might be based and for the procedure that might best be followed, and to accept formal responsibility before the Secretary of State for this recommendation. This we did. A number of the elements of the final recommendation, including particularly the insistence that the Europeans get together on a joint program, were by no means original with us. We were indebted to others for many insights, even though we, in the final analysis, had to make our own opinion of their value. Our principal contributions consisted:
(a)in establishing the principle that the Europeans should themselves take the initiative in drawing up a program and should assume central responsibility for its terms;
(b)in the insistence that the offer should be made to all of Europe - that if anyone was to divide the European continent, it should be the Russians, with their response, not we with our offer; and
(c)in the decisive emphasis placed on the rehabilitation of the German economy and the introduction of the concept of German recovery as a vital component of the recovery of Europe as a whole.
Any judgment of the role of the Planning Staff in the origins of the Marshall Plan will have to rest on the relative importance ascribed to these three features of it.
Historically viewed, the authorship of the Marshall Plan lies, of course, squarely with General Marshall and President Truman. It lies with General Marshall for his service in seeking what he con-
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sidered the best advice he could get, in enlisting that advice in the manner most calculated to assure its orderly preparation and presentation, in exposing it to the most qualified criticism he could find, and then in accepting before President, Congress, American public opinion, and the world at large responsibility for what was a bold and far-reaching act of statesmanship, by no means without great risks. As a man who never shirked responsibility for his mistakes, regardless of whose recommendation they flowed from, he deserves unstinted credit for his successes. But President Truman deserves that credit, too, for his perception and political courage in selecting as Secretary of State one of the most experienced, most selfless, and most honorable of America's professional public servants, in giving to that man his confidence and a wide latitude of action, and then supporting him in an individual initiative which, had it misfired, could have brought embarrassment and misfortune to the administration.
In the circle of advisors to whom General Marshall experienced and expressed a sense of indebtedness in connection with the evolving of the concept of the European recovery program, the Planning Staff, I am glad to say, was not omitted. Two years later, in June 1949, the chiefs of mission of the countries participating in the Marshall Plan tendered a dinner to President Truman and General Marshall in Washington, to celebrate the second anniversary of the Harvard speech. The general, being then in retirement, asked my help in editing the speech he was to make in response to the toast that would obviously be drunk in his honor. I was myself (as a result, I suspect, of General Marshall's tactful suggestion) among the guests at the dinner. When he had finished his response to the toast, General Marshall turned to me and, with his own inimitable graciousness, raised his glass. Four days later I received from him the following note, written by hand at his home in Virginia:
While I thanked you informally for your helpfulness in the doctoring of my speech for Sunday night I want to tell you more formally that I greatly appreciated the time and trouble you gave to the matter and tile quality of advice you gave me. Incidentally,
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it was Certainly very appropriate for you to participate in the drafting of the speech since you performed a similar service, to a more important degree, in the preparation of the initial speech two years ago.
Faithfully yours, G. C. MARSHALL
* * *
This is, I think, as good a place as any to say a word about General Marshall. I knew him only late in his life - during his final tour of duty in a long life of service to the nation. I was not close to him personally (few people were, I gather), but during the year and eight months of our association in the Department of State, from May 1947 to the end of 1948, I had the only office adjoining his own, and enjoyed the privilege (which I tried never to abuse) of direct entry to him, through our common side-door. Officially, then, the association was a fairly close one, and I had many opportunities to observe him in his work as Secretary of State.
There could be no one whose memory has less need of a eulogy from me than George Marshall. Like everyone else, I admired him, and in a sense loved him, for the qualities I saw in him, some of them well known, some less so: for his unshakable integrity; his consistent courtesy and gentlemanliness of conduct; his ironclad sense of duty; his imperturbability - the imperturbability of a good conscience - in the face of harassments, pressures, and criticisms; his deliberateness and conscientiousness of decision; his serene readiness - once a decision had been made - to abide by its consequences, whatever they might be; his lack of petty vanity or ambition; his indifference to the whims and moods of public opinion, particularly as manifested in the mass media; and his impeccable fairness and avoidance of favoritism in the treatment of subordinates (there was no one in the Department of State whom he called by the first name; every one of us, from top to bottom, was recognized simply by his surname, with no handle to it). I did not always agree with his political judgment; nor did I feel that he had always been well advised, in earlier ears, on Russian matters. There
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were times when I had to disagree with him, and to give him unwelcome advice. But he had never held himself out as a political pundit. His official concern with political matters was not the result of his own initiative or request. And these limitations did not affect his personal qualities.
I have a feeling that I puzzled him. He was not used to people like me. But he recognized that I gave him what I could in the way of loyalty and service; and he treated me with a certain amused forbearance and respect.
He was, properly and commendably, chary of praise. Aside from the letter mentioned above, with its laconic words of appreciation, the nearest thing to a word of commendation that I ever had from him was on an occasion when I joined him in acting as host to two or three guests for luncheon in his office. He asked me to pour the drinks, which I nervously did. He, observing my efforts, then delivered himself of the following pronouncement: "Kennan, they tell me you are a good head of a planning staff, and for all I know you are, but . . ." (with a touch of military crescendo) "who the hell ever taught you to put the ice in before the whiskey?"
