Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. ) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.
Opened January, 1976
Oral History Interview with
December 18, 1972
by Richard D. McKinzie
MCKINZIE: Mr. Adams could you say something about your recollection of President Truman's coming to office at the time of the death of Franklin Roosevelt?
ADAMS: I was in the State Department, and in those years the Department was right next to the White House -- occupied what was the State, Army, Navy Building.
I was in what subsequently became the Bureau of U. N. Affairs. At the time we were working on the preparations for the U. N. San Francisco Conference, the preparatory Dumbarton Oaks Conference having been held the previous fall. Our office was at the south end of the building on the ground floor, overlooking a lovely garden. It was late
in the afternoon, probably about 5 o'clock, when Mr. [Joseph E.] Johnson, our chief, came in the room and he said, "Gentlemen, the President is dead." The news, of course, was a great shock because no one had any notion then that the President was ailing. I think the last time I'd heard President Roosevelt was in the address he gave to Congress following his return from Yalta; and then the next thing he's dead. Hearing the news, my colleagues and I closed up work for the day. I personally walked out in front of the White House and just stood there. The flag was at half mast. People began to gather but no great crowd. Soon I went on home and listened to radio news bulletins and commemorative programs which continued through the night. I was alone at that time, my wife and son being in Chicago on their way back from Ecuador. I had been stationed in Quito but had returned to Washington a year before the President's death. My wife stayed on to work for Nelson Rockefeller's Coordinator's Office. She was returning to Washington,
and was in Chicago at the time of President Roosevelt's death.
She arrived in D. C. the next morning with our three-year old son, Tommy, who at that point spoke nothing but Spanish. He and his grandmother in Duluth apparently had had a rather difficult time, being unable to converse.
But anyway, it was quite remarkable how the radio stations, with almost no notice, carried long and detailed programs about the President's life and death. So, at that point begins the Truman story.
MCKINZIE: What did this do to your work? Did you find planning for the San Francisco Conference about the same way as before, or was there some uncertainty about what course President Truman might take?
ADAMS: As I recall, there was a brief interlude where there was uncertainty as to whether the conference should be convened on schedule but I don't recall that there was any question as to a shift in the
U. S. position on any U. N. Charter issue. I doubt that there was. Also the decision to proceed as planned on opening of the Conference was quickly taken. I personally did not attend the opening of the Conference. Officers in our division divided time at the Conference. I went out in mid-May and stayed until the finish.
I flew from Washington to San Francisco in a military plane, a DC-3 which was transporting military personnel. The only other civilian on the plane was Ambassador Julius Holmes. It took us nearly 20 hours to get across the country, with stops at military bases in Des Moines and Salt Lake City (or Ogden), where we had dinner.
Taking off at nightfall, we arrived over San Francisco about two in the morning, maybe a little earlier. It was a beautiful night, but there was fog and floating clouds over the bay area. The pilot made two runs at the airstrip south of San Francisco, emerging from the overcast both times over a yacht harbor. Obviously apprehensive, the pilot decided to go for the Oakland Airport
where there was no cloud cover. Once on the ground he told Ambassador Holmes that he'd lost instrument contact an hour out of San Francisco. In short, we had come in almost blind on those two approaches. We felt lucky to be alive.
In San Francisco I roomed with Andrew Cordier, who subsequently became Trygve Lie's principal aide. At this point he was one of the regular officers in the division.
One of the interesting things to the U. S. delegation was how Scotty [James] Reston of the New York Times obtained inside information as to what was going on in closed sessions of the committees. His stories were uncannily accurate and nobody could figure out his sources. Some years later Scotty divulged his source to be a member of the Chinese delegation who had supplied him with conference documents.
MCKINZIE: What was your own work there? Was it by this time a matter of formality, or were there still substantive issues with which you had to deal at the conference?
ADAMS: The veto, of course, became the overriding issue of the Conference. I personally worked on the security aspects of the Charter, which became chapters 6 and 7 of the Charter. My chief there was Joe Johnson, and our function was to sit in on the committee meetings and make informal notes and write up summaries of main points, not a verbatim record at all. That was basically my job.
One of the amusing aspects of the Conference was to observe Senator [Tom] Connally's performance in the committee sessions which I attended. With his stentorian voice and waving white locks he was a colorful figure. But he could never shake the habits of a life as U. S. Senator and frequently, while addressing this international committee, he would appeal to them, in flourishing gesture, as "Fellow Senators." Much to the amusement of all.
MCKINZIE: It was a huge Conference. Did you feel that things handled well? Was there more chaos than if it had not been such a large Conference?
ADAMS: No. I didn't have any sense of chaos but it was very exciting. I don't suppose there was any city in the world that could have been more exciting as a locale for the Conference. There was both the dramatic geography of the City and of the Bay area and also the fabulous restaurants. If you had the free time -- and often you didn't -- you could dine at a different restaurant every night. Then, of course, there was the political excitement that we were taking part in an epic historical event.
At the end of the Conference President Truman flew out and addressed the closing session. I remember seeing him in front of the Fairmont Hotel as he arrived in the flutter of flags and people.
MCKINZIE: Did you have any personal sense of something perhaps prosaic was going on there? What did you feel about the prospects of United Nations at that time?
ADAMS: We were all, of course, very hopeful and...
MCKINZIE: But not certain?
ADAMS: Not certain -- no. There was no certainty. But I think the overriding feeling which had permeated the preparations in the State Department both for the earlier Dumbarton Oaks Conference and the San Francisco Conference was the determination that this time, in contrast to World War I and our experience with the League of Nations, whatever was adopted must be accepted by the Senate. They didn't want a repetition of an American President or Government proposing something and then having it turned down by our own Senate. So both the House and Senate were brought into the planning process, both within U. S. Government preparatory deliberations and at Dumbarton Oaks and San Francisco. At both conferences two Senators and two Congressmen were on the U. S. delegation -- the Chairman and Deputy of the respective Foreign Affairs and Foreign Relations Committees. This included, Mr. [Arthur H.] Vandenberg, a leading Republican Senator. So, the Congress was in on it all the way. At the same time a great effort was made to inform the press
as to just what was going on so that the American public would be fully informed and support whatever was done.
MCKINZIE: The issue that you mentioned that as an overriding issue at the Conference -- namely, the veto -- was originally insisted upon by the United States as a means of making the Senate feel that the United States would not be dragooned into any kind of international action. The veto -- even though the Soviet used it most the first years -- was nonetheless a necessary thing for the United States.
ADAMS: I was never personally involved in discussions within the American Government on this particular point and obviously it was decided at the Presidential level. But I always assumed that the United States would itself have insisted upon the veto, and of course agreement on the veto was reached at the Yalta Conference. The feeling, I think, at the San Francisco Conference was
that this system was not going to work unless the big powers agreed. The war in Europe, which ended during the Conference, and the war in the Far East which was still going on, had produced a feeling of cooperation among the allies. There was a hope -- I suppose it wasn't any more than that -- that at least some of this would be extended into the future. By virtue of the pure physical size of the United States and the Soviet Union no sanctions could be imposed successfully against either. That is, there could be no military sanction, because if either the U.S.S.R. or the United States is opposed to contributing forces to a U. N. action or actively opposes such an action, it is bound to fail. So, the veto was built on this assumption that the two powers must agree. Three other countries also had the veto but militarily they were very weak, had been practically prostrated by the war (the British, and the French, and China). What we are really talking about was the United States and Soviet Union.
MCKINZIE: The Department at that time operated somewhat differently, I guess, than it did later when Mr. Acheson became Secretary and George Marshall was Secretary. You had a feeling in the Department at that time that the shots were being called by Edward Stettinius? Or was it more of a committee operation? Did you think Stettinius was strong?
ADAMS: No. I had the feeling that Mr. Stettinius was taking his directions from the White House, and relying heavily on bureaucratic advice. Mr. Stettinius, of course, came into this picture very late in the game. Cordell Hull had been Secretary right up to about the time of the Conference. Hull had been at Dumbarton Oaks the fall before. I would say that below the President it was a committee operation. Yes. Because there were very strong advisers to the U. S. delegation, as I mentioned, the Senators and the Congressmen, the top people in the State Department, Defense Department, Treasury, and Mr.
Stettinius. I think they worked as a team.
