Why the Communists are Winning as of 1976...
The beginnings of Pawley's career in Washington,D.C. started in the work to form the Flying Tigers and continued with the connection in 1943 from his major plant in Bangalore.
His commentary on what was to happen to India and why was very perceptive.
FIGHTING FAMINE AND SUBVERSION
With World War II underway in both Europe and the Far East, the United States and Great Britain were fighting for time to reverse the early disasters of the defeat of the English at Dunkirk, and the Japanese victories at Pearl Harbor and the Pacific areas at the hands of Tojo’s army and Yamamoto’s navy. Enormous tonnages of shipping were being sent to the bottom of the North Atlantic lifeline by German U-boats.
The aircraft plant I had built at Bangalore for the government of India had grown into the Allies’ principal maintenance and overhaul base in that country, with 15,000 employees. I had the satisfaction of knowing that my foresight and efforts were making a vital contribution to the war effort in that part of the world.
In early 1942 I returned to India, hoping to continue my supervision of the plant at Bangalore. On my arrival I found that Major General Clayton Bissell and his staff had taken over full responsibility for its management, and had converted the big facility to a top-heavy and inefficient U. S. Army Air Corps base. Bissell, a former air adviser for General Joe Stilwell, was commanding the Tenth Air Force. He had full authority to take over command of the plant. I protested vigorously that the change would result in less policy of passive resistance to British rule in India which proved helpful to the Japanese invaders.
Moreover, the Indian Congress Party was split between those who wished to cooperate in the war against Nazism and those who preferred to take advantage of British difficulties and strike for full independence. In March, Sir Stafford arrived with a forthright and unconditional proposal for freedom.
“Immediately upon cessation of hostilities,’ his declaration read, “steps shall be taken to set up in India, in the manner described hereinafter, an elected body charged with the task of framing a new constitution for India.”
Britain agreed to accept and implement any constitution thus drawn up. At first, it seemed probable that the Indians and the Cripps Mission would reach an agreement. President Roosevelt warmly endorsed Indian independence.
In April, 1943, the negotiations appeared to be on the verge of success. At the juncture I informed Louis Johnson that I was about to return to Washington. He asked me to do him the favor of carrying with me two important letters - one for President Roosevelt, the other for Secretary of State Cordell Hull. He urged me to deliver them personally, and only to the president and the Secretary. I gave him my pledge that I would do it.
My route to the States would take me over the Atlantic to Brazil, and to Washington. As the C-54 plane approached a landfall at Natal, Brazil, I was invited forward to the cockpit and I watched the sun setting above a mottled deck. My mind went back to that long journey in 1932 across the Pacific to China. I wondered how far and wide the smoke of Communist aggression would spread and blow over the horizon in the years ahead. I kept pondering this question as the propellers bored their steady way through the air from Brazil toward the capital of the United States.
Immediately upon arriving at the National Airport, I phoned the White House and the State Department. I informed one of Roosevelt’s aides, and the office of Sumner Welles, under-secretary of State, that I carried two letters from Mr. Johnson.
I had just registered at the Carlton Hotel when I received an urgent call from a young man who identified himself as Philip L. Graham. He asked to see me on an important matter. I invited him to come right over. At the hotel he informed me that he had been law secretary to Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Felix Frankfurter, and was now an attorney in the Office of Emergency Management and Office of Lend-Lease Administration. He told me that he had instructions from the White House for me to deliver both letters to Justice Frankfurter.
I protested that Louis Johnson had explicitly instructed me to turn over the letters in person to Roosevelt and Hull. When it became obvious that Graham was adamant about carrying out his own instructions, I finally agreed to accompany him forthwith to the Associate Justice’s office.
“You have two letters,” Frankfurter said tersely. “I have been instructed by the President to receive them.” He told me gruffly that one of sir Stafford Cripps’ two personal secretaries, a Canadian, had passed through Washington en route to Canada a day previously and had reported that the talks had broken down - information which Frankfurter evidently preferred to the answer I gave him.
Reluctantly, I surrendered the letters. I have never learned their contents. A possible explanation of Frankfurter’s irascibility and his unorthodox role may be as follows: Louis Johnson had given British officials the impression, erroneously, that he spoke for the President in regard to the Cripps-Ghandi negotiations. Roosevelt did not wish to lay his prestige on the line by appearing to have meddled in Churchill’s business, especially in the sponsorship of a proposal which the British cabinet might reject. Therefore, I theorize, FDR deputized his old friend to intercept both letters.
