711.93/12–845: Telegram

The Acting Political Adviser in Japan ( Atcheson ) to the Secretary of State

196. On the basis of further clarification of Mr. Hurley’s charges, I offer comment, for such use as the Dept may deem advisable, as follows:

1. The telegram I sent from Chungking17 to which Mr. Hurley objected was an official confidential telegram to the Dept and for discussion with Mr. Hurley. Its contents were known only to the Embassy in Chungking and the Dept and Ambassador Hurley in Washington. Its subject matter was not made known or discussed with any Chinese or foreigner or anyone in Chungking outside the Embassy. Unless Mr. Hurley himself earlier informed others in regard to it, any information concerning it was first made public by Mr. Hurley a few days ago. In the light of these circumstances it is difficult to see how Mr. Hurley could consider it in any way a “sabotage” of American policy.

The telegram contained what were merely suggestions for the unification of Chinese military forces to be considered by the Dept and Ambassador Hurley, or to be ignored. The telegram requested specifically [Page 733] that its contents be discussed with Ambassador Hurley in Washington and they were so discussed. While it is of course to be regretted that this telegram has been misused, it was an honest telegram which will stand the light of examination both from the point of view of its inception and its purpose. The situation between the Central Govt and the Communists was deteriorating and it was the clear duty of the Chargé d’Affaires (myself) to submit for consideration any suggestions he could conceive which might possibly improve that situation. I am informed that when Mr. Hurley complained in the Dept in regard to the telegram he was informed by the then Under Secretary and the then Assistant Secretary in charge of Administration and by other officers of the Dept the telegram was considered entirely appropriate and proper; that it was the duty of officers in the field to report to the Dept conditions as they saw them and to make whatever suggestions and recommendations they felt to be desirable; and that I would have been failing in my duty if I had not endeavored to find some solution for the worsening situation and to submit suggestions to that end.

It is of no personal importance to me that the specific suggestions were not adopted. Officers everywhere are constantly making recommendations; it is a common experience that some recommendations are adopted and some are not.

As regards any subsequent “sabotage” I may respectfully point out that I was not on duty in the Dept until July; that during my 6 weeks there my work was principally Jap, Korean and Siamese affairs; that the only connection with China policy matters which I recall was some assistance I was asked to give in drafting instructions to the Moscow Embassy in connection with the recent Sino-Soviet Treaty agreements. Mr. Service’s period in the Dept was limited to routine administrative matters. In Tokyo we have of course no slightest connection with American policy toward China or what transpires in China.

2. General Hurley began his assignment in Chungking with a strong prejudice against the Dept and the Foreign Service and especially officers who had served with his predecessor. Even before his appointment was definite, I assured him that if he should become Ambassador, he would find that he had a competent professional staff of officers thoroughly devoted to the service and to their jobs, that they were making a life work of the service, that most of them had served under a number of chiefs, that they would be loyal to him as their new chief. I urged him to show confidence in them. I called the staff together and told them of these comments and all were in complete agreement that they would do their best for him. It was however, a fixed idea with him that there were officers in the Foreign Service and American military officers who were in opposition to him. For a long time he [Page 734] did not show us his telegrams to the President in regard to his negotiations with the Chinese Communists and did not in fact even report to the Dept in the matter but sent all his messages by channels other than the Embassy to the White House. When we finally persuaded him that an Ambassador had an obligation to report also to the Secretary of State, he called upon several officers to assist in putting into shape a series of telegrams to the Dept in regard to his activities.18

In his first drafts of these telegrams he inserted unwarranted and unbecoming references to his predecessor and also references to the “opposition” of Foreign Service and military officers. I pointed out to him that as we in the Embassy had not known the details of his activities, no officers there could very well be in opposition to them; and that now that we knew what was in progress, no officer in the Embassy was in opposition to his activities or objectives but on the contrary all were staunchly in favor thereof. In connection with one telegram concerning which he requested suggestions for revision I put such statement in a memorandum19 which is doubtless on file.

3. I may say categorically that during the time I was in Chungking there was not one officer at the Embassy who opposed in any way or was not in complete favor of the Ambassador’s efforts to bring the Central Govt and the Communists together, both for the sake of the unity and stability of China and for the sake of the urgent problem of diverting Central Govt and Communist forces from blockading each other to active fighting against the progressing Jap forces. The personnel and efficiency records of the officers he has attacked will all, I think, be found to contain statements as to their proven loyalty, integrity, subordination and devotion to duty under trying and sometimes dangerous wartime conditions. I regard his attacks upon those officers as well as upon me as completely unfounded, as based in the minimum on long standing prejudice, and as incomprehensible for any reasonable purpose especially in the light of our arduous efforts, against overwhelming odds, to assist him, to work for and with him and to please him.

  1. Telegram No. 324, February 28, 1 p.m., from the Chargé in China (Atcheson), p. 242.
  2. See pp. 192 ff., beginning with telegram No. 141, January 31, 6 p.m.
  3. Memorandum of January 31 by the Counselor of Embassy in China to the Ambassador in China, p. 190.