Oral History Interview with
During the Truman Administration served in the Office of Price Administration, the Federal Public Housing Authority, and the Department of State, 1944-48; Executive Assistant to the Special, Representative in Europe, Economic Cooperation Administration, 1948-53; Director, Mission to Greece, Foreign Operations Agency, 1952-54; and Mission to Vietnam, 1949-1958. Later Ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon.
January 8, 1971
by Theodore A. Wilson
[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.
Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate
the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.
Opened June, 1984
Harry S. Truman Library
[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]
Oral History Interview with
January 8, 1971
by Theodore A. Wilson
WILSON: The comment you just made about Truman's support for foreign aid is interesting. Was he convinced of the potential of all sorts of aid programs, all the sorts of aid programs which were inaugurated during his administration? Was he convinced of this?
BARROWS: I really don't know. I never actually met Mr. Truman. I worked at a level where I could only see the effects of these decisions. No, I suppose mainly he just felt the United States had to play a role in the world, and foreign aid seemed to be another useful instrument. So far as I can remember, you could identify with him three major departures. One was the Greece-Turkey program, the next was the Marshall plan, the third was Point Four. From the purely technical point of view of how foreign aid is
administered, those all had antecedents, in their Inter-American Affairs Institute, in lend-lease and in some programs which preceded Inter-American Affairs. There was the so-called interdepartmental committee in the late forties. Actually, the Greece-Turkey program -- to a considerable degree -- started with people who had had experience in Latin America, so some of the methods, some of the procedures, were brought in from there. Similarly, the Marshall plan had a certain continuity with lend-lease, and with the Interim Aid program which came at the end of the while we were making ready for the Marshall plan.
WILSON: A good manly people from the War Production Board as well, I think, had that sort of experience.
BARROWS: Well, from the wartime programs, yes.
WILSON: And Point Four, where did they get the people for that?
BARROWS: I don’t know, I don't know who really originated that idea that was embodied in the fourth point in Truman's Inaugural Address. That would be very
interesting to trace down from a historical point of view.
WILSON: Yes. We had some evidence that George Elsey had something to do with it. He was a Truman staffer and speechwriter and just picked it up.
BARROWS: It reminds me a little bit of the origin of the food stamp program. That's another story which may or may not be true. But the story is that Henry Wallace, I think it was, was sort of thinking aloud at a press conference.
He said, "There ought to be some kind of a way of supplying our food surplus at a reduced price, or free, to people who need it." The press and public picked it up -- understood that he had an idea. So he had to deliver. So, the story is, he turned to Milo Perkins and said, "Here, work it out." Now that's the story I've heard.
Well, I have a feeling that somebody put this good idea into Truman's speech. He must have liked it. It caught on and then they had to implement it. I don't know whether that's right or not.
WILSON: Yes, I think you're correct.
BARROWS: You know what it does, however, in my view. It appeals to the secular missionary spirit which is always alive in our country, and it makes great appeal to people who would like to be missionaries but have lost their conventional faith. In the present generation the Peace Corps meets the same requirements.
WILSON: Does it appeal to the penury of Congress as well or did it so appeal?
BARROWS: Well, there was that side of it, of course. I remember -- this is Henry Bennett saying -- "giving a lot of money to a poor country is just an outrage, it will ruin them." There is probably some truth in that. When all they really needed were iron points on their wooden plows." You've heard that phrase, no doubt. That became sort of a catchword. There have been these two currents of thinking about aid. There still are.
I sat with the Peterson Commission in some of
its sessions because a member of this company, General Robert Wood, was on the commission. He used me as an assistant. Those same currents were present there in the discussion. There is a certain condescension about the notion that we have some superior knowledge or skill, which is so valuable that if we can only convey it to someone, he doesn't need anything to eat or any machines, or anything that costs money. Well, there's a certain amount of truth in all this.
WILSON: Yes. One of the issues that we haven't sorted out yet is whether there was any serious intention to provide capital outlays along with...
BARROWS: In Point Four?
WILSON: Yes. In Point Four.
BARROWS: Who knows? Very soon some of the countries who were -- you remember there was a division in the world when Point Four got started. Europe, through Greece and Turkey, were in the Marshall plan, and the Far East, that is to say Taiwan, Korea, and Indo-China
were with the Marshall plan agency.
