Washington Memo

General Stilwell’s recall, Russia’s brush-off of Windy City aviation parley, sound discordant notes in Big Four postwar harmony

ERNEST K. LINDLEY December 1 1944

Washington Memo

General Stilwell’s recall, Russia’s brush-off of Windy City aviation parley, sound discordant notes in Big Four postwar harmony

ERNEST K. LINDLEY December 1 1944

Washington Memo

General Stilwell’s recall, Russia’s brush-off of Windy City aviation parley, sound discordant notes in Big Four postwar harmony


THE MOST important byproduct of the recent election campaign was a large measure of agreement by the presidential candidates of the two Parties on the place of the United States in a world security organization.

Dewey endorsed in full the understandings reached at the Dumbarton Oaks conferences and was able to obtain public pledges from a number of erstwhile Republican isolationists in the Senate that they would support this phase of his foreign policy if he were elected. On this point, however, a number of the hardier Republican isolationists were noteworthily silent and Dewey’s own pledges did not lessen the ardor with which he was supported by the McCormickPatterson press.

One Republican senator remained openly unconvinced of intent or ability of Dewey, given the orientation of so many of his followers, to carry through the work begun at Dumbarton Oaks. This was Senator Joseph Ball, Minnesota, one of the four authors of the B2-H2 resolution of last year which called upon the President to take the lead during the war in forming a permanent United Nations organization backed by force. At considerable risk to his own political future, Ball openly supported Roosevelt. The other Republican in the B2-H2 combination, Senator Burton, Ohio, stuck with Dewey, however. Wendell Willkie died without having made up his mind which candidate to support, and all the indications were that the independent vote on which he had so much influence was split between Dewey and Roosevelt.

In the late stages of the campaign the Republicans made much of the argument that a Republican president would have better success than Roosevelt in holding in line what might be called the lukewarm internationalists among the Republicans in the Senate and House. The Democrats, of course, replied that the firm organization of the pease could be trusted only to those who had proved their zeal and determination.

Either way, however, the question of American participation in the proposed world security organization seems certain to be the most momentous question to come before the new Congress. The present informal and tentative plan of the leaders of the two Parties is to bring forward in treaty form only the basic commitment to joint the organization. This assumes, of course, that the blank spots in the Dumbarton Oaks agreements are filled in by the Big Three or Big Four and that the final document is found acceptable by the other United Nations.

The basic American commitment, submitted in treaty form, would require the ratification of two thirds of the Senate. Once this hurdle has been cleared it is felt that the subsidiary agreements might well be in the form of resolutions or statutes requiring only a simple majority of both houses. One of these would place a definite quota of armed forces at the disposal of the world security council, while the other would define the authority of the American representative on that council.

The degree of latitude to be given the American representative will be a subject of extended and possibly sharp debate, for this question treads upon the constitutional prerogative of Congress to declare war. During the campaign the President and Dewey alike dealt with this matter only in generalities. The President said that the American representative must be empowered to commit the American quota of force to action without further consultation with Congress. Dewey said that American participation in

the world security council “must not1 be subject to a reservation that it require our representative to return to Congress for authority every time he had to make a decision.” This implied that he thought that in some instances the delegate should be required to ask Congress for a specific authorization.

So far as one can judge the trend of opinion on a topic which has not yet been thoroughly discussed, it seems likely that Congress would be willing to grant considerable discretion to the American delegate to commit to action the American quota of force to deal with minor threats to the peace or to enforce the peace terms imposed upon Germany or Japan. On the other hand Congress seems likely to prohibit the delegate from taking any action which might lead to war with another major power, without the specific approval of Congress.

The whole question is closely bound up with one of the points left unsettled at Dumbarton Oaks: whether a major power serving as a permanent member of the security council should, in a dispute in which it is directly involved, step aside while the other members of the council pass judgment. The American delegates at Dumbarton Oaks urged that the great power thus accused or directly involved should step aside. However, many leaders of both Parties feel that the Russian contention, that the great power in question should not be deprived of its formal voting rights, is the more realistic. It is quite possible that the eventual

acceptance of the Ruasinn position will make it easier to obtain from Congress a suitable delegation of power to the American representative in the world security.

