Harry S. Truman: The Man from Independence

By William F. Levantrosser | Go to book overview

The President thought that in the broad sense in which I was speaking that this was the correct analysis and that he wished to have a thorough understanding of all of the facts in deciding the question. 45

The British decision provided the State Department with a practical test of the detachment policy while allowing it to defer a recommendation to the President until the results of the British action could be evaluated. 46

Attlee later described the American rejection of recognition as "extraordinarily stupid," but he acknowledged the domestic constraints placed upon the administration. 47 In retrospect, however, Acheson denied that public opinion had influenced government policy. He insisted that the failure of the communists to signify their intentions to respect international agreements prevented a positive American response. 48 Given the experience of Ward and his staff at Mukden and other incidents involving the American missions in China, 49 it was not unreasonable for the United States to seek guarantees to prevent repetition of these actions. Following the seizure of American consulate property at Peiping in January 1949, Acheson ordered the closing of the remaining posts in China. 50

The difficulties subsequently experienced by the British after establishing diplomatic relations appeared to justify Acheson's cautious and conditional approach. By May, 1950 Bevin was expressing "strong doubts about [the] value [of the] present UK position, both from general political standpoint, commercial standpoint, and effect on Southeast Asia."51"There comes a point," a State Department officer asserted, "where recognition can become [a] symbol of humiliation rather than a beacon."52 The outbreak of the Korean conflict in the following month, the change in American policy toward Formosa, and subsequent Chinese intervention in Korea would reinforce Washington's nonrecognition policy and provide further tests of Anglo-American cooperation in the Far East.


NOTES
1.
"Department of State Policy Statement," June 11, 1948, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1948 3 ( Washington, D.C., 1974), p. 1101 (hereafter cited as FRUS, followed by the appropriate year).
2.
Memorandum, British Embassy to the Department of State, November 1, 1949, FRUS, 1949, 9:153.
3.
Memorandum of conversation, Philip D. Sprouse, ( Chief, Division of Chinese Affairs), December 30, 1948, FRUS, 1948, 7:703-4.
4.
British Embassy to the Department of State, January 3, 1949; Memorandum of conversation, Sprouse, January 6, 1949, FRUS, 1949, 9:2, 5-6.
5.
Memorandum, British Embassy to the Department of State, January 5, 1949, enclosed in Sir Oliver S. Franks ( British ambassador at Washington, D.C.) to Robert A. Lovett ( Acting Secretary of State), January 5, 1949, FRUS, 1949, 9:2-5.
6.
Memorandum, British Embassy to the Department of State, January 10, 1949, FRUS, 1949, 9:6-11.

-75-

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