BARROWS: The rest of the world in between was given to this new Point Four. But the rest of the world included two countries with enough political attraction or pressure -- position in the United States -- not to be content with know-how, that is, Israel and India. Then, of course, there was Iran too.
WILSON: Right. They had struggles over both control of the TCA and these allocations to Israel. We had some private information about that. It is difficult to sort out.
BARROWS: Well, you know, subsequently. Maybe it would be just a little bit of help if I told you what my connection with this whole thing was.
I went to Europe in the summer of '48, as the administrative management man -- personnel, budget, that sort of thing. I had had no particular experience in international affairs, although from December 1947 until I went with the Marshall plan I was in the State Department in the information program.
WILSON: That was really my first question.
BARROWS: I got in there by accident. We'll come back to that if you want to; but, anyway, I went abroad to do this job, help set up the missions and so on. I wasn't supposed to be particularly concerned with the substance of things, but inevitably one has to be.
At the end of a couple years I said, "Well, I've got to make a choice. If I'm going to be an administrative management type the future lies in Washington. If I'm going to be a foreign aid person the future lies in getting into the substance of things and into a country mission." So I went around to Milt [Milton] Katz, who was then Special Representative, and explained this to him.
He said, "Well, that seems to make sense. When you've decided what you want to do, let me know."
Then one day Katz called me in and said, "How would you like to go to Rome?" That precipitated the decision. I went to Rome as Deputy Mission Director, and stayed there a year and a half. Then I went to
Greece as Deputy Mission Director under Roger Lapham. After six months, he left and I was named Director of the mission. That more or less cast the die that I was going to stay with foreign aid.
The aid program which I administered in Greece was a part of the Marshall plan. Greece was never a Point Four country, but the programs and procedures established there under the Greek-Turkish aid program, and continued under the Marshall plan were similar to those in Point Four. I forgot to mention that in dividing the world, the Latin American programs, as you know, went into Point Four. So, in effect, the philosophy and procedures of the Marshall plan and the European Recovery Program were superimposed upon the project agreement approach derived initially from the Latin American experience.
My job in Greece was essentially to participate in the stabilization of the economy, and enable it to face a reduction in American aid. The initial goals of physical reconstruction and recovery had been reached. In the two years I served as Mission
Director the economy was stabilized and the currency devalued to a level which was maintained for many years. American aid was reduced from $175,000,000 to $35,000,000, and could have been reduced still further.
Because of the double background of the program and the satisfaction of helping the country achieve financial stability after a decade of runaway inflation, the experience in Greece was extremely interesting and valuable for me.
Then I went to Vietnam, and that became another story.
WILSON: I'd like to go over some of these bits and pieces of your career. I wonder, though, while we're still on this, while you were in Rome -- there's some indication that some people liked to think of, or wished to think of, Southern Italy as a point Four type situation and they even wished to approach development of Southern Italy in that way. The normal sort of procedure was to try to get American development teams in training and these sorts of things. Was that important at all?
BARROWS: Well, clearly, Southern Italy has many economic and social problems like those in Greece and the rest of the Mediterranean littoral. In the Italian program we were dealing with Marshall plan procedures and resources and organization, and there were certain fundamental differences. There were no such things as projects and project agreements in the Marshall plan. The term "project," if I remember correctly, was reserved for any investment requiring the use of a million dollars worth of dollar-financed imports, or more. In other words it had to be a major thing. Then we would look at those import requirements as a whole and try to evaluate the project. Otherwise, the resources that came in through the Marshall plan were entirely commodities or services, but mainly commodities, which moved through the normal channels of trade, paid customs duties, import taxes and the rest, and were distributed by sale. This gave rise, therefore, to a counter-part fund. The use of the counterpart fund might be negotiated to serve some social purpose like building housing. But it was only in that secondary
stage that the Americans got into the question of what went on within the country in detail. Now, in Italy, as a matter of fact, the government was always responsive to the use of the counterpart funds fox social purposes. Some of the money -- counterpart money, a good bit of it -- went into the Cassa per il Mezzogiorno, which was a special fund for the south, where the Italians themselves were doing the kind of development thing with technical assistance and everything else that Point Four would undertake to do. But our role was never as detailed as it is in the underdeveloped countries. We were dealing with a developed country that happened to have a backward region.
WILSON: Yes, yes.
