Brave New World

Chapter 2 (Part 3 of 4) of the book

The Discovery of First Principles, Volume 3

Edward J. Dodson

Planning for the Aftermath

Throughout the second half of 1944, delegates and planners representing the Big Three powers continued their discussions in the U.S. capital. Secretary of State Stettinius assembled a strong team of negotiators, supported by a staff of experts in various economic specializations and foreign policy. British and Soviet delegations submitted their own plans, and a conference was scheduled for late in August at Dumbarton Oaks, an estate in the District of Columbia owned by Harvard University. During the discussions, the Soviet Ambassador, Andrei Gromyko, demanded that each of the sixteen Soviet republics must be admitted separately, eliciting a reaction from Roosevelt that the application of such a principle could be extended to each of the forty-eight states comprising the United States. Roosevelt undoubtedly gave little or no thought to the domestic socio-political implications of such a possibility. Membership in the United Nations would lend significant credibility to the argument that each of the United States of America were, in fact, sovereign and members in a voluntary federation. Interestingly, Churchill's references to the United States were always in the plural, suggesting he consciously thought of the United States in terms of a federation. After some discussion, Gromyko conveyed to his U.S. and British counterparts that his government had agreed that the question would be withdrawn until the United Nations was formally established. A second proposal the Soviets objected to centered on a fundamental difference in the socio-political philosophies of U.S. and British leaders versus their Soviet counterparts -- namely, a stipulation requiring withdrawal from voting on Security Council issues where the outcome directly affected that Council member. Hull records that during a meeting between Roosevelt and Gromyko to discuss the matter Roosevelt stressed this to be a principle "imbedded by our forefathers in American law."[64] However that might be, Stalin adhered to another principle -- that of unanimity; he held firm to the power of the absolute veto by any of the permanent members of the Security Council, so that any actions taken to settle disputes would require full agreement. Resolution of this issue was put on hold until Roosevelt and Churchill were to meet with Stalin in February of 1945 at Yalta.

Real concern was now developing over the postwar behavior of the Soviets toward the social democracies and other peoples. General J.C. Smuts, a senior British military officer, wrote to Churchill: "Should a World Organisation be formed which does not include Russia she will become the power centre of another group. We shall then be heading towards a third World War."[65] To reduce the risk of future conflict, Smuts urged a concessionary stance toward Soviet demands. Within Roosevelt's own cabinet, Vice President Henry Wallace went even further. He publicly expressed his fear that "World War No. III will be inevitable ... if we fail to demonstrate that we can furnish full employment after this war comes to and end and fascist interests motivated by anti-Russian bias get control of our government."[66] By late 1944, these views made Wallace a political liability for the Democrats, and he was dropped from the Presidential ticket in favor of Harry S. Truman -- a decision destined to have a significant impact on U.S. foreign policy decisions in the months and years to follow.

Although fearful of Soviet policies so long as Stalin or his close collaborators remained in power, both Churchill and Roosevelt considered Soviet participation in the United Nations as essential to postwar stability. For the moment, however, they also felt compelled to urge on Stalin the commitment of Soviet troops to an offensive against the Japanese in Manchuria. In October, Churchill flew to Moscow to work out with Stalin other questions of territorial prerogative. A decision was also reached by the Big Three to recognize Charles de Gaulle as head of a Provisional French Government.

Churchill had no sooner returned from Moscow than he was asked by the French to come to Paris for discussions on the role of French forces in the remaining campaigns against Germany, as well as the future occupation of German territory. Charles de Gaulle was determined, first, that Germany should be divided and demilitarized; and, second, that France should take its rightful position as a first line state in the postwar era. Informed of French overtures, Roosevelt wrote to Churchill that "any attempt to include de Gaulle in the meeting of [Stalin, you and I] would merely introduce a complicating and undesirable factor."[67] Meanwhile, the French First Army was fighting with a vengeance and had reached the Rhine River just north of the Swiss border. All along the rest of the broad front stretching northward through the Ardennes to Arnhem (Holland), the Allied advance had slowed in the face of relentless rains and over-extended supply lines. Generals Montgomery and Bradley had each argued for a massive, concentrated attack through the German defenses; Eisenhower, however, decided upon the more cautious strategy of first establishing his supply lines, then pushing ahead along the entire front. After the war, Montgomery criticized Eisenhower and suggested the war could have been won months earlier:

We did not advance to the Rhine on a broad front; we advanced to the Rhine on several fronts which were unco-ordinated. And what was the German answer? A single and concentrated punch in the Ardennes, when we had become unbalanced and unduly extended. So we were caught on the hop.[68]

More objective military historians generally acknowledge the wisdom of Eisenhower's tactics. His strategic priority was to first seize enough territory to protect the port facilities of Antwerp from counter-attack. Until this was accomplished, he reasoned, any deep penetration -- even by Montgomery -- would expose the troops to heavy casualties. The Germans were soon to demonstrate they still possessed considerable fighting capabilities and that Antwerp was indeed the most important piece of territory held by the Allies.

On December 16, with foul weather grounding the Allied air forces, Hitler unleashed everything the Germans had left in an effort to recapture Antwerp. German panzer divisions burst from the Ardennes toward Liege and Bastogne, initially surprising the U.S. forces holding these sectors. The U.S. ground troops put up a strong resistance until reinforcements could be brought up. Bastogne held, denying to the Germans essential supplies of petrol and exposing them to air and armored counter-attack. General Patton's 4th Armored Division relieved Bastogne after completing a seventy-five mile advance in only forty-eight hours. Forced to abandon their panzers and much of their equipment, the German troops began their final retreat. In the end, the loss of this equipment softened German resistance from then on. Early in March, the U.S. 1st Army captured a bridge over the Rhine at Remagen, just south of Bonn, and poured across into the heart of Germany.