I can recall one other episode that endeared him to me beyond all others. It was in the spring of 1948. The success of the Marshall Plan was now so sweeping that Bohlen and I both felt the time had come for some conciliatory gesture on the part of this government - some gesture making it clear that our purpose was not to humiliate the Soviet government or to press it against a closed door that we were entirely willing to talk over our problems at any time. We recommended to General Marshall that a statement along these lines be made to the Soviet government. The recommendation was accepted; and Ambassador Walter Bedell Smith was instructed to make to Molotov, and did so make, a statement on behalf of the United States government containing the assurance that "the door is always wide open for full discussion and the composing of our difficulties."
This gambit bounced back upon us in the most painful way. Molotov, inspired no doubt by his crafty master in the Kremlin, exploited it against us by affecting to understand it as an invitation
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for a high-level "parley" and announcing Soviet acceptance of the proposal. This unleashed a storm of speculation and protest. Our Western European friends, taken by surprise, descended on us even personally on the Secretary - in droves, angrily demanding explanations. Were we going to negotiate with the Russians behind their backs? The administration had to climb down and to make an embarrassing confession that this was not at all what it had intended. It fell then under a cross fire of criticism from the columnists and editorial writers: some charging it with ineptness for issuing an unintended invitation, others - for not going through with the parley once we had invited it. Herblock, in the Washington Post, showed Harry Truman at bat, with the ball whizzing by him untouched, and the umpire calling, "Strike one."
I was appalled at what I had done. For two evenings, I walked the streets of
Foxhall Village, trying to think out the course of events and to discover where our error had lain. On the third day, I went in to the general to render my accounting. He was absorbed in a pile of papers.
"General," I said, "I know that a man should try to learn from his mistakes, and not weep over them. I have spent two days, now, trying to figure out what it was that we did wrong. For the life of me, I cannot see it. I think we were right, and that the critics are wrong. But where there is so much criticism, there must be some fault somewhere."
General Marshall put down his papers, turned ponderously in his chair, and fixed me penetratingly over the rims of his glasses. I trembled inwardly for what was coming.
"Kennan," he said, "when we went into North Africa, in 1942, and the landings were initially successful, for three days we were geniuses in the eyes of the press. Then that business with Darlan began and for another three weeks we were nothing but the greatest dopes.
"The decision you are talking about had my approval; it was discussed in the Cabinet; it was approved by the President.
"The only trouble with you is that you don't have the wisdom and the perspicacity of a columnist. Now get out of here! "
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* * *
Despite what was now an extremely intensive preoccupation with the affairs of state, I tried to contribute where I could to the work of the War College throughout the remainder of the academic year. On June 18, I spoke again, and for the last time, to the students of the college, and endeavored to explain to them, on the basis of six weeks' experience, what the task of a governmental planner in the field of foreign affairs was like. For this I found it necessary to use a parallel:
I have a largish farm in Pennsylvania. The reason you never see me around here on weekends (or rather, the reason you would never see me around if you were here weekends) is that I am up there to look after that farm. The farm includes two hundred thirty-five acres, and a number of buildings. On every one of those acres, I have discovered, things are constantly happening. Weeds are growing. Gullies are forming. Fences are falling down. Paint is fading. Wood is rotting. Insects are burrowing. Nothing seems to be standing still. The days of the weekend, in theory days of rest, pass in a . . . succession of alarms and excursions. Here a bridge is collapsing. No sooner do you start to repair it than a neighbor comes to complain about a hedgerow which you haven't kept up - a half-mile away on the other side of the farm. At the very moment your daughter arrives to tell you that someone left the gate to the hog pasture open and the hogs are out. On the way to the hog pasture you discover that the beagle hound is happily liquidating one of the children's pet kittens. In burying the kitten you look up and notice that a whole section of the barn roof has been blown off, and needs instant repair. Somebody shouts pitifully from the bathroom window that the pump must have busted-there's no water in the house. At that moment a truck arrives with five tons of stone for the lane. And as you stand helplessly there, wondering which of these crises to attend to first, you notice the farmer's little boy standing silently before you with that maddening smile that is halfway a leer, and when you ask him what's up, he says triumphantly: "The bull's busted out and he's eating the strawberry bed."
That's the only way I know to tell you what policy planning is like. The world is a big world. It has at least two hundred thirty-five big
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acres on it. On each of these something is incessantly happening. A nimble and astute person, working furiously against time, may indeed succeed in getting himself to a point where he thinks that with respect to one of those two hundred thirty-five acres he is some three or four months ahead of events. . . . But by the time he has gotten his ideas down on paper, the three or four months have mysteriously shrunk to that many weeks. By the time he has gotten those ideas accepted by others, they have become days. And by the time others have translated those ideas into action, it develops that the thing you were planning for took place day before yesterday, and everyone wants to know why in hell you did not foresee it a long time ago.