I remember one amusing incident in a morning meeting of the American delegation. Some issues was up and Hamilton Fish Armstrong, the U.S. representative on one of the committees, was trying to pin down the position he was to take, was very irate when the meeting arrived at no conclusion. Mr. Armstrong said, "How can I go into this meeting without a decision? I want a decision."
At that moment Secretary Stettinius walked out of the meeting, saying he had to telephone the President. Armstrong was left in a livid state. Perhaps Mr. Stettinius got a decision on the particular point in his conversation with the President -- this is just speculation; I don't know.
MCKINZIE: When you came back to Washington after the San Francisco Conference, did you immediately start work then on other international conferences?
ADAMS: Yes. The whole inter-departmental staff then got to work on preparing the actual U. S. participation in the United Nations itself.
In the following winter the first meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations met in London. Our Bureau then became the Office of United Nations Affairs, our job being to backstop the U. S. delegation to various U. N. bodies and help prepare the U. S. position on various issues.
One of them, of course, was the organization of the Military Staff Committee. This was to be a committee representative of the five countries with the veto, whose military forces were under the Charter to be contributed to the U. N. for an effective military action. The Military Staff Committee was to be kind of "high command" of the U. N. enforcement body.
After the U. N. was set up, this Military Staff Committee met repeatedly regarding contributions of forces but in the end there was no agreement. This aspect of the U. N. Charter became a dead letter. There is no Military Staff Committee and there never -- the idea of using the U. N. as having military sanction was never put into effect in
MCKINZIE: At any point in that did you ever have the feeling that it might be? And when was there a high point in all this?
ADAMS: Well, again you're hopeful, but it soon became apparent that, because of developing differences between the U.S. and the USSR -- some .in the U.N. and some outside -- there would be no agreement on the Military Staff Committee and the use of a U.N. armed force.
To change the subject, I would mention the prominence or notoriety subsequently achieved by members of the Office of International Security Affairs in which I worked at that time. It was quite remarkable. In charge of the whole U.N. office in State was Alger Hiss, who had been the Secretary General of the United Nations Conference and was subsequently to be a key figure in the McCarthy era, the pumpkin papers and Whittaker Chambers. Our immediate chief was Joseph Johnson who was later to become head of the Carnegie Endowment
for International Peace.
As I mentioned before Andy Cordier was to become chief aide to Trygve Lie. Another officer was Dean Rusk who had been Deputy Chief of Staff in the CBI theater and joined us after San Francisco, first as a part of the Pentagon delegation working out the military staff part of the Charter and later as a civilian member of our staff. So, at that time, within our own office we had Joe Johnson, Dean Rusk, Andy Cordier, and Harding Bancroft who is now executive secretary of the New York Times.
One of the things that I became involved in was the preparations for and the actual meeting of the Rio Conference, which was to draw up a regional defense pact.
By this time the cold war had started, beginning, I suppose, with the Soviet reluctance to get out of Azerbaijan in Northern Iran, and the confrontation in the Security Council over that particular issue. Right here you had a perfect illustration of the impossibility of using
military sanctions should the U. N. have taken an action against the Soviet Union. Had it come to expelling Soviet from northern Iran you would have had a confrontation, not a collective security action. You would have had the Soviets against the Security Council. Well, as it became apparent that the Soviets could prevent military action, or other decisions against them in the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. began making preparation for regional pacts which, without Soviet membership, could take effective defensive action under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter. The Rio Pact was the first of these regional pacts, and involved all of the Western Hemisphere countries, except for Canada. Argentina at the time was a very reluctant partner, completely at odds with the United States on this and other issues.
The U.S. delegation to the Rio Conference flew down in a chartered plane. Norman Armour I remember was on the U.S. delegation. George Marshall, by this time, was Secretary of State, and he came down on another plane. It was a
delightful trip. We left Washington late one evening and arrived next morning at Puerto Rico, went on to Trinidad, and flew on late that afternoon to Belem on the Amazon. These planes were slow in our modern time terms, but absolutely delightful. It was a DC4, and being a chartered plane, you could go up on the flight deck and talk with the captain. We went from the glittering Caribbean, to the north coast of South America, over Georgetown, British Guiana. Night fell and we were over the Brazilian jungle. Passing through a thunderstorm with lightning, we put down at Belem for gasoline; took off and flew through the night to Rio. Having had a back operation not too many months before, I persuaded the stewardess to let me sleep on a blanket in front of the back door. Months later I read that on a similar flight that back door had opened, and one or two passengers sucked out of the plane and dropped over the Amazon.
The Rio Conference was held at the Hotel Quitandinha in the mountains about fifty miles
north of Rio. We were closeted there the whole time practically, except for a Saturday or Sunday trip down to Rio. There was, as I recall, no great difficulty arriving at a consensus on treaty provisions. The treaty, of course, is not very binding in the sense that it requires almost mandatory military sanctions in the way that the NATO Treaty does.
MCKINZIE: Might I ask you what you recall about the motivation for having the treaty in the first place? When George Marshall was before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as I recall, he was asked why it was necessary? Certainly Congress didn't think that in the event there was war that there were going to be Soviet troops in the jungles of Brazil or on the beaches of Latin America, and Marshall admitted that he didn't think there would be. Someone pushed him a little further and asked if it was not really of a political nature even though it was a military alliance -- if the advantage of such a treaty wouldn't be primarily
political. There he hedged a bit but seemed to indicate that it was. I wonder if in the department there was some talk about this issue? The use of this kind of treaty as an instrument for obtaining a little better cooperation.
ADAMS: Well, I think that's basically true, although I have no direct knowledge of what the talk in higher levels of the Department was. I, for one, was never persuaded that any military threat to the United States was going to come through Latin America. And later on, we started sending military missions and selling military equipment. From the beginning I thought this was a bad idea because it wasn't going to be used for repelling any Communist military invasion. What it was actually going to be used for was the suppression of people in opposition to governments. I think in retrospect this is about what it was. All these arms had been spread around Latin America. And to the extent they had been paid for by the people of the country they detracted from their ability
to do other things which were more important. Now you always get the argument against that: "If we don't sell it to them, somebody else will." And to an extent this is true. But I think those early military missions served to build up the military strength of what in effect were -- with some exceptions -- dictatorial governments. They were used to keep the local populace under control rather than repel Communist invasions.
MCKINZIE: But some parts of the Rio Treaty became a kind of a model for the NATO Treaty later on.
I think basically they are all similar until you get down to the crunch, which is the provision as to whether, where, and under what conditions these military forces are going to be used. Of course, the same thing can be said about the economic sanctions which were much talked about in the years leading up to World War II in Manchuria, Ethiopia and Czechoslovakia.
As I indicated before, the military sanction
clause of the Rio Treaty is very weak. In NATO the obligation is much stronger but even then the Senate has insisted that no military action be taken except in accord with the constitutional process of the United States. Here, of course, you get into the Presidential authority to use armed forces. And from there you get into the question of whether you can go to war without authorization of the Congress. So the Senate, when these treaties came up for examination before they were approved, always kept a very close watch to be sure that authorization of the use of major force was reserved for the Senate or the Congress. But I repeat that while in the Rio Treaty the possibility of military sanctions was there, the requirement on the states was very weak.
MCKINZIE: There is some indication that the United States had postponed the Rio Conference a time or two fearing that they wouldn't be able to handle economic demands of the Latin Americans. Latin Americans had expected some considerable
economic assistance from the United States at the end of the war. Of course, this eventually resulted in the Bogotá Conference in 1948, which was supposed to deal with economic matters. But they wanted the original conference, as I understand it, to deal with both military and economic matters. And the State Department at the time did not want to get into that thing. After all, economics was a problem in Europe, and resources of the country were limited. Do you remember anything at all in the preparations for the Conference about positions to be taken should economic matters come up, or was the agenda so tightly controlled that it was an impossibility?
ADAMS: Well, I think it's the latter. I think the agenda was so controlled that this didn't even come up. It was undoubtedly talked about in the corridors and between many of the represented delegations, but it never came up in the formal meetings. The meetings were entirely devoted to drawing up this political-military treaty.
Now again some of the interesting sidelights; one of the persons who came to the Conference was Eva Peron. She had been on her tour to Europe where she was received by the Pope. And she stopped by Rio and came to Quitandinha while this conference was in progress. The question was what to do with Eva,, because it was thought that her presence in the gallery might cause disruption, if nothing more than to distract the attention of delegates! But the Brazilian hosts handled it very nicely. Eva was invited to come as a distinguished guest. She sat there pleasantly for about fifteen minutes at which point the Brazilian chairman of the Conference announced: "Gentlemen, we have a very distinguished visitor, and in honor of the occasion I suggest we temporarily adjourn to the banquet hall and drink a toast of champagne to her presence. After that, we'll reconvene." After an appropriate time the delegates reconvened and Eva left. A diplomatic handling of an awkward situation.