A quarter of a million German soldiers had perished since June 6; organized resistance was by this time rapidly eroding. By the end of April, Soviet troops were on the outskirts of Berlin. The Allied armies pushing through the Ruhr Valley surrounded and captured a force of some 320,000 German troops. Die-hard Nazi officials were moving, at Hitler's direction, to destroy the German industrial plant and infrastructure before the Allies or Soviets arrived. Those now thinking of the postwar and reconstruction, such as Albert Speer, worked hard to deny these zealots the explosives and gasoline demanded by "the Gauleiters' demolition squads."[69] In his last frenzy of despotic orders, Hitler declared that any soldiers caught out of uniform were to be executed as deserters, and officers who failed to hold positions were subject to the same treatment. In the meantime, U.S. divisions had come within sixty miles of Berlin before being redirected by Eisenhower toward the southeast, leaving the taking of Berlin to the Soviets. Hitler, Goebbels, Himmler and (following the Nuremberg trials) Goering escaped execution for war crimes by choosing death. In the end, only a handful of Nazi leaders were executed for the vast crimes committed against humanity; most of the others brought to trial received sentences that were eventually commuted. Only Rudolf Hess, the details of his actions shrouded in mystery, remained in prison until he committed suicide (or was murdered) in 1987 at Spandau prison. Speer, who was sentenced to and served twenty years at Spandau, made an effort to put into context the full depth of the tragedy imposed on the world by the Nazi regime:

Hitler's dictatorship was the first dictatorship of an industrial state in this age of modern technology, a dictatorship which employed to perfection the instruments of technology to dominate its own people. ...By means of such instruments of technology as the radio and public-address systems, eighty million persons could be made subject to the will of one individual. ...The instruments of technology made it possible to maintain a close watch over all citizens and to keep criminal operations shrouded in a high degree of secrecy. ...Dictatorships of the past needed assistants of high quality in the lower ranks of the leadership also -- men who could think and act independently. The authoritarian system in the age of technology can do without such men. The means of communication alone enable it to mechanize the work of the lower leadership. Thus the type of uncritical receiver of orders is created.[70]

Eric Hoffer would later add, that "[d]ying and killing seem easy when they are part of a ritual, ceremonial, dramatic performance or game." Thus, "[i]t is one of the main tasks of a real leader to mask the grim reality of dying and killing by evoking in his followers the illusion that they are participating in a grandiose spectacle, a solemn or lighthearted dramatic performance."[71] Hitler and Goebbels had perfected their craft, and the German people as a whole had followed in virtual disregard for their own preservation as individuals. The price they and others paid continues to astonish our sensibilities. Finally, by the Spring of 1945 the odyssey and the nightmare was over. War continued in the Pacific; however, the most serious socio-political confrontations appearing on the horizon involved the surviving empire-builders, new and old. The basis for even nominally cooperative relations between the private, landlord dominated social democracies and the Stalinist regimes was fast disappearing.

The first crisis point arose in Poland, where Poles had organized a widespread nationalist resistance movement. Its leadership came from the government-in-exile established in London. Stalin had stood by while the retreating Germans used the last of their destructive energies to crush the Poles, then moved in to force Soviet occupation and establish a regime directly accountable to him. Two hundred thousand Polish soldiers were fighting alongside U.S. and British empire troops in the liberation of Europe. Their homeland was free of Germans but was immediately threatened by Soviet domination. These soldiers would be viewed as enemies of the State upon their return, and many would be executed or imprisoned. Solzhenitsyn, in chilling fashion, eventually revealed to the world many of the details of the Stalinist onslaught against humanity. In this, the U.S. and British governments of the time are to be chastised -- even condemned by history -- for their duplicity, knowing full well the fate to befall repatriated anti-communists:

All during 1945 and 1946 a big wave of genuine, at-long-last, enemies of the Soviet government flowed into the Archipelago. ...Some of them had acted out of conviction; others had been merely involuntary participants.

Along with them were seized not less than one million fugitives from the Soviet governmentt -- civilians of all ages and of both sexes who had been fortunate enough to find shelter on Allied territory, but who in 1946-1947 were perfidiously returned by Allied authorities into Soviet hands.

A certain number of Poles, members of the Home Army, followers of Mikolajczyk, arrived in Gulag in 1945 via our prisons. ...[72]

It is surprising that in the West, where political secrets cannot be kept long, ...the secret of this particular act of betrayal has been very well and carefully kept by the British and American governments.[73]

As the Allied armies approached one another from opposite ends of the German Reich, the last meeting of the Big Three took place at Yalta in the Crimea. Here, during February of 1945, the fate of the Poles was foremost in the minds of each participant. Although Stalin agreed to the formation of a Provisional Government that included representatives from all groups to serve until national elections could be held, his actions assured that the Soviet-backed faction experienced no effective opposition. Only as information slowly leaked out of Poland, however, did U.S. and British authorities finally come to understand the depth of Stalin's determination to turn Poland into a dutiful satellite. Churchill later wrote that, "[a]s the weeks passed after Yalta it became clear that the Soviet Government was doing nothing to carry out our agreements about broadening the Polish Government to include all Polish parties and both sides."[74] There were other signs that a polarization of interest between the victorious powers was in the making.

Switzerland was now the center for U.S. intelligence operations in Europe, under the direction of Allen Dulles. With the end closing in on the Germans, Dulles and his staff had more than their share of contacts with partisans, exiled German socialists and communists, as well as Nazis and other Germans eager to surrender to the western Allies rather than be caught in the grasp of the Soviets. Early in March Dulles agreed to meet with General Karl Wolff, commander of the SS forces in northern Italy, to discuss the surrender of his army. Himmler somehow learned of the meeting and threatened the lives of Wolff's wife and children. At the same time, Stalin -- though kept informed at every stage of these negotiations -- angrily accused the U.S. and Britain of secretly engaging in negotiations with agents of the Nazi occupation force in Italy for surrender. Then, on April 12 a very ill Franklin Roosevelt died. Roosevelt's Vice President and successor, Harry S. Truman, had been in the administration for only three months and included in almost no meetings of a critical nature. Although Truman had proved himself to be high-minded in the U.S. Senate, his experience and knowledge in the foreign policy arena were far from extensive. Now, as President, he was charged with nurturing Roosevelt's objectives through the mine fields of postwar negotiations.