But suppose, I went on, you decide that you must not be put off by the plethora of urgent demands - that you must take one particular part of this harried globe and concentrate on the exploration of it. We might assume, for example, that you were examining the plight of a friendly European country which had not been able to revive its economic life by its own resources in the wake of the war. You are confronted immediately with a babble of tongues and conflicting opinions:
You say: "This shouldn't be so difficult. Why don't we tell these people to draw up a plan for the reconstruction of their economic life and submit it to us and we'll see whether we can support it or not?"
That starts it off. Someone says: "That's no good. They are too tired to draw up a plan. We have to do it for them."
Someone else says: "Even if they do draw up a plan, they wouldn't have the internal economic discipline to carry it out. The Communists would spike it."
Someone else says: "Oh, it isn't the Communists who would spike it - it is the local business circles."
Then someone says: "Maybe what we need isn't a plan at all. Maybe we just haven't given them enough in the past. If we just give them more, things will work out all right."
Another then says: "That's probably true, but we've got to figure out how the money is going to be spent. Congress just won't pour money down any more ratholes."
Then somebody says: "That's right; we need a program. We've got
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to figure out just what's to be done with the money and make sure that it does
the whole job this time."
To that someone else replies: "Ah, yes, but it would be a mistake for us to try to draw this program up all by ourselves. The Commies would just take potshots at it and the European government would shrug off the responsibility."
Then someone says: "That's absolutely right. The thing for us to do is to tell these Europeans to draw up a plan and submit it to us and we'll see whether we can support it or not."
And then you ask: "Didn't somebody say that before? " And we're off again.
These words describe, perhaps, better than more formal ones the sort of intragovernmental debates that preceded the formulation of the Marshall Plan.
That final lecture to the War College, from which these excerpts are taken, was not all facetious. This was less than a fortnight after the Harvard speech. The success of the approach General Marshall had outlined in that speech was by no means yet assured. The tremendous problems with which it was designed to deal were still before us. I tried, in the final passages of my talk, to describe the danger they presented. These passages are perhaps worth recalling, as a reminder of the gravity of the problems to which, in 1947, the so-called "doctrine of containment" was addressed:
There is no use blinking the seriousness of our position. We have won a war in Europe - on the battlefield. It has cost us far more than we realized. It has cost us not only the lives of our people, the labor of our people, the depletion of our national resources. It has also cost us the stability of our international environment, and above all the vigor and strength - temporarily - of some of our real and natural allies.
Worst of all, it was not a complete victory. We of the Anglo-American world were not strong enough - at least not when we needed to be - to put down all of the forces that threatened our existence. We were forced to ally ourselves with a part of them in order to defeat the other part. That alone would not have been too unfortunate. But we were unable to encompass that without deceiving ourselves and our peoples as to the nature of that alliance.
The Marshall Plan 3 5 1
Great modern democracies are apparently incapable of dealing with the subtleties and contradictions of power relationships. You men have examined here the crucial decisions of the war. I should say that the greatest error of the war on our side was the failure to distinguish clearly the personality of our Russian allies and to recognize and to explain frankly to our peoples the real nature of our wartime association with them. This failure, this lack of preparation for the aftermath of war, has caused us to suffer since the termination of hostilities setbacks which come close to balancing out the gains of our military victory over Germany.
Today we Americans stand as a lonely, threatened power on the field of world history. Our friends have worn themselves out and have sacrificed their substance in the common cause. Beyond them - beyond the circle of those who share our tongue and our traditions - we face a world which is at the worst hostile and at best resentful. A part of that world is subjugated and bent to the service of a great political force intent on our destruction. The remainder is by nature merely jealous of our material abundance, ignorant or careless of the values of our national life, skeptical as to our mastery of our own fate and our ability to cope with the responsibilities of national greatness. Left to itself, that remainder would not threaten us, at least not at this stage; for its aims are basically national, parochial ones. It embraces no national unity endowed with such human and material resources as to permit it to dream of world domination. But the towers of the Kremlin cast a long shadow. On many of these countries, otherwise content to tolerate if not to welcome the existence of our country as a great power, these shadows have already fallen. And that, gentlemen, is a dangerous thing; for the more I see of the life of this international society the more I am convinced that it is the shadows rather than the substance of things that move the hearts, and sway the deeds, of statesmen.
This was the way the world looked to one of us, at least, on the eve of the great turning point produced by the European response to the Harvard speech. It had been primarily the shadow, rather than the substance, of danger which we, in contemplating a European recovery program, had been concerned to dispel. It may be well to recall this in connection with the arguments over interpre-
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tation of the so-called X-Article and the "Doctrine of containment" which were now soon to ensue.