George Marshall, of course, was there as Secretary,
and then President Truman came down on board the battleship Missouri. During the Conference all the delegations were invited on board for tea, my only visit to the deck of a battleship. It was fantastic -- the size of this thing, and the upward sweep of the prow.
The Conference itself ended in agreement; very weak agreement but as much as most of the signatories, including the United States, wanted out of the Conference. As you suggest it was doubtless the show of political solidarity rather than effective military security, which was wanted by all parties. In that sense it was a success.
MCKINZIE: How then did you happen to get involved with the India and Pakistan U. N. Commission?
ADAMS: This was just one of those happenings. You mentioned the Bogotá Conference which followed the Rio Conference the next spring. There was some thought that I would attend, but I didn't. As you recall it was interrupted by an outbreak of civil war in Bogotá. General [Matthew B.]
Ridgway, then military representative of the U. S. delegation, was actually caught in street shooting and forced to hide behind street barricades. I was sorry to miss the Conference but I was already involved in another case which proved more interesting and which eventually shifted much of my career to South Asia: the Kashmir case.
You may recall that in the Christmas week of 1947 the incidents which became the Kashmir case broke into the international arena, that is, the Indians brought the case to the Security Council. As an officer in the division I was assigned to meet with the people who were considering this case. That meant the Bureau of Near East and South Asian Affairs, and, because the matter was being brought in the U. N., the Bureau of International Organization Affairs. I came in as a representative of the latter.
The case arose because of the partition of British India into India and Pakistan.
MCKINZIE: The Kashmir case was introduced to the
Security Council on January the 1st, 1948.
ADAMS: About, yes.
The brief history there is that the case was debated and Sir Zafrullah Khan came to represent Pakistan. He was an international lawyer and is now serving on the International Court of Justice. He's been there for many years. The Indians were represented by various people, but one of them was Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai. These debates set the record for lengthy speeches. I think Zafrullah Khan spoke for seven hours one time. The upshot of the discussion was to appoint a U. N. commission.
MCKINZIE: On January 20th.
ADAMS: A three-country commission was established in the first instance. Czechoslovakia, Belgium and Argentina. Eventually it became a five country commission, with the U. S. and Colombia added.
The Czech Government of Jan Masaryk immediately appointed their representative: Josef Korbel, their ambassador in Yugoslavia. Then
came the Communist takeover of the government. Korbel later told me that he was out of the country when the Communists took over and that he never returned to his country. But for some peculiar reason -- and it had to do with internal Czech politics -- the Communists did not replace Korbel on the commission during all of 1948. Mr. Klahr Huddle, our Ambassador in Burma, was named as the U. S. representative. In those days we used to appoint large delegations to such commissions. In this case we had a political adviser, Hawley Oakes, a retired Foreign Service officer. The military adviser was Frank Smith, a major from the Pentagon. I was the U. N. Affairs adviser. Then we had two young male secretaries. The Commission first assembled in Geneva on about June 13th, where we conducted initial organizational meetings. We stayed in Geneva for about three weeks while resolving by cable with Prime Minister [Jawaharlal] Nehru some point he wanted clarified as to the Commission's competence and
extent of its authority.
MCKINZIE: Were all these people fairly knowledgeable about the Indian-Pakistan dispute or did they acquire that competence after they were in Geneva?
ADAMS: I would say it was all acquired. Ambassador Huddle had a knowledge of the region as a result of his being Ambassador to Burma, but no detailed knowledge of the Indian situation itself. No, they were all newcomers to the thing, but they quickly acquired competence as to the immediate issue.
Departing Geneva on a Swiss airplane, we overnighted in Cairo and then flew on to Karachi. The interesting thing about the Cairo stop is that we arrived there July 6, right in the middle of an armistice in the Arab-Jewish fights over Palestine. It was very touchy and sensitive situation. Count [folke Af Wisborg] Bernadotte, the U. N. mediator, was in town and so was Ralph Bunche. Subsequently Bernadotte was assassinated in Jerusalem and Bunche took over. But there was
all. this coming and going of people -- of top U. N. people trying to carry out the cease-fire and carry it into some sort of an agreement. But that's another story.
The fascinating thing to me personally about the Cairo stop is that I found myself in something of a crossfire. I was carrying a U. S. diplomatic pouch containing background documents. Nothing very confidential in them, but nevertheless they were in a pouch. Upon our arrival at the Cairo airport the authorities would not let me take the pouch into town. Faced with the prospect of overnighting in the airport, I called our Embassy to ask, "What do I do now?" Informed of the nature of the documents, and the fact that they were sealed, the Embassy officer advised that it would do no damage to leave them in bond. Which I did, and then went into Cairo.
Very irritated at this long delay, I remember remarking that, "If I never return to Cairo it will be too soon." That was in July of 1948 and in April of '50, less than two years later, I was
back there in the Embassy and had a thoroughly enjoyable time.
I might record some of my own thoughts. Just a little bit of what transpired because in human interest it was absolutely fascinating. It was really a great privilege. As a matter of fact, I would say that I think my whole Foreign Service career has been a great privilege, because it puts you in touch and right on the inside, or as a very close observer of some of the great events of our period.
MCKINZIE: Will you speak in some detail about what transpired after you were in Cairo?
ADAMS: We stopped over night in Karachi having flown from Cairo, and the next morning boarded an Indian domestic airline for Delhi. I had awakened that morning violently ill and literally forced myself to get on the airplane. We bounced for the next few hours over the deserts of India, putting down at Jaipur and Jodhpur. I was repeatedly ill; it was a horrible thing. On our arrival in
New Delhi we were met by some American Embassy people who took me to a hotel, where I spent two or three days in bed, recovering from this violent wrenching. From that time on I was fine; no more trouble.
The first sessions of the Commission in New Delhi lasted two weeks. Then went back down to Karachi for three weeks. Returning to New Delhi for more meetings, the Commission decided it ought to have some direct knowledge of Kashmir itself. The principal members felt they could not themselves take time off for a visit to Kashmir; so they sent their deputies. Except for the Czech, Josef Korbel, every representative had a deputy. Our deputy, however, had become ill and spent most of the rest of our time in the sub-continent in bed. So I was sent in his place.
Our subcommittee spent more than a week in Kashmir interviewing political leaders such as Sheikh Abdullah, the Prime Minister, and collecting political and economic information.
The Commission had itself visited the Pakistani
side of the border and subsequently came to the valley, the Vale of Kashmir. While there, Bernadotte was assassinated in Jerusalem. This killing of the U. N. representative in the Middle East cast something of a gloom over this U. N. Commission in Kashmir. Also while we were in Kashmir the Indians took over the princely state of Hyderabad by what they called a police action. This, of course, was nothing but a military action to remove the Nizam, who was a Moslem ruler of what basically was a Hindu population and who had refused to accede to India. The Indians took over the state. Shortly thereafter we returned to Delhi where the Commission, concluding that agreement on a settlement was not to be forthcoming, decided to return to Geneva.
The fascinating thing about this sojourn in the sub-continent was the opportunity it had provided to meet leaders of those two countries. We met for hours with Prime Minister Nehru, Bajpai and others on the Indian side and with Sir Liaquat
Ali Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, and Sir Zafrullah Khan, his Foreign Minister. We also saw many of them at diplomatic receptions and dinners. This was very early in the independence of India and Pakistan and there were relatively few diplomatic representatives in either capital. As a result Nehru, for example, would attend every diplomatic reception. So we'd see him at such parties as well as in the Commission meetings. But he also gave us a large state dinner in the Governor's house and then invited each delegation individually to his residence. At his dinner for the U. S. delegation, Nehru avoided "talking business" but discoursed at length on India's history and culture. Naturally, the conversation got around eventually to the Taj Mahal. Nehru, however, said he preferred another smaller tomb in Agra to the Taj; this was the tomb of Intimad-ud-daulah, whose name I had to write down. Subsequently I visited the tomb of Itimad-ud-daulah quite often. It was a delightful -- a real gem.