One of Truman's first decisions -- to rebuff Wolff's overtures for surrender of his troops in Italy -- seems, in hindsight, to have unnecessarily caused the deaths of thousands of soldiers on both sides and gained nothing from the Soviets. He would later justify his actions in the context of East-West relations:

As our military plans continued to develop with unrivaled speed, frightened Nazi leaders began seeking deals with the Western Allies. The thought of falling into Russian hands drove them into a panic. As the lesser of two evils, they turned to us. One of these attempts at a separate deal had already made some trouble for us with the Russians. In March, General Karl Wolff ... had started parleys with American OSS agents in Switzerland with a view toward the possible surrender of Kesselring's German army in Italy. Nothing ever came of these parleys except to make the Russians highly suspicious of our motives.[75]

It is hard to imagine that Stalin or many of his inner circle cared at all about the sacrifice of so many millions at the hands of the Germans. After all, they were equally responsible for the deaths of millions of people subject to their rule. What Stalin actually cared about is pure speculation. Yet, Adam Ulam writes that while Roosevelt was still alive, Stalin was "seized by a panic. …[S]uddenly it occurred to him that [his allies] were fooling him" and "were about to make a separate arrangement with Germany."[76] Through Molotov, Stalin demanded that the negotiations with Wolff be broken off. Roosevelt became extremely angered over Stalin's charges. "He tried to compose a statesmanlike reply, and couldn't,"[77] writes Jim Bishop. He finally received assistance from a host of others and constructed a detailed response to Stalin dispatched only days before his death:

For the advantage of our common war effort against Germany, which today gives excellent promise of an early success in a disintegration of the German armies, I must continue to assume that you have the same high confidence in my truthfulness and reliability that I have always had in yours. ...

I have complete confidence in General Eisenhower, and know that he certainly would inform me before entering into any agreement with the Germans. He is instructed to demand, and will demand, unconditional surrender of enemy troops that may be defeated on his front. Our advances on the Western Front are due to military action. ...

Finally I would say this: it would be one of the great tragedies of history if at the very moment of the victory now within our grasp such distrust, such lack of faith, should prejudice the entire undertaking after the colossal losses of life, material, and treasure involved.

Frankly, I cannot avoid a feeling of bitter resentment toward your informers, whoever they are, for such vile misrepresentations of my actions or those of my trusted subordinates.[78]

Truman later wrote that the decision to break off negotiations with Wolff was urged upon him by Churchill. If Stalin was no longer trusted as a wartime or postwar partner, the lives of U.S. and German troops were apparently perceived by Truman and Churchill as a small enough price to pay to protect the facade of the Grand Alliance. Moreover, after years of war against the Germans, Italians and their subordinate states, the need for peace was real. This did not mean the U.S. and Britain would simply allow Stalin's agents to seize power. Within Italy, for example, the Anglo-American forces denied both the French and the Soviets more than a token presence. After the resignation of Cordell Hull, U.S. officials in Italy openly pursued a more aggressive anti-communist policy. This was most difficult in the north, where communist partisan forces had participated in the fighting and enjoyed widespread popular support.

Hitler, as ever, acted in Italy with absolutely no strategic consistency. He ordered several divisions moved from Italy to slow the Soviet advance into Germany. On April 8, the U.S. forces launched their final offensive against the remaining Germans, and within a week had pushed the Germans out of their mountain defenses and across the northern Italian plain. What soon emerged was a rough coalition between Communists, Socialists and Christian Democrats -- their competition for power kept peaceful by the presence of a British occupation force. Italy was in this way protected from violent upheaval, its government permitted to find its own balance between the forces for socio-political change and those upholding the status quo in support of ancient privilege.

As the war in Eurasia drew to its anticlimactic finish, Churchill pondered the immediate future, and on April 29 in great candor wrote to Stalin, admitting, "[t]here is not much comfort in looking into a future where you and the countries you dominate, plus the Communist Parties in many other States, are all drawn up on one side, and those who rally to the English-speaking nations and their associates or Dominions are on the other."[79] Churchill added that history would not treat well those deemed responsible for polarizing humanity after all the sacrifices made to defeat Fascism. Stalin was unmoved. At the same time, we are told by Adam Ulam that Stalin "was very conscious that in the struggle for peace Russia would find herself face to face with the enormous power of America, supplemented by the still not inconsiderable assets of the British Empire."[80] By comparison, all the resources that could be marshalled by the Soviets would be needed to rebuild their nation. In 1962, Louis Aragon summarized just how extensive the damage had been:

In this country where 1,710 towns had been destroyed, more than seventy thousand villages, forty thousand miles of railway and 1,135 mines which had given more than a hundred million tons of coal a year before the war; in this country which had lost seven million horses, seventeen million head of cattle, et cetera ... and in which there were twenty-five million homeless people, the victory that had been won by the energy and the spirit of sacrifice of a great nation did not for that great nation mean a time of rest.[81]

The accomplishments of the Soviet peoples against the German onslaught are indeed remarkable, particularly given the type of system they were forced to live under and the despotic nature of their leadership group. Stalin convinced himself that only under his direction could the energy of the Soviet people be harnessed to exploit the nation's natural resources, employing a rapidly constructed industrial capacity to establish the Soviet Union as a permanent global power. The stability of his regime -- and the ability of Stalinism to flourish without exposure to corrupting Western influence -- required an encircling buffer zone. Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, the Baltic States, Rumania and Bulgaria were all essential to this mission.