The presentation of the paper of May 23, 1947, was not the end of the Planning Staff's preoccupation with the problem of European recovery. The paper had been hastily produced. There were a number of aspects of the problem to which we wished to give more detailed study. We worked steadily for another two months, refining the whole concept, and at the end of that time presented another and much longer paper, designed not as a recommendation to the Secretary of State but rather as guidance and background for people who would now be concerned with the implementation of the project on the operational level. This paper, entitled, "Certain Aspects of the European Recovery Program from the US Standpoint," was completed on July 23. In it, we examined in greater detail the source of the American interest in Europe's recovery, the elements which that recovery would have to embrace if it was to be successful, the general considerations that ought to govern America's relationship to the program, the demands of individual countries (notably Britain, Germany, and Austria), the possibilities for private American participation, etc. The paper is too long to be cited or summarized here. It is my hope that it may some day be published in full, because I think it gives the most succinct and yet comprehensive picture of the official rationale of what our government attempted to do in this connection.
There is, however, one aspect of it I would like to mention. This was the very sharp line that was drawn between the problem of European recovery and the problems of economic growth that existed elsewhere in the world. Europe's needs, it was stated in this paper, were
clear in outline, readily susceptible of short-term solution, and of urgent importance to the interests of this country and of world recovery in general. . . . They lent themselves to special treatment. There was no reason to believe that the approaches here applied to Europe will find any wide application elsewhere.
The Marshall Plan 3 5 3
Except in Korea and Japan, the needs of people in other areas differed in fundamental respects from those of Europe. In Europe, it was a case of releasing capacities for self-help that were already present. This was a short-term problem. Elsewhere, it was a matter not of releasing existing energies but of creating new ones. This was a long-term problem. For this, new organizational machinery would be necessary. Here, the need would be for some sort of instrumentality, near government but not entirely of it, through which technical know-how could be drawn from American industry and made available to other peoples.
Seen historically, from the perspective of two decades, this distinction between Europe's needs and those of other areas seems too obvious to be challenged. This was, however, not the case at the time. Throughout the period of preparation of the legislation making possible American aid to Europe's recovery, and for years thereafter, those of us who had had to do with the original Marshall Plan concept would be plagued with demands from the congressional side that we draw up or inspire similar programs for China, for the Middle East, or for Latin America. Congressman Walter Judd, of Minnesota, was particularly insistent that something of the same nature be attempted for China, and blamed the later demise of the Nationalist government there - I have no doubt - partly on our unwillingness to pursue this suggestion. Nothing that we could point to in the way of differences between the problems and situations of the two areas - neither the primitiveness of the existing industrial base in China, nor the unpromising nature of the political background, nor any of the other gaps that existed in China's ability to absorb and to use effectively outside financial capital - could shake his belief, and that of many other people, that the principles invoked to govern our relationship to Europe ought to have universalized validity. The congenital American aversion to regional approaches, and the yearning for universal ones, were too strong to be entirely overcome even by the success of the Marshall Plan - on the contrary, they were only stimulated by it.
AMONG the many papers prepared in the winter of 1946- 1947, there was one that was written not for delivery as a lecture and not for publication but merely for the private edification of Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal. Ever since the receipt in Washington of the long telegram of February 22, 1946, Mr. Forrestal had taken a lively personal interest in my work. It was, I suspect, due to his influence that I was assigned to the War College and later chosen by General Marshall to head the Planning Staff.
During the period of my service at the War College - in December 1946, to be exact - Mr. Forrestal sent me a paper on the subject of Marxism and Soviet power, prepared by a member of his immediate entourage, and asked me to comment on it. This I found hard to do. It was a good paper. With parts of it I could agree; other parts were simply not put the way I would have put them. The whole subject was one too close to my own experience and interests for me to discuss it in terms of someone else's language. I sent the paper back to him with the observation that rather than commenting I would prefer, if he agreed, to address myself to the same subject in my own words. This, he replied, he would like me to do.
The result was that on January 31, 1947, I sent to him, for his private and personal edification, a paper discussing the nature of Soviet power as a problem in policy for the United States. It was a literary extrapolation of the thoughts which had been maturing in
The X-Article 355
my mind, and which I had been expressing in private communications and speeches, for at least two years into the past. Even the term "containment" which appeared in the course of the argument was, as he must have observed, not new.
Mr. Forrestal read the paper. He acknowledged it, on February 17, with the words: "It is extremely well-done and I am going to suggest to the Secretary* that he read it."
Now I had, as it happened, spoken informally, early in January, at the Council of Foreign Relations, in New York, on the same general subject. The editor of the council's magazine Foreign Affairs, Mr. Hamilton Fish Armstrong (a great editor and, incidentally, one with whom this association was to be the beginning of a long and close friendship), asked me whether I did not have something in writing, along the lines of what I had said to the council, that could be published in the magazine. I had no text of what I had said on that occasion, but I thought of the paper I had prepared for Mr. Forrestal. In early March, therefore, I sought and obtained Mr. Forrestal's assurance that he had no objection to its publication. I then submitted it (March 13) to the Committee on Unofficial Publication, of the Department of State, for the usual official clearance. In doing so, I explained that it was the intention that it should be published anonymously. The committee pondered it at leisure, found in it nothing particularly remarkable or dangerous from the government's standpoint, and issued, on April 8, permission for its publication in the manner indicated. I then crossed out my own name in the signature of the article, replaced it with an "X" to assure the anonymity, sent it on to Mr. Armstrong, and thought no more about it. I knew that it would be some weeks before it would appear. I did not know how my position would be changed in the course of those weeks, or how this would affect the interpretations that would be placed upon the article when it was published.
