The Atlantic Report on the World Today: Washington
GENERAL MAC ARTHUR’S testimony is hold to have quickened coõperation in the United Nations. Britain in particular has been spurred into action — not only to speed more aid to General van Fleet but also to narrow the gap with the United States on Far Eastern policy.
General MacArthurs sneers about the “token” help furnished by the allies were spoken in an atmosphere already charged with a sort of xenophobia, particularly Anglophobia. The State Department has been engaged in nudging the allies for more forces in Korea. Figures of the contributions are necessarily secret. But up until the Mac Arthur blast they deserved to be called “token" forces. Little impression was made on the particularly backward: Australia, New Zealand, India, Sweden, South Africa, Brazil, and Mexico. Australia and New Zealand claimed that they had prior commitments in case of aggression in the Middle East.
The answer, of course, is that this country has the same kind of commitment, but in Korea aggression is here-and-now, and collective action has been voted to deal with it. Reinforcements are beginning to swell the total forces at General Van Fleet’s disposal for what is hoped to be the climactic show.
The feeling of shared responsibility in Korea has grown with the news of the casualties that the British contingent has suffered. In the April offensive mounted by the Chinese Communists, the 1st Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment was thrown into the fight to plug a gap left by the rout of a South Korean division. All but 50 of the 700 men were casualties, and General van Fleet, in presenting the Distinguished l nit Citation to the regiment and its accompanying 170th Independent Mortar Battery, paid tribute to the men’s heroism. The exploit, coupled with Van Fleet’s comment, must have helped to ameliorate the misunderstanding between the two peoples. What the Administration wants is an extension of this feeling of shared responsibility to other member nations. For the hope is that if there is no formal settlement with the aggressors the South Koreans can be built up in strength, along with the 75,000 UN troops, so as to hold a stabilized line and enable American troops to come home to train the new army.
Britain’s trade with China
The British seethed over MacArthur’s statement on Hong Kong’s trade with Communist China. The U.S. shipped 107 million dollars’ worth of goods to Hong Kong, as compared with shipments from Britain totaling 70 million dollars. At the hearing the General read from a list of trade figures supposedly furnished by our Consul General in Hong Kong. It turned out that the list was a secret document periodically supplied to General MacArthur as a courtesy by the Hong Kong government.
The General read out the items, but failed to give the quantities which were noted in t he adjacent column, for instance, he recited petroleum, but omitted to read out the word “nil,”which was put by the side of that item, He listed cameras, but only one camera had been sent to Communist Chinn in the period in question, as was likewise noted. Nor did the General say a word about the articles of commerce w hich had been banned.
That was a pity, for the facts against the British in relation to trade dealings with Communist China were strong enough. Not till April 9 did the British start to license rubber shipments from Singapore. Before then Communist China had been receiving rubber in amounts much beyond normal requirements. The facts came out, to the disgust of such believers in Anglo-American friendship as Winston Churchill, in House of Commons debates at the height of the MacArthur furor. They certainly helped to put the British on record in the UN Additional Measures Committee, and its vote to recommend an embargo on strategic materials to Communist China was unanimous.
The gap between America and Britain
The gap between America and Britain is still wide enough to deserve attention. When World War II ended, the farseeing among the Britons advocated as the best course for Britain a kind of junior partnership with America. Judging from his conversations, Lord Halifax led that school of thought, his focus being on the sharing both of bases, such as Gibraltar and Cyprus, and of such imperial intcrests as the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.
There was at least one American authority who used to insist that the hope of the world resided in such a partnership. That was Dr. John H. Williams, the Harvard economist. He looked at the problem in terms of financial relations. He saw our task as the resuscitation of the pound for the purpose of creating a dollar-pound condominium. As a corollary our reconstruction effort would have tackled the problem of overcoming the underproductivity in Great Britain. This was Dr. W illiams’s alternative to the setting up of the International Monetary Fund, which is based upon the illusory hope of a return to a truly world economy.
