Continuing our series on the regime of Chiang Kai-shek–all but beatified during the Cold War–we draw still more on a magnificent book–The Soong Dynasty by Sterling Seagrave. Although sadly out of print, the book is still available through used book services, and we emphatically encourage listeners to take advantage of those and obtain it.
(Mr. Emory gets no money from said purchases of the book.)
Tackling American ideological delusion vis a vis Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang, the broadcast resumes analysis of the embrace of Chiang by the State Department and the allied U.S. press and the schism with the War Department (later the Department of Defense.)
Chiang’s anti-Communism endeared him to elements of State, even–as we have seen–his obsession with fighting the CCP instead of the invading Japanese was correctly forecast by T.V. Soong, among others as driving the Chinese people into the arms of the invaders.
” . . . . Washington–not as represented by Chief-of-Staff George C. Marshall but as typified by FDR’s advisor Harry Hopkins–increasingly shared Chiang’s fixation with the postwar threat of Communism. To please the Generalissimo and his supporters in America, the Washington of Hopkins and the Department of State was prepared to sacrifice any number of its own people. . . .”
Further developing the circumstances leading to the replacement of the skilled, heroic American General Joseph Stilwell and the political defenestration of the State Department’s best “China Watchers,” we note the role of the consummately powerful Soong family in shaping U.S. ideological delusion concerning Chiang Kai-shek.
It is a consummate irony that the dogmatic anti-Communists allied with Chiang and the Soongs were the ones who “Lost China,” as the McCarthyites and the China Lobby put it. (Of course Chiang and the KMT themselves were the principal agencies involved in said loss.)
The War Department as embodied by Chief-of-Staff General George C. Marshall did not share the infatuation with Chiang, and sided with Chiang’s nemesis, General Joseph Stilwell–the top U.S. military officer in the China/Burma theater.
” . . . . America failed to understand the trap it was falling into because the State Department was not listening to its China Watchers. Very few of their secret reports actually reached the Secretary of State, because the rest were being intercepted by partisans inside the department hierarchy. . . . According to information gathered by the FBI at the time, someone high in the department was passing this secret information straight over to China Defense Supplies, to be read by T V. Soong and to be acted upon as he saw fit. So the Americans sent to China to watch Chiang’s regime were reporting to the Soong family, not to President Roosevelt. . . . At the War Department, the situation was quite different. General Marshall was suspicious of Chiang, and listened to Stilwell’s warnings. . . .”
Key elements of analysis and discussion include: Joseph Alsop’s role as a Chiang/Soong partisan; Alsop’s World War II role as the Chungking representative of Lend-Lease program; Introductory discussion of T.L. Soong (younger brother of T.V.) and his role as first, administrator of U.S. Lend-Lease in China and, later, administrator of Lend-Lease in the U.S. (this will be dealt with at greater length later in the series); Alsop’s postwar career as a noted journalist, closely linked to the CIA; General Claire Chennault’s hatred of Stilwell; review of Chennault’s role as leader of the Flying Tigers (the American Volunteer Group); Chennault’s assertion to FDR that his Fourteenth Air Force could use forward bases to decimate Japanese shipping; Stilwell’s correct counter-assertion that the Japanese would simply destroy the forward air bases upon which Chennault based his assertions; the 1944 Japanese offensive known as Operation Ichigo; the resounding success of the Japanese offensive; review (from our previous program) of KMT General T’ang En-po’s disastrous command of the Chinese forces opposing the Japanese Ichigo offensive; the view of the State Department’s China watchers and Vice-President Henry Wallace that Chiang Kai-shek could not successfully rule postwar China; the War Department’s temporary elevation of General Stilwell to command the KMT armies in China; Chiang’s fierce and successful resistance of Chiang to Stilwell’s elevation; Chiang’s insistence on a quid-pro-quo for agreeing to allow U.S. observers into the Communist-controlled areas of China—an agreement that featured the replacement of Stilwell with Major General Albert C. Wedemeyer; Chiang’s insistence on the replacement of Ambassador Clarence Gauss; the decisive appointment of Major General Patrick J. Hurley as Roosevelt’s personal representative to Chiang—an appointment which led to Stilwell’s replacement with Wedemeyer.