In late June, as I recall it, the article appeared in the July issue of Foreign Affairs, under the title: "The Sources of Soviet Conduct." Its appearance was followed shortly (July 8) by that of a
* Presumably, the Secretary of State.
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piece in the New York Times from the pen of the well-known and experienced Washington columnist Mr. Arthur Krock, hinting at the official origin of the article and pointing to the importance that attached to it by virtue of that fact. He, I later learned, had been shown the article by Mr. Forrestal at a time when it was no more than a private paper lying around in Mr. Forrestal's office. His keen journalistic eye had at once recognized it when it appeared in print; and he had put two and two together.
It was not long, after the appearance of Mr. Krock's piece, before the authorship of the article became common knowledge. Others began to write about it, to connect it with the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan, to speculate on its significance. It soon became the center of a veritable whirlpool of publicity. Life and Reader's Digest reprinted long excerpts from it. The term "containment" was picked up and elevated, by common agreement of the press, to the status of a "doctrine," which was then identified with the foreign policy of the administration. In this way there was established - before our eyes, so to speak - one of those indestructible myths that are the bane of the historian.
Feeling like one who has inadvertently loosened a large boulder from the top of a cliff and now helplessly witnesses its path of destruction in the valley below, shuddering and wincing at each successive glimpse of disaster, I absorbed the bombardment of press comment that now set in. I had not meant to do anything of this sort. General Marshall, too, was shocked. It was a firm principle, for him, that "planners don't talk." The last thing he had expected was to see the name of the head of his new Planning Staff bandied about in the press as the author of a programmatical article - or an article hailed as programmatical - on the greatest of our problems, of foreign policy. He called me in, drew my attention to this anomaly, peered at me over his glasses with raised eyebrows (eyebrows before whose raising, I may say, better men than I had quailed), and waited for an answer. I explained the origins of the article, and pointed out that it had been duly cleared for publication by the competent official committee. This satisfied him. He was, as I have already observed, an orderly man, accustomed to require and to
The X-Article 3 57
respect a plain delineation of responsibility. If the article had been I cleared in this manner, the responsibility was not mine. He never mentioned the matter again, nor did he hold it officially against me. But it was long, I suspect, before he recovered from his astonishment over the strange ways of the department he now headed.
Measured against the interpretations that were at once attached to it, and have continued to a considerable extent to surround it ever since, the article that appeared in Foreign Affairs, in June 1947, suffered, unquestionably, from serious deficiencies. Some of these I might have corrected at the time by more careful editing and greater forethought, had I had any idea of the way it was to be received. But I cannot lay these failures exclusively to the innocent and unsuspecting manner in which the article was written. Certain of the public reactions were ones I would not, in any event, have foreseen.
A serious deficiency of the article was the failure to mention the satellite area of Eastern Europe - the failure to discuss Soviet power, that is, in terms of its involvement in this area. Anyone reading the article would have thought - and would have had every reason to think - that I was talking only about Russia proper; that the weaknesses of the Soviet system to which I was drawing attention were ones that had their existence only within the national boundaries of the Soviet state; that the geographic extension that had been given to the power of the Soviet leaders, by virtue of the recent advances of Soviet armies into Eastern Europe and the political exploitation of those advances for Communist purposes, were irrelevant to the weaknesses of which I was speaking. Obviously, in mentioning the uncertainties of the Soviet situation - such things as the weariness and poor morale among the population, the fragility of the constitutional arrangements within the party, etc. - I would have had a far stronger case had I added the characteristic embarrassments of imperialism which the Soviet leaders had now taken upon themselves with their conquest of Eastern Europe, and the unlikelihood that Moscow would be permanently successful in holding this great area in subjection.
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To this day, I am not sure of the reason for this omission. It had something to do, I suspect, with what I felt to be Mr. Forrestal's needs at the time when I prepared the original paper for him. I have a vague recollection of feeling that to go into the problems of the satellite area would be to open up a wholly new subject, confuse the thesis I was developing, and carry the paper beyond its intended scope. Whatever the reason, it was certainly not that I underrated the difficulties with which the Soviet leaders were faced in their attempt to exercise political dominion over Eastern Europe. It has been noted above, in Chapter 9, that even as early as V-E Day, two years before, I had expressed the view that the Russians were overextended in this area. Without Western support, I had written at that time
Russia would probably not be able to maintain its hold successfully for any length of time over all the territory over which it has today staked out a claim . . . The lines would have to be withdrawn somewhat.
Similarly, in the long telegram I had sent to Washington from Moscow, in February 1946, I had pointed out that the Soviet internal system
will now be subjected, by virtue of recent territorial expansions, to a series of additional strains which once proved a severe tax on Tsardom.
Had I included these appreciations in the X-Article, and added to the description of the internal weaknesses of Soviet power a mention of the strains of Moscow's new external involvement in Eastern Europe, I would have had a far stronger case for challenging the permanency of the imposing and forbidding facade which Stalin's Russia presented to the outside world in those immediate postwar years.