Once Stalin's intentions were clearly demonstrated, those in the West who were on record as supporting a rapprochement with the Soviets were increasingly subjected to charges of being communist sympathizers. Memories were to become extremely short in the months and years to come. In this atmosphere, even the crowning achievement of Roosevelt's foreign policy, the establishment of the United Nations -- with power to resolve global conflicts -- was far from secure. One of Truman's first decisions as President was to confirm to the Cabinet members that the conference on the United Nations scheduled for April 25 in San Francisco would proceed as planned. In rapid succession, he was briefed by Secretary of War Stimson on the Manhattan Project and then provided with a detailed foreign relations report summarizing the problems arising in U.S.-Soviet affairs, a portion of which stated:

Since the Yalta Conference the Soviet Government has taken a firm and uncompromising position on nearly every major question that has arisen in our relations. ...In the liberated areas under Soviet control, the Soviet government is proceeding largely on a unilateral basis... The Soviet Government appears to desire to proceed with the San Francisco Conference but was unwilling to send their Foreign Minister. They have asked for a large postwar credit and pending a decision on this matter have so far been unwilling to conclude an agreement providing for the orderly liquidation of lend-lease aid. In the politico-military field, similar difficulties have been encountered in collaboration with the Soviet authorities.[82]

The same report suggested that Yugoslav forces might attempt to occupy part of northeastern Italy. Churchill, deeply troubled by these developments, had already exerted as much influence as possible on Eisenhower to press eastward. "I deem it highly important," he wrote Eisenhower on April 2, "that we should shake hands with the Russians as far to the east as possible."[83] Eisenhower responded that his primary objectives had to be those of military importance and that any actions dictated by purely political considerations were beyond his prerogative and authority. Orders to do other than what he thought best for the conduct of the war would have to come from Washington. While Truman re-evaluated the situation, Soviet forces captured Vienna on April 13 and prepared for the final assault on Berlin. By the end of the month the city was surrounded by General Zhukov's army; Hitler, already entombed in the Chancellory bunker, committed suicide. Churchill and Truman (with support from Acting Secretary of State Joseph Grew) wanted Eisenhower to balance the scales by liberating Prague and occupying as much territory in Czechoslovakia as possible. Eisenhower responded that his decisions would continue to be guided by military necessity. The German surrender came on May 7, to the relief and excitement of millions of people throughout the countries of Eurasia. In Britain, however, Churchill allowed his people only a few days to celebrate the peace. He warned the British and the peoples of Europe against the rise of "totalitarian or police Governments," of the battles yet to be waged against the Japanese and of the need for a strong and democratic United Nations. The objectives of the Soviets were, he was now convinced, wholly imperialistic and a certain threat not merely to the establishment of social democracies for Eurasia's liberated peoples but to the vestiges of empire for Britain as well.

Writing from a purely Soviet perspective, V.G. Trukhanovsky concluded that Churchill's efforts to gain concessions from the Soviets amounted to "suppression of the revolution that had been developing in [eastern Europe] and retention of the capitalist system."[85] Without doubt, those who sought to overthrow the ancient regimes were socialist and communist true believers who had little understanding of or faith in social democracy. In Poland and other countries of eastern Europe, there were few measures softening the tyranny of agrarian, urban and industrial landlordism. Even in Prussia many of the elements of agrarian landlordism and aristocratic rule were deeply-rooted and preserved under Nazism. Sovereignty combined with socialism offered the masses in Soviet-held territories the prospect of something heretofore denied to them. The serious structural flaws attached to state socialism (e.g., a reliance on fear rather than individual initiative as the motivation to produce wealth) were not widely appreciated; however, there was nowhere an upsurge of mass support for Soviet-style communism as the new system of choice. Destruction of fascism opened the door for competition between old-line socialist and communist factions. With Soviet forces in occupation, there could be little doubt which group would emerge victorious.

Astonishingly, there were still some in the West (not all of whom were communists or socialists) who thought or hoped the Soviets would emerge from the war united behind a progressive socialist agenda. As late as 1947, the British historian K.W.B. Middleton suggested that the Churchillian view of Soviet policies as "ruthless and self-regarding" were "palpably exaggerated and unfair," while in the same breadth he recounted how Soviet forces left those conquered without means of support:

The Russians, having overrun as much country as they could, appeared determined to exploit their position by every possible means from the point of view of Russian security and profit, before the Western Powers could obstruct them. They, or governments under Communist influence set up by them, drove out German populations from Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia, and stripped Germany and Austria bare of machinery, cattle, stocks of clothing, fuel, household furniture and all kinds of movable property, even dismantling and packing up whole factories for dispatch eastwards.[86]

One must, of course, view the Soviet transfer of wealth out of Germany in the context of the scorched earth practices of the German armies and their allies against the Soviet peoples. With good reason, the Soviet troops sought not only victory but revenge and retribution for the suffering they and their people had endured. The Soviet soldier or citizen had good reason to demand the fruits of a hard won victory. It was, after all, the Germans who were responsible for their own fate. Roosevelt himself had in 1944 told Henry Stimson that "[t]he German people as a whole must have it driven home to them that the whole nation has been engaged in a lawless conspiracy against the decencies of modern civilization."[87] Inasmuch as the Soviet people (on a par with the Poles and Eurasian Jews of all nations) suffered so heavily at the hands of the Germans, justice demanded that out of whatever material wealth remained in Germany the Soviets ought to have first claim. At issue was how much to leave the Germans so they could feed themselves and begin rebuilding. Stalin apparently did not immediately give consideration to the development in eastern Germany of a client Soviet state.

