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In the winter of 1957 I was able finally to keep the promise I had made in the campaign that if elected to Congress I would go to India and the Far East and present myself as a living example of American democracy in practice.
At the time of my departure on this trip relations between India and the United States were becoming somewhat strained, and feelings between the two governments were less than cordial. In the United States the feeling was that India was veering toward the Left and becoming more and more friendly toward Soviet Russia. I had occasion to address audiences in different parts of the United States throughout the spring and summer of 1957 and I could sense that Americans were becoming suspicious of Nehru's foreign policy of neutralism and nonalignment. During 1957 Bulganin and Khrushchev had paid an official visit to India where they had been warmly received by tremendous crowds. Actually these enormous crowds didn't mean so much as they seemed to. We must remember there is no television in India to speak of, and indeed there is not much of anything in the way of entertainment and recreation open to the great mass of the Indian people. Thus whenever a foreign dignitary visits India, the people will invariably come out in hundreds of thousands. It becomes a kind of festival.
Political gatherings in India and the United States are as different as night from day. It is sometimes difficult to gather even a few thousand people when the President of the United States visits an American city, but in India I have seen on many occasions hundreds of thousands of people turn out to hear their political leaders. The Indian people are in many ways more politically conscious than we are, for they are extremely proud of their newly won independence. Thus it was no surprise to me to hear of those large crowds coming out to greet the Soviet leaders. I felt then that if President Eisenhower had visited India at that time the crowds would have been many times larger than the ones who greeted the leaders of Soviet Russia, an opinion confirmed by the President's visit in December of 1959.
For my part, I could not believe India was truly leaning toward communism. After all, India is the largest democracy on the face of the earth today and has held two elections in which a much larger number of people have gone out to vote than at any time anywhere in the entire history of mankind. And those elections were held without any violence or disturbances. And universal suffrage has been granted to the people of India and they are enjoying their freedom and democracy. I cannot conceive of a situation where the individualistic Hindus, the followers of Mahatma Gandhi, will ever consent to accept a doctrine that denies God and curtails human freedom, and we know that communism does both. I believe that if a showdown came, India would unquestionably align herself on the side of the free world.
At that time differences between our two countries were further strained by the fact that India's representative in the United Nations was pushing strongly for the admission of Red China to the United Nations, and on the other side, the United States, a firm ally of Pakistan, was backing the right of Pakistan to Kashmir. We were pouring large quantities of supplies and military equipment into Pakistan, and India was spending a great portion of her meager revenues to buy military equipment in order to balance the military situation between herself and Pakistan. Inevitably, on the part of both the United States and India suspicion and irritation grew.
It was therefore only natural for me to wonder what kind of reception I would be accorded given the state of our relations with these nations. I had no way of knowing whether I would be cheered or booed, welcomed with warmth, or just ignored by the Indian leaders and the people.
In Holtville, in the heart of Imperial County, our friends gave a farewell party for my wife, my daughter Ellie, and me. Quite solemnly and seriously I asked my friends to send their prayers after me and in their prayers to beg God to help D. S. Saund keep his mouth shut abroad. I know that my friends either did not pray, or if they did, their prayers did not go to heaven, because on my tour in the Far East and India I have never before in my life spoken more often or to larger groups and any louder.
In preparing for my trip I was convinced that in the minds of the people of India and the Far East, the Middle East and Africa there was no doubt that, given the choice, they would inevitably choose democracy and freedom. They had worked and suffered hard to rid themselves of the yoke of colonialism. Surely they wanted a way of life in which human dignity would be paramount and they could control their own affairs. The blaze started in 1776 in the United States of America has spread all over the world. There is no need for the people of the United States or their government to instruct Asians in the meaning and value of democracy. In their hearts they already know. But there is one burning question uppermost in their minds: Are the American people ready and willing to accept them as their equals in every respect? If we are ready to answer that question in the affirmative, we have nothing to fear. But if we have any doubts or reservations, we have everything to lose and nothing to gain. With these hopeful and apprehensive thoughts in mind we took off from San Francisco Airport on October 24, 1957.
I was making this tour as an official representative of the Congress of the United States. I had been designated by the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives as a one-man subcommittee to tour the countries of Southeast Asia and study the working of the mutual-security program in the area. This facilitated my tour in a big way because the embassies in every country had been notified of my schedule and the USIA were prepared to meet me at each stopover. They were a great help; indeed if it had not been for the fact that I was traveling officially as a congressman and got the help I did, it would have been almost impossible for me to manage the heavy schedule.
The Foreign Affairs Committee had provided first-class plane accommodations for me, while Marian and Ellie, traveling on their own, had to be content with tourist tickets. Throughout the trip we had much fun allocating the first-class seat among ourselves during different parts of the journey.
Our first stop was Honolulu, where our host was David Watamull, the son of an old Indian friend of mine. He, along with the governor of Hawaii and the mayor of Honolulu, made our brief stay there very pleasant.
From Hawaii we made the long ocean hop to Japan--seventeen hours in the air, with a brief forty-five-minute stop at Wake Island. At the Tokyo airport a Japanese official came aboard to tell us that a party of photographers, newsreel men, and reporters were waiting for us outside the plane. I stepped off the plane to face an interview with a large group of reporters, all of which came as quite a surprise to me, and it all struck me as more of a reception than a freshman congressman warranted. But I was to be continually astounded at the extent of the interest in my visit. For example, I learned that the newsreel picture on our arrival at the Tokyo airport was subsequently shown in all of the eight hundred theaters of Japan as a regular newsreel feature.