MCKINZIE: The U.N. at this point had still very cordial relations with him even though he, in the end, rejected the recommendations of the U.N.
ADAMS: That's right. He appeared to give every cooperation, although some had reservations about the Indian position. At this point you have to get into the detail. The partition of India, you see, only divided British India. Now quite apart from the territory which the British ruled you had 450 or more princely states, which were autonomous or semi-sovereign. In effect, the British had said to their rulers, the maharajahs and rajahs, "You run your state internally and keep it quiet. We'll take care of your defense and foreign relations but otherwise we'll leave you alone." When partition came, the rulers of these princely states -- the rajahs and maharajahs -- were not bound by the decision of the British to divide India. Each had to make up his own mind whether they be independent or to join India or Pakistan. Presumably, the decision would be made in accordance
with the constitution of their particular state, but almost without exception the decision was taken by the ruler himself.
So the Indian position was that the Maharajah of Kashmir, a Hindu ruling over a state the majority of whose population was Moslem, had legally bound Kashmir by signing an instrument of accession. Now he did that because raiders from what was Pakistan had entered the state from the west, were despoiling towns and villages and were obviously headed for Srinagar, the capital. The maharajah appealed to the Indians for military help to resist the invaders but was told such help could be provided only should Kashmir become part of India. Immediately the ruler signed on the dotted line. Indian troops were dispatched by air and captured the Srinagar airport just as the raiders approached. The fight for Kashmir then ensued, the Indians insisting that the raiders were operating on behalf of Pakistan and the Pakistanians claiming an Indian armed takeover of the State.
MCKINZIE: But those raiders so far as you could tell had no official connection with Pakistan?
ADAMS: They were obviously not Pakistani troops and the Pakistanis always denied that they had any influence over those people. They did, however, proceed to Kashmir by Pakistani buses and trains. Also, there was some history of raiding into Kashmir because it was something of a breadbasket. To an extent these raiders were following a pattern. Later on Zafrullah Khan privately admitted to the Commission that some Pakistani troops had joined the fighting in Kashmir. The Indians made a great point of this. In any case Nehru insisted that the Majarajah's accession had determined the status of Kashmir. He had, nonetheless, at the time of accepting the accession, said that as soon as things were quiet within the state its future would be finally decided in accordance with the will of the people. In other words, they would have a say as to whether they wanted to join India or Pakistan. It is said that Nehru promised
a subsequent expression of popular desire largely at the urging of Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last British Governor General of India, and it is probably true.
Whatever his initial reluctance, Nehru probably agreed because he was a believer in democracy and the will of the people. Increasingly over the months, however, he became more and more reluctant to hold a plebiscite. Some say he was afraid of the results. He himself expressed apprehension that the campaigning incident to a plebiscite in Kashmir would simply rekindle Moslem-Hindu animosities, which led to the partition and resulting bloodshed. The partition, you recall, had resulted in the butchering of tens if not hundreds of thousands of people. There were twelve million refugees fleeing from one side to the other. This probably was a matter of legitimate concern on his part. The butchery, especially in north India, had been horrible, some of it occurring right within Delhi. U. S. newspaper correspondents who had been there at
the time told us of nightly killings in the old city. They had personally toured the streets; had gone down one street with nobody in sight and had returned a few minutes later to find it littered with butchered bodies. They were always knife fights; never guns.
We were told that bloodshed in the village could be even more ghastly. It was a golden opportunity to take out old vengeances, settle old scores. My point is that Nehru probably had good reason to fear risking a reopening of old wounds through a plebiscite bound to be fought on communal, or religious, grounds.
MCKINZIE: Your major concern was to take care of the Kashmir end of the dispute. Did you have any instructions to deal with this question?
ADAMS: No. The injunction to the Commission was simply to go out and try to arrange for the settlement of the dispute between two countries over Kashmir. The first thing that the Commission did was to arrange a cease-fire. This was in mid-August.
It went into effect immediately, although it was not confirmed by the Security Council until early January of 1949. So the fighting stopped; I don't know whether you can attribute this to the work of the Commission and its pressures on the two governments, or whether the fighting had progressed to a stage where both sides were willing to call it a halt for the time being. The cease-fire line was subsequently demarcated along the line dividing the fighting forces. Because subsequently, after the fighting really got underway, the Pakistani troops came into the state. So it was really divided -- drawing a line between the Indians and the Pakistani army.
MCKINZIE: When you had a cease-fire, you did not get mutual troop withdrawal?
ADAMS: No, no, no. That was to come in the plebiscite. We tried to get agreement on this plebiscite. That was really the main purpose. Since Nehru was committed to a plebiscite and the Pakistani wanted it, this was the obvious thing to work on.
And we worked on it, but we couldn't get any agreement while we were there. In mid-September the Commission reasoned, "Well, there's no point in shuttling between these two sides anymore. Let's go back to report to the Security Council," which was then meeting with the General Assembly in Paris. Those were the years when the U.N. didn't have permanent headquarters. They were out at Lake Success and occasionally the Assembly and Security Council would meet in Europe. This was the fall of 1948.
MCKINZIE: How did you feel when you left? Had it done some good?
ADAMS: Well, I think we felt we'd done all we could. Given the mutual hostility of the two governments, there was nothing more we could do. But the interesting thing is the subsequent development. We stayed about five weeks in Geneva drawing up the Commission report to the Security Council. In early November we moved into Paris, having received a signal that the Security Council could now take up
the Kashmir issue. Before then it had been completely occupied with two -- in their view -- more important issues. Important in the sense that, in Kashmir at least the fighting, had stopped. These two other issues were the Berlin Airlift and the Arab-Israeli fighting, which was at its peak during that summer.
To cut through this, we drew up our report in Geneva. I went over to Paris once or twice to sound out our delegation as to when they thought the Security Council might want to see us in Paris. Finally, we were given the green light and moved into Paris. Only a few days thereafter word came from the Indian delegation that they were prepared to talk again about a plebiscite, which really surprised us. The Indians sent their very top negotiator, Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai, to Paris and Sir Zafrullah Khan came from Pakistan. And in talks which went on over three or four weeks we got an agreement on a plebiscite to decide the future of Kashmir. It was to decide the future of the whole state. It did not envisage partition
along the lines of majority population, although while we were out there we had secretly or confidentially, with various people discussed the possibility of a partition.
It was getting close to Christmas. The General Assembly and Security Council adjourned on about the 11th or 12th of December, and there was a fog over the whole of Northwest Europe. It had been on for nearly a month. Sometimes in Paris it was so bad that Mr. Huddle would say, "We've just got to get out of here. We can't breathe." Some thought of going back to Geneva. The ships weren't moving out of the ports of Northwestern Europe for about a week. But we were lucky and got the Nieuw Amsterdam out of Le Havre.
The Commission itself, before disbanding, said, "We want this agreement in writing. The word of top representatives is not enough. We want Prime Minister Nehru's signature and Liaquat Ali Khan's signature on this document." So the Commission decided to send the Colombian representative, Mr. [Alfredo] Lozano, back to the subcontinent
to get the necessary signatures on this document; which he did. So his Christmas holiday was ruined. He didn't get back to Bogotá, Colombia for his holiday. But he did get the signatures.
The U.N. Security Council reconvened in New York right after the New Year holiday, and on about January 5, 1949, adopted a resolution approving the plebiscite agreement embodied therein. We thought we really had the basis for a solution to the Kashmir problem.
The Secretary General immediately set about appointing a plebiscite administrator. He considered several international individuals and came up with the name of Admiral [Chester W.] Nimitz, that really marvelous, wonderful man who had been admiral of our Pacific fleet in World War II.
MCKINZIE: Do you recall some of the other names that were kicked around as possibilities?
ADAMS: [Raymond A.] Wheeler, Brigadier General Wheeler who was a U.S. Army engineer. There were one or two other personalities mentioned.
But Nimitz accepted and set about very vigorously to organize his administrative staff. Among those selected was Sarah Wambaugh who had the experience in a plebiscite in the Saar between World War I and II. In total the basic staff numbered about 20. And with them Nimitz began preliminary planning. For his background information he came from New York to the State Department and discussed the history of the problem at length. He then told Dean Rusk who was at that time in charge of the U. N. Bureau, that he wanted somebody from the State Department as a member of his delegation, as a kind of general aide -- no particular assignment. And I got this -- the finger was put on me to go with Nimitz.