Over the months leading up to the Yalta Conference, Roosevelt had been pressed hard by Henry Morgenthau, the Treasury Secretary, to adopt a harsh postwar policy toward Germany. At the State Department, Edward Stettinius and others warned this policy would thoroughly jeopardize any hope of democratic elements in Germany coming to power. They argued that an industrialized Germany was central to economic growth and political stability in Europe, which meant that whatever reparations were imposed must be reasonable and made in the form of goods or services rather than gold or currency. At Yalta, the Soviets agreed to this formula -- up to a point. With many of their own people starving, the Soviets were less than anxious to commit agricultural goods from their zone to feed Germans. Back in Washington, Morgenthau reasserted his views upon Roosevelt only weeks before the President's death, leaving Truman with the difficult decision of whether or not to extend U.S. credit to the postwar German government. In May, Truman made his feelings known; he was, he later wrote, "opposed to what was then loosely called the Morgenthau Plan -- that is, the reduction of Germany to a wholly agrarian economy."[88] On the eve of the meeting at Potsdam, Morgenthau, knowing of Truman's decision, decided to resign. Truman, it seems, had already developed his own vision of how the Old World could be transformed into a cooperative network of producing nations:

The problem ... was to help unify Europe by linking up the breadbasket [with Hungary a cattle country and Rumania and the Ukraine as the wheat area] with the industrial centers [Western Germany, Northern France, Belgium, and Britain with their coal, iron, and big industries] through a free flow of trade. To facilitate this flow, the Rhine and the Danube could be linked with a vast network of canals which would provide a passage all the way from the North Sea to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. This would constitute free waterways for trade, while each country bordering on the waterways would have the riparian rights it should have. In addition, it would be possible to extend the free waterways of the world by linking the Rhine-Danube waterways with the Black Sea straits and making the Suez, Kiel, and Panama canals free waterways for merchant ships.[89]

All this would require an enormous amount of cooperation between nations, including the Soviet Union, of course. Truman was in for some rude awakenings.

On the 7th of July, 1945, Truman boarded the heavy cruiser U.S.S. Augusta for the trip to Europe and the conference at Potsdam. Two days earlier, the British elections had been held; the results would not be known until the conference was well underway. Two weeks into the conference, negotiating over the disposition of Prussia's agricultural lands, Stalin informed Truman and Churchill there were no longer any Germans in the area. Truman recalls as well that "Stalin asserted that the less industry there was in Germany the greater would be the market for American and British goods. Germany was a dangerous business rival, he said, unless we kept her on her knees."[90] Beyond keeping Germany weak, Stalin was most concerned about receiving an equal share of the surviving ships in the German fleet, reparations, who would govern in Poland and what to do about the fascist regime in Spain. Among other things, Churchill was far less anxious than Truman to embrace Italy as a rehabilitated postwar partner. They touched on (and then delegated to a council of their foreign ministers) the immediate fates of Greeks, Yugoslavs, Bulgarians, Rumanians, Hungarians, Finns, Czechs and Slovaks. Churchill was also keenly concerned over the future of North Africa and the Mediterranean states. Stalin also had on his mind the securing (from Turkey) of permanent access to the Mediterranean. Other questions of territorial integrity and sovereignty surrounded discussions on Syria, Iran and Lebanon.

For Truman, the one other matter of great importance to be discussed was primarily military and involved the strategy for future operations against the Japanese. The U.S. and British military staffs had been meeting daily since their arrival at Potsdam; and, on July 24th presented their recommendations to Truman and Churchill. Senior Soviet officers were later brought in to coordinate plans for engaging the Japanese in Manchuria, scheduled for late August. The next day, after exchanging details on the shortages and desperate conditions being experienced by the British and Soviet peoples, Churchill and Eden returned to Britain.

The Sun Sets on Japanese Ambitions

Beginning with the Japanese withdrawal from Guadalcanal in February of 1943 the strategic advantage in the Pacific War shifted irretrievably to the Allied forces. General MacArthur then assumed overall command of the combined naval, air and ground forces. The size and fighting capability of this force was growing each and every day by more than any of the military planners had dreamed possible. One Japanese minister reported in 1943 to his superiors that the U.S. was outproducing Japan in strategic areas by " a ratio of one hundred to less than one"[91] and predicted total ruin for the Japanese nation if the war continued. U.S. losses were being rapidly replaced, while the Japanese High Command was forced to adopt a defensive posture they hoped could be sustained until their air and naval fleets could be strengthened. MacArthur was not about to give the Japanese forces a chance to catch their breath.

The Japanese had established their strongest Southern Pacific base at Rabaul on the island of New Britain. As a step toward neutralizing Rabaul, in September of 1943 U.S. and Australian forces were landed on the northeastern coast of New Guinea. After securing these positions, MacArthur dispatched another strike force to the far western coast of New Britain. The Japanese defenders were drawn from Rabaul to meet this challenge, allowing a second and stronger force to be put ashore behind them. Not only were reinforcements prevented from reaching the Japanese attack force, the base at Rabaul was pounded relentlessly from the air until the Japanese were forced to withdraw their air and naval fleets northward to Truk, in the Caroline Islands. Left isolated and essentially unable to threaten the Allied advance, the Japanese army on Rabaul was then by-passed. In early April of 1944, MacArthur's forces took Los Negros and Manus in the Admiralty Islands, establishing a new base of operations closer still to the next U.S. objective -- the Philippines.

U.S. naval and marine operations commanded by Admiral Chester Nimitz were at the same time concentrating their efforts in the island groups north of New Guinea and directly east of the Philippines -- the Gilberts, Marshalls, Carolines and Marianas. Virtually every Japanese position on these islands was either taken or destroyed, then abandoned. At the end of this campaign, U.S. forces were poised for a combined assault on the Japanese in the Philippines and for air strikes on the main islands of Japan. In the process, Japanese air power and carrier-based attack forces were decimated. In Japan, General Tojo and the war cabinet resigned in disgrace.

MacArthur was now determined to fulfill his commitment to the people of the Philippines. The invasion was preceded in September by the bombardment and destruction of Japanese airfields. A month later, MacArthur and Nimitz sailed unopposed into Leyte Gulf at the head of an invasion force rivaling that which earlier landed at Normandy. When the remainder of the Japanese fleet finally did respond a week later, their impact was minimal. After experiencing heavy losses, the survivors retired. Despite the introduction of the kamikaze to the naval battle, a tactic that delivered considerable damage on Allied forces, by the end of January 1945 the Japanese force in the Philippines was running out of planes and pilots to put into the air. On the other hand, a ground force of between 370-400,000 troops prepared to take on MacArthur.