We were also honored at a reception given by our highly respected ambassador to Japan, the Honorable Douglas MacArthur II. Mrs. MacArthur is the daughter of the late Vice President Barkley. I had long been a great admirer of the "Veep," and it was a real treat to meet and visit with his charming daughter.
From Tokyo we flew two hundred miles to the Japanese city of Sendai, the adopted sister city of Riverside in my own congressional district. The citizens of Riverside had collected funds to provide scholarships for sixteen Japanese girls at the University of Sendai. We were greeted royally, and the mayor treated us to an elaborate tea ceremony and dinner party. The next evening we were the guests of the governor of the State of Sendai, an extremely kind and gracious gentleman. In fact, he insisted on driving us personally to the airport that evening in his official car.
At Sendai we visited the headquarters of the USIA and talked with several leading businessmen and newspaper representatives in that part of Japan. We also called on the Riverside scholarship girls. They were a most attractive group and sent grateful greetings to their friends in California.
In addition I was invited to address a meeting of the student body of the University. Before I made my speech, I asked for questions from the floor, and I promised to answer each question if I could. I was immediately asked about the Little Rock High School segregation turmoil which was in the headlines at that time. I began my answer by reminding them that in thirty-five out of the forty-eight states of the Union there was no discrimination against Negroes in schools or public places.
I immediately was interrupted by a professor, who expressed doubt at this fact. I reassured him as to its validity and, after sketching in some of the historic background of racial segregation in the United States, pointed out that the vast majority of the American people disapproved of Governor Faubus' action, and that the President had taken the unprecedented step of sending federal troops into Little Rock to enforce the law, something no President had done for ninety years.
Then I said: "My friends, no matter where we may live, whether it be in Japan, in India, or the United States of America, there exists in one form or another injustice of man toward man. And the people of the United States full well recognize they are faced with a very difficult race problem in their midst. They are trying to do the best they can, and I shall urge to my friends in Japan, and to people wherever I go, to try to understand this difficult problem of the people of the United States, just as they would want other people to study and understand their problems. Instead of finding fault with each other, it should be the duty of civilized men everywhere to resolve these injustices of man toward man. There is no denying that the segregation of races in any part of the world is wrong and cannot be condoned, and the people of the United States do not condone it." I ended by again pointing out that segregation was limited to one part of the country where its roots are deep and will take some time to dig up. Nevertheless, we were working hard at the job and were determined to get it done.
Later, at a faculty dinner meeting, I was asked why the United States insisted on testing H-bombs at Bikini Islands. This was a question I was to run into many times in Japan whose people were understandably sensitive on the subject.
Once again I took some time in answering that question. I reminded my listeners that it was the United States who in 1953 put before the United Nations a proposal for the peaceful use of the atom; then it was the United States, again in 1955, who advanced the "open skies" plan for inspection and disarmament. Clearly our primary interest was disarmament--the tests were a matter of military necessity. Besides, I pointed out, the prevailing winds carry fallout not north and west toward Japan, but east toward the United States. Not only that, a great number of our atomic tests were staged within the continental limits, in Nevada.
I was surprised to learn how many Japanese, even the highly educated ones such as my professor friend, were not familiar with American efforts in nuclear disarmament. But I found that after I had given them the facts, their attitude changed, became less hostile, more friendly. Even so I was quite unprepared for the great amount of misunderstanding of America, her actions, and her motives. If this was so in Japan, it must be widespread throughout Asia. I decided then and there to take every opportunity to remove those misunderstandings and tell the truth about the United States. This would, among other things, be a small repayment on the big debt I owed (and still owe) the country of my adoption.
I remember clearly my speech before the Foreign Policy Association in Tokyo. During the question period that followed it soon became clear to me that a large part of my intelligent and cultivated audience believed me to be a very wealthy man, indeed a millionaire. I said that I was not a rich man; just a small businessman making a good living.
But how could I be elected a member of the United States Congress without being a millionaire? I was asked. And I had to explain that in our country election to public office doesn't depend on a man's bankroll; that campaigns are normally financed by the political parties, which nominate persons for office only on the basis of their qualifications to serve and their ability to get elected. In fact, I pointed out that I bad won my election running against the wife of one of the richest men in America.
As a farmer, I was very much impressed by the excellent rice crop that had just been harvested in the farm country around Sendai. I could tell from the size and uniformity of the stubble in the field how well the crops had been cared for. It was remarkable how the Japanese put every inch of the ground to the best possible use. They were excellent farmers.
Luckily I was able to meet with the Japanese Secretary of Agriculture during my stay. He told me that in Japan farming is naturally adapted to the growing of rice, but that the people of Japan were becoming more and more accustomed to eating wheat. "So," as he told me, "we are beginning to grow wheat, which is really not getting the maximum use of our soil."
"Mr. Secretary," I said, "why don't you buy your wheat from us? We'll sell you wheat; we've got plenty of it. And we'll buy some of your products."
His face lit up right away. "That's just exactly what we want," he said. "If only the United States wouldn't put serious restrictions on imports of Japanese goods, we could and would buy American farm products to say nothing of heavy American machinery."
I discovered that at that particular time there was a big fear in the minds of Japanese businessmen that the United States might impose severe restrictions on trade with Japan. That was a point that was brought home to me by my talks with the ambassador and other officials at the embassy.
From Japan, after a short stop on the island of Okinawa, we went to Taiwan (Formosa). There I had hoped to meet President and Mrs. Chiang Kal-shek, but I was to be disappointed. During my stay in Taipei the President and Madam Chiang were off on a hunting trip with the crown prince of Iraq. I was not only disappointed not to see these world-famous Chinese leaders, but I did not receive any satisfactory answer to the one principal question I brought with me to Taiwan.
