The Atlantic Report on the World Today: Washington
THE grand inquest on the Far East is useful only in so far as it provides lessons for the future. General Wedemeyer offered some objective counsel on a national policy. He wants the Administration to set up a planning group in the National Security Council composed of distinguished citizens in all walks of life. The purpose would be to show the way to capture and retain the initiative in world leadership.
Such an idea had already been canvassed. Many organizations have been concerned to “potentize” the National Security Council. Here, under the President’s chairmanship, particular points of view by civilian and military leaders are reconciled. The trouble is that the members have little time for global thinking. They are all in posts of high administrative consequence, the duties of which take up a full day.
To take one example: Secretary Acheson. No man in the Capital is more burdened with the detail of administration. This is partly because he is less of an executive and political leader than an administrator. But mainly it is because he is ill served on the deputy level. He has nobody under him who can step into his shoes whenever the occasion warrants. Hull had his Welles, Stimson his Cotton; but there is nobody anywhere near comparable to these men under Acheson.
If General MacArthur had talked about the lack of organization in our government, he would have struck pay dirt. In his own field there is evidence of the waste of time and the mountain of red tape lying between the evolution of new weapons and their employment. This has been noticeable in Korea,
One of the new weapons to be used in the last war was the proximity fuse. It is said to have won the Battle of the Bulge. You don’t get any such impression in the memoirs of any of the military leaders; nevertheless the fact remains. What was done after the war to train men and officers in the use of the proximity fuse is little known. But the indoctrination can have been only sketchy. It is doubtful, indeed, whether MacArthur, who is a soldier of an era that is rapidly passing, knew anything about the proximity fuse. At any rate, the fuse, though sent to Korea in the early days of the operation, lay around the dumps and was not a factor in our firepower until General Ridgway took command.
By common consent the 8th Army is one of the finest military instruments that the United States has ever had. They were highly indignant — down to the lowest level — over the Almond and Walker split command which allowed the Chinese Communists their golden opportunity. The tide turned before Ridgway arrived. The reason lay partly in the fact that the Reds outran their lines of communication, but mainly in our soldiers themselves. The men never lost their lighting spirit, and showed their mettle by hitting back when they appeared about to be cast into the sea. General Ridgway, when he saw the material he had to work with, told Washington to stop all the inquiries about evacuating Korea.
The high cost of mutual aid
The budget for the mutual security program for fiscal 1952 is $8.5 billions. The sum set aside for military assistance shows the kind of world wo are living in. Military aid will take up $6.8 billions, with economic aid $2.2 billions. All but $1 billion of the military aid will go to Europe, and three quarters of the economic aid — showing the Administration’s preoccupation with our partners in Europe.
However, virtually all parts of the world are due for some American bounty. In what one writer calls the “moribund ” state of the Truman Administration, the program is bound to run into difficulty, but there is no dispute over the need for American largess. The argument is over the amount and the distribution.
There is a sweetener in the program for the Formosa-obsessed Republicans, but how much goes to Chiang Kai-shek’s stronghold cannot be determined in the Administration’s print. Asia would get $555 millions in military and $375 millions in economic aid. It is a safe bet that in both respects Formosa will head the list of recipients. For Secretary Acheson is hurriedly making up for his aloofness toward Formosa. In the last budget, to be sure, he agreed to a handout for Formosa, but only as the price of getting something for Korea.
Before Acheson, Secretary Marshall, who came from China determined not to give Chiang a nickel until he had reorganized his government, similarly had to bow to Republican pressure as the price of getting ECA through. No accounting was asked then either; and Formosa is the only recipient which can get money out of Uncle Sam without having to show what is done with the money.
How much Chiang’s regime has received is variously estimated. The investigation into the China lobby will be of value if it gives the country a figure, together with some idea of disbursements. The suspicion is that a lot of the money came back from investment in lobbying for more money and in propaganda in behalf of Chiang Kai-shek.
The Chinese have developed a technique for combining influence with purchasing. Instead of buying goods from big suppliers through a central organization, the Taipeh government is spreading its business direct, and, in return for relatively inflated prices, is able to cash in on good will.
The China lobby
Hitherto the State Department has been either too pusillanimous or too ignorant to provide any data on the pressure group for China. Perhaps the department deserves the benefit of the doubt that the files are sparse and unrewarding. Certainly the Treasury has more information. However, the Treasury, as it happens, is as reticent as the State Department, and with much less reason. Why has the Treasury hitherto dragged its feet ?
The China lobby was the great nourisher of McCarthyism, the deadly enemy of the Administration, let alone decent government. Yet the feeling exists that the China lobby has many a shield in the government agencies. The President has now ordered all government agencies to go through their files for data on the China lobby, and Senator Brien McMahon may be counted upon to put the screws on Administration officials who try to cover up.