A second serious deficiency of the X-Article - perhaps the most serious of all - was the failure to make clear that what I was talking about when I mentioned the containment of Soviet power was not the containment by military means of a military threat, but the political containment of a political threat. Certain of the language
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used - such as "a long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies" or "the adroit and vigilant application of counterforce at a series of constantly shifting geographical and political points" - was at best ambiguous, and lent itself to misinterpretation in this respect.
A third great deficiency, intimately connected with the one just mentioned, was the failure to distinguish between various geographic areas, and to make clear that the "containment" of which I was speaking was not something that I thought we could, necessarily, do everywhere successfully, or even needed to do everywhere successfully, in order to serve the purpose I had in mind. Actually, as noted in connection with the Truman Doctrine above, I distinguished clearly in my own mind between areas that I thought vital to our security and ones that did not seem to me to fall into this category. My objection to the Truman Doctrine message revolved largely around its failure to draw this distinction. Repeatedly, at that time and in ensuing years, I expressed in talks and lectures the view that there were only five regions of the world - the United States, the United Kingdom, the Rhine valley with adjacent industrial areas, the Soviet Union, and Japan - where the sinews of modern military strength could be produced in quantity; I pointed out that only one of these was under Communist control; and I defined the main task of containment, accordingly, as one of seeing to it that none of the remaining ones fell under such control. Why this was not made clear in The X-Article is, again, a mystery. I suppose I thought that such considerations were subsumed under the reference to the need for confronting the Russians with unalterable counterforce "at every point where they show signs of encroaching upon the interests of a peaceful world."
So egregious were these errors that I must confess to responsibility for the greatest and most unfortunate of the misunderstandings to which they led. This was the one created in the mind of Mr. Walter Lippmann. It found its expression in the series of twelve pieces attacking the X-Article (later published in book form as The Cold War, A Study in U.S. Foreign Policy, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1947) which he published in his newspaper column
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in the late summer and autumn of 1947. As I read these articles over today (and they are well worth the effort), I find the misunderstanding almost tragic in its dimensions. Mr. Lippmann, in the first place, mistook me for the author of precisely those features of the Truman Doctrine which I had most vigorously opposed - an assumption to which, I must say, I had led squarely with my chin in the careless and indiscriminate language of the X-Article. He held up, as a deserved correction to these presumed aberrations on my part, precisely those features of General Marshall's approach, and those passages of the Harvard speech, for which I had a primary responsibility. He interpreted the concept of containment in the military sense I had not meant to give it. And on the basis of these misimpressions he proceeded to set forth, as an alternative to what I had led him to think my views were, a concept of American policy so similar to that which I was to hold and to advance in coming years that one could only assume I was subconsciously inspired by that statement of it - as perhaps, in part, I was. He urged a concentration on the vital countries of Europe; he urged a policy directed toward a mutual withdrawal of Soviet and American (also British) forces from Europe; he pointed with farsighted penetration to the dangers involved in any attempt to make of a truncated Western Germany an ally in an anti-Soviet coalition. All these points would figure prominently in my own later writings. He saw them, for the most part, long before I did. I accept the blame for misleading him. My only consolation is that I succeeded in provoking from him so excellent and penetrating a treatise.
Nevertheless, the experience was a painful one. It was doubly painful by reason of the great respect I bore him. I can still recall the feeling of bewilderment and frustration with which - helpless now to reply publicly because of my official position - I read these columns as they appeared and found held against me so many views with which I profoundly agreed. A few months later (April 1948), lying under treatment for ulcers on the sixteenth floor of the Naval Hospital in Bethesda, very bleak in spirit from the attendant fasting and made bleaker still by the whistling of the cold spring wind in
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the windows of that lofty pinnacle, I wrote a long letter to Mr. Lippmann, protesting the misinterpretation of my thoughts which his articles, as it seemed to me, implied. I never sent it to him. It was probably best that I didn't. The letter had a plaintive and overdramatic tone, reflecting the discomfort of flesh and spirit in which it was written. I took a more cruel but less serious revenge a year or two later when I ran into him on a parlor car of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and wore him relentlessly down with a monologue on these same subjects that lasted most of the way from Washington to New York.
But the terms of the unsent letter still hold, as I see them, a certain interest as expressions of the way the Lippmann columns then affected me.
I began, of course, with a peal of anguish over the confusion about the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. To be held as the author of the former, and to have the latter held up to me as the mature correction of my youthful folly, hurt more than anything else.
I also naturally went to great lengths to disclaim the view, imputed to me by implication in Mr. Lippmann's columns, that containment was a matter of stationing military forces around the Soviet borders and preventing any outbreak of Soviet military aggressiveness. I protested, as I was to do on so many other occasions over the course of the ensuing eighteen years, against the implication that the Russians were aspiring to invade other areas and that the task of American policy was to prevent them from doing so. "The Russians don't want," I insisted,
to invade anyone. It is not in their tradition. They tried it once in Finland and got their fingers burned. They don't want war of any kind. Above all, they don't want the open responsibility that official invasion brings with it. They far prefer to do the job politically with stooge forces. Note well: when I said politically, that does not mean without violence. But it means that the violence is nominally domestic, not international, violence. It is, if you will, a police violence . . . not a military violence.