In July 1957 a mob of the Taiwanese in Taipei had captured and kept under their control for several hours the American embassy, situated on the main road in the city. They had torn and insulted the flag of the United States, ransacked the files, and thrown papers away while the few American employees of the embassy had to hide in the cellar to escape the mob's fury. This lasted several hours before the police and the military came to restore order. I wanted to find out the reason behind this outbreak. We knew the immediate cause was the acquittal of an American soldier who had killed a Taiwani he had accused of being a Peeping Tom. But from my own experience in India I knew the cause of such outbreaks of mass violence go beyond one single incident. I wanted to learn the hidden causes behind this sudden and inexplicable attack. To my disappointment, however, I was unable to find any satisfactory explanation from anyone in Taiwan.
We were handsomely feted at a beautiful villa in the mountains belonging to a member of the Chinese ministry. There we met the prime minister and the foreign minister of the National Chinese Government.
Taiwan is a model of what can be done for the economic improvement of the peoples of a country. We were taken on a tour of several farms and visited a large village cooperative. The government had expropriated the large land holdings, reimbursed the original owners, and sold the land to farmers in three-acre lots at a fixed price, which the farmers were allowed to pay off over a period of years. This was the Nationalists' land reform which was so much talked about, and it could be a model for all Southeast Asia, where almost all of the land is in the hands of rich landowners.
We stopped to visit a farmer in his new brick home, which we were told he had just finished building. Behind the house was the old adobe hut he had deserted when he moved into this new home. The new house had a cement floor and he had just finished cementing the entire front yard.
I asked him how much he owed on his mortgage. He said nothing, that he had built the house out of the profits on his crops of the past few years and paid for it as he went along. Before I left I spoke before a large group of students and was asked the inevitable question about Little Rock. Everywhere I went on my trip, that was invariably the first question that would be asked me about the United States. Because I didn't know the language my chances to talk with the people of Taiwan were limited. However, despite this I did learn that the Taiwanese were not too happy with Nationalist Chinese rule over their island. A good part of the difficulty stemmed from Chiang's large military establishment which we help support. At a MAAG briefing I was told of the training the American Military Mission gives to the Nationalist Army. I asked the admiral in charge if he really believed that if it came to a showdown the Chinese soldiers now being trained by us at the American taxpayers' expense would fight where we wanted them to or would they insist on going back to the mainland? The admiral was quite confident of the loyalty of the Chinese, but his answers were not too convincing so far as I was concerned.
I have no quarrel whatsoever with our policy of maintaining close and friendly relations with the Nationalist Government of China at Taipei. So-called "overseas Chinese" are to be found in all the countries of Southeast Asia, and Chiang's government provides for them a necessary alternative to the communist regime on the mainland. We do have to support the Nationalist Government of China as long as we refuse to recognize the communist government of China on the mainland and oppose their entrance into the United Nations.
In 1949, when Chiang Kai-shek established his headquarters on Taiwan, he had an army of 600,000 men. That army was needed in order to protect Formosa, in view of its strategic military importance. But conditions have changed in the last ten years. With the advent of atomic tactical weapons, the development of faster-than-sound airplanes and missiles, is it really necessary to maintain 600,000 men under arms for the protection of Formosa? I became convinced after talking with the military experts that there is only one way in which we can defend Formosa against possible attack from Red China or any other source, and that is with the shield of the United States Navy and the United States Air Force. Under those circumstances it seems to me high time we revised our strategy in Formosa.
In terms of the over-all national defense picture I also wonder if, in the long run, it really is so much cheaper to maintain a foreign soldier of an ally than to have an American soldier. Every student of history knows that the fall of the Roman Empire began when the Romans, instead of relying upon soldiers drawn from Roman citizenry, started to depend for their military strength on mercenaries. I doubt the nature of mankind has changed appreciably since then. Suppose we maintain 600,000 soldiers at our expense in Formosa, a force which will continue to antagonize the people of Formosa themselves. If, then, we are forced into a war against a powerful enemy, could we be sure that those 600,000 soldiers could be deployed at the orders of our high command to any part of the world we needed them?
I know in India the British maintained an Indian army but it was led by British officers, and that army was the British Army, used by the British to fight their battles in France, in Turkey, in Hong Kong or wherever. It was, in short, an army they could count on. I doubt very much if the 600,000 soldiers, or any part of them, or any part of that military force stationed at Taiwan, could be ordered to go anywhere our global strategy might, in a crisis, demand. It seems clear to me that the desire and hope of the Nationalist Chinese are simply and only to invade the mainland and capture the government there. All other considerations are secondary.
It may develop that our strategy will demand something altogether different. Can we then depend on the Chinese Nationalist Army? I doubt it. I do not doubt the loyalty of the Nationalist Chinese Army to the cause of democracy, but I doubt seriously the strength of the theory and argument that those 600,000 soldiers are just like American soldiers, for their aims are not always ours. Certainly, if there had been a contingent of American soldiers in the city of Taipei they would never have permitted the flag to be desecrated and the American embassy to be looted in broad daylight. I do not doubt for one minute the loyalty of Chiang Kai-shek and his people to the idea of democracy, but I am not na´ve enough to believe that leaders of any country will subordinate their own ambitions and their own goals to those of the United States of America.
Besides, is it necessary to maintain all those soldiers today as it was in 1949? We have changed our policy as regards Formosa many times. First we were going to "unleash" Chiang Kai-shek and then we decided to "leash" him again. What happened in the case of Quemoy and Matsu? We were forced to station our gunboats within a few miles of the coast of mainland China, endangering life and property and risking global war, because Chiang Kai-shek had put his soldiers on those islands which in my opinion, and in the opinion of experienced military strategists, are not at all necessary or vital for the protection of Formosa.