It is my assumption that I encountered one of the many instances in which our Presidents have resorted to the good offices of a personal friend, in whom they have complete confidence, to perform a mission that normally would have devolved on the Department of State. This was destined to recur in my own case.
While Frankfurter was a loyal confidant of the President, I shudder to speculate on the possible ramifications had I been asked to turn over these or equally confidential communications to the wrong person, such as presidential intimates of the ilk of Lauchlin Currie, or Harry Dexter White of the Treasury Department, two of the more strategically placed figures in the Roosevelt Administration who were accused of espionage after the war. I would have suspected nothing at the time. Eight years later, Frankfurter was to be a voluntary character witness for Alger Hiss at the latter’s first trial.
When my work was completed and I left India in February of 1944, my heart was heavy. The portents in the sky did not presage the birth of the new era of self-determination for the peoples of Asia and throughout the globe for which Americans had been fighting and dying.
After the United States entered the was against Japan, the feud between General Claire Chennault and “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell had been heating up steadily. If what follows may seem overly harsh on Stilwell, I will state here categorically that I am not accusing this much-publicized general of being disloyal to the United States, a charge for which I do not have the evidence. But I do believe he was thoroughly unqualified to hold the high post of deputy to Chiang Kai-shek, and at the most would have been against the intolerable punishment, through a massive ground offensive aimed at over-running our air bases. Defending Chinese forces having proved unequal to the task, Chennault appealed desperately to Stilwell, the theater commander, for materiel, to be delivered at a rate of one thousand tons of arms and supplies monthly to save the American bases. Stilwell’s response to this minimal, emergency Chinese requirement:
“Let them stew!” he told his Chief of Staff, Major General Thomas G. Hearn.
A man so embittered as Stilwell toward Chiang was psychological grist for the Communist mill. Stilwell soon became a prime factor in a far-reaching campaign to shift American support from Generalissimo Chiang to the Reds. Inevitably, but too late, his venomous characterizations of America’s allies and of the Chinese Chief of State rendered his continued presence in China impossible.
Former Vice-President Henry A Wallace, at the time the leading figure among the Roosevelt ultra-liberals, passed through China in 1944 and praised the Communists as the predestined rulers of that ancient empire. But even Wallace recommended the replacement of General Stilwell by General Albert C. Wedemeyer.
The issue between General Stilwell and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek went far beyond the gratuitous discourtesy of the former. Stilwell used every means at his disposal to gain absolute control over the flow of lend-lease supplies to China. To this end, he parroted the party line of the pre-Communist clique about the incredible corruption of the Nationalist regime. As lend-lease czar, Stilwell knew that he was in a position to arm and equip the Chinese Communist armies, which, in the opinion of U.S. Ambassador Gauss, would inevitably hasten the downfall of the Chiang regime.
Stilwell was also bent upon commanding Communist troops in the planned invasion of eastern China. “The 18th Group Army (Reds) will be used,” he wrote to Presidential Envoy Patrick Hurley, “There must be no misunderstanding on this point. They can be brought to bear where there will be no conflict with Central Government Troops (Chiang’s), but they must be accepted as part of the team during the crisis.”
Ironically, “Vinegar Joe” owed his survival during three turbulent years in China to the unflagging loyalty and support of the last man in America who might have been expected to accept Communist domination of Asia, General George C. Marshall, the Army’s Chief of Staff. In a further irony, Marshall was destined to preside over the liquidation of Chiang’s regime on the mainland, after the war, in loyally carrying out the orders of his Commander-in-Chief to negotiate a coalition of two implacable enemies in the same government.
When he was finally booted out of China, Stilwell wrote one farewell letter to Chu Teh, the Communist commander in Yenan. Stilwell expressed his “keen disappointment” that he would not be allowed to command the “excellent troops”
of the Chinese Reds. He paid a farewell call upon another Chinese, Madame Sun Yat-sen, who later emerged openly as a Communist Party leader. After the War, Stilwell reacted to the Marshall mission to China with characteristic displeasure.
“It makes me itch to throw down my shovel and get over there and shoulder a rifle with Chu Teh,” he wrote.
We remained in Florida for several months before traveling to Washington to assist in President Roosevelt’s final campaign. FDR and I had become quite friendly since the days when I was seeking authority from him to purchase the machinery for the aircraft factory in Bangalore. I had eventually succeeded despite the spirited opposition of British officials in Washington, who predicted, in view of India’s backward economy, that my efforts would be fore doomed by insuperable obstacles.
Although I had fully supported Roosevelt in each of his previous campaigns, I found myself entertaining serious misgivings because of his failing health. On our arrival in the Capital, he invited me to call on him. Our meeting gave me an initial shock, for the President looked ill, with a mere trace of that vitality which had been so potent a political asset.