Harding Bancroft, who by this time was Chief of our division, had told Dean Rusk that he thought I should be the one. Rusk asked that we come to his office to discuss the matter next morning. It was the same morning I was to take an oral examination for what we call "lateral entry" into the Foreign Service. That was to take place about
noon. At the time, I was a member of the State Department in the civil service, but I wanted to get in the Foreign Service. Earlier in the morning I went with Bancroft to this meeting with Rusk and it was decided, yes, I would go. I would be detailed -- the British would have said seconded -- to Nimitz's staff. I guess we discussed leaves of absence, whether it would be for one year or two years, etc.
Naturally, I was quite elated and I walked out of there thinking how absolutely fantastic it was going to be to go with Nimitz on this tremendous operation of holding a plebiscite deciding what's going to happen.
Walking from Rusk's office to this oral exam I had the attitude of, "I could care less." You know, whether I passed this examination or not. For whatever reason I must have conveyed a sense of self-confidence. Anyway, I was one of six, I think, who were passed in that examination for admission to the Foreign Service. I didn't get the word until much later, but the interesting
thing was that my attitude, when I went into that examination, was completely overlaid by the fact that whatever happened I was going on this Nimitz mission.
But we never left for Kashmir. My wife had gone to Europe for the first time the previous summer -- on a student boat out of the St. Lawrence and across the North Atlantic on a tour of Europe. She had so enjoyed it that by 1949 she decided that she would herself organize a tour and take people to Europe, which she did. And she went on ahead -- taking our two sons with her, with the intention of joining me in Kashmir when the summer was over. Well, as I said, the Nimitz mission never left. The Indian and Pakistani Government began to squabble over the terms of the plebiscite, and in particular those sections calling for preliminary troop withdrawals, as you mentioned earlier. The Indians insisted that the agreement called for withdrawal first by the Pakistani troops; and vice versa. Perhaps the wording as to timing was ambiguous. Nehru could have been right. I had the
feeling, however, that he was stalling because by this time he had decided he didn't want the plebiscite. This was my personal conviction -- whatever the technicalities may have been. Anyway, he succeeded at that point in frustrating the commission.
There may have been another factor. In a meeting which Admiral Nimitz had with one of the Indian representatives up in New York, the Admiral had indicated perhaps a little undue enthusiasm about getting on with the plebiscite, and getting it over, maybe within a year or 18 months. In retrospect some of us reasoned that the Indians may have thought this time frame too fast. Maybe they wanted time to influence the public opinion in Kashmir. We don't know; this is all speculation. But, in any case, the plebiscite was postponed. We had our passports. We had the plane arranged. But negotiation between the Commission (which had been sent back by the Security Council to the subcontinent) and the governments of India and Pakistan were strung out all during the summer and
until early September. And here my wife was in Europe with these two kids. Her summer tour was over and she wondered, "What do I do now?"
In Washington we were waiting daily for a favorable Nehru decision. Could we come or couldn't we? But finally word came of a definitive "Nyet." I was about to send my wife a telegram saying it was "all off," but she beat me to it and called me first by telephone from the Ritz Hotel in Paris. I think it cost $45 and in those days $45 was a lot of money and telephone calls across the Atlantic expensive. Sadly I had to tell her to get on the plane and come on home; it was all over.
Now let's go back to Mr. Truman and to Paris in that fall of 1948, when our Commission moved from Geneva to Paris. That would have been in late October or the first few days of November, because we were there during the U.S. election. It was Mr. Truman against Mr. [Thomas E.] Dewey. And the U. S. delegation to the U. N. meeting included the top Senators and Congressmen, as it
always did. Mr. [John Foster] Dulles was a member of the U. S. delegation, presumably reflecting opinion back in the states that Mr. Dewey was going to win and Mr. Dulles would be his Secretary of State.
I was not a member of the U.S. delegation to the U.N. at all. I was there as an outsider, as part of the U.N.- Kashmir thing, but of course I was around the U.S. delegation offices. So I tell this only from the reports from the meeting. On the morning after the election the U. S. delegation assembled as usual. Nine o'clock in the morning in Paris would be about three in the morning in New York the night after the election. And by this time the votes were coming in pretty solidly in favor of Mr. Truman. Secretary Marshall, I'm told, opened the meeting and, finding it difficult to avoid any allusion to the American election results, said, "Well, gentlemen, I assume that these results reflect the big city vote and perhaps there will be some change when the rest of the country comes in." But there was no change, as we know.
That same evening Mr. Dulles had been invited by the Philippine Ambassador to a dinner, by which time it was known that Mr. Truman had won the election and that Mr. Dulles would not be Secretary of State. Mr. Dulles, however, handled the situation gracefully, rising at the dinner with the Philippine Ambassador to say: "Ladies and gentlemen, I hope I wasn't invited here under false assumption."
Another interesting sidelight was that within the U. S. delegation there was only one person before the election who was openly pro-Truman. And despite all the polls to the effect that Mr. Dewey was going to win, she consistently said, openly and with conviction, that Mr. Truman was going to win. This was a young lady by the name of Betty Gough. Betty is still in the Foreign Service and I think she's in either Paris or Geneva right now. She earned great kudos for having perspicacity and the courage to express her opinion. Everybody congratulated her. It was kind of amusing.
MCKINZIE: How does a special commission, like the one that Admiral Nimitz headed, phase out? When Nehru announced that there would be no plebiscite, did you disband offices?
ADAMS: Well, the group which had been assembled all had jobs. I mean, they were doing something and they were being asked to leave their jobs to go on this commission. So I think most of them just continued or went back to what they were doing.
Admiral Nimitz himself, stayed around the U.N. headquarters for quite some time, in and out, and kept up what must have been a growing pretense on his part that he really was going at some time. He stayed on as plebiscite administrator for some years, deciding finally that he shouldn't take the U.N. money anymore in reimbursement for a nonexistent job. He just offered his resignation, and nobody was appointed in his place. But long before that the membership had been disbanded -- gone back to their own jobs.
MCKINZIE: And then you went into the Foreign Service?
ADAMS: Yes. That's right. We were talking about 1949, so all during the summer of '49 it was assumed I was going on the Kashmir Commission. It wasn't until that folded up that they decided that I should get an appointment with the Foreign Service. Early in '50 I was assigned to Cairo and went out there in April, staying there just about two years. This was another fascinating period.
MCKINZIE: This was the time when there was the possibility of receiving U.S. aid. There were a couple of aid missions to Egypt at the time you were in Cairo. Point IV was, of course, part of President Truman's inaugural address in 1949 -- got funded in 1950 -- and they sent out some people. I wonder if you have any recollections of those?
ADAMS: No. I don't recall any people on an aid mission at that particular time. A formal aid mission in Cairo was established after we left in May of 1952. It was in full operation when we passed through Cairo in April 1955 on our way back from India.
The one thing I remember more than an economic
aid mission was the U.S. endeavor to get Egypt to sign up with what was called MEDO, the Middle East Defense Organization. This was the precursor of what later became the Baghdad Pact, and then later, with the withdrawal of the Iraqis, the Central Treaty Organization, CENTO.
Our Ambassador at the time (the fall of 1951) was Jefferson Caffery, and the approaches to the Egyptians to join this proposed Middle East Defense Organization were made to King Farouk.
I was in the economics section of the Embassy. Some of these proposals were fairly tightly held in the Ambassador's office. I didn't personally know about them. But you can put the timing together and it was the fall of '51. In October of 1951 the Egyptians unilaterally denounced the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty, which was negotiated in 1936 and was to run until 1956. The point is that quite aside from anything else the Egyptians were getting themselves involved in a major confrontation with the British; so they didn't want to join the British in MEDO. But aside from that, probably some of the same
sentiments that led [Gamal Abdul] Nasser later to oppose the Baghdad Pact, were operative even in Farouk's mind. The Egyptian Government in general didn't want to become involved in a pact against the Russians. In any event, Farouk rejected these overtures to join MEDO. And on October 15, 1951, he denounced the 1936 Treaty with Britain.
The next three months were something to live through in Cairo -- and this is just another example of why I said it was a privilege to have been a Foreign Service officer and to have witnessed these events. With the denunciation of the treaty, a guerilla action started against the British troops stationed in the Canal Zone. If there were elements of the Egyptian Army involved, they were not in army uniform. I seriously doubt there ever were really any troops. They were real guerillas. And they were engaged in sniping at the British troops all along the length of the Canal. Meanwhile, quite aside from what was going on in the Canal Zone, back in Cairo there were daily demonstrations against the British. These very soon became quite violent.