Under Japanese direction, the puppet regime of Philipino collaborators (most of whom were among those who had the most to lose personally should they antagonize the Japanese) was forced to declare war on the U.S. and Britain. Philipino partisans, whose leadership included a number of dedicated revolutionaries committed to Marxist ideology, were fighting not simply for liberation from Japanese occupation but for liberation from control of the entrenched landed class that for centuries had kept them landless and impoverished. One of the saddest commentaries on U.S. involvement in the Philippines is that MacArthur's own liaison with the partisans, lieutenant colonel Courtney Whitney, was a person who had significant personal investments in the Philippines and had been close to many of the Philipino elite who collaborated with the Japanese. Whitney did his best to ensure that meaningful participation in the postwar government would be denied to Philipino peasants and the partisans.

To hold the Philippines the Japanese committed their entire naval and air reserves. Loss of the Philippines meant the fleet would be cut off from its only remaining source of oil and become useless anyway. On October 18, MacArthur's invasion force of some 200,000 seasoned troops landed on the island of Leyte. In addition to land based aircraft from Luzon committed to the battle, the Japanese converged on the transports and other ships off Leyte with everything they had. One Japanese group managed to lure the U.S. fleet away from its position then double back in time to surprise the invasion force. A major setback was avoided, however, when the Japanese admiral turned cautious and retreated, fearing his ships would come under heavy aerial bombardment. From this point on, the Japanese threat from the air and sea almost disappeared; the Japanese military was augmented, however, by terrible monsoons that rendered airfields useless. Protection of the ground troops fell to carrier-based planes, which proved themselves to be highly effective. In mid-November, U.S. naval planes intercepted a Japanese reinforcement convoy, resulting in the deaths of some ten thousand Japanese troops. Leyte had already been reinforced with thirty thousand troops from Luzon. Now, all of these men were sacrificed in little more than a delaying action. More than sixty-five thousand Japanese casualties were suffered in the battles for control of the islands of Leyte and nearby Mindoro.

By the beginning of 1945 MacArthur's force was ready to drive the remaining 275,000 Japanese from Luzon. Although the bulk of the Japanese force retreated into the northern mountains, the Japanese naval commander in Manila, Rear Admiral Sanji Iwabachi, decided to defend his position to the last man. In the process, Manila was almost totally destroyed while the Japanese military committed mass murder of the Filipino population. Manila was finally cleared of Japanese early in March, and by mid-April remnants of the once enormous Japanese army were being flushed out of the mountains. Elsewhere, Saipan and Iwo Jima fell to the U.S. Marines, becoming the forward bases for continuous bombing raids on Japanese cities. During one raid alone over Tokyo -- that of March 9-10 -- more than 80,000 people were killed. Japanese production was nearing a standstill, and the people of Japan began to yearn for their own nightmare to end. In April over 110,000 Japanese (including nearly 2,000 kamikaze pilots) were killed in a desperate and fruitless struggle to prevent U.S. forces from capturing the island of Okinawa. The end of the war was clearly in sight; the only question was whether the Japanese military would force on the people of Japan the complete destruction of their nation in a grotesque mass suicide.

MacArthur now began the process of building the invasion force which would have the unenviable task of annihilating a defensive force of at least several million Japanese troops. Some 10,000 kamikaze pilots were being hastily trained for their final battle. A certain, terrible but brief calm settled over Japan. The people prepared for the worst, none suspecting that the force about to be unleashed against them was of a wholly new and terrible sort.

Conquered Lands, Sacrificed Peoples

While the Japanese dug themselves in for what most expected would be a direct assault on their homeland, people in many other parts of the globe were beginning to think about problems exacerbated or brought into the open by the war. For Harry S. Truman and other leaders in the United States, in particular, the immediate challenges were whether to make permanent the centralized functions of the national government concerning wealth production and distribution. Fighting the Axis powers had cost the British a sum never accurately calculated, yet British leaders had very similar -- if even more immediate -- issues of societal change and demands for shifts in wealth distribution facing them. They also owned the added burden of an empire beset by impatient nationalists determined to secure independence for their peoples. Political division and economic chaos plagued all efforts to restore order in France. A real question was whether the French would follow Britain on the path to greater social democracy, fall under the grip of extremism, or simply return to the socio-political arrangements and institutions that had repeatedly thwarted the rise of French liberalism. Jean Monnet later placed in the context of postwar Europe the consequences of any course but that of real reform:

If, as I believed, the Provisional Government proved capable of preventing anarchy or a Communist takeover, there would soon be a tendency to return to the old order. In that case, the greatest danger would be that of rebuilding a Europe made up of sovereign States, each exposed to the facile temptations of protectionism.[92]

During the years before the Second World War, the wealthy in France sought safer harbors outside the country for their financial reserves. Within the government, French nationalism went only so far as having to absorb losses in purchasing power either through devaluation of the currency or increased taxation. As in Britain, the preservation of privilege remained a primary concern of conservative elements as they contemplated the postwar rebuilding effort. Monnet had the wartime experience of working in Washington, D.C. with U.S. officials on armament production needs, and had then been sent by Harry Hopkins to Algiers early in 1943 to assist in the negotiations to arm and bring the free French forces into the war. Dealing with his own country's military and political leaders, much discussed ensued over the future of France itself. As Monnet recalled:

I had never a moment's doubt about what that struggle meant; but so long as the physical prerequisites for Liberation were not attained, I had always refused to imagine what France's political future might be after the war. …On the other hand, however, every day brought new and more worrying evidence of political confusion about the future of France. The ensuing dissensions were dividing ally from ally, Frenchmen from Frenchmen, and the Allies in general from the French themselves. I realized that we must go further than simply stating very general principles, further than I had imagined when I was in Washington, and further perhaps than the Allies thought necessary and sufficient from the immediate conduct of the war.[93]