“Bill,” he asked me, in an uncharacteristically weary voice, “how would you like a change of pace from business to diplomacy and public service?”
“I’ll be only too happy to serve,” I answered, “in any position, Mr. President, where I feel I can make a constructive contribution.”
He then explained that, with the war in Europe almost over, the United Stated would be sending ambassadors to the countries being liberated from the Nazi yoke.
“I’d like to appoint you ambassador to Czechoslovakia,” he concluded.
The suggestion astounded me. I briefly reviewed for FDR how I had spent the past ten years of my life working in China and India, and why I believed that I knew a great deal about the Orient. I added that I might also qualify for Latin America, since I had spent my boyhood and youth in Cuba, spoke fluent Spanish, had worked in Venezuela as a salesman during my late teens, had lived in Haiti and run an airline in Cuba, had explored aircraft manufacturing possibilities in Brazil and had visited most of the Latin republics.
By comparison, I pointed out, my knowledge of Europe was superficial and based primarily on travel and on brief business trips. I spoke no Slavic tongue and had virtually no first-hand knowledge of the Balco-Danubian area.
“But Bill,” he replied, “I need a strong ambassador in Prague, and I think you are the right man for the job.”
I repeated that I’d be glad to serve wherever the government needed me.
After this discussion, Roosevelt sent me to the Department of State to discuss the proposed new post with the assistant secretary of State for European Affairs, who shall remain nameless. He opened the interview abruptly.
“Pawley, what makes you think you’re qualified to be an ambassador?”
“You said it, I didn’t,” I answered. “I happen to believe that I’m not qualified for this particular post, and I so informed the President. But had the President suggested Asia or Latin America, I believe I would be well qualified. Furthermore, I’m not seeking this post. The President has asked me to accept it.”
This made little, if any, impression on my interrogator. I gathered that he resented the President’s appointment of an ambassador who was neither in the Foreign Service nor an intimate of the top echelon. The interview terminated, no more pleasantly than it had begun.
I decided that regardless of the bad taste lingering in my mouth from this episode, if the President needed me in Prague, I owed it to him to ignore a display of rudeness ill-becoming any assistant secretary of state.
The State Department had intended to reserve the Czechoslovakian opening for one of its favored few. Therefore, at the last moment, Ambassador Laurence Steinhardt was switched from Ankara to Prague. This had the dual advantage, from the standpoint of the inner circle, of blocking my assignment to Czechoslovakia and creating another opening in Turkey for Leland Harrison, who had excellent connections with Joseph Grew and other top Foreign Service diplomats.
Describing this incident in his syndicated column for December 31, 1944, Drew Pearson wrote: “It so happened that William D. Pawley of Florida had been promised the job of U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia. Pawley is head of the Intercontinent Aircraft Corporation, helped organize the Flying Tigers in China, was a strong backer of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and it had been agreed, with White House approval, that Pawley should go as U.S. Envoy to Czechoslovakia when that country was liberated.”
In failing health, and needing to marshal all of his internal resources for much weightier problems, Roosevelt decided to let the State Department’s governing circle prevail. This was my first personal observation of the obstruction by subordinates of a President’s wishes -- the first of all too many, as will be seen.
I suspect that the President wanted me in Czechoslovakia because he already foresaw aggressive Soviet moves to dominate Eastern Europe, and wanted somebody representing the United States in Prague who was well-known for his outspoken awareness of the threat on a global scale.
At the time, American forces were in a position to drive into Prague and prevent Czechoslovakia from falling into the Soviet orbit. Non-Communist Czechs were pleading with General Ernest N. Harmon to take Prague on the grounds that Soviet military maneuvers were inspired by political motives, and that the liberation of Prague by the Red Army would fortify the Czech Communist Party.
As a matter of fact, General George Patton, the brilliant military leader and hard-driving commander of the U.S. Third Army, brought his divisions to the west side of the city of Prague. Joyful people of the city expected that Patton’s next move would be to march through the city and far beyond, taking the surrender of the German forces as he advanced. The battle-scarred officers and men of the “Patton Army” camped in sight of the people in the city for three days. An officer in that army has related:
“We were eating mess one night when suddenly the door opened and in walked General Patton. We nearly turned over our tables rising to attention. Grinning and saluting, Patton walked to the opposite wall. Mounting a chair, he shouted:
“‘Men, I got news for you! From here we’re going right on through Czechoslovakia, and on into Russia!’”
“We pressed the general to say whether those were official orders, and he finally broke down and said that was the move we ought to make.”