I did not get the proper answers to the questions I brought to Formosa although I was treated with all the courtesy and consideration by our civil and military leaders there, but I wondered whether they were aware of the significance of our tremendous military expense. Formosa and the Philippine Islands both lie off the main coast of China. Why does it cost the taxpayers of the United States more than ten times more to protect Taiwan than it does the Philippine Islands? Besides our relationship with the people of Taiwan is much more recent than it is with the Filipinos, a truly friendly people and a friendly government.
From Taiwan we flew to Hong Kong, where I was to address a meeting of the Rotary Club. Besides meeting with the staffs of the American consulate and seeing the sights of that beautiful city, crown colony of Great Britain, I had the opportunity to visit a relief center managed by a committee of leading citizens of Hong Kong. There my wife and daughter and I helped distribute two hundred CARE packages to a group of newly arrived refugees. The name of the donor was printed on each of the packages and I was surprised and delighted to come across a package from San Jacinto, a city in my district in Riverside County.
The packages contained beans, rice, dried milk, and cheese, donated by the Commodity Credit Corporation from the surplus food held by the United States Department of Agriculture; they were then packaged and managed by CARE, while the United States Government shipped them free to Hong Kong. Each package represented an investment of one dollar on the part of each contributor to CARE. Seeing CARE dramatically at work in that refugee center in Hong Kong convinced me of how worthy and effective a relief operation it is.
Our next stop was Saigon, Vietnam. Our government poured in $1,000,000,000 in cash to help the French colonial government maintain a French hold on Indo-China and keep the Communists from getting control of that strategic and rich rice-bowl area of Southeast Asia. But in spite of a gallant and heroic defense, in which thousands of French soldiers lost their lives, the French could not maintain their hold because the Communists played upon the nationalistic hopes of the people, who sought to rid themselves of French colonial rule. The Reds were able to stir up anti-French feeling among the people and made it impossible for the French to maintain any kind of control. In addition they were able to infiltrate the country and raise a small insurgent army.
In spite of our $1,000,000,000 in aid and a tremendous outlay from the French treasury the French troops were finally besieged and overpowered in the fortress at Dien Bien Phu. Vietnam was divided into two parts. Most of the refugees, particularly including a large number of Catholics, fled into South Vietnam with their heroic political and religious leaders.
The United States Government helped to set up the government of President Ngo Dinh Diem, and that government has been maintained with our financial and military help. Indeed, three fourths of the budget of that small country of Vietnam, with its population of 12,000,000 people, is underwritten by American taxpayers.
We stayed several days in Saigon. Shortly before we arrived there had been several bombing incidents attributed to communist revolutionaries hostile to the presence of Americans in Saigon and Vietnam. As a precautionary measure, no American was allowed to travel about in Saigon unless accompanied by an armed soldier. Thus wherever we traveled in Vietnam we not only had a chauffeur but an armed guard. Ironically, the life of an American was not safe in a country whose government, in effect, he was supporting.
I remember talking to a merchant in Saigon. He told me that he and his fellow shopkeepers resented the support we were giving to the official currency of Vietnam, support which had cost us millions of dollars. Widespread graft was the result, the merchant told me, and said that if, for example, he wanted to buy an American-made electric motor, he had to pay four or five times as much money for it as his neighboring competitor. I asked him how that could be, and he explained that this man had friends inside the government of Vietnam and could obtain American dollars at the official exchange while most citizens had to deal with the black market.
We also visited the hospital maintained by a Catholic mission from Canada. We were distressed to see the suffering of the patients but were inspired by the true missionary spirit demonstrated by the Catholic Fathers in maintaining these hospital facilities and ministering to these poor people. For the refugees from the north they had practically built an entire town. In addition to housing facilities they had put up a stone church, simple but commodious, as well as a community center, where we saw people working, weaving the fine silk cloth for which they are famous. The heroism of the people and the leadership the Fathers were providing to their flock to enable them to make a living under hard conditions both were inspiring. It was a marvelous experience.
President Diem had just returned from a trip to India and the American ambassador arranged an audience for me. We talked about an hour and a half, mostly in French, which the ambassador spoke fluently. The President did speak a little English, but he was hesitant to rely on it.
He told us of the warm reception he had received in India and showed us a copy of the Indian Statesman, the leading magazine in India, which carried a very complimentary article about the President and which talked of the fine relations between Vietnam and India. The President is a handsome man who looks much younger than his age. He seemed to me a dedicated person operating under very difficult circumstances to build up a country for his people. He is a bachelor, hard-working and without question much loved by the people.
We also visited a big project where, with American aid, American engineers and a contracting company were building a military highway through the jungle and a bridge over a roaring river. We saw the machine shop where American engineers and mechanics were training the Vietnamese, and apparently the Vietnamese were picking it all up quite fast.
At one place we saw where, in the surplus stock of the retiring French Army, they had found an old generator or a dynamo which they planned to use to supply power to the machine shop. Fifteen Vietnamese with small hammers were trying to build a gasket for this big piece of machinery. I thought it wonderful to train those Vietnamese, but as for efficiency and cost to the American taxpayer, one mechanic's helper from Westmorland, California, it seemed to me, could have done that job faster and better than those fifteen Vietnamese, well intentioned though they were.
