JIMMY BYRNES: A DISSENTING OPINION

Villard, Oswald G.

Jimmy Byrnes: A Dissenting Opinion By OSWALD G. VILLARD 1WISH I could join in the almost universal chorus of praise which has greeted the appointment of Jimmy Byrnes as Secretary of State, but my...

...Jimmy Byrnes: A Dissenting Opinion By OSWALD G. VILLARD 1WISH I could join in the almost universal chorus of praise which has greeted the appointment of Jimmy Byrnes as Secretary of State, but my inevitable crabb-edness and disposition to criticize will not permit me to do so...
...I have a hunch that the President is going to be a better negotiator than F.D.R., who was as natural-born a compromiser as Byrnes himself...
...I doubt if his mind is creative, and charm and good fellowship are no substitutes...
...That this is possible today, even in this turmoil, was proven by some of the developments at Chapultepec last Spring...
...They are always on the auction-block and very rarely have any trenches in which they will take their stand and say "thus far and no further...
...There can be no question of the loyalty with which his new Secretary of State will serve him, any more than there can be anything but admiration for the extremely skilful and tactful way in which he "promoted" Mr...
...Never was there a greater need for their reintegration and their further development...
...Yet it is easy to understand why the President turned to Mr...
...Everyone must concede that this South Carolinian has had a remarkable experience in public life, having been a Congressman for 14 years, a Senator for IV/2 years, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court for a short period until called from that august tribunal to serve President Roosevelt as an "assistant President...
...they are the bane of our American national life...
...Assistant Secretary Clayton recently told a Congressional committee just what the plan is...
...If the Germans undertake hereafter overseas developments as they have for considerably more than a hundred years, including the financing of one American transcontinental railway, and our present policy continues, we shall use the threat of our military and economic power to stop them...
...These were arrived at only by generations of painful evolution...
...AT any rate, sooner or later we have got to make it plain to the Russians just what are the limits of our patience and our readiness to be as agreeable as possible...
...Clayton served notice that we shall not permit the Germans to establish a great school for the industrial development of a neutral country, which is asking for just such aid, since the State Department has discovered that this would involve a large number of teachers and experts who must not be allowed to settle, even temporarily, in this neutral country...
...Thus, Mr...
...They have liked him in the Senate as a pleasant, agreeable good fellow, a sought-after companion, a chap with whom it is easy to work, who understands how the machine runs and how to make it move most easily...
...Stettinius to what may prove to be a very great positionórepresentative of the United States upon the Council of the United Nations...
...IADMIT that I have a special prejudice against the Southern type of compromiser, and I am particularly prejudiced against them because of the perpetual Bilbos and Eastlands and Rankins and other Southern demagogues of this type who for generations have made the practice of racial and religious hatred their chief stock in trade, have been blocking progress by Congress again and again, lately in the matter of the FEPC, the poll tax abolition, etc...
...He is a compromiser, as Time puts it, "a skilful compromiser, able to compel agreement by patience, charm of manner, and an elastic mind...
...If the new Secretary and the President do not want this war portrayed in Europe and here as one of commercial aggression they will stop this sort of folly forthwith...
...There is real democracy in the Presidentóthat he has shown every day since he was sworn in...
...Not at all...
...if it is, we shall soon know...
...Perhaps it is the very qualities which make him so popular that do not appeal to me...
...Every single effort of the Germans hereafter to do what all countries have done, notably the United States in Germany, namely to set up business enterprises or branches in a foreign country, will be stopped on the ground that the Germans are merely masking preparations for a third World Warówe Americans own 60% or more of the Canadian factories...
...Truman, but would probably insure a stronger and more virile State Department than we have had in years...
...Waiving prejudice, however, this tendency of Jimmy Byrnes to compromise, which has been so highly praised in all the sketches of him that I have seen since his appointment, is the very thing, it seems to me, that we do not want or need in the State Department at the present time...
...They had known each other well in the Senate and when a man has such terrific responsibility suddenly thrust upon him unexpectedly he naturally wants to have around him men whom he knows and feels he can trust, who are sympathetic and ready to work day and night with him...
...This may be a mistaken analysis...
...Well, having observed the professional politician in his habitat for nearly five decades I have no enthusiasm for him and still less for "skilful compromisers" of any kind or description...
...Diplomacy is not all a matter of cocktail parties and high hats and striped trousers and cutaways...
...Byrnes sit down at the table with Marshal Stalin and Winston Churchill it will be time for us to make it plain that the era of appeasement is over, that the United States has no thought of being aggressive or hostile, but that when it gives its word, as it did in Teheran and Yalta, it sticks by what it says...
...I admit, of course, that he is highly popular in Washington ; the tribute paid to him by the Senate in confirming his nomination instantly, without even referring it to a committee, is an exceptional tribute of faith and good-will...
...Hence it is too bad that the State Department is not going to be headed by a man with the obstinacy for square-dealing of a Grover Cleveland or a Charles Evans Hughes...
...There is a great science of international law even if the world has thrown it into the scrap-basket during the last 25 years, and if we are really going to have one ordered world, it isn't going to be merely by creating a new charter and new international machinery, but by introducing honesty, frankness, good-will, and a rigid adherence to the statutes of international law...
...And your real democrat from the farm is curiously, much less likely to be affected by people in high position than one with aristocratic background who has tasted the delights of the social and political life of the All Highest and revels in them...
...Finally, it is greatly to be hoped that the minute Jimmy Byrnes comes back from Europe he will set himself to one big job of stopping the international propaganda and spy work of the State Department and its present determination to make it impossible for Germany hereafter to do any business with any foreign country to the 'extent of making investments abroad...
...Truman's Missouri background gives the hope that he will be less likely to yield to either Churchill or Stalin...
...UNQUESTIONABLY these qualities have offset in President Truman's mind any lack on Jimmy Byrnes' part of a thorough understanding of international law...
...What is meant is a State Department with capable men with knowledge and understanding of our historic American principles, and the law of nations, so often discarded of late years, and determined to live up to them in the hard years ahead...
...Of course it is not meant by that that the State Department should be routinized and tied up with red-tape and precedents, and the usual formalities and evasiveness...
...Now Secretary Byrnes's training and type of mind are not those to fit him to lead along this line...
...I do not mean to compare Byrnes to Bilbo, heaven forbid: But there is the fact that they are both graduates of the same school with Brynes, let us say, in the Phi Beta Kappa class, and Bilbo at the very bottom...
...It might even mean not only the sweeping out from the State Department of Archie MacLeish and Nelson Rockefeller and Cotton Factor Clayton, but would guarantee that some of the new assistant secretaries might furnish that expert knowledge of foreign affairs, of diplomacy and international law of which the State Department has really been largely bereft since the day that Cordell Hull became Secretary .of State...
...They are a minority that proposes to have its way by hook or by crook...
...It adds: "he has the realismóand sometimes the cynicismóof the professional politician...
...That would not only strengthen Mr...
...When President Truman and Mr...

Vol. 9 • July 1945 • No. 30


 
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