BARROWS: Because of the potential inflationary effect of counterpart expenditures, their use in Marshall plan countries was carefully controlled and required prior Washington approval. And in Italy, which, I believe, had been badly burned by inflation in 1948, there was a relatively conservative economist as
President, and another conservative as Prime Minister, at least a part of the time I was there. They were not going to be pushed into what they considered to be a reckless monetary policy. So in supporting the use of counterpart funds for projects, we were pushing for a more adventuresome financial policy than the Italian government was willing to follow.
WILSON: What about the land reforms that came in…
BARROWS Well, I don't remember that very well. My impression is there was land reform and we did support it, but I couldn't be specific.
WILSON: Yes. I do recall it at some stage, but this may have been before the time you came there. Was [Lee] Dayton the…
BARROWS: Dayton -- I was there under Dayton. As a matter of fact, although, well, I suppose it's a matter of history, if you want to go into it. I was sent down there partly because Dayton, in pushing the Italians, made a couple of speeches which were a little colorful. He had an extremely eloquent writing man working with him named Frank Gervasi. Dayton
made the same speech a couple of times at least. The first time he made it -- not a ripple; but the second time he made it, something happened locally which caused the speech to reverberate politically. There was some phrase in it about how, if they continued to save their lire, that in this way they might end up hanging from a filling station, you know, like [Benito] Mussolini.
BARROWS: Well, it was this kind of strong language which apparently provoked some pressure -- I never knew the inside story -- from the Embassy, that Dayton was being indiscreet. The position I think that the Marshall plan people took, is that it was a bit pugnacious, that Dayton was just a little bit overworked right now and didn't give the speech enough attention. They believed he should be given a little more help because he didn't have a deputy right then. So, I was sent down there more or less to handle the administrative end of things. I wouldn't have gone had Vincent Bennett,
who had previously assisted Dayton, been willing to go back there at the time. Well, after I had been there about seven or eight months, Vince did come back, and although he took what was normally a subordinate job to mine, in fact I knew that Lee liked him very well. He is a very fine and able man. I soon concluded, when they wanted me to go to Greece, that it was a good idea, and I went.
The way in which the United States can influence things in a country varies. This whole flap, which can be viewed merely as an argument about whether our mission director was indiscreet, could also have been a very well planned effort to influence the Italians. It had that effect. It might have been cheaper, more effective, more lasting than trying to do it through an elaborate infusion of technical assistance personnel. So often the local political leaders know what to do. The question is to get them motivated.
WILSON: I would like to get back to your career. Could I ask you how you happened to come into State? You came from FHA, as I recall.
BARROWS: I came from the Federal Public Housing Authority. I had always worked in the Government in the administrative end of things. I just moved from one job to another for accidental reasons. The war came along and I went into the Coast Guard. When I got out, I went into OPA. I was always in these jobs in the field of budget or management, so-called.
In Public Housing I was there serving under a man who is a friend of mine even today, long since retired, Dillon Myer . He ended his career in the Government as Commissioner of Indian Affairs under Mr. Truman. Dillon got into a big fight -- a political struggle, not a personal fight -- over the future of public housing in 1946, I believe it was. There was a Republican Congress and a Democratic President, and Congress was out to squeeze down a lot of the social programs, including public housing. As a result of the struggles that went on there, the Federal Public Housing Authority was stripped of most of its top people by a very ingenious legislative device, which is another subject. So, it was that Dillon Myer left. I was left there in an
organization which was being bled of most of its top people. I was not an old hand; I didn't feel comfortable staying, and about that moment a fellow over in the State Department asked me to come over to do an organization study. State was thinking about setting up geographic regional offices, something it ultimately did do.
I said, "Sure, I'd be glad to; it interests me." So we negotiated an arrangement. Three days before I was to report for duty I was called in by Bill Hall, who is now the Ambassador in Ethiopia, and then was in charge of State's budget.
He said, "Something has come up that makes us wonder whether you would be willing to take on an operating job here instead of what we engaged you to do?"
I said, "What's that?"
He said, "Be Deputy Director of OIE."
I said, "What is OIE?"
He said, "Well, OIE is the Office of Information and Educational Exchange. It is the international information program. It's what's left of the OWI.
It's what we hope will be a permanent program." It is what ultimately became the USIA.
And I said, "Well, yes, if you think I can do the job. I'll certainly -- I don't care where I go. I'll be happy to do that." Personally, I always prefer a clear-cut, defined job to one of these floating administrative analyst sorts of things, although that would have been all right too. So I decided to do that.