At the time of our visit it had been raining and no work was being done on the road. I saw a group of bulldozers and tractors and scrapers piled together in one yard, and as soon as I got a good look at them, I could see right then where our money was being wasted. I would never permit any kind of a cost-plus operation by a contractor who used such worn and dilapidated machinery. We were told that in order to save money the contractors were trying to obtain surplus construction machinery from as far off as Japan. But to me it seemed clear that the taxpayers were paying extra money because the machinery wasn't any good. Frankly, I did not particularly like any part of this operation. I liked it even less when we traveled over the road for I failed to see the need for it or how it was to benefit the Vietnamese. The answer I got, of course, was that it was a matter of military strategy. If the American aid money was being spent in building a big modern road and bridge in jungle country, where there are no automobiles, it seemed naturally a great waste. As for its military significance, I'm no general, but I couldn't see how in this small country with 12,000,000 population an expensive military highway could be of much use in modern warfare.
Clearly we are not getting our dollar's worth out of the money we have been giving. It seemed odd to me that we should have been giving as much as twenty dollars per man, woman, and child every year to aid a land where, after several years of such aid, even the life of an American was not safe when he visited the country. The political atmosphere was so tense that sentries were stationed at every bridge and every street corner of Saigon. If five years previously we had allowed for a token United States force to be stationed in Vietnam, I am convinced that we would not have had to spend such enormous sums for military assistance in a precarious area which I was told that, in the event of an invasion from the north, could be held, at best, for no more than ten to twelve days. I found in Vietnam, as I did in Taiwan, a feeling of actual hostility and definitely not of any warmth and friendship toward the people of the United States.
Because those people were receiving such tremendous amounts of American aid from us, I expected, as an American, to be greeted with warmth and affection. But the love of a people can never be bought by military aid. The only way to win the cold war between international communism and democracy in any lasting fashion is for us to win the hearts and minds of the teeming millions in that part of the world. And you do not win hearts and minds by propping up dictators with gobs of military aid.
I hesitated as to whether I should go as far south as Indonesia, because at that time our best information was that Indonesia was all but lost to the Communists. Nevertheless I went, but with the expectation of finding anti-American feeling strong in that country. But I found, instead, that the Indonesians were most friendly toward us. Relations with our embassy and the mutual security staff were very cordial.
At a briefing by the staff and heads of the different departments of our economic aid mission at Jakarta I learned that we had agreed to build a road for the Indonesians with American officials and engineers in charge. In addition, we had undertaken to build several mechanical electric-generating plants. Having previously been told that the labor movement in Indonesia at that time was completely permeated by and practically under the control of the Communists, I asked how they expected to be able to build and install these plants if the labor movement was completely under communist control? I couldn't see that Communists would allow it.
There was some argument at this point when the ambassador appeared to express our government's neutrality and said, "Mr. President, how about the people of West New Guinea? How about their right to choose? What claim does Indonesia really have over West New Guinea?"
The President's answer was that there was doubt as to whether the Indonesians had any claim over West New Guinea which is a part of Indonesia, but there was absolutely no doubt that the Dutch had definitely no business and no claim whatever over the people; that there was absolutely no kinship between the Dutch and the people of West New Guinea.
We had a long discussion of Indonesian-American relations and I could see in the President the attributes of a real revolutionary. This was emphasized by his notable lack of patience. He wanted to get things done in a hurry. He said that Indonesia was still in a state of revolution. When the ambassador brought up a certain subject, he said: "That is law, Mr. Ambassador. And law is one thing. But we are talking about revolution. We are in a state of revolution and want to get this thing done in a hurry."
I left with the impression that the President of Indonesia was certainly no coward. He was an intense, dedicated nationalist, the kind of man who wanted power and enjoyed exercising it. I could not conceive of a situation where he would allow himself to be dictated to by any foreign power, totalitarian or otherwise. For their part, the people of Indonesia were grateful for whatever economic aid we extended to them. (We were not giving Indonesia any military aid at that time; indeed, we have never had any arrangement with Indonesia for military assistance.) The support, help, and friendship of the Indonesians, and the help even from the communist-led labor movement, seemed to demonstrate that if you give people the sort of aid and assistance they understand and which will be of direct benefit to them, they will be much more thankful and appreciative and will remember it than if you load them up with all manner of tanks, guns, military highways none of which can improve anyone's standard of living.
On the other hand, feeling against the Dutch was running very high at that particular time. We could see on the walls of the Dutch-owned buildings signs which the translator told us said: "Get out, get out, Dutch, get out." I even saw the same signs on the bumpers of the Shell Oil Company trucks which are Dutch owned. I asked why the company didn't remove them; the reply was that it would be useless; the signs would just be put on again.
When I addressed the student body of the University of Indonesia I spoke in English, and I was assured that the majority of my audience would follow me if only I spoke slowly. During the question period I was asked the usual question about Little Rock, and then I was asked what the American people thought as to the right of the people of West New Guinea to govern themselves. I said the people of the United States firmly believed in the right of people anywhere to self-government, and I quoted one of President Wilson's 14 Points--Self-determination for people everywhere.
I had scarcely answered that question when I was cut short by another man saying: "We understand the meaning of self-government and I read about Wilson, but we want to find out what the United States wants to do in this particular instance and how they are going to do it. We don't want theories, we want action."
This question is an accurate mirror of the restless and revolutionary temper of the Indonesians, and I left feeling we should do everything possible to help guide that temper into truly democratic channels.
At Singapore we were the guests of representatives of the large Indian colony there, and a group of prosperous Indian Sikh merchants gave a lavish dinner in our honor. Our host and guide on our tour of Singapore was a long-time resident, a successful Punjabi Sikh contractor who had lived through the Japanese occupation of Singapore and knew firsthand the history of the invasion and occupation of the island of Singapore.
