The Foreign Policy Of The Truman Administration
For many of President Truman‘s early mistakes in foreign policy, he cannot rightly be blamed. As a Senator he had specialized in domestic problems and was not at any time a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. Nor had he by travel scholarship built up a knowledge of world affairs. Elevated to second place on the National Democratic ticket by a compromise and hated by the pro-Wallace leftists around Franklin Roosevelt, he was snubbed after his election to the Vice-Presidency in 1944 and was wholly ignorant of the tangled web of our relations with foreign countries when he succeeded to the Presidency on April 12, 1945—midway between the Yalta and Potsdam conferences.
Not only was Mr. Truman inexperienced in the field of foreign affairs; it has since been authoritatively stated that much vital information was withheld from him by the hold-over Presidential and State Department cabals. This is not surprising in view of the deceased President‘s testimony to his son Elliott on his difficulty (Chapter V) in getting the truth from the men in the State Department, those career diplomats.
Significantly, the new President was not allowed to know of his predecessor’s reputed despair at learning that his wisecracks and blandishing smiles had not induced Stalin to renounce the tenets of bloody and self-aggrandizing dialectic materialism, a state-religion of which he was philosopher, pontiff, and commander-in-chief.
President Truman brought the war to a quick close. His early changes in the cabinet were on the whole encouraging. The nation appreciated the inherited difficulties under which the genial Missourian labored and felt for him a nearly unanimous good will.
In the disastrous Potsdam Conference decisions (July 17-August 2, 1945), however, it was evident (Chapter IV) that anti-American brains were busy in our top echelon. Our subsequent course was equally ruinous. Before making a treaty of peace, we demobilized—probably as a part of the successful Democratic-leftist political deal of 1944 in such a way as to reduce our armed forces quickly to ineffectiveness.
Moreover, as one of the greatest financial blunders in our history, we gave away, destroyed, abandoned, or sold for a few cents on the dollar not merely the no longer useful portion of our war materiel but many items such as trucks and precision instruments which we later bought back at market value! These things were done in spite of the fact that the Soviet government, hostile to us by its philosophy from its inception, and openly hostile to us after the Tehran conference, was keeping its armed might virtually intact.
Unfortunately, our throwing away of our military potential was but one manifestation of the ineptitude or disloyalty which shaped our foreign policy. Despite Soviet hostility, which was not only a matter of old record in Stalin‘s public utterances, but was shown immediately in the newly launched United Nations, we persisted in a policy favorable to world nomination by the Moscow hierarchy.
Among the more notorious of our pro-Soviet techniques was our suggesting that liberated and other nations which wanted our help should be ruled by a coalition government including leftist elements. This State Department scheme tossed one Eastern European country after another into the Soviet maw, including finally Czechoslovakia.
This foul doctrine of the left coalition and its well-known results of infiltrating Communists into key positions in the governments of Eastern Europe will not be discussed here, since the damage is one beyond repair as far as any possible immediate American action is concerned. Discussion here is limited to our fastening of the Soviet clamp upon the Eastern Hemisphere in three areas still the subject of controversy. These are (a) China, (b) Palestine, and (e) Germany. The chapter will be concluded by some observations (d) on the war in Korea.
(a) The Truman policy on China can be understood only as the end-product of nearly twenty years of American-Chinese relations. President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt a deep attachment to the Chiangs and deep sympathy for Nationalist Chins feelings expressed as late as early December, 1943, shortly after the Cairo Declaration (November 26, 1943), by which Manchuria was to be restored to China, and just before the President suffered the mental illness from which he never recovered. It was largely this friendship and sympathy which had prompted our violent partisanship for China in the Sino-Japanese difficulties of the 1930‘s and early 1940‘s More significant, however, than our freezing of Japanese assets in the United States, our permitting American aviators to enlist in the Chinese army, our gold and our supplies sent in by air, by sea, and by the Burma road, was our ceaseless diplomatic barrage against Japan in her role as
China‘s enemy (see United States Relations With China With Special Reference to the Period 1944-1949, Department of State, 1949, p. 25 and passim).
When the violent phase of our already initiated political war against Japan began with the Pearl Harbor attack of December 7, 1941, we relied on China as an ally and as a base for our defeat of the island Empire.
On March 6, 1942, Lieutenant General Joseph W. Stilwell reported to Generalissimo Chiang (op. cit., p. xxxix). General Stilwell was not only Commanding General of United States Forces in the China-Burma-India Theater but was supposed to command such Chinese troops as Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek might assign him (op. cit., p. 30) and in other ways consolidate and direct the Allied war effort.
Unfortunately, General Stilwell had formed many of his ideas on China amid a coterie of leftists led by Agnes Smedley as far back as 1938 when he, still a colonel, was a U.S. military attache in Hankow, China (see The China Story, by Freda Utley, Henry Regnery Company, Chicago, 1951,). It is thus not surprising that General Stilwell quickly conceived a violent personal animosity for the anti-Communist Chiang (Saturday evening Post, January 7, 14, 21, 1950).
This personal feeling, so strong that it results in amazing vituperative poetry (some of it reprinted in the post), not only hampered the Allied war effort but was an entering wedge for vicious anti-Chiang and pro-Communist activity which was destined to change completely our attitude toward Nationalist China.
The pro-Communist machinations of certain high placed members of the Far Eastern Bureau of our State Department and of their confederates on our diplomatic staff in Chungking (for full details, see The China Story) soon became obvious to those in a position to observe. Matters were not helped when in the spring of 1944, President Roosevelt appointed Vice-President Henry A. Wallace to make a trip to China (United States Relations With China, p. 55). Rebutting what he considered Mr. Wallace‘s pro-Communist attitude, Chiang launched into a lengthy complaint against the Communists, whose actions, he said, had an unfavorable effect on Chinese morale. . .The Generalissimo deplored propaganda to the effect that they were more communistic than the Russians (op. cit., p. 56).
Our Ambassador to China, Clarence E. Gauss, obviously disturbed by the Wallace mission and by the pro-Communist attitude of his diplomatic staff, wrote as follows (op. cit., p. 561) to Secretary Hull on August 31, 1944:
China should receive the entire support and sympathy of the United States Government on the domestic problem of Chinese Communists. Very serious consequences of China may result from our attitude. In urging that China resolve differences with the Communists, our Government‘s attitude is serving only to intensify the recalcitrance of the Communists. The request that China meet Communist demands is equivalent to asking China‘s unconditional surrender to a party known to be under a foreign power‘s influence (the Soviet Union).
With conditions in China in the triple impasse of Stilwell Chiang hostility, American pro-Communist versus Chinese anti-Communist sentiment, and an ambassador at odds with his subordinates, President Roosevelt sent General Patrick J. Hurley to Chungking as his Special Representative with the mission of promoting harmonious relations between Generalissimo Chiang and General Stilwell and of performing certain other duties (op. cit., p. 57). Ambassador Gauss was soon recalled and General Hurley was made Ambassador.