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The policy of containment related to the effort to encourage other peoples to resist this type of violence and to defend the internal integrity of their countries.
I tried, then, to explain (I could have done it better) that the article was in reality a plea - addressed as much to our despairing liberals as to our hotheaded right-wingers - for acceptance of the belief that, ugly as was the problem of Soviet power, war was not inevitable, nor was it a suitable answer; that the absence of war did not mean that we would lose the struggle; that there was a middle ground of political resistance on which we could stand with reasonable prospect of success. We were, in fact, already standing on that ground quite successfully. And I went ahead to point proudly (and rather unfairly, for after all, Lippmann had approved and praised the rationale of the Marshall Plan in his articles) to what had already been accomplished. I cite this passage here, not as a correction to Mr. Lippmann, to whose arguments it was not really an answer, but as a sort of epilogue to the discussion of both Marshall Plan and X-Article.
Something over a year has now gone by since General Marshall took over his present job. I would ask you to think back on the state of the world, as he faced it last spring. At that time, it was almost impossible to see how Europe could be saved. We were still caught in the fateful confusion between the "one-world" and the "two- world" concepts. The economic plight of the continent was rapidly revealing itself as far worse than anyone had dreamed, and was steadily deteriorating. Congress was in an ugly frame of mind, convinced that all foreign aid was "operation rathole." The Communists were at the throat of France. A pall of fear, of bewilderment, of discouragement, hung over the continent and paralyzed all constructive activity. Molotov sat adamant at the Moscow council table, because he saw no reason to pay us a price for things which he thought were bound to drop into his lap, like ripe fruits, through the natural course of events.
Compare that with today? Europe is admittedly not over the hump. But no fruits have dropped [into Molotov's lap]. We know what is West and what is East. Moscow was itself compelled to make that un-
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pleasant delineation. Recovery is progressing rapidly in the West. New hope exists. People see the possibility of a better future. The Communist position in France has been deeply shaken. The Western nations have found a common political language. They are learning to lean on each other, and to help each other. Those who fancied they were neutral are beginning to realize that they are on our side. A year ago only that which was Communist had firmness and structure. Today the non-Communist world is gaining daily in rigidity and in the power of resistance. Admittedly, the issue hangs on Italy; but it hangs, in reality, on Italy alone. A year ago it hung on all of Europe and on us.
You may say: this was not the doing of US policy makers; it was others who worked this miracle.
Certainly, we did not do it alone; and I have no intention of attempting to apportion merit. But you must leave us some pride in our own legerdemain. In international affairs, the proof of the pudding is always in the eating. If the development of the past year had been in the opposite direction - if there had been a deterioration of our position as great as the actual improvement - there is not one of you who would not have placed the blame squarely on the failure of American statesmanship. Must it always, then, be "heads you win; tails I lose" for the US Government?
* * *
In the years that have passed since that time, the myth of the "doctrine of containment" has never fully lost its spell. On innumerable occasions, I have been asked to explain it, to say whether I thought it had been a success, to explain how it applied to China, to state a view as to whether it was still relevant in later situations, etc. It has been interpreted by others in a variety of ways. Pro-Soviet writers have portrayed it as the cloak for aggressive designs on the Soviet Union. Right-wing critics have assailed it precisely for its lack of aggressiveness: for its passivity, for its failure to promise anything like "victory." Serious commentators have maintained that it was all very well in 1947 but that it lost its rationale with the Korean War, or with Stalin's death, or with the decline of bipolarity.
It is hard for me to respond to all these criticisms. What I said in
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the X-Article was not intended as a doctrine. I am afraid that when I think about foreign policy, I do not think in terms of doctrines. I think in terms of principles.
In writing the X-Article, I had in mind a long series of what seemed to me to be concessions that we had made, during the course of the war and just after it, to Russian expansionist tendencies concessions made in the hope and belief that they would promote collaboration between our government and the Soviet government in the postwar period. I had also in mind the fact that many people, seeing that these concessions had been unsuccessful and that we had been unable to agree with the Soviet leaders on the postwar order of Europe and Asia, were falling into despair and lumping to the panicky conclusion that this spelled the inevitability of an eventual war between the Soviet Union and the United States.
It was this last conclusion that I was attempting, in the X-Article, to dispute. I thought I knew as much as anyone in the United States about the ugliness of the problem that Stalin's Russia presented to us. I had no need to accept instruction on this point from anybody. But I saw no necessity of a Soviet-American war, nor anything to be gained by one, then or at any time. There was, I thought, another way of handling this problem - a way that offered reasonable prospects of success, at least in the sense of avoiding a new world disaster and leaving the Western community of nations no worse off than it then was. This was simply to cease at that point making fatuous unilateral concessions to the Kremlin, to do what we could to inspire and support resistance elsewhere to its efforts to expand the area of its dominant political influence, and to wait for the internal weaknesses of Soviet power, combined with frustration in the external field, to moderate Soviet ambitions and behavior. The Soviet leaders, formidable as they were, were not supermen. Like all rulers of all great countries, they had their internal contradictions and dilemmas to deal with. Stand up to them, I urged, manfully but not aggressively, and give the hand of time a chance to work.