In 1941 Singapore was the main citadel of the British Empire in southeastern Asia. It was an impregnable fortress with heavy guns pointed in all directions toward the ocean to repel invasion. During our drive our host pointed out the building where the Japanese invaders had received the surrender of the island from the governor of Singapore and those places where the Britishers on the island were imprisoned.
The famous Raffles Hotel, where we stayed, brought to mind the story of the fall of Singapore. Three days before the surrender high officials of the British colony held a full-dress dance and dinner party at the Raffles Hotel which lasted until three o'clock in the morning. Another typical incident took place just a few days before the famous fortress fell. A high official's wife had called the wife of another British officer to come and help her during the afternoon with Red Cross work, but the latter excused herself on the grounds that it would interfere with her tennis game! Meanwhile, the enemy was creeping inch by inch toward the tip of the Malay Peninsula, separated from the island by only a causeway.
This was a typical case where through overconfidence and lack of imagination the rulers of an important territory fell easy victims to an alert and imaginative enemy. The British guns were fixed and pointed toward the ocean, and perhaps they could have inflicted a terrible punishment on an invading enemy fleet. But they lacked the wit and imagination to protect the island from the land side. As soon as the Japanese reached the tip of the Malay Peninsula, they could cut off Singapore's water supply. Thus, once the ultimatum was issued to the governor, he had no choice but to capitulate.
From Singapore my wife and daughter decided to go on to Bangkok, Thailand, while I traveled alone to the Philippine Islands. There I received a very warm and cordial reception. An overflow audience attended the meeting of the Rotary Club in the Manila Hotel where I spoke; governors, senators, and other high officials were among the guests. In fact, the governor of one of the states, a young, handsome, and progressive man who had taken an active part in the guerrilla warfare against the Japanese, accompanied me for the three days of my tour of the Island of Luzon.
I arrived on the heels of the election of President Carlos Garcia for his first full four-year term on his own right. The President was holding a public reception and was in a gay mood when he received me at the presidential palace.
I had the opportunity to see the rehabilitation work being carried on in the barrios, or villages, of the Islands. At one barrio I was much impressed by the personality of a college graduate who had been assigned the task of organizing and assisting the community. We met the leaders of the community at the community center which had been constructed under the supervision of this young man. He showed us his hands, calloused from working alongside of the villagers. He clearly had won the affection of the people there. I was quite amazed and astonished because the oriental educated class has traditionally been afraid of doing any physical labor. Here was a brilliant and successful exception.
At another barrio a doctor in the medical center was giving injections and treating the sick men, women, and children. This happened to be the day of his visit. When I inquired, I found out that he had a regular M.D. degree, and he was paid a very modest sum by the government to go from barrio to barrio to administer to the medical needs of these people.
Having been a farmer all my life, and since 1953 engaged in the chemical fertilizer business, I could see immediately how some of the fields were suffering from the lack of nitrogen. Also the difference between the size and quality of this crop and the crop I had seen in Sandai, Japan, was most noticeable. A little better cultivation and more fertilizer could obviously improve the quality and increase the production of the crops many fold.
At the Los Banos Agriculture College I saw a group of students going to work in their experimental fields, carrying hoes on their shoulders, and I saw them actually hoeing the fields and applying fertilizer with their own hands to the plants. Attached to the agriculture college was a newly built and well-equipped university where I met students from all parts of southeastern Asia, including India, who had come to study modern methods of agriculture. The entire atmosphere here was most stimulating and it left an impression in my mind that the people of the Philippine Islands, under the supervision of the Philippine Government and with economic assistance from the United States Government, were really moving ahead. This care for the needs of the people in the villages and the interest of educated Filipinos, who were ready and willing to go into the barrios, live with the people and give them the benefit of their education and skills, were something new to me. All along I have held that the salvation of the people in the countries of Asia lies in the hundreds of thousands of villages where the great masses of the population live. Unless the conditions of the villages are improved, no real advance of the people can be achieved.
I met criticism from some Filipinos over control of the American military bases in the Islands. But on the whole, the Filipinos struck me as loyal friends of the United States. In the cold war between international communism and democracy they can be definitely and positively relied upon as allies.
In Thailand we were the guests of a former resident and one-time mayor of the city of El Centro, who had established an American-style modern dairy in Bangkok. He was much impressed by the cooperation he was receiving from the government of Thailand in his venturesome undertaking. From Thailand we traveled to Burma and from Burma we flew on to Rangoon. From Rangoon we boarded the plane which finally took us to Calcutta, India.
When our plane arrived in Calcutta, we were given an elaborate and heartwarming reception, despite the fact that our plane was some six hours late. It was a different India from the one I had left in 1920. Then she was a colony of the British Empire, a subject nation. Now India had been free for ten years and I was greatly impressed by the spirit of optimism and nationalistic pride so visible among the people, rich and poor alike. They were proud of their new-won independence and determined to build up the economy and raise living standards throughout the land.
My apprehensions as to the sort of reception I would receive were immediately removed at the sight of those friendly people at the Calcutta airport and those I saw at the many receptions which were given in our honor during our brief stay in the city. I addressed a very large gathering of the Rotary Club where I was introduced by the former ambassador of India to the United States, Mr. Mehta, a long-time personal friend.
While in Calcutta I had breakfast at the home of the owner of the big merchant firm, Birla Brothers. Mr. Birla, the Rockefeller of India, kindly offered us the use of his car and chauffeur during our stay. He was a great admirer and friend of Mahatma Gandhi and it was in his home in New Delhi that Gandhi was staying at the time of his assassination in 1948. Another industrialist, Mr. Jam, the publisher of the Times of India and several other Indian magazines and newspapers, gave us a big luncheon party where we were introduced to many leaders of the great industrial community of Calcutta. I was particularly impressed by the interest and desire of these men to establish better business relations and contacts with the United States.
