On American Values and Foreign Aid

views updated

On American Values and Foreign Aid

140. My Day

23 August 1946

New York, Thursday—None of us can help being worried and indignant over the shooting down of two of our unarmed transport planes which had wandered over the Yugoslav border. Conceding that there may be some hidden reason why our planes are forbidden to fly over a friendly country, it still seems a little difficult for the layman to understand.1

It seems, too, a trifle ironic to have American planes shot down, and Americans possibly killed, by planes and ammunition which had probably been acquired through lend-lease from this country! I remember the bitterness we felt when our boys in the Pacific, after some Japanese bombing, picked up bits of material with the imprint of "Made in the United States", and realized they were getting back scrap or manufactured materials which had been bought from us.2 At least that material was used against us by an enemy in wartime. But what is used against us by Yugoslavia was furnished to them as an ally to help them win the war, in which their interest was even more vital than ours.

I do not want food and medical supplies confused with military supplies, since the former were sent to Yugoslavia to help the people and I hope that we will always distinguish between the people and their governments in countries which are not our type of democracies. In our democracy, we can hold the people responsible for the government. While the people in countries like Yugoslavia, Russia and some other European countries, can still bring pressure in the long run, they cannot act as quickly, and their information is often less complete than ours, so they cannot be held completely responsible.

In spite of indignation and anxiety over what has occurred, I cannot help wondering where we have failed. There was a time during the war when we enjoyed the trust and respect of little and big nations everywhere. What has happened to turn that, in some cases, into suspicion and disdain? We cannot blame our leaders, because we are a democracy. Somehow we the people have failed.

In our haste to get back to the business of normal living, have we forgotten to be the great people that we were expected to be? We were the hope of the world—the people from whom justice and better things were expected. I don't think we were expected to be Santa Claus in a material way, though that is frequently said, but I think we were expected to stand firm for the right as we saw it, and not for the expedient.3

Perhaps the trouble has been that, on most of the international questions which have arisen, the people of this country have not bothered to decide what they thought was right. Take, for instance, Trieste, which is probably tied up with some of the things that have recently happened;4 take the question of Albania5 and of Italy and her claims.6 These are three questions on which the people of this country could and should have clear opinions, and they should express them to their leaders. Have they done this? I think not.

We want to avert war. Therefore, we must build up the United Nations. But we do not help them to find a permanent home—our voice is heard only in protest.7 We seem to have forgotten to weigh our values and to realize that we have to pay for the things we want. The payment which can bring about friendly and peaceful solutions is infinitely less costly than the payments which will have to be made if we are going to be an enemy to all the world.


1. Yugoslav airplanes forced one C-47 airplane down and shot down a second on August 19 in the airspace over Venezia Giulia, which the Yugoslavs contended belonged to them. The Yugoslavs interned the passengers and crew of the first flight and allowed them little or no contact with American embassy officials in Yugoslavia. At the same time they refused to release any information on the deaths of the five people aboard the second flight. Tensions escalated as the Yugoslav government (with Soviet support) accused the United States of violating its airspace on these and other previous occasions in order to spy. The United States denied the charge. On August 21, the United States gave the Yugoslavs an ultimatum: release the survivors of the first incident and let US representatives communicate with the survivors of the second (then thought to be alive) within forty-eight hours or face possible UN Security Council action. On August 22, the Yugoslavs released seven Americans and two Hungarians aboard the first plane. (Another survivor—a Turkish national recovering from wounds sustained during the incident—was released later.) The Yugoslavs also allowed US military representatives to view the remains of those on the second flight to confirm their deaths (Acheson, 195; Lees, 14-16; "Nine Men Released," NYT, 23 August 1946, 1; "All Flyers Dead, Survey Indicates," NYT, 27 August 1946, 1; "Turk Wounded in Attack on Plane Is Free to Leave, Yugoslavs Say," NYT, 28 August 1946, 3).