This is all that the X-Article was meant to convey. I did not suppose, in saying all this, that the situation flowing immediately from the manner in which hostilities ended in 1945 would endure for-
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ever. It was my assumption that if and when the Soviet leaders had been brought to a point where they would talk reasonably about some of the problems flowing from the outcome of the war, we would obviously wish to pursue this possibility and to see what could be done about restoring a more normal state of affairs. I shared to the full, in particular, Walter Lippmann's view of the importance of achieving, someday, the retirement of Soviet military power from Eastern Europe, although I did not then attach quite the same political importance to such a retirement as he did. (In this he was more right than I was.)
No one was more conscious than I was of the dangers of a permanent division of the European continent. The purpose of "containment" as then conceived was not to perpetuate the status quo to which the military operations and political arrangements of World War II had led; it was to tide us over a difficult time and bring us to a point where we could discuss effectively with the Russians the drawbacks and dangers this status quo involved, and to arrange with them for its peaceful replacement by a better and sounder one.
And if the policy of containment could be said in later years to have failed, it was not a failure in the sense that it proved impossible to prevent the Russians from making mortally dangerous encroachments "upon the interests of a peaceful world" (for it did prevent that); nor was it a failure in the sense that the mellowing of Soviet power, which Walter Lippmann took me so severely to task for predicting, failed to set in (it did set in). The failure consisted in the fact that our own government, finding it difficult to understand a political threat as such and to deal with it in other than military terms, and grievously misled, in particular, by its own faulty interpretations of the significance of the Korean War, failed to take advantage of the opportunities for useful political discussion when, in later years, such opportunities began to open up, and exerted itself, in its military preoccupations, to seal and to perpetuate the very division of Europe which it should have been concerned to remove. It was not "containment" that failed; it was the intended follow-up that never occurred.
When I used the term "Soviet power" in the X-Article, I had in
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view, of course, the system of power organized, dominated, and inspired by Joseph Stalin. This was a monolithic power structure, reaching through the network of highly disciplined Communist parties into practically every country in the world. In these circumstances, any success of a local Communist party, any advance of Communist power anywhere, had to be regarded as an extension in reality of the political orbit, or at least the dominant influence, of the Kremlin. Precisely because Stalin maintained so jealous, so humiliating a control over foreign Communists, all of the latter had, at that time, to be regarded as the vehicles of his will, not their own. His was the only center of authority in the Communist world; and it was a vigilant, exacting, and imperious headquarters, prepared to brook no opposition.
Tito's break with Moscow, in 1948, was the first overt breach in the monolithic unity of the Moscow-dominated Communist bloc. For long, it remained the only one. It did not affect immediately and importantly the situation elsewhere in the Communist world. But when, in the period between 1957 and 1962, the differences between the Chinese and Russian Communist parties, having lain latent in earlier years, broke to the surface and assumed the form of a major conflict between the two regimes, the situation in the world Communist movement became basically different. Other Communist parties, primarily those outside Eastern Europe but partly the Eastern European ones as well, had now two poles - three, if Belgrade was included - to choose among. This very freedom of choice not only made possible for them a large degree of independence; in many instances it forced that independence upon them. Neither of the two major centers of Communist power was now in a position to try to impose upon them a complete disciplinary control, for fear of pushing them into the arms of the other. They, on the other hand, reluctant for the most part to take the risks of total identification with one or the other, had little choice but to maneuver, to think and act for themselves, to accept, in short, the responsibilities of independence. If, at the end of the 1940s, no Communist party (except the Yugoslav one) could be considered anything else than an instrument of Soviet power, by the end of the 1950s
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none (unless it be the Bulgarian and the Czech) could be considered to be such an instrument at all.
This development changed basically the assumptions underlying the concept of containment, as expressed in the X-Article. Seen from the standpoint upon which that article rested, the Chinese-Soviet conflict was in itself the greatest single measure of containment that could be conceived. It not only invalidated the original concept of containment, it disposed in large measure of the very problem to which it was addressed.
Efforts to enlist the original concept of containment with relation to situations that postdate the Chinese-Soviet conflict, particularly when they are described in terms that refer to some vague "communism" in general and do not specify what particular communism is envisaged, are therefore wholly misconceived. There is today no such thing as "communism" in the sense that there was in 1947; there are only a number of national regimes which cloak themselves in the verbal trappings of radical Marxism and follow domestic policies influenced to one degree or another by Marxist concepts.
If, then, I was the author in 1947 of a "doctrine" of containment, it was a doctrine that lost much of its rationale with the death of Stalin and with the development of the Soviet-Chinese conflict. I emphatically deny the paternity of any efforts to invoke that doctrine today in situations to which it has, and can have, no proper relevance.