Churchill Endorsed

C^HURCHILL’S observation on his return from À Moscow that the affairs of the coalition require “constant care” was heartily, if privately, seconded by responsible officials in Washington. Within a single week reminders came from both Moscow and Chungking that the major Allies have many difficulties to iron out among themselves. The recall of General Stilwell from China at the insistence of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek was the outgrowth of chronic difficulties, which had become more acute with the Japanese advances in south central China during the last few months. Stilwell’s titles and duties were so diverse that they could not be charted. He was Chief

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Washington Memo

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of Staff for Chiang Kai-Shek, Commander of the American Forces in the China-Burma-India theatre, Deputy Allied Commander in southeast Asia under Mountbatten, Field Commander of the invasion of north Burma, and American Lend-Lease Administrator in China. For a man who dislikes staff and paper work, who is as blunt as generals come, and who prefers shooting his own carbine at a Jap to anything else, this was an extraordinary bundle of responsibility. When analyzed, however, they all bore a natural and necessary relationship to his real job, which was to keep China in the war and to see that the Chinese military activitieswere co-ordinated, in so far as possible, with the master plans of the United States and Britain

In line with American policy, Stil well had persistently urged Chiang KaiShek to reorganize the Chinese Armies so that a more efficient force would be opposed to the Japanese at the more critical points. This would have involved the lifting of the blockade against the Chinese Communists, which Chiang had been using some of his best troops to enforce. It would have meant probably bringing the Chinese Communist guerillas into the Chinese nationalist Army. And it would have meant picking the best officers and troops from the numerous divisions under the Generalissimo’s command, to he concentrated, trained and equipped as a modern army. To stimulate these reforms Stilwell retained in his own hands the distribution of lend-lease military equipment, and the American Government pressed the Generalissimo to appoint an American general—who, of course, would have been Stilwell—to the active command of the Chinese Army.

For reasons known to himself, Chiang Kai-Shek never responded readily to Stil well’s suggestions. He preferred personally Major Genernl Chennuult, Commander of the Fourteenth Air Force, and persistently ignored Stilwell’s warnings that Chennault could operate only as long as his bases were protected. The Japanese summer offensive, which drove Chennault out of his advance bases and back to Kunming, proved, too late, that Stilwell was right. It also established that the Chinese Armies in that sector are very far from being effective. The forcing back of Chennault’s Air Force and the erection of this broad Japanese harrier between the Chinese Army and the coast of China, which is the present objective of the American drive westward across the Pacific, were military developments which caused anxiety to the American chiefs of staff. Also, apparently, they weakened Chiang KaiShek’s precarious hold on the central government. In the hope of salvaging something out of these adverse developments, the American Government put strong pressure on the Generalissimo, first to reorganize his Cabinet and secondly to institute the military reforms long urged by Stilwell. At one point Chiang Kai-Shek appeared to have acceded to all these requests, including the appointment of Stilwell as active commander in the Chinese Army. Then he suddenly reversed his decision and demanded Stilwell’s recall. At this writing it is not yet possible to say what effect this will have upon Allied strategy in the war against Japan. The prevailing view is, however, that Allied landings on the coast of China remain necessary, since there is no other land mass on which to base more than a fraction of the Allied air power which will be released at the end of the European war and which should be very effective against Japan.

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The unfavorable turn of events in China has been largely offset, and in the public mind completely overshadowed, by the unbroken series of successes in the Pacific, including the serious mauling given the Japanese fleet in the Philippines area. MacArthur’s return to the Philippines came about two months ahead of the tentative schedule fixed earlier in the year. Whether or not he takes it on his next jump, Luzon is generally assumed to be his objective. Luzon provides not only a good advanced naval base in the Manila Bay, but airfields from which heavy bombers can pound Formosa, the Chinese coast and all sea communications between Japan and its post-Pearl Harbor empire, and from which the superbombers can reach Japan proper. It also provides suitable staging facilities for later amphibious operations.

Although the American offensive in the Pacific has been able to move this year quite independently from the war in Europe, the two theatres remain in competition for a few items, such as heavy artillery and the special troops to handle larger land operations. In addition, larger scale amphibious invasions will require more special longrange personnel and cargo carriers, which are still under construction. All things considered, conservative strategists do not count on the final defeat of Japan earlier than 1947.

Russia Surprises

Russia’s sudden decision not to take part in the international conference of civil aviation in Chicago was a

puzzling surprise to American officials. The Russians had previously accepted the invitation, with the full knowledge that Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and a number of Latin-American nations with which Russia does not have formal diplomatic relations would also take part. Russia’s objections to sitting at the same table with representatives of the Franco Government were sympathetically understood in Washington but her objection to Portugal, which, despite a Fascist form of government, is an ally of Britain and which, unlike Spain, sent no “volunteers” to fight beside the Germans on the eastern front, was less understandable. And the Kremlin’s description of Switzerland as a pro-Fascist nation seemed to Washington to be too obviously fantastic to be seriously intended. In the first blush of reaction American officials were inclined to believe that the Russians either were not ready to make commitments concerning postwar civil aviation or that they were bringing diplomatic pressure to obtain concessions in some wholly unrelated field. No time was lost, however, in deciding to go ahead with the conference, while leaving the way open for the Russians to associate themselves with the recommendations, if any are reached, at a later date.

The incident was accepted as a reminder that dealing with the Kremlin requires a delicate mixture of patience and firmness. And at the same time it further underlined in the minds of American officials the need for another meeting at the earliest possible date of Churchill, Stalin and the American President.