WILSON: I'm a little confused about the Information Program. Was this under [William] Benton at the time?
BARROWS: No. Benton had gone. The Smith-Mundt Act had been passed. We were going up for our first appropriations under the Smith-Mundt Act, and there was an interim team holding things together. [Howland] Sargeant...
WILSON: Oh, yes.
BARROWS: …Bill Stone. Bill Stone, I didn't realize at the time, was under some fire under the growing
McCarthyism atmosphere, and Bill had had a deputy who was a professional newspaperman. He had gone back to the Associated Press or wherever it was. They needed to fill in quickly with someone who could help Bill on the management side of things, and in particular to put together and present that first budget. So, that’s what I went in to do.
I was very happy. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I worked hard, I learned a lot, and I liked the people. I knew it was in full transition. No one knew what would happen. I could see there was a fight forming up in the United States over whether Information and Cultural Affairs should be under the same group. And, in fact, after I had been there about six months George V. Allen came in for his first tour in that spot. He responded to the pressures by splitting the two. I suddenly discovered my job had vanished with the splitting of the office. I didn’t end up in either of the offices. Again, just by chance, they were pressing me to go to Europe under the Marshall plan. I had turned them down once, because I was having such a
good time in the USIA -- what became the USIA.
WILSON: What sort of recruitment process was there the Plan? Governor Harriman has allowed us to his papers, and we have occasional letters, with references to Hoffman contacting such and such. It seems very personal.
BARROWS: It was personal. And, actually, on the hiring of people for the administrative management area they had Don [Donald C.] Stone in Washington. He was preoccupied with that. Bill [William C.] who was Harriman's deputy in Europe, had picked up some retired colonel in Europe to do the job I eventually got. The man had just not been what they wanted. I don't know why. So, suddenly, week late they discovered they didn't have that job and they were being overwhelmed, so they gave it to Eric Biddle. He was given the job of finding candidates, and somehow he turned up my name. I suppose it was in the Bureau of the Budget or somewhere. You know how it works; in the Government, if you want a controller, you go to the GAO, and to the Treasury
if you want a budget man. Oh, my name popped up on a list. Someone, Biddle initially, looked them over and somehow from this list I was selected.
WILSON: When did you arrive in Europe?
BARROWS: Well, I can pin it down to within a few days. It was either the 24th or the 28th of June 1948.
WILSON: And had they moved into the Talleyrand?
BARROWS: They had not. One of the first tasks I had was to find office space. You know, Harriman was always saying, "I want a very small staff." And he had already made up his mind that he wanted the Talleyrand, but the French Government hadn't, and for some reason it was not going to be made available. This is gossip, but I think it's possibly true. The French were annoyed, because the United States had already taken the other corner of the Place de la Concorde years before and built a replica of the Talleyrand on it as our Embassy. You know that the Embassy building as such geographically balances the Talleyrand.
WILSON: I have been by it a number of times, but I haven't really…
BARROWS: Well, it does. It does and the style of our Embassy building was dictated by the style of the Talleyrand. They just didn't want the Americans on another corner of their principal square. But we couldn't find any other space that would do.
WILSON: Did it work reasonably well? There were all these newspaper stories about the incredible warren of offices, and then about these two offices that the French insisted on furnishing very elaborately for Harriman and his assistant,
BARROWS: No. That's not fair. The building was a national monument. Those parts of it which were old from the start were a national monument and were appropriately furnished as such. I don't know whether they were actually furnished that way when we got them; they probably were, but I'm sure that they were refurnished with fine furniture from the Domaine National. This was their notion and not ours as far as I know.
But there were some problems. For instance, in certain places you couldn't build a partition so that it actually joined the wall. There had to be a slight space, because the wallpaper was to be saved. But more fundamental than that is that the building had never been operated as a unit. You couldn't get communication all around on each floor. We had to cut doors here and there and to work out matters of that sort. Then, when it came time to turn on the heat we discovered that we had two heating systems. Two radiators in a room might not be on the same system. One of the systems didn't work. I remember when we discovered this I said to Bill [William] Sheppard, who was the administrative services man, "Get out and get all the grates and andirons you can find and get fuel to every functioning fireplace in this building. So, when the day turns cold, build them a fire, and even if it doesn't keep them warm it will cheer then up. We did, and it worked, except that the only damn room that I know of in the building in which the fireplace looked to be functioning, but
was blocked up, was in Harriman's office. Happily the day we built that fire, he wasn't there. We got the smoke cleared out, with no damage after cleaning it up.