In retrospect -- perhaps even at the time we recognized it -- the demonstrations were basically against the Farouk regime, but immediately they were against the British and took the form of overturning and burning of streetcars, mobs running through the main streets of Cairo, demonstrations at the universities. This was more or less a daily event, so we were accustomed and adroit at avoiding crowds -- mobs.
We very early learned that if you saw a mob down the street, if you were driving, you would take another street and avoid it.
MCKINZIE: How was your activity restricted?
ADAMS: Well, it's quite remarkable how in most situations like this apparently you live life pretty much as you always do. We were just careful to avoid crowds -- mobs. There were other Americans there -- quite a few others -- Fulbright scholars and so forth. And it became customary that if you were accosted in any place -- just to make clear that you were an American, because the foreigners they were
molesting were British. All during the early period no one was really physically harmed. But there was always some concern that somebody might get hurt or killed. We all survived all of this until Black Saturday which was January 26th of 1952, three months after it started. Let's see, it was October 15th, 1951 when they denounced the treaty. So three months later came Black Saturday. Well, Black Saturday was provoked by the events in the Canal Zone of the previous Thursday. What happened in the Canal Zone was that the Egyptian guerillas had taken over some building and turned it into a command post. From there they were operating guns against the British. The British army commander gave them twenty-four hours to evacuate the post or he'd blow it up. The commonly accepted report is that the guerillas telephoned Cairo and talked to Seraged din Pasha, a portly gentleman who was Minister of Interior and asked, "What do we do now?" The Minister said, "Stand fast." So when the twenty-four hours expired, the British turned their guns on this
place and blew it up, in the process killing sixty to eighty Egyptians. That was on Thursday. On Friday morning the British Ambassador, Sir Ralph Stevenson, a brilliant British diplomat who was there all the time we were there, a very good friend of Caffery, called on our Ambassador. I was in Caffery's outer office when he arrived. I had no idea what his call was about, but we subsequently learned that he came to tell Caffery what had happened down at the Canal Zone the day before, with the expectation, of course, that there would be a tremendous repercussion in Cairo. The repercussion came the next morning when the Cairo newspapers carried the account of what had happened in the Canal Zone on Thursday.
You get a sixth sense or whatever it is, when you are in situations like this, that you kind of anticipate what's going to happen. From the events of the previous three months and the high emotions abroad, it was apparent that all hell was going to break loose this day. When I saw the papers on arrival at my office, I phoned my wife. (She was working then. She's had some
excellent opportunities to do constructive work during our career. She's rather unusual in this respect. She was head of the Fulbright Office in Cairo -- of exchange of students and scholars -- professors.) I recounted the news and asked her what the family's plans were. She said our older son was due for a dental appointment down in the middle of Cairo at about 11 o'clock. I called the dentist and asked, "What's it like downtown?" He replied that all was quiet, but I told him nonetheless to cancel the appointment. "We'll not come down this morning."
By about 11 o'clock things started -- maybe a little earlier. And it started with the burning of an Egyptian night club, The Badiya Belly Dance Hall as it was known. After setting a torch in this night club, they next proceeded to march right into the main part of town. Fairly soon they had commandeered gasoline trucks with pails. The merchants had steel shutters that came down over the show windows and doors. So once the mobs formed, all the shutters went down.
No one ever knew whether the mob was organized in advance. But they would swish pails full of gasoline under store shutters and then ignited the gasoline. The fire, of course, swept instantly under the shutters and set the place on fire. Well, this was the famous Black Saturday. In the course of that day about 475 establishments were completely gutted. The most famous was the Shepheards Hotel. Well, it's unbelievable what fire can do. Somehow or other Barclays Bank was set on fire -- if you can imagine setting fire to a bank, and the whole stone masonry of the ceiling collapsed. When the mobs got to the department stores it was easy. All the main department stores were set on fire. In a sense the mobs were selective. They went for all the fashionable restaurants, especially the two or three known as Gropie's. These were the places where wealthy Egyptians and foreigners congregated. We're still talking about the time of Farouk -- what became known as the corrupt Farouk regime.
It's interesting what the mobs burned that day, at what they directed their hatred and animosity. They burned all the fashionable restaurants and every movie house that they could get to. They burned every liquor store, all of which were owned by Italians, Lebanese or Greek. They burned every foreign establishment they came upon -- TWA, American automobile companies. They burned the Turf Club, a remnant of British colonialism. The British, of course, under their colonial days had carefully excluded any Egyptian participation. In all, about 11 people, including the Canadian Trade Commissioner, were caught in the Turf Club when the mob set it on fire and were burned to death. A few people managed to get out. Some got out but were driven back in and burned up. The mobs even put a bird cage in the middle of the place when they set it on fire and burned up the bird.
In short, you just had a mob run amuck at this point. Perhaps such an outburst was inevitable in a society like this, with its contrasts of wealth and poverty. Egyptian society was famous
for its very wealthy, the so-called pashas, the big landowners, the big industrialists. In contrast was the mass of poverty-stricken fellaheen. The fellaheen lived in the villages and the farms, but they came to the cities where, added to the already large numbers of unemployed, they were destitute and living on nothing. So it was easy tinder for hostility to the British. When it finally erupted, you had a combination of hostility and resentment against the British -- against foreigners, in general, against Egyptian citizens, of Greek and Italian descent (the owners of liquor stores),against the wealthy, against the non-Moslem.
MCKINZIE: And against Farouk?
ADAMS: And against Farouk, yes. Yes. It was apparent how much of this was against Farouk. It might have been even the overriding consideration that people were just making use of this to express overall frustration at the Farouk regime. Along about 3 o'clock in the afternoon of Black Saturday, maybe before, Ambassador Caffery got on the telephone
to Farouk and told him he thought it was about time he got the army in town. Farouk agreed. But it took him about two hours before they actually moved the army. It was always said that they took those two hours to weed out any possible insurgence against Farouk. He didn't want the army in town led by some anti-Farouk elements. So this in itself indicates that he was concerned that this might be turned against him.
At about 5 o'clock the army did move into town from its barracks north of the city. They got there a little too late to save the Smith Book Store, British owned, which was a really magnificent bookstore. It was a large store -- thousands of books -- but that was put to the torch. Here was the whole middle part of downtown Cairo in flames.
When he went into downtown Cairo on Monday morning we found nothing standing on the site of Shepheard's Hotel except its inner walls. The roof, floors and outer walls had all collapsed. All that was left was the arch over the door with the name
of the hotel.
Well anyway, the night of the fire my wife and I had scheduled a record concert. It was some anniversary of Mozart. We used to bring people in and play record concerts. LP records were just coming on the market. We had a few LP's but most of our records were 78's. There was a hunger among westerners for western music. So we had been rather regularly scheduling these concerts. We had this one this night.
Well, here was the middle of town burning up and we're over on Gezira Island which had been the locale of mob action in the weeks before. Fortunately for us, the mobs were so completely engrossed over in the center of town -- on the mainland east of the Nile -- that they never got around to marching against the foreigners or others on Gezira Island. Despite the holocaust we went on with arrangements for the concert. I went out and got all supplies for refreshments. During the late afternoon we even watched the city burning from the roof of our apartment. But we didn't call off the concert, and
sure enough, some people arrived by the scheduled time; others filtered in during the evening. The Swiss arrived late in the concert. They had been in the middle of town looking at their offices and trying to do something. But they reported that whatever they were concerned about seemed to be safe.
One of the Egyptians who came to our concert was a man by the name of Sagini. Obviously of Italian descent, his family for generations had been Egyptian. He was an artist and we invited him because we had bought a painting and a piece of copper work which he had exhibited at the main Cairo art gallery. The show had closed the previous day and purchased items were to be picked up this same Saturday morning -- Black Saturday.
My wife's first reaction when I phoned her the bad news that morning was: "Well, I'm going down and get that copper piece and painting." She drove to the museum after the fires had started and successfully withdrew our acquisitions. In the subsequent burning the mob fastidiously stayed
away from anything cultural. They didn't attack the museums, but they burned down the Chrysler Building and a few other automobile shops right across from the Museum of Modern Art. So it turned out, our painting and copper piece would have survived.