From that point on, Monnet participated in the newly-established "French Committee of National Liberation" that would create the blueprint for a postwar France. At de Gaulle's urging, Monnet returned to the United States in mid-November of 1943 to do what could be done to represent French - and what he perceived as European -- interests. "If … the Provisional Government proved capable of preventing anarchy or a Communist takeover," he wrote in his memoirs, "there would soon be a tendency to return to the old order. In that case, the greatest danger would be that of rebuilding a Europe made up of sovereign States, each exposed to the facile temptations of protectionism."[94] Yet, not even Monnet dared to think in Physiocratic terms -- of ridding European societies of the entrenched privilege enjoyed by the "old order" and adopting a program of reform based on laissez-faire, laissez-aller (i.e., a fair field with no favors). Instead, in December of 1945 he approached Charles de Gaulle with a proposal for cooperative national planning subsequently adopted by the French Cabinet. Already, under this plan the nation's energy production and coal mines were being nationalized. Allocation of these resources would be determined jointly by planning commissioners representing industry, labor and government. A new generation of economists would be kept busy gathering data and statistics on all crucial resources. And, in their move to build a uniquely planned economy, the French reformers looked not to the landlords receiving unearned income from their control over agricultural lands, urban locations or natural resource-laden lands; rather, and contrary to Monnet's desires, they would once again adopt protectionist measures to reduce competition from external producers. In the interim, financial support would have to come from the United States. "Without them," Monnet concluded, "the economy would founder; in which case anarchy, already latent, would become rife."[95] Monnet knew what he was talking about. As in Britain, French workers were demanding higher wages, better working conditions and greater security when they were no longer able to work. Moreover, both the communists and socialists would be strongly represented in the coalition government.

At the far eastern end of the Eurasian continent, the nationalist revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh was ready to test the French will to preserve their empire. To the Vietminh there was little distinction to be made between foreign oppressors. Although Japanese imperialism had been broken, the French telegraphed their intention of returning and Chiang Kai-shek's forces had moved into the northern regions of southeast Asia. In the chaos of the Japanese withdrawal, Ho seized his opportunity. Late in August, the Vietminh marched into Hanoi, then moved troops into Saigon. Ho was proclaimed president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and sought international recognition. From Ceylon came the French response. General Leclerc, commander of the French Asian forces, declared that France had no intention of relinquishing control over Indo-China. Mountbatten, who as Supreme Allied Commander in Southeast Asia was in a unique position to recognize the strength of the Vietminh, attempted to warn the French that any effort to restore colonial rule would be costly and in the end fruitless. The French were not about to relinquish control over territories they viewed as their natural right to exploit as one of the world's great powers.

With hostilities against the Japanese ended on the Asian mainland, the role of the United States -- which had few colonial or imperial responsibilities to resurrect -- became confused. Command of U.S. forces in China had been turned over to General Albert Wedemeyer late in 1944. Although Wedemeyer would later criticize Stilwell's "dictatorial attitude" in working with Chiang Kai-shek, his own assessment of conditions in China did not differ markedly from that of Stilwell:

The history of China reveals that it had never been a political entity in the sense that we understand a nation. The Generalissimo's position was not secure. There were ambitious, self-seeking Chinese generals who continued to oppose his regime. The Communists represented a group of revolutionaries with a private army and with an ideology wholly untraditional in the Chinese sense, both inspired and supported by the Soviet Union. There were many intellectuals who opposed the one-party system as represented by the Kuomintang and yet were strongly opposed to communism. The common enemy, Japan, had served to unite many recalcitrants, at least for a time, but it was evident that the Generalissimo did not exercise full control. ...Americans imagined that Chiang Kai-shek could simply give an order and it would be carried out. I realized that the Generalissimo, far from being a dictator, was in fact only the head of a loose coalition, and at times experienced great difficulty in securing obedience to his commands.[96]

Moreover, just as the defeat of Japan had opened the door for the Vietminh in southeast Asia, all of China was fast returning to its prewar struggle between competing factions. The disintegration began well before the Japanese surrender, which placed an incredible strain on Wedemeyer as military liaison. "It took me some months to get oriented to the realities of the power struggle between the Chinese Nationalist Government and the Communists," he admitted. In his opinion, "the political advisers provided by the State Department had been seduced for one reason or another into an undiscriminating, almost emotional, revulsion against the Nationalist Government."[97] Chiang Kai-shek was pressed to somehow establish order and control over a territory greater in size than the entire United States, with little more than a primitive transportation network, communications systems in disarray and widespread official corruption. The Chinese were facing not only civil war but almost certain Soviet aggression on the frontier over disputed territory.

When the Second World War ended, a million Japanese remained in Manchuria and an equal number were scattered throughout the Chinese mainland. General Chu Teh, commander of the communist troops in northern China, had moved quickly to disarm the Japanese and occupy as many cities and towns as possible. Both Wedemeyer and U.S. Ambassador Patrick Hurley urged that the Japanese be instructed to surrender only to Nationalist forces. For the foreseeable future, however, that was a practical impossibility. To gain time for the Nationalists, Truman directed MacArthur to dispatch representatives to all areas where Japanese forces remained in concentrated numbers. MacArthur, already on record with the view that Manchuria, Korea and much of northern China were lost to the Communists, refused to commit troops to support Chiang Kai-shek's efforts to consolidate Nationalist territorial positions. MacArthur understood his primary responsibility to be the occupation and administration of Japan, and Truman's own directive was that Japanese troops in Manchuria and in Korea north of the 38th parallel surrender to the Soviets. MacArthur accepted the formal Japanese surrender on the 2nd of September, aboard the U.S.S. Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay.