To the amazement and sorrow of the people of Prague, the American forces turned back westward, to retrace their steps and march away. Patton had already overrun the limit of the territory he was ordered to take. The decision had been made long before that the Russians should take the surrender of the Germans in an area extending far west of Berlin, and would occupy that territory. All American forces were halted at the line, or forced by top orders to pull back. Thus the Red Army was allowed to reap the fruits of the victory American bravery and sacrifice had richly earned.
General Patton later barely missed being court-martialed for stating a fact clearly self-evident at that time. He said that the two countries responsible for starting the war, Stalin’s Soviet Union and Hitler’s Nazi Germany, were like Democrats and Republicans, so much alike that one could hardly tell the difference.
Czechoslovakia occupied a special place in American sympathies. This excellent democratic republic was created shortly after World War I, under the leadership of Thomas Masaryk, largely because of the untiring efforts of President Woodrow Wilson.
Whether or not I would have been able to do anything effective to check the Communist engulfment of Czechoslovakia three years later in 1948, is doubtful. I regret only that I was deprived of the opportunity of trying. I am confident that FDR would have given me firm support, for under that shadow of his approaching death, he left me with the distinct impression of an awakening to the gulf between Communist assurances and the intentions and deeds with which they were to double-cross him.
Roosevelt was reelected for a fourth term in November, 1944, and Edna and I were among the small group who were invited to attend the inauguration in January, 1945, standing in the rear grounds of the White House facing the platform in a snowfall. Watching him being supported by his son James while he delivered his inaugural address, I was disturbed anew by the marked deterioration in his health.
Meantime, during the later summer and fall of 1944, the plan for a world organization to replace the defunct League of Nations was being perfected. It would be called the “United Nations.” President Roosevelt had personally agreed with the Russian dictator, Josef Stalin, on the broad principles of organization, including the astounding provision that the Soviet Union should have three members in the General Assembly, while all other nations, including the United States should have only one; and that the real power of the U.N. would reside in a Security Council, composed of the “Big Three,” the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union. These “permanent members” of the Security council would each have a veto, and thus control all actions pertaining to the major purpose of the U.N., namely, to keep the peace of the world. (Later, China and France were added to the permanent members).
Other concessions were made to the Red leaders, as we shall see in our discussion of how we of the Free World lost the great country of China. In charge of final wording of the Charter of the U.N. and of plans for the first meeting of the new organization at San Francisco in April, 1945, was a career State Department officer, Alger Hiss.
It has always been my judgment that President Roosevelt was too ill to have allowed his name to be submitted for a fourth term; however, I realized that he was so dedicated to the proposition that he alone could secure from the Russians some semblance of peace for the world, that he agreed to continue in the presidency. His last words to me still echo in my mind:
“Despite all the help we gave them, Bill, all of the supplies and weapons and cooperation when they faced military defeat, the Russians are not honoring their solemn commitments.”
It is tragic that neither Roosevelt, nor his successors down to the present year of the 200th anniversary of our nation’s independence, learned fully an important lesson: The leaders of the Soviet Union, holding their own people and millions more captive in the iron grip of Communist tyranny while plotting the ultimate control of the entire world, have never made “solemn commitments” except to further their own quest for power. They have never made any promises they expected to honor if breaking them would be to their advantage.
I was deeply worried during my frequent trips to Washington by two broader concerns: the fate of Free China, and victory for the Four Freedoms in Europe. On each of these questions, President Truman found the time to hear me out.
On the first occasion, I had just heard on the radio, in April 1945, the Hitler’s forces were being routed on all fronts. The news gave me a bold idea that I took to the President at once.
“You have an opportunity, Mr. President, that no other man in history has ever had,” I said.
“And what is that?” he asked.
“To establish peace on earth for the indefinite future,” I replied. “I urge that you announce to the world that the armies of the United States will proceed across Russia to Vladivostok, destroying tanks, anti-aircraft guns, and weapons as they go. Announce that we are advancing into Russian territory, not in order to take anything for ourselves, but to enable the people of the Soviet Union to choose freely their own government. If you invite the Soviet generals and soldiers to lay down their weapons on this basis. I’m convinced that they will do so. They hate the police state under which they live, as witness the mass defection of Red Army men to the Germans during the war. Their so-called loyalty is based on nationalism and fear. We can remove their fear of reprisals by Stalin’s police state if we send the greatest military machine the world has ever seen to liberate Moscow and all Russia for free elections.
“Their people know that we’re not Nazis, and that we want no Russian territory nor domination of their citizens. It’s a heaven-sent chance for the United States and, hopefully, some of her Allies to join forces in a historic blow for a better world.”