From Calcutta we went on to New Delhi, where we were accorded the same kind of enthusiastic reception from thousands of people at the airport and later from many different groups throughout the city. I spoke before audiences at several colleges and business groups, and, in addition, addressed a meeting of the Foreign Policy Association.
During our stay in New Delhi we also attended the ceremonies in connection with the marriage of the oldest son of my brother to the daughter of the then Indian ambassador to the Philippines. Aside from the joy of the occasion I was pleased to find I still remembered the principal features of the ceremony, but a few of the customs seemed to have changed. The reception, for example, seemed to be in a more modern and elaborate fashion than in the old days.
Then we set off for my own village, where I had been born and spent my childhood, Chhajalwadi, in Punjab. On the trip from New Delhi we were accompanied by representatives of the Columbia Broadcasting System as well as newspapermen. The ambassador provided his personal United States Air Force plane for the flight from New Delhi to Chandigarh, the new capital of Punjab. We were met there at the airport by the chief minister of the State of Punjab, an old friend and fellow student at the University of California in Berkeley, Mr. Partap Singh Kairon. In the capital city we were guests at a garden party given by the prime minister. Later, a dinner was held at the home of the governor of Punjab. I was invited to address the college assembly where I was introduced by the governor and the response was given by the chief minister. It was truly an affectionate home coming to the State of Punjab.
We made a side trip to the great new Bhakhra-Nangal Dam being built under the supervision of a colorful American named Slocum. Mr. Slocum was on leave to the United States at that time, but he had sent me a letter through the ambassador, offering his welcome and apologies for not being present during my visit. The dam, a most impressive structure (higher than our Hoover Dam), will provide electricity for a very large section of Punjab as well as irrigation water for over a million acres of land. We saw the progress and met with many groups of engineers and other officials. It was perhaps one of the neatest construction jobs I have seen. We saw in operation a long conveyor belt carrying gravel for the cement. Indians were handling the mammoth buckets and cranes in a masterly fashion. I found out that, to begin with, when work on the dam started, there were seventeen American engineers on the job and now there were only seven. It was Slocum's aim to train Indians to take over, and by now there were several thousand Indian engineers and operators in charge under Slocum's leadership.
We then visited with the Maharaja of Patiala at his palatial ancestral palace. My daughter Ellis was amazed at the size of the rooms allotted to us and the amount of marble and rich ornaments. The Maharaja was our host at a buffet dinner, and we met his beautiful wife and his two lovely daughters. Then the Maharaja drove me over to a mass meeting in the city of Patiala, where he gave me a wonderful introduction and I had a chance to make a short speech and answer some questions. That night at midnight we left by rail for the city of Amritsar.
It was a very comfortable overnight journey and the train was to arrive in Amritsar about eight-thirty in the morning. In my excitement I awoke early and looked out the window as the train passed through the old depots and stations and landmarks that I had known when I was a boy. We were approaching what was to be our greatest reception. There were thousands of people at the railroad station, and we were profusely garlanded and crushed in the huge crowd to the point where our daughter Ellie was temporarily separated from us in the throng.
Ours was to be a busy schedule. We were rushed through a quick tour of the Sikh temple and then hurried on to Khalsa College, the great institution where I had studied in my boyhood. It was a moving experience for me to be a guest of honor in that honored place of my youth. I was introduced by the chairman of the student body, who sang a special poem, and my listeners seemed genuinely amused when I replied by singing some of the poems that I remembered from my childhood in Punjab.
We went on to a rapid tour of the boardinghouse where I had lived as a student, and saw the old well on the grounds where we used to take cold baths in the morning, and the swimming pool.
And we met old friends. One of them, my professor of drawing, was now an old man, but he gave me a very jolly, affectionate greeting and reminisced about the old days. Then we were received officially by the mayor and the city council of Amritsar, and later in the evening I addressed a mass meeting of about twenty thousand people in the square near The Golden Temple. The warmth of the welcome extended us at the various receptions during the day was truly overwhelming. Twice during the course of that single day we had to unload the trunk and the inside of our automobile of the garlands and flowers which had been draped around our necks.
The main event of our trip to Punjab came the next day when, we were to visit the village of Chhajalwadi, my birthplace and my family's home. This was the event that the team of CBS television reporters and the group from the American embassy in New Delhi had come particularly to record. Chhajalwadi is sixteen miles east from Amritsar on the main highway, and I remembered having traveled this road many times in horse drawn carriages and on bicycle as a boy. The day of our visit opened up bright and sunshiny, and we set out with glad hearts.
Four miles outside of the village we had to stop our caravan, so great was the crowd that had gathered. We got out of the car and started to walk through the throng. We were met by members of the city council of a neighbor town and proceeded slowly toward the village where I could see that the lanes had been cleared and the chuck holes carefully filled in honor of our visit. We moved on to the school grounds where some eleven thousand people were seated in the compound and on the walls to await the presentation to the citizens of the hand plows donated and brought there especially through the efforts of CARE. We then received a message of welcome from the elders and from the principal of the school who recited a poem which had been specially composed by a famous Punjabi poet in my honor. The poem carried references to my mother and my oldest sister and moved me so much that I could not hold back the tears. Fortunately two other speakers followed the recitation so that by the time I was called upon to respond. I had fully regained my composure. I spoke in Punjabi and expressed my joy at being there and my appreciation to the people for their welcome. Marian also spoke a few words in Punjabi, saying, "I love you all." She got a tremendous ovation.