But anyway, Sagini came to our house that night, walking through the middle of Cairo -- through the middle of the fires to get there. He said he was the butt of some angry comments in town because he had remarked about how ridiculous it seemed to burn down the city.
The next day martial law was imposed, and for the next few days you had to be off the street by six in the evening. It was gradually amended to seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, and then midnight. It became not unusual for people to go out to a cocktail party or dinner and just stay overnight wherever you were.
One night, about five or ten minutes before curfew I was driving across Gezira Island, hurrying to get home -- beat the curfew. At a turn in the
road a soldier leveled his gun at me and I stopped. He asked, "Sa’a kaam?" (What time is it?) I looked at my watch, told him and he motioned me ahead. I sped the last five minutes down to the house and made it.
A similar incident the night of the burning was a lot more uncomfortable. After our concert -- with the whole place now in smoke and flames -- we drove back across one of the bridges to the American Embassy. Our protocol officer who was a Lebanese -- Alfred Haddad -- lived near the Embassy and was in his car ahead of us. Just as we got to the bridge we were stopped by a very nervous soldier with an automatic pistol which he put up to my head, through the open window. His hand was trembling. Oddly enough, I didn't have any great fear, but my wife was terrified. Of course, had that trigger gone off, he'd have blown my head off.
At this moment Alfred called across the street to this soldier in Arabic, reassuring him that I was all right. And maybe it was his calling that saved my head. They were exciting days. We
left Egypt on June lst, and Farouk was deposed on July 23rd and shipped out of Alexandria, Egypt on July 26th.
MCKINZIE: You were in the economics section of the Embassy.
MCKINZIE: Did you have discussions with the Egyptian economists?
ADAMS: Oh, yes.
MCKINZIE: About the future of their country? What their country needed for development? After the fact, some analysts said that a lot of countries wanted too much capital equipment. They didn't want to build the infrastructures that were necessary first and then bring in the steel plants and symbols of industrial society. Did you get into this kind of dialogue with any Egyptian economists while you were there?
ADAMS: No. It never got that refined. You'd talk
about many different things, but not in terms of a unified economic plan. You'd talk in much more specifics. We'd talk about building what subsequently became the Aswan Dam. You remember there was already the dam at Aswan, the present dam which the Russians built is upstream some miles. But even at that time, back in 1951-52, the idea was to build a dam up there which would add maybe a million or at the most two million acres to their arable land. As a matter of fact, I think that is all that the Aswan Dam has done by way of irrigation. Let's see, suppose you had six million acres of arable land, which I think was about what they had at that time. Since we left Egypt the population is probably now up about seventy-five percent over what it was. There's no solution there by just adding land. There's not that much land. It's got to be intensified agriculture -- plus industrialization -- plus population controls of some fashion.
MCKINZIE: At the time did you conceive of that as the
potential solution to their problem -- with population control included?
ADAMS: Well, it's hard to recall in that respect just when we began thinking about population control. I really don't remember. We were perfectly aware of the population problem. But whether we thought in terms of it being possible to curb it outside of what was then the traditional approach that population starts to recede once your economic standards begin to improve, I'm not sure. This is still a widely held thesis: that people plan their families better when they are better educated and have better incomes; when they come to the realization that with fewer children it is economically possible to give each a better education. I don't know whether the Egyptians are taking to family planning now or not. I'm sure the idea must be abroad. At least some people must be serious about it.
MCKINZIE: When you left Cairo you came back before you went to New Delhi?
ADAMS: Just on home leave, yes. And we had a nice trip back. And this was 1952 -- my parents fiftieth wedding anniversary. Fortunately we were home and they enjoyed it. My father died the next year after we were out in India; my mother two years later. So it was a great thing to have had that large family gathering when we went home in '52.
But then we went out to India. This was the last days of Mr. Truman's administration. By this time I'm sure it had been announced he wasn't going to run again. We arrived in Delhi in August of 1952. By this time the conventions were already over. So it was Mr. [Adlai] Stevenson against Mr. [Dwight D.] Eisenhower when we arrived. Chester Bowles was the Ambassador there. Of course, when Mr. Eisenhower won the immediate question was, would Mr. Bowles stay on and how long? The general assumption was that he wouldn't stay, because with the change of administration you change Ambassadors -- political Ambassadors at least. But after a while the word began going
around New Delhi that maybe Mr. Eisenhower would keep on Mr. Bowles. I have no idea where this rumor might have started. Somebody said that this might have been the wishful thought of Maggie [Marguerite] Higgins, who was the correspondent of the New York Herald Tribune, and she may have given voice to it and may have let it out to people. I think Bowles actually thought there was some chance that he might stay on. But, of course, he submitted his resignation as every Ambassador has to do. Then Mr. Eisenhower -- this is rather interesting -- first appointed Val Peterson of Nebraska to be Ambassador to India. Apparently the Republicans had been out of office for so long that they had forgotten the niceties of checking an ambassadorial nominee with the Senators of the state from which the Ambassador is to come. They had forgotten to do this and apparently Mr. Peterson was in a political war within his state -- with either or both of the Nebraska Senators. One or both of them apparently told Mr. Eisenhower that if he did not withdraw his nomination of Val
Peterson they'd fight it on the floor of the Senate. So then there was some other talk of other people and finally George Allen was sent out, a career diplomat.
But to go back, we arrived out there in August. This was just the beginning of the aid program to India. You've asked several questions about aid. Well, it was just getting underway. Aid personnel had been on the ground for a year or two by that time. There was a build-up of Americans in general. Housing was very difficult. At this time we had these two boys. Our daughter was born while we were in India -- in 1954. At first it was impossible to find housing, both because of the rapid growth of Delhi and the heavy influx of foreigners -- diplomatic and others. We were still in the very early years of Indian independence -- only five years before. Other embassies were building up. Some foreign business people were coming in. Our aid mission burgeoned.
Housing never had been plentiful; now it was very difficult. We were really fortunate to get
quarters in the Cecil Hotel, an old Swiss-owned hotel during the British Colonial period. It was very attractive -- lovely marble balconies, a spacious front terrace, lovely gardens. When I was there in '48 there was no air conditioning. By 1950 one or two people had room air conditioners. You kept cool with overhead electric fans. The temperature was pretty bad. But we all survived. The hotel had a small but nice swimming pool. A lot of the foreign correspondents lived there, although Bob [Robert] Trumbull of New York Times lived down at the Imperial Hotel in downtown New Delhi.
The Cecil contingent included Harold Milks from the AP; Sig [Selig] Harrison who was his aide, who is now over in Tokyo for the Washington Post; Mike [Philip] Deane, Gigantes Gerassimos Svoronos, who wrote I was a Captive in Korea. He was a Greek, married a British girl, very articulate and colorful personality. He's written several books. He's now someplace up in Canada. For a while he was head of the U.N. office down here in Washington. All these correspondents lived at this hotel.
And, of course, we were talking with them all the time about developments around India. On Sundays we'd all gather around the swimming pool, even played water volleyball. If one correspondent was absent it ruined the morning for all the others; they were afraid he was out on the beat getting a scoop on them. It was almost a rule that everybody had to be there. You couldn't be out getting a story.
MCKINZIE: Did you feel that you were able to achieve more in India where there was some money to work with, some U.S. money to work with, where there hadn't been in Cairo particularly?
ADAMS: It was much too early to have any opinion on this subject. You raised the point about the relationship between the Embassy's economic section and the aid mission.
MCKINZIE: That's right.
ADAMS: Basically, the two were separate. At one time coordination of the two was sought by making the
Economic Minister head of both units. Eventually the aid mission had its own director. He and the Economic Minister did seek a coordination of views and recommendation and the aid mission, having a much bigger staff, did some of the required economic reporting which ordinarily would have been done by the economic section of the Embassy. The aid economists, however, sought to analyze the economy in such a way as to point up those areas where U. S. economic assistance could best be used and be given on a priority basis. The Embassy's economists, in contrast, were supplying specific requirements of various economic agencies in the U. S. Government -- especially Commerce -- as well as providing a running assessment of the state of the Indian economy.
One of the problems for aid was that, when you examined the economy, you found that everything needed to be bolstered.
First we got into advising on agriculture -- seeds, fertilizers, plowing techniques. Then
irrigation, roads, public health and sanitation. Then into industry; but this required power; so we advised on, and provided capital assistance for, power plants. Public administration, too, was important. India inherited a talented and extensive civil service system from the British; but this needed modernization if the new government was to operate its development and other programs efficiently. This suggested advisers on public administration. And, of course, education. A developing country wherein education for the masses had been neglected, needed a vast overhauling of its education system. More advisors. You name it; we had an advisor.