2. Up until September 26, 1940, when FDR ordered an embargo on sales of scrap metal to Japan, Japan purchased large quantities of scrap iron and steel from the United States, which then were used to make shells, bullets, and other war materiel ("Roosevelt Moves," NYT, 27 September 1940, 1; "Silk Cycle," Time, 9 March 1942, 9; "Estimate Board Dooms 2D Ave. 'El'," NYT, 29 May 1942, 19; "Scrap Made Junk by Our Fighters, Returns from World Battlefields," NYT, 17 January 1943, 1).

3. Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson noted this trend in a June 1946 speech when he said, "The slogans, 'Bring the boys home!' and 'Don't be Santa Claus,' are not among our more gifted or thoughtful contributions to the creation of a free and tranquil world" (Acheson, 196).

4. See n1 above. The USSR backed the Yugoslavs' claim to Trieste and the surrounding area while Great Britain, France, and United States supported Italy's claim. In June 1945, the area was temporarily divided into two zones with the center zone including Trieste under Allied control and the suburban section under Yugoslav control. However, emotions continued to run high, and riots occurred in the city in March 1946. In April, the foreign ministers of the Four Powers met in Paris to resolve the situation but made little progress. At a second meeting in the summer the Allies reached a compromise that established a Free Territory of Trieste under the authority of the UN Security Council. Both Italy and Yugoslavia continued to contest the settlement that became part of the final treaty signed in 1947 and in 1954, the area was again divided. Italy retained Trieste and the coast zone became part of Yugoslavia (J. Miller, 199-201; Brecher and Wilkenfeld, 250-52; "Trieste Area Agreement," NYT, 10 June 1945, 6; "New Fighting in Trieste," NYT, 26 March 1946, 6; "Big Four Disagree on Plan for Trieste," NYT, 4 August 1946, 19; "Tito to Help Draw Line," NYT, 23 June 1947, 6; OEWH; EUN).

5. Neither the United States nor Great Britain recognized the government of Albanian Communist premier Enver Hoxha, which at this time was purging the elected Albanian assembly of its non-Communist members. Without the support of two of its major members, the UN Security Council delayed Albania's application for membership in the United Nations on August 16 (Zickel and Iwaskiw, eds., 172; "U.N. Group Weighs Membership Bid," NYT, 1 August 1946, 7; "Action on Albania Is Delayed in UN," NYT, 17 August 1946, 2; OEWH).

6. Besides her claim on Trieste and Venezia Giulia, Italy, which argued that its support for the Allies during the last eighteen months of World War II entitled it to be included in peace negotiations with Germany and Japan, wanted a year-long delay on the decision of governance of her African colonies, Eritrea, Somalia, and Libya. She also wanted the treaty's preamble changed to blame the Fascist government for Italy's alliance with Nazi Germany and to say its overthrow in 1943 resulted from favorable military events rather than "under pressure of military events"—a change the Soviets and Yugoslavs opposed. See also Document 220 (J. Miller, 193-205; OEWH; "Italy Sets Terms for Ratifying Pact," NYT, 6 August 1946, 5; "Premier Sees Ruin," NYT, 11 August 1946, 1; "Yugoslav Rejects De Gasperi's Plea," NYT, 12 August 1946, 3; "Italy Asking Role in Treaty Actions on Germany, Japan," NYT, 20 August 1946, 1).

7. Some residents of Westchester County, New York, and Fairfield, Connecticut, where the UN proposed building its permanent headquarters and housing for its employees, opposed the plan because of its size, scope, and impact on residents' property and local services. (At the time, the UN wanted to build "a self-contained enclave of up to 40 miles.") Residents were also concerned about the UN's foreign influence. See also n11 Document 74 (Lie, 63; "Greenwich Is Cool Pending Hearings," NYT, 30 July 1946, 10; "U.N. Lists 15 Sites Picked in Fairfield and Westchester," NYT, 30 July 1946, 1).

On the Irgun, Bevin, and the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry

In August 1946, a British military court tried twenty-two young members of the Stern Gang, a militant Jewish underground organization, for having attacked British railroad workshops at Haifa. The trial ended with eighteen young men condemned to death and four women sentenced to life terms. The court later commuted the death sentences to life terms.1