With Japan finally defeated, the British, French and Dutch were equally determined to hold on to their imperial outposts in Southeast Asia. Truman was in the unenviable position of searching for a principled expression of the U.S. commitment to ending the Old World subjugation of other peoples even though there were few, if any, sincere democratic initiatives to support. At home, U.S. voters expected demobilization and the return of their loved ones. Few Americans were prepared for the rapid deterioration of the Grand Alliance and the atmosphere of Cold War soon to be thrust upon them. Navigating these waters without triggering renewed warfare - this time with the Soviet Union as the adversary - presented an enormous challenge for Truman's administration and the U.S. foreign policy establishment.

As one surveys the global picture, the United States was one of only a handful of nations whose socio-political structure was not under siege by socialist, communist or nationalist factions. Moreover, as armies retreated and were pursued across the Eurasian continent, peasant populations were devastated and vast areas of agricultural land forced out of cultivation. Despite the best efforts of the United States and other food exporting nations, famine held millions of people around the globe in a terrible grip. Even in the United States, the list of shortages in basic foods was growing in the face of global demand. Lend-Lease agreements with Britain, the Soviet Union and France had been designed to last only until the end of hostilities; and, without serious consideration of the consequences, senior U.S. government officials recklessly issued an order for the flow of goods to stop. Drought in the Ukraine, a breakdown of collective agriculture, as well as the virtual absence of adult males or machinery all added up to widespread famine throughout the Soviet Union. Once these facts were set before Truman, he immediately announced that all commitments to U.S. allies would be fulfilled and humanitarian assistance expanded to the extent possible. Herbert Hoover, who had coordinated U.S. food relief efforts after the First World War, was enlisted by Truman to make a global tour and report back on conditions. Truman then announced above-market prices would be paid for corn, wheat and other cereals targeted for export and U.S. producers responded with increased output. As a result of timely intervention, although famine during 1945 was to remain widespread, the problem did not erupt into a breakdown of order. Little thought was given, however, to the potential for drought to occur in the U.S. where fragile prairie grasslands or semi-arid deserts had been brought into cultivation using intensive irrigation. The consequences of environmentally destructive practices were the concern of as yet a small number of concerned citizens. What most others were concerned with was a return to normalcy and to the task of providing goods for a civilian population eager to finally enjoy some of the fruits of their labor and the benefits of peace.

The Old World's socio-political institutions were severely damaged, if not quite ready to be overthrown entirely. Welfare states were in the process of being created - to some extent on foundations of social democracy - moving toward natural resource nationalization, greater public control over energy production, transportation and other goods and services deemed too essential to leave in private hands. Elsewhere, uprisings against colonial or imperial tyranny were dominated by individuals committed varying degrees of socialism. The truly revolutionary teachings of cooperative individualists such as Thomas Paine or Henry George - or even the early twentieth-century speeches made by Churchill and other Liberals against landlordism as the cornerstone of privilege and oppression -- were unknown to or ignored by these radical leaders. In the best instances, they were guided more by long-delayed quests for sovereignty and by a desire to return to communitarian societal organization. Rhetoric aside, none of the individuals holding or seizing power to decide for others how they ought to live offered a program in any sense based on just principles. At issue was whether primarily private or primarily statist forms of landlordism would prevail. Each relied on significant elements of legislative and regulatory corruption, of privileges sanctioned and protected by law and enforced by the police powers of the state. And, each depended upon the use of the military to prevent the have nots from disrupting the status quo. Each had at its service a growing cadre of intellectuals and bureaucrats schooled to perpetuate conventional wisdoms consistent with prevailing -- or revolutionary -- institutional arrangements.

Within the social democracies the controls, though well-established and deeply entrenched, were more subtle and mitigated by decentralized layers of government and judicial oversight. The intellectual wilderness abounded with individuals whose writings could be pointed to in celebration of free expression. Yet, there were few who could legitimately claim to have dedicated themselves to a postwar structure built on equality of opportunity, on a fair field with no favors or the principles of cooperative individualism. At best, policy makers in the West acknowledged the need for incremental moves toward the welfare state and the use by government of incentives, subsidies, tax exemptions and direct spending to mitigate the boom-to-bust characteristics of the so-called business cycle. The challenge would eventually become how to accomplish these objectives in an era of the multinational corporation and knowledge transfers yielding decentralized wealth production. Economic growth and stability would demand a level of voluntary, international cooperation among governments for which there was no precedent. Reflecting on the predicament in which the people of the U.S. found themselves, Walter Lippmann warned that "[w]isdom always lags behind power, and for the newcomer, which is what we are, the lag is bound to be greater than in an old established state where the exercise of world power is a matter of long experience and settled habit."[98] He might have also observed that those same old established states had brought the world to its current desperate condition. Notwithstanding this sentimental historical note, Lippmann did offer his fellow citizens one piece of relatively good advice:

Great as it is, American power is limited. Within its limits, it will be greater or less depending on the ends for which it is used. It is, for example, altogether beyond the limits of any power we possess to dictate to any one of our allies, even the smallest, how it must organize its social and economic order. We can preserve our own order if we improve so that it produces progressively that greater freedom and plenty which we believe it can produce. By proving the results, not by declaiming generalities and making threats, we can offer an example which others may wish to follow if and as they have the means to do so.[99]

In truth, no one was very sure what might happen in the United States once the government curtailed its demand for war goods and several millions of young men returned to compete for employment. Four years of continuous full employment had generated an enormous pool of individual savings. Wartime production controls denied people many consumer goods, particularly automobiles. For four years the nation's construction industry had built very few houses, and wartime marriages set the stage for a tremendous demand for new homes. Truman's analysts told him there was already a shortage of more than five million housing units. At minimum, government was obligated to nurture a smooth transition to peacetime production before dismantling its central planning apparatus.

CH 1 CH 2 CH 3 CH 4 CH 5 CH 6
1.1 2.1 3.1 4.1 5.1 6.1
1.2 2.2 3.2 4.2 5.2 6.2
1.3 2.3 3.3 4.3 5.3 6.3
1.4 2.4 3.4 4.4 5.4 6.4