Stilwell’s replacement by General Wedemeyer was noteworthy—particularly in light of the background and behavior of Wedemeyer.
The program recaps information presented in AFA#11.
In addition to being part of a political and military milieu that infused isolationist orientation toward involvement in World War II with pro-fascist sentiment, Wedemeyer was a chief suspect in an act of consummate treason—the leak of the Rainbow Five American mobilization plan for World War II to anti-FDR publisher Robert J. McCormick (of the Chicago Tribune.) (As celebrated anti-fascist journalist and researcher George Seldes has documented, the “isolationist” America First organization received financing from the Abwehr [German intelligence during the Third Reich.])
Key points of discussion and analysis include:
1.–Wedemeyer’s background: “ . . . . he himself had been educated in part at the German War College, in Berlin. He rented his apartment from a member of the Nazi Party, Gerhard Rossbach, and during his sojourn became a great friend of General Ludwig Beck, chief of the German General Staff. . . . (Rossbach was, in fact, the number two man in the SA behind Ernst Rolm. As discussed in AFA#11, Rossbach went to work for the CIA after the war.–D.E.) . . . .Rightly or wrongly, he was regarded by the German embasssy in Washington as part of the pro-German military clique in teh War Department. . . .”
2.–Wedemeyer’s association with key personnel on the German General staff: ” . . . . His introductions to Beck were arranged by Lieutenant General Friedrich von Boetticher, German military attache in Washington. He corresponded regularly withy his German contacts until the advent of World War II in Europe. . . .”
3.–The Third Reich’s development of a Fifth Column within its American counterpart: ” . . . . The numerous memoranda of Hans Thomsen and Boetticher to Berlin at the time indicate that a series of contacts had been established in this group held meetings at the home of former American military attache in Berlin Colonel Truman Smith. Although pro-German and a sympathizer of America First, Smith had the ear of General Marshall. . . .”
4.–The theft of the Rainbow Five manuscript by a U.S. military officer. ” . . . . On the night of December 3, 1941, an office attached to the War Plans Division decided on his own account to consult some of the documents at home. It was a simple matter to unlock the steel cabinet and remove the large expanding folder of several hundred pages. That he was not authorized to do so is indicated by the fact that he found it necessary to wrap the file in heavy brown paper, to make it look like a parcel for mailing. . . .”
5.–The fact that Wedemeyer underlined the same passages in his copy of the manuscript as eventually found their way into the Chicago Tribune piece: ” . . . . . Back in his office, Wedemeyer faced a very unpleasant situation. [J. Edgar] Hoover had dispatched his number-one man, Edward Tamm, to the office, and Tamm was standing by an open filing cabinet while Wedemeyer’s secretary was sobbing into her hands. One of Tamm’s men was holding a copy of the Victory Program. The same passages were underlined in red by Wedemeyer as appeared in the newspapers . . . .”
The program concludes with a look at the fate of the Third Force or Third Option formed by Mme. Sun Yat-sen (nee Ching-ling Soong) and Teng Yen-ta, a persistent critic of Chiang Kai-shek.
Disillusioned with Communism after a sojourn in Moscow, Mme. Sun Yat-sen partnered with Teng Yen-ta, who recognized Chiang’s fascism and, yet, felt that the Chinese Communist Party (at that point in time) was overly loyal to Moscow and wasn’t doing enough for the Chinese peasantry.
Both Ching-ling and Teng Yen-ta sought an alternative to both Kuomintang fascism and the Chinese Communist Party.
Finding the democratic socialism proposed by Ching-ling and Teng Yen-ta unacceptable, Chiang had the British and American police authorities arrest him in the International Concession in Shanghai, after which he was tortured for many months.
Ching-ling was reported to have visited Chiang to plead for Teng Yen-ta’s release. Chiang had already dealt with him in characteristic fashion: “ . . . . Days earlier, on November 29, 1931, nearly a year after his arrest, Ten Yen-ta had been taken from his cell at Chiang’s command and was slowly strangled with a wire. The executioner was said to be famous for keeping victims alive for half an hour while he tightened his grip. In his office, Chiang had remained silent while Ching-ling pleaded for a man already dead, enjoying the spectacle of her momentary vulnerability. . . .”