General A. C. Wedemeyer

Was he Silenced by Churchill?

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China 1947


reverse the state of affairs, and in this Marshall was influenced by the views of his friend Stilwell.

In 1958  in Wedemeyer Reports! Wedemeyer reflected back on the impact of  his public stance expressed in the Forrestal Memo and the National War College speech  and concluded that since his views were so opposed to the current administration that any opportunity for future diplomatic assignments were forever foreclosed.[1] Of course he was wrong. He shortly was in for another surprise.

Wedemeyer’s Last Mission to China

 In July 1947 Wedemeyer was advised by General Marshall that the President after consultation with his cabinet had decided that they needed “an objective survey” of the conditions in China and Korea as a basis for future policy.[2] He asked Wedemeyer to undertake the survey. Wedemeyer was surprised that he was selected, given his long standing opposition and outspoken criticism of the current policies It developed that there was considerable criticism in Congress concerning their China policies, and there was pressure for a reevaluation.[3] Out of respect for Marshall, and in the belief that, perhaps, there might have been some fundamental changes made in the China policy, he accepted the assignment, although with some misgivings. Only later did he come to realize that that he had been chosen “…to allay doubts in Congress and in the country and to provide justification for continuance of the old disastrous China policy,” and worse, that his report would not only be suppressed, but that he would be forbidden to disclose its contents![4] If Wedemeyer had known he was to be a dupe for the Administration in order to provide justification for the continuation of the present policies, he would not have accepted the assignment. The assignment was confirmed by a written directive signed by President Truman July 9, 1947 which instructed him to make “…an appraisal of the political, economic, psychological and military situations” [in China and Korea]; that he was to make it clear that the United States would participate in a rehabilitation program “…only if the Chinese government presents satisfactory evidence of effective measures looking towards Chinese recovery and provided further that any aid …shall be subject to supervision of …the United States…” The directive further directed him to state “…the probable consequences of assistance…and the probable consequence in the event that assistance is not given.” He was also directed to make a brief trip to Korea for the same purpose. Wedemeyer was gratified that the President’s directive did not include tying aid to the need to form a coalition government with the Communists.

Wedemeyer completed his mission in two and a half months and submitted a detailed report to President Truman with recommendations on September 19, 1947.[5] The first page of the report is a broad indictment of Communism generally which then focuses on how China’s efforts at development have been sabotaged and  “…jeopardized…by forces as sinister as those that operated in Europe and Asia leading to World War II. The pattern is familiar—employment of subversive agents; infiltration tactics; incitement of disorder and chaos [designed] to undermine popular confidence in government and leaders…” He directly implicates Soviet Russia and condemns them in the strongest language as potentially more dangerous than Nazism, and attributes this to  “…the futility of [the Allies] appeasement…of Soviet Russia” in the hopes that they [Russia] “…will adopt …a conciliatory attitude…” He continues the charge spelled out in detail in Russian literature and which has been  “…confirmed repeatedly by Communist leaders, [which literature]reveals a definite plan for expansion far exceeding that of Nazism…” Wedemeyer disputes the commonly held fiction that Communism is winning over in China because of it’s popular policies, agrarian reforms, and hatred of the Nationalist government by the bulk of the Chinese people. To the contrary Wedemeyer says that “…notwithstanding…the [admitted] corruption…in China, it is a certainty that the bulk of the people are not disposed to a Communist…structure.” Political blunders at Yalta, he says, contributed to the present problems in China by allowing the Russians entry into Manchuria, and later withholding aid from the Nationalist government. He says that the World War II objectives for which we fought are not being attained and that there “…remains in the world a force presenting even greater dangers to world peace than did the Nazi militarists and the Japanese jingoists.”  He underscores the supreme irony of the United States supplying substantial aid to Greece and Turkey in 1947 to protect them from Communist takeover [a clear indication that the government knows the menace of Communism] yet refusing to render like assistance to China which faces the same enemy, and with consequences far more serious. A further recommendation was that China seek the immediate assistance and counsel of the United Nations.

Wedemeyer concluded his report with specific recommendations:

·         That China should inform the United Nations of her request to the United States for material and advisory assistance;

·         That China should request the United Nations to take immediate action to bring about a cessation of hostilities in Manchuria; and that Manchuria be placed in a guardianship;

·         That China immediately give evidence that political and military reforms are being initiated.

·         That China accept American Military Advisors.

When Wedemeyer rendered his report he was proud of his effort and fully expected his recommendations to be accepted and implemented.[6] In 1947 Wedemeyer did not believe it was too late to remedy the consequences of a failed China policy. The key, in Wedemeyer’s view was to give military, economic and moral assistance and compel Chaing Kai-shek to institute the necessary reforms in his administration. Wedemeyer, then “held himself in readiness” for what he fully expected would,  be requests to explain or amplify his report and make recommendations for implementations of the specific recommendations. Wedemeyer got his first telltale sign that there was something amiss when he met briefly with General Marshall in New York. Marshall complimented Wedemeyer orally, but said he had not studied the report thoroughly, and then added that under no circumstances was Wedemeyer to discuss the contents with anyone.[7] Wedemeyer learned that pressure was brought to bear on all other members of the Commission that had accompanied Wedemeyer. This injunction was unnerving, as well as difficult to

[1] Wedemeyer Reports! p. 380.

[2] Wedemeyer Reports! p. 382.

[3] The pressure was coming from Congressman Walter Judd, Senator Styles Bridges, and others. Wedemeyer Reports! p. 382.

[4] Wedemeyer Reports! p. 383.

[5] A complete copy of the report is in Appendix VI of Wedemeyer Reports! I will not deal with the portions of the report relating to Korea.

[6] Wedemeyer Reports! p. 391.

[7] Wedemeyer Reports! p. 396.



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A. C. Wedemeyer