The President pondered the proposal for a few moments, then answered:
“Bill, I can’t risk it. If I took your advice, I might start World War III. Anyway, our men would never hold still for it. They’ve just finished fighting magnificently, they’re sick of war and they want to come home.”
“That’s true, Sir,” I replied. “But what I’m saying is they wouldn’t have to fight. It could be like a triumphal march. Russian soldiers are sick of fighting, too, and they’ve already shown how they feel about their rulers. Every man would have gone over the side with General Vlasov to join the German invaders, if Hitler hadn’t blown it by merciless brutality and genocide. I haven’t mentioned it, I mention it now, Stalin knows that we have the A-bomb and that we used it twice when we had to.”
“Bill,” he answered, “I wish I could agree with you. I realize that Stalin is breaking the pledge he gave at Yalta. He’s enslaving the Polish people, and an iron curtain is descending over Central and Eastern Europe. But I just can’t risk it.”
It is of interest to reflect that the author of this famous phrase was not, as is commonly supposed, Winston Churchill, but Nazi Propaganda Minister Goebbels. During the last days of the Third Reich, Goebbels wrote an article entitled “The Year 2000,” in which he predicted:
“If the German people surrender, the Soviets will occupy... the whole east and southeast of Europe in addition to the larger part of Germany. In front of this enormous territory, including the Soviet Union, an iron curtain will go down... The rest of Europe will fall in political chaos which will be but a period of preparation for the coming of Bolshevism.”
Looking back 31 years later on this advice I offered Truman, I realize that I was asking a new President to adopt a drastic course. It would have drawn down upon his head the wrath of the entire entrenched liberal-to-radical intellectual and power establishment, not to mention the international Communist apparatus. Our men in uniform might have rebelled against further combat, although, with our A-Bomb monopoly, I still think any risk of combat would have been minimal.
I still firmly believe that, had Mr. Truman grasped the thistle and followed my proposal, it would have succeeded. This was our last clear hope of destroying the huge modern police state, of extirpating it root and branch, both in its Nazi and its Soviet guises. Had we done so, the whole subsequent history of the world would have been different.
Had we strangled the Communist monster in its cradle, we would not today find ourselves an island of freedom, being progressively encircled by barbarians abroad and subversives within. We could be living in a world of comparative peace, and contributing full force our immense resources, skills, intellectual abilities, science, technology and know how to man’s progress.
Our next meeting, was on the future of China. Mr. Truman showed no resentment over my Russian proposal. It had apparently cost me neither his respect nor his friendship. As much as I came to value both, I would have preferred to lose them if in return my plan had been put into effect. Again, he heard me out thoughtfully, while I expounded my fears of an impending disaster in Asia.
“The Communists are preparing for a life-and-death struggle for the domination of China the moment that hostilities with Japan cease,” I warned. “And to put it mildly, Mr. President, I’m dubious about some of the China advisers whom you inherited from the Roosevelt years.”
“What do you suggest?” the President asked.
“Why not appoint a large group of distinguished non-governmental people to advise you on the kind of stakes we’re now playing for, involving the future of Asia and perhaps of the entire world. Something like your Economic Council; say sixty members, including Old China Hands. Assemble them here in Washington as a special Commission representing a broad range of viewpoints. Let them draw up an authoritative blueprint for you.”
“Bill,” he said promptly, “I think your plan is premature. I’ve got all kinds of urgent problems piling up on this desk, and I just don’t believe there’s that much danger that we’re going to lose China.”
I suppressed a powerful urge to tell him that he must be listening to the wrong people, which, as we now know, was true. Within three years, several of them were to be named as fellow Communists or sympathizers in the “Ware Group” exposed by Elizabeth Bentley before a Congressional Committee.
Thereafter, I made further attempts, when alone with Mr. Truman, to warn him of the dire consequences of a Communist takeover in China. I reminded him of the immense reservoir of good will for the U.S. in the hearts of the Chinese, who had not forgotten that we were the only power that had used our Boxer Rebellion Indemnity funds, back in 1900, not for our own aggrandizement, but for the education of Chinese students. All these efforts on my part were unavailing in an atmosphere pervading the White House wherein talk of subversives in our highest councils was being scoffed at as “witch hunting” and a “red herring.”
The tragedy that I and a host of American leaders like Ambassador Pat Hurley, Congressman Walter Judd, General Albert Wedemeyer, Alfred Kohlberg, Henry Luce, Roy Howard, Admiral Yarnell and others had dreaded, was now made certain.
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