The man from Connecticut has shown an energy and a quality of leadership which have landed him among the most influential of the Senators. He was the outstanding interrogator of General MacArthur. But his chief service, in company with Senators Morse, Sparkman, and Kefauver, was to put some fight into Secretary Acheson. Acheson, who spent thirty-eight hours on the stand, was extremely cautious, and it was only the above-named Senators’ questioning that put any punch at all into his testimony. The pledge from the White House on the China lobby came from this questioning. The questions were much against Acheson’s grain, but the senatorial pressure was relentless, and the President could not avoid making a pledge to coöperate.
The China lobby is not an organization, and it is difficult to pin it down to names. But the influence of pressurists is all-pervasive, and those Senators who are needling the Administration know by actual experience what they are looking for. Some of them have been “approached.” But such activities are covert, and little is known about them beyond the publication of sundry contributions to senatorial campaigns.
During the MacArthur hearings, Secretary Marshall made a blunder when he virtually denied any hand in the drafting of the instructions which he carried to China as Special Ambassador in 1945. It was left to Secretary Acheson, by agreement with Secretary Marshall, to put the record right. At the same time Acheson reaffirmed the Marshall statement that the United States would block, by veto if necessary, any effort to seat Red China in the United Nations. He swore, with a straight face, that the Administration had never contemplated any such recognition of Red China.
Secretary Marshall confessed that the idea of dismissing General MacArthur had never been discussed with the civilian secretaries of the armed services. This revelation escaped most of the commentators, yet it is significant of current trends. The utmost confusion seems to prevail in Congress over the respective roles of military and civilian in our government. The confusion would have appalled the founding fathers.
To those with any sense of history, it is highly uncomfortable to hear and to see military men asked questions on policy-making which are strictly within the civilian province. Even General Wedemeyor’s excursion sounded a trifle odd. Perhaps we are becoming accustomed to military men expressing themselves on such matters because of the failure of the civilians to assert themselves.
Secretary Marshall is, of course, in a civilian role, but his habit of mind and sense of organization are military, and that is why it never occurred to him to consult the civilian secretaries of the armed services in the matter of the MacArthur dismissal. The failure gave point to General MacArthur’s protest that his dismissal came as a surprise. Army Secretary Pace at the time was visiting MacArthur, and no sign had come from him that the General was on the skids.
The farmers and Point Four
In spite of the President’s leadership, the Administration seems to regard Point Four as a stepchild. Few officials have had either the imagination or the understanding to appreciate what the President was driving at. Yet Mr. Truman had a noble concept. Point Four was nothing less than an effort to find means divorced from imperialistic exploitation of shoring up the independence and improving the living standard of the underdeveloped areas.
The idea was to introduce American know-how at the village level in enabling less fortunate people to do better what they are already doing. This has nothing to do with the provision of big works for development. Yet most officials looked at the project as an opportunity for big-scale investment. They seem intent upon absorbing and in the process destroying Point Four.
However, there have been attracted to Washington many persons who believe in the President’s objective. These men have profited from the new seeds and new plants, such as the soybean, brought to our farms by the explorers of the Department of Agriculture. They have profited from the bounty brought to American agriculture by one wave after another of immigration. Among the immigrants were the Mennonites, who came to this country with Turkey-red seed for wheat culture. That seed has helped to create the wealth of Western America. So the farmers think of Point Four as reciprocity. They seized the President’s initiative as a chance to export American know-how.
The man who has this idea firmly in mind is Dr. Henry G. Bennett, former President of the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical (landgrant) College. He is director of the Technical Coöperation Administration which is located in the State Department. Point Four in Dr. Bennett’s view is a county agent program. He has sent out missions to many underdeveloped areas.
The administrator in Iran, a Mormon from Utah, was in Washington this spring and talked to all and sundry of the demonstration projects he had initiated in the villages of Iran. India has four of Dr. Bennett’s lieutenants. One returned for consultation recently, and brought an old wooden plow that has been traditionally used by the Indians, together with an iron head for it that TCA is introducing. The speeding up of plowing by this device is amazing.
New gadgets to attach to old implements are not the only innovations. New seed, fertilizers — these are what they are trying to introduce. The demonstration is the thing. Here, perhaps, is the new frontier of our pioneers, but the activity needs to be recognized officially as an opportunity which will pay dividends in good will and stability.
Mood of the Capital
The mood of the Capital is that the Administration has gained ground as the result of the MacArthur hearings. This is indicated by two factors. McCarthy has been encouraged to revert to his last summer’s namecalling, so as to divert attention from the hearings, and General MacArthur has taken to the political stump.
What is the General’s future? It looks from here that, in spite of his initial repudiation of party interest, he is intent upon gunning for Truman. This may go on till the conventions. The feeling is that he will appear at the Republican convention in, first, a self-abnegating role, and, secondly, as the stalking horse for Senator Taft. That would be a double service to the old guard.
General Eisenhower remains the most popular candidate of the people for the nomination of both parties. If General MacArthur were to turn up at the GOP convention, and declared that no general should ever allow his name to be put before a convention, he might be able to blunt any call for Eisenhower. Only in that way could he prepare the way for Taft. But the MacArthur-Taft play will meet with many obstacles from such progressive Republicans as Duff, Warren, and Dewey.