166. Memorandum of Conversation0
- The President
- Ambassador Alan G. Kirk
After kind inquiries on the part of the President about my health, I said at once to him that I was in trouble this spring and summer and I was afraid he might be in trouble too; that the spring fever trouble was on, and the Gimo, now 76, having recovered from an operation similar to my own, having promised the people he would return to the mainland sooner or later, felt that now he must go. The Gimo speaks of the morale of his troops and the necessity of not keeping everybody at fever pitch too long. Then I explained that the gist of our study of the Chinese military plan for the invasion of the Mainland had been given to the Gimo by me on January 16. He had insufficient attack force for sea lift, air cover, supply and everything that went to make an invasion of a continent possible. I said further that from high sources we knew the Chinese military and other authorities were counting on dragging the United States into the party. The President then asked if they got ashore, could they stick? And I said, no, not without our help. He asked if the recent teams had been successful and I said all nine had been captured. They had lasted 7 to 10 days, that the Peiping Government had accused the United States of fostering the whole operation, that of course the equipment captured with the team was made in the United States and such was being exploited to our disadvantage.
I explained in connection with the Blue Lion study that I had said to the Gimo that 20 years had elapsed since the amphibious operations of the last war and that one must be prepared for different kinds of tactics now. The Gimo had agreed but said the ChiComs were not up-to-date in such matters. Whereupon the President questioned what the Gimo thought about India. Were the ChiComs ok? I replied the Gimo had said it was not the question of ChiCom superiority, the Indians were no good whatever.
We then touched on the C-123s and I said only two should go now, that despite the hassle over matters of good faith or not good faith, that is what we said we would give and that is all we will give. That I was opposed to sending five to Taiwan as the ChiNats would then try to make [Page 346]a large drop of 250 to 300 men and then we would have to send a fire rescue party to get them out. The President said, how many men can they take? The Chinese would pack from 250 to 300 men in them willy-nilly. Again I reiterated that the Gimo and his cohorts would expect the United States to come to the rescue and we would then be dragged in whether we wanted to or not. Further, I said I am sure that the Gimo et al. based everything on dragging us in.
I touched briefly upon our experience with the Gimo as the war in Asia drew to a close, when he flatly rejected our advice not to attack the ChiComs north of the Yellow River nor pursue them westward. The Gimo tried to regain Manchuria and lost his armies and their equipment. He went westward and again met disaster. He misgoverned the area south of the Yangtze and was detested by the local Chinese. He complained the U.S. let him down, and I felt if he ever did get back on the Mainland he would be ungrateful to the United States, and be very difficult to handle.
I told the President I had difficulty in seeing the Gimo, that he fobbed me off, felt that I did not understand the Chinese, and that I always brought up the Treaty. I further said that visitors were occasionally given messages to convey to President Kennedy in indirect means of a type that really should be sent through the U.S. Ambassador. It showed the Gimo could not get very far with me and he tried other and devious means of getting around, an old Chinese trick.
At the end I pointed out we had a difficult personality in the Gimo, age, health, glory, obstinate, etc. The President was good enough to say he had excellent reports about the mission and was gratified. I replied that my people all understood they were working for the President of the United States and nobody else. The President asked if I liked living conditions in Taiwan and I said not very much. That I wanted to get back as soon as I could, that I wanted to be there before the spring fever advanced; that I would be ambulatory after a little while and would be available if he wanted to send anyone out to Bethesda to talk with me.
- Source: Library of Congress Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Kennedy-Johnson Administrations, Subject Files, Kirk, Alan G. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Kirk. The meeting was held at the White House.↩