BARROWS: It was an adventure, though, the building was. But it helped morale probably to be in such an adventure, and those of us who had the burden of Harriman's demands, we lived through them.
WILSON: I haven't been in there. I've been out to the Chateau de la Muette where the OEEC, now OECD is located. That had some problems of its own I would think, as far as being an administrative center is concerned.
BARROWS: I don't know. I didn't have anything to do with it.
WILSON: You mentioned that Harriman had the desire at the time to have a small staff. Could you describe the situation with regard to staffing under him?
BARROWS: Well, he'd keep needing this and needing that, and demanding this person and demanding that person. I remember one time when we were outrunning our capacity to the point that I said, "Jesus, it makes no sense."
I went to Bill Foster and he said, "You're right, let's try to ring down the curtain on that." So I wrote a cable saying hold up sending any more people until further notice, because we are just swamped for everything.
Well, Harriman just blew his stack when he saw that. "What's the matter? Don't you realize that we've got an emergency job here in Europe? What do you mean? It's up to you people to keep ahead of us." So we all laughed about that.
WILSON: One has the impression that he was not a good administrator, or at least not an administrator according to popular administrative lines.
BARROWS: He was more than that. He was a man whose temperament and values were absolutely subversive of good administration. You could have good
administration around Harriman only if you kept him away from it somehow.
WILSON: Well, I also have the feeling, actually from getting into his papers, that he wanted the position of Special Representative to be something other than what it was for the most part. There is this continual concern of his for building up the status of the OEEC in order that there will be comparable European representatives in the OEEC to say what he thought his rank should be, and he was not much concerned about the sort of day-to-day things that should have gone on in the office.
BARROWS: I'm not surprised that this happened, and it would be very easy for me, not knowing very much about it, to speculate about motives. He could well have felt that this was necessary in order to accomplish the mission that was given to him. It could also have been a certain amount of his own personal values -- ambitions would be the wrong word. I thought it was interesting that Harriman seemed to have a liking for jobs which didn't
have any clear-cut status and became known as the "Harriman Mission."
WILSON: That certainly has been the case, and was before.
BARROWS: It was before. It was after.
WILSON: Yes, yes.
BARROWS: If you want, and can get him to talk, for a far better appraisal of Harriman as an individual and as an administrator and leader, Wally [Waldeman] Nielsen would be an excellent person to talk to. Is he on your list?
WILSON: Yes. He is.
BARROWS: Well, by all means you should see him. First of all, he is extraordinarily articulate, and secondly he worked for Harriman as a speech writer in Commerce before he came over there. Thirdly, he used to do a lot of thinking about this problem.
WILSON: What about getting at this in another way?
A number of the people I talked to in Europe raised the question of politicians versus technical. people -- the politicians versus the experts, both in the OEEC and also on the American team in Europe in the Special Representatives Office. Was there anything to that?
BARROWS: I wouldn't put it in those terms. I don't think it's quite that clear-cut. Maybe a European would, well, see it that way. We don't have quite such sharp lines between politics and expertise, between the civil servant and the political appointee.
WILSON: Their point was that they had the impression that Harriman became very impatient in having to deal with people he considered to be technical people, even if they were at the rank, say of Minister of Finance. He would much rather have dealt with a [Paul-Henri] Spaak almost all the time, or people comparable to Spaak.
BARROWS: Well, I suppose that was true.
WILSON: Another thing that's fuzzy in the sort of work we've done concerns the actual relationships between the Special Representative's Office in Paris and the country missions which were set up. Was there…
BARROWS: None of this was ever very clear from an organizational point of view. I did a paper at one time in that period, arguing that we had created an institution, which (leaving aside the China program which was separate and self-contained) had a Washington office and one regional office which encompassed the same geographic scope as the Washington office. We should not think in the usual governmental terms about the home office and the regional or field office, but rather to decide whether we wanted to run the program from Europe or from Washington, D.C. In presenting certain arguments pro and con, I pointed out that perhaps a better parallel for our organizational thinking than the usual government agency would be the TVA, which at the outset was effectively run from Knoxville,
Tennessee -- and perhaps still is; I don't know. It had a Washington office for purposes of liaison with Congress, and the people came to Washington when necessary, but the headquarters was clearly in Knoxville. I cited the case of the Panama Canal Authority. And I said, "This, from a purely organizational point of view, is maybe what we want. Paul Hoffman would say to Harriman that you're running things over there. Go head. But unfortunately under Hoffman was [Richard] Bissell, a very bright economist. He felt it necessary to go to Congress and explain in elaborate detail why every last penny was needed that was being asked for. There is a story attributed to him. It may not be true, but, you know, he is supposed to have said, "I don't want the objectivity of my judgments distorted by the views of mission directors." Well, we had a lot of tension of that sort, which in my -- I suspect -- naiveté at the time, I tried to dispose of as an organizational problem. At any rate, I did write a paper and I thought it was a pretty good one. Nothing ever happened, however.