There in the village the crowds were so thick that I really didn't have a chance to see all the familiar landmarks. But I did pass by the well and could read clearly what I, as a boy in 1917, had helped inscribe on the brick wall and fill in with blue paint:
"Let us enjoy the company of friends and be gay, because the time of parting is growing near."
Three of my cousins and I had inscribed the verse during a summer vacation that year. My three cousins have all since died: two by natural causes and one a victim of the mass slaughter at the time of the partition in 1947. But those lines were still legible and the blue paint visible from a distance. That, too, brought tears to my eyes.
I met many people, but many friends whom I had remembered and with whom I had lived in the village and attended school were not there, for death had taken its toll. In order to rush back and keep to our schedule, we had time only for a hurried lunch in the old family home. Three hours after we left the village it began to rain.
After a meeting with some of Amritsar's leading businessmen and merchants we left the next day in a United States Air Force plane for Madras in south India, where we were guests at the home of the American consul general. A special feature of our visit was a press conference attended by sixty leading newspaper correspondents in the southern part of India as well as members of the legislative assembly of the State of Madras. The questions they seemed most concerned with had to do with the American view of the Kashmir issue, the American policy of sending arms aid to Pakistan, and what my opinion was of Secretary Dulles' recent statement that "Goa belonged to Portugal." I answered as best I could, and was glad to be able to point out that I along with many Americans disagreed with the Secretary's remarks, but that it should not be construed as an indication that he was not a true friend of India, for in all my dealings with him I had found his interest in India's continued welfare to be firm and sincere.
On our return to New Delhi we attended several meetings, including a welcoming ceremonial by the city council at which an incident occurred which typified the sort of reception my wife Marian and my daughter Ellie were accorded throughout our tour. The ceremony was scheduled in the afternoon, and Marian and Ellie had decided to stay in the hotel while I went on to the reception alone. When I arrived at City Hall I was greeted by the mayor, who asked after my wife and daughter. When I explained that they had decided to stay at the hotel he expressed his regret and that of the crowd who wanted very much to meet and see these two American ladies. So the entire ceremony was held up for some forty-five minutes while the driver went back to the hotel to fetch Marian and Ellie. They were, as always, a big hit, and I sometimes wonder if my reception throughout my tour would have been half as good if they hadn't come along.
We were received by the President of India in his palace and we lunched at the home of Prime Minister Nehru. In addition I had private conferences with members of the cabinet, and two days before we left New Delhi I was invited to address the joint houses of Parliament, an honor which is normally reserved for visiting heads of states.
At the end of my talk I leaned over the podium and said, "My friends, the people of the United States are extending toward you a hand of fellowship and friendship across the ocean. Grab it while you can. If democracy and freedom are to survive in this world, there must be a close liaison between the two greatest democracies of the world, the Republic of India and the United States of America."
Our last stop in India was Bombay. Here again I found a deep-seated desire on the part of the Indian businessmen to make the conditions in India easier and more inviting for American venture capital to come in and in general to increase trade between the two countries.
As we traveled through different sections of Bombay I noticed that parks and squares were full of statues of British monarchs King George, King Edward, Queen Victoria, and others. I said to my host that it seemed remarkable that in spite of all the political turmoil India went through during her war of independence there was no damage done to those statues. His immediate response was, "These statues of British royalty are a reminder of history. We can demolish these statues but we cannot destroy history, and the people of India have no desire to destroy the history of their relationship with the British people."
We were nearing the "Gateway to India" arch at the harbor of Bombay, constructed in 1912 when King George V came into India through that gateway to be crowned the emperor of India. My host pointed it out and said, "I was here amidst cheering crowds of Indians when King George V came through this gateway into India to be crowned emperor. I was standing here also when the last contingent of British soldiers left, singing and playing their music as they passed through the same gateway going out of India amid the cheers of the people of India in 1947."
We left India on December 23 for Karachi, Pakistan, where we spent one day. During the conversations with the American ambassador, I was informed that Pakistan cabinet members were under constant fear of an invasion from India.
This was contradictory to the impressions I had received during my talks with the cabinet ministers and thousands of other people in India. It was my view that Pakistan, as an independent state, definitely was taken for granted and fully accepted by the people of India and they were perfectly content with the situation as it now existed. In fact, I felt it would be difficult to convince the people of India that the two countries should be brought together as one nation again.
I told the ambassador and later officials in the Department of State that here was a chance for our government to perform a real service in the interest of world peace and the progress of democracy in that part of the world by removing this misunderstanding between the people of India and Pakistan. Since that time, thanks to the energetic leadership of Eugene Black, president of the World Bank, India and Pakistan have agreed on the joint development of the Indus River waters which had long been one of the major points of dispute. The visit of the President of the United States in late 1959 fortified the work which was so ably begun by Mr. Black.
When I tried to evaluate the results of my trip, I asked myself this question: Why should the people in Japan be interested in seeing newsreel pictures of a freshman congressman from the United States arriving in Tokyo? Why did the President of Vietnam, the President of Indonesia, and, the cabinet members and the leaders throughout the Far East receive me with particular consideration? Why did the people of India turn out in great throngs to greet my family and myself wherever we went? And why did the government of India invite me to address the joint houses of Parliament?
There could be only one answer. The people of India and the Asiatic world knew the story of my election to the United States Congress in 1956 and were proud of the fact that a man born in India had been elected to that high office. Further than that it seemed obvious to me that people are not proud of something they don't respect and love. I could therefore only conclude that there is a great reservoir of respect and affection for the United States of America and its people in that part of the world, but we must husband that treasure carefully and see that it grows and flourishes.
IX. THE JOB AHEAD
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