But in America there was a latent suspicion of Britain which the remarkable unity achieved in the war had not removed. On top of that, America wished to move into the world not as a predominant partner of one particular power, but as the partner of all nations. International organization was the form in which America wished to express itself in its post-war role of influence. In Britain the Labor Party took over office, and that party turned out to be insular and doctrinaire. As it happened, there was no possibility of the kind of alignment which either Lord Halifax or Dr. Williams envisaged.
The separateness that has developed is most marked in the Far Fast. Britain, deferring to actualities, recognized Communist China without regard to American act ion. The step has turned out to be meaningless. It was inevitable, in view of Britain’s lessened stature in terms of power, that the recognition should be a kind of boomerang.
It is against this background that the “greater debate” must be judged. The Administration has more than held its ground against MacArthurism, but the Administration has no capital upon which to draw in reinforcing its arguments. It has no prestige with even its own party in Congress. This is not the fault of ihe majority leader, Senator Ernest McFarland, though he is by no means a strong man. It is the fault of the President.
The President’s battle with Congress
As a result of President Truman’s stubbornness, virtually all the lines are down between the Executive and the Legislature. This was made plain when the Kem resolution was passed by both Senate and House. The kem resolution was a rider attached to an appropriation bill, banning financial and economic aid to all nations which dealt in anything useful to warmaking in their trade with Soviet Russia and her satellites, including Communist China and North Korea.
The effect of the rider will be to nullify Franee’s trade agreements, disrupt the internal trade of Austria — which is still divided zonally with Russia — tie up Western Germany’s commerce with Eastern Germany, ruin Hong Kong, and make Japan a charity ward of the United States.
In F.D.R.’s time a maneuver such as this would have been virtually impossible to execute. The majority leader would have been immediately on the telephone to the White House, and a rally would have been prompt eel by way of a checking operation.
F.D.R. used to be accused of “Dutchobstinacy,” but it was a mellow quality compared with the mulishness that President Truman exhibits. That and his cronyism account for the seemingly hopeless disorder into which Congressional-Executive relations have fallen. The need for reorganization of the Cabinet is obvious to everybody but the President, yet he refuses to see it. If the President had revamped his administration last November, got rid of Acheson as well as MacArthur, he would be in a much stronger situation today, and our government and our foreign relations would have been in a much healthier position. The weaker the government is at home, the more it loses influence a broad.
Mood of the Capital
The mood of the Capital is so contentious that the spectacle of Nero must occur to the bystander. General MacArthur is not paying off as a Republican weapon. The case for the dismissal looks different now that the documents are in and the facts have been put upon the record. It appears that the Truman patience was tried unconscionably. Not that the firing, even after the light has been shed upon it, was ideal performance. MacArthur should have been recalled for consultation, and in that event he could have appeared before the United Nations.
What also comes through the record is a picture of a MacArthur who wanted to got out of Korea and fight on a bigger front as the result of pique over his reversal in North Korea. There was nothing like the injured morale among his troops that he asserted in his communications to the Joint Chiefs. General Collins found this out in his reconnaissance of January 17. The morale then was good, it is now high.
The political clamor has not impeded either the activity of Mr. Wilson and his coadjutors or the war output of American indust ry. The question on industrial mobilization is whether the speed is not too fast in relation to the availability of war materials. Steel, for instance, absorbs many things that come from foreign sources, but the competition for them has skyrocketed their price and produced a very dangerous inflation in all the rearming nations of the free world.
The way out is perhaps not to slow down rearmament in America, but to reduce civilian production of durable goods absorbing the needed materials. At any rate, that is what our friends abroad are pleading for. It is pointed out, for example, that civilian America this year absorbs twice as much molybdenum, currently a key item, as it did last year.
Some of the difficulty is due to Mr. Wilson’s optimism that butter as well as guns will be available. This may not be exactly true. At least for the time being the military requirements must create a derangement if we are not to hog the world’s raw material output. Mr. Wilson says that the defense effort calls for only 15 per cent of total production, but this is an average, and does not take account of the fact that in some lines the military set-asides may be up to 60 per cent. It is difficult sometimes to get the industrialist to see the point in the light of the Wilson comment.