WILSON: Can one go further than this? Some European people have said to me that they did have the feeling that in many ways the Special Representative's Office came to represent them in Washington. As an example, let's say the issue was integration. They would say that this is what should be accomplished with regard to integration in Europe, and Hoffman would come over, as he did in October of '49 and give a speech, which would cause a great deal of difficulty. Then the SRE and his office would step in and often mediate those things.
BARROWS: This may well be. I remember when that speech was presented. I remember one little incident. A comment was made that we shouldn't use the word integration, because we had just integrated our defense forces, you know, and that had become a dirty word. Of course, "integration" now has an entirely different meaning in American society.
BARROWS: But oddly enough indeed, Harriman protected
the Europeans from this pressure for integration, and in this, it seems to me, he missed his real function. I remember I argued that in deciding the question of whether ECA should operate essentially out of Paris or essentially out of Washington in order to avoid this problem of duplicate staffs, whose scopes were the same, the decisive consideration ought to be how much European integration are we trying to obtain. If we want to perpetuate the Europe of nations and have that for our goal, then let's deal traditionally out of Washington through the usual diplomatic channels. But why then did we create OPEC? Why did we try to get the Europeans to cut the pie the first year?
BARROWS: What was our desire in this matter? If our desire was integration as we formally claimed it was, then it would have been better to operate out of Paris, because you had an entirely different atmosphere then. I personally think that we missed an opportunity to forge a Europe at that time,
because we ourselves didn't know what we wanted, although I suspect we had a stronger, more statesman-like view of the question than the Europeans had then.
WILSON: Yes, that would be apparent from the…
BARROWS: But I remember one thing I heard at that time and I have never known whether it was true. That was that the Vatican was opposed to European integration, and we were getting a feedback from Myron Taylor at the Vatican to that effect.
BARROWS: This would be a question that could be verified. It may not be true. I always suspected that the career Foreign Service officers, in addition to their normal skepticism about such gadgets, had a certain professional bias against reducing the number of diplomatic posts. Nonetheless, I feel that the whole question had these implications; but actually what I subsequently decided is that the crucial issue between Washington and Paris and the country missions -- country missions naturally played on one
or the other depending on where they could get what they wanted -- but the crucial issue was the personalities of Hoffman and Harriman.
WILSON: Would you…
BARROWS: Well, I don't know much about what their relations were, but I observed enough of it so that I once said to Bill Foster, "You know, Mr. Foster, I really wonder whether Harriman and Hoffman wouldn't come almost to blows, at least to a parting of the ways, if you weren't between them."
He said, "I think you may be right."
I am reasonably certain that Hoffman stayed on the job in Washington at least a year longer than he wanted to in hopes of keeping Harriman from getting the job in Washington. What happened then was that Harriman -- using his position in the Democratic Party, I suppose, created that super job over Hoffman and took it instead. That meant that Hoffman, of course, had been outflanked, and that was the end of it.
WILSON: It is certainly clear that Harriman was eager
to get back. I suppose it was eight months after he arrived, some time in the spring of '49, or something like that.
BARROWS: Well, let me tell you. This is unpleasant, but I don't think it's necessarily an unrealistic appraisal.
I think Mr. Harriman, throughout most of his career, gained his independence as a personality from his public life, beginning when he went into the NRA. I didn't know him then, but my wife worked subsequently for a man who knew him well, and had the same picture of Harriman. For various reasons, his public position, therefore, became psychologically extremely valuable to him.
Now, how do you determine what's a sense of public service and what's the necessary sense of personal satisfaction? Who knows? For whatever reason, either out of a sense of public service or for these other reasons, Mr. Harriman wanted to stay in public life. I think he assumed that Mr. Truman was not going to win in 1948. Therefore,
in response to his efforts to get Hoffman to take the Marshall plan job, Hoffman said to him -- at least this is what we heard -- "Well, I'll do it if you'll do the job in Europe for me." Harriman finally decided, well, here was a good opportunity for him to ride out the storm, to do something useful, highly desirable, that he knows about, believes in. He'll go do it. That's the way I saw it.
What the effect of that was on Harriman's political position with Truman I have no idea. I should suppose it would not make Truman feel that, "Well, here's a guy who is with me through thick and thin." At any rate, some of us in Paris felt that when Truman did win, Harriman had a brief moment of hoping that he would be Secretary of State. But that didn't last very long, because I think [Dean] Acheson was named almost immediately, as I remember. I do remember that I was in Harriman's office the day after the election when Dulles was in Paris. They seemed very gracious, as Harriman very well could be at that time. At one point, Harriman said
something to this effect, "Of course, we certainly must keep this bipartisan effort going. I'm so glad to have your feelings about it, but of course, on a somewhat different basis." But he wasn't nasty about it, and I'm sure it was received as reasonable on the other end, as well.
WILSON: Frankly, when we began this project the sort of personal and administrative problems, which have come up, were not given that much importance. But these were crucial -- these sort of issues -- for getting at what went on and really getting at policy. The question of the various kinds of people representing various agencies, who had to be accommodated by your people in Paris -- I have heard very different views of this . You had Treasury, and well you can go down the list as late as '49 and '50, and yet some of the Europeans said it wasn't any problem. We would deal with Harriman's office, with his people, and they would sort these things out for us, or they often said when I was talking to them this last summer, "We'll do it informally." Even though
a man would represent the Treasury, if he stayed in Paris long enough or stayed wherever he was in Geneva, or wherever, he would reach some understanding with his opposite number in the country mission or the Embassy or wherever, and there would be an American position. Was that what happened?
BARROWS: Well, I don't know very much about most of the country missions during that period in that detail. Nor do I really know about many of the things in the Office of Special Representative. I remember reading at one time that Harriman in effect took away the power of the mission to France; but David Bruce is a strong enough man, so I wonder. Of course, it was a career man as ambassador at the outset, Jefferson Caffery, and he too was a pretty shrewd operator. I don't know the truth of that particular one. But I do know this, that in the mission to France there was a Treasury attaché named [John D.] Tomlinson, who unfortunately died prematurely. He was a very able man, but determined in his pursuit of a certain policy. He always won in any struggle between him
and the Marshall plan director, on whose staff he nominally appeared. Of course, the Treasury always sees to it that their people have an independent employment status. But I remember that one time after I moved to Rome the mission director to France, whose name I don't remember, came down to Rome on a visit and called on Dayton, and said among other things, "You know, one thing I'd like you to tell me. Are you able to keep your Treasury attaché in line?"
Well, Dayton said, "I have no problems on that score."
The visitor said, "I simply can't do anything with mine." He said, "I'll go around to the French Government, and I'll urge them to do this or that with American aid." This always had to do with the use of counterpart funds and the issue always turned on how liberal a monetary policy should they follow. And he said, "I'd sell my position, and get agreement, and then Tomlinson would come along behind me and undo it all and say, "No, no, no."
Now, obviously, I guess, Tomlinson had Treasury support, but presumably also somebody else's support.
After Bruce ceased to be mission director he went somewhere else, and Jimmy Dunn was in there as Ambassador. So it must have been during that period, that this particular incident occurred. It was generally believed, I think, that Tomlinson's strength came from Harriman. And there may have been this…
WILSON: Yes. I know a Belgian Minister of Finance, who praised Tomlinson to the skies. This was Hubert Ansiaux, who had been interested in him.
BARROWS: I have no judgment at all about the substantive issue there, but I did look at it as an interesting organizational problem, and problem of governmental discipline.
WILSON: Yes. He said that Tomlinson had invented the counterpart, the counterpart notion.
BARROWS: I take it it was a natural discovery. Tomlinson was surely one of the early ones to make use of it.
BARROWS: And he was a very imaginative and able man.
WILSON: When you add NATO to this soup of organizational lines…
BARROWS: Harriman for a while had a role in NATO, which operated from London. I think he enjoyed having the two headquarters, because he would never be completely confined to one institutional situation or the other. I thi