Also, of course, we got deeply involved in capital assistance, lending India over the years hundreds of millions of dollars. In addition, we supplied India over the years with millions of tons of wheat -- 17 million tons over one four-year period -- under our PL-480 program.
The end result was that we got so involved with the Indians that finally, in effect, they had
had enough of us. There were too many Americans cluttering up the landscape and they had become too reliant on our aid. That, at least, is my interpretation. You can say, "Well they wanted this." They are ambivalent like all people. They'd like the results, but they don't exactly like to have to acknowledge that you are aiding them, or that you are providing advice. In the early stages, some Indians would say, "We don't need your technical advice. We've got plenty of our own experts. But we need your money; so, if we have to take your advice in order to get your money, we'll do it." I think they felt that way. I think they had a lot of technical competence, but they probably didn't have all that they thought. Probably they did need more, but so does everybody else. This was the problem.
MCKINZIE: Did you go back to Kashmir?
ADAMS: The commission, as I said, had left in September of '48 and here we are returning about four years later, August of '52. We didn't go up to Kashmir
until the summer of '53. Politically, Mr. Truman was no longer involved in American politics. Adlai Stevenson had been defeated. And after his defeat in November '52 he decided to make a round-the-world trip. He had two principal people with him. One was Walter Johnson, a historian at Chicago. And then he had the fellow from Look Magazine, Bill [William] Attwood, who was later Ambassador to an African country. My wife happened to know Walter Johnson. Johnson wrote ahead of time about Stevenson's coming and asked us if possible for advice as to people outside the government, maybe -- even in the opposition, that Stevenson might talk to -- to increase his appreciation of the country. And then also about Kashmir.
This gets involved in a family affair. My wife was pregnant. She was also working again with USIS, this time on evaluation of American films for USIA. It was very hot. This was the early spring of '53 and the heat, of course, is tremendous in India in May and June -- 115 and 117 -- and it doesn't cool off much at night. You get
wind storms and locust and everything else. So she was overcome -- being pregnant probably contributed to it and working under these hot conditions -- and she had heatstroke. We had to rush her to the hospital. The doctor gave her intravenous injections, kept her in the hospital a couple of days, and said, "You've got to get out of Delhi. You'd better get up to Kashmir." Well, she stayed in our air-conditioned bedroom. (we were now out of the hotel into another place) until she recovered. Then she went up to Kashmir taking our two boys with her.
Well, you know, she always finds the interesting places and I had been in Kashmir before. So I think very quickly she made friends with the people in the Kashmir Government, including Sheikh Abdullah -- especially Sheikh Abdullah -- the Prime Minister. Friday was mosque day in Srinagar. Huge mobs would come to the mosque and Sheikh Abdullah, who had been a member of Nehru's Congress Party, would lead the mosque prayers. After that he'd frequently give a speech.
One Friday my wife came to the post-mosque political session. Members of Sheikh Abdullah’s entourage saw her in the audience and insisted that she come up and sit on the platform. This was not in the mosque, but outside. She had great reluctance, but anyway she sat up there. We have a lot of colored pictures of that day of mixing with the crowd.
Later on that same summer I came up to Kashmir for a vacation. Several days later, on about August 14th, the Indians arrested Abdullah out of fear that he was secretly promoting the idea of an independent Kashmir, which would break from India.
To go back to Adlai Stevenson, Walter Johnson asked my wife to arrange a place for Stevenson to stay in Srinagar, the capitol of Kashmir. This was before she had gone up to Kashmir, but she was able to arrange from Delhi for the rental of a very nice houseboat. Stevenson came to Delhi (this was before my wife got the heatstroke), and it was for us a delightful visit. My wife and I
had lunch with him and with Walter Johnson in one of the hotels. We arranged some people for him to see, quite apart from what the Embassy had done officially. He took a trip around India, going finally to Kashmir where he stayed in the houseboat my wife had arranged.
While in Delhi he was most personable, his talking with the school kids and everything. He was just a wonderful person. The great tragedy was that he had to run against Eisenhower. It would have been nice could we have had Eisenhower and Stevenson. Because I think Eisenhower did serve a great purpose in defusing among other things -- McCarthyism.
My wife went up to Kashmir some months after Stevenson left and rented another houseboat. Then there was the arrest of Abdullah. And then, in justification of jailing this long-time friend and political ally of Nehru, the Indians apparently had to show that there was a conspiracy on the part of the Americans to break Kashmir away from India, for use as an air base to strike the Soviet Union. So this
was the theory -- conspiracy in Kashmir. Stevenson, who had been up there, was alleged to be a part of the conspiracy -- he had talked to Sheikh Abdullah. The other element was Frances and Wesley Adams, from the American Embassy. They said, "Especially Mrs. Adams," because she was seen on mosque day passing out sweets to the children.
I had driven from Delhi by myself in our Chevy. It took me two days -- twenty hours driving time -- over the Banihal Pass and into the Vale of Kashmir. I arrived at a hotel in Srinagar within five minutes of the time I told my wife I'd be there. I'd said, "I'll be there at 3 o'clock in the afternoon." I got there at five minutes of three.
On the way from the hotel to the houseboat -- since I had been in Kashmir before and knew Abdullah -- I thought the protocol thing to do was to drop my card at his official residence with a little note suggesting that, when he was free, we would like to come to tea. Which we did.
The following Sunday, three or four days later, my wife and I went on an excursion up a
small mountain outside Srinagar. Shankarishari, I believe it is. We took some beautiful pictures up there -- the whole lake system and the mountains. We came back down and boarded our shikara -- picturesque boats paddled by oarsmen and similar to the gondolas of Venice. So we were paddled back to town. On the way we noticed that there was some kind of disturbance on the bridges over the canals, and we couldn't quite figure it out. We had a rendezvous with somebody from the government at a small restaurant on one of those lakes -- a 4 o'clock tea. We got there but our guest didn't show up. After waiting for about an hour we left by shikara for our houseboat. On our arrival at the houseboat, the servants were all upset. Sheikh Abdullah had been arrested. By this time cries were going all through the valley, "Sheri Kashmir Zindabad." That is, "Long live the lion of Kashmir," the lion being Sheikh Abdullah.
There was great resentment and hostility against the Indians for this arrest because the overwhelming proportion of the population, at
least in the Valley of Kashmir, was Moslem and, in this case, anti-Indian.
There was another American couple in Kashmir at that time (but very few other Americans) also from our Embassy. They were Dick Leach and his wife Arolene. On the Sunday of Abdullah's arrest they happened to be up, believe it or not, bird watching near Abdullah's vacation home near Gulmarg, a vacation spot in the mountains above the valley. They were up there actually bird watching or picking herbs when they saw a big car with a number one license plate drive by, go to Abdullah's villa, and come back down. Inside was Abdullah. The Indians had just arrested him. So the Leaches, who saw the car coming and going, were named as other American conspirators -- along with the Adams.
MCKINZIE: Did you write some kind of a report about this when you got back to New Delhi or...
ADAMS: Oh, yes. At the time we were not in touch with Delhi. You couldn't telephone. There was no such thing. But the next day or so a telegram came
through from our Ambassador, George Allen. It was addressed to me and it was written out by the telegraph operator down in town. It said, "Dear Wes and Frances: please curtail your vacation and return to New Delhi soonest. Inform Dick Leach." This was very disheartening news because the Leaches and we had arranged for a fishing trip into the eastern part of the Vale along the Bringi River. You might say we violated instructions, but we "interpreted" our instructions. We guessed that the purpose of the Ambassador in sending this telegram was to get on record with the Indian telegraph office and therefore, with the Indian Government that we were in Kashmir on a vacation; not for conspiratorial purposes. So we reasoned that "soonest" meant as soon as we could conveniently come back, rather than immediately. He didn't say "immediately."
So, we went on our trip. We didn't stay long -- two or three days, maybe four. Then we returned and packed up. The Leaches had a little old Austin and preceded us over the Banihal Pass
by two or three hours back to Delhi. There we found the Ambassador not at all perturbed that we had not returned immediately. We'd interpreted his instructions correctly. Our Indian friends in Delhi were terribly embarrassed to see us because they knew the attacks on us were propaganda -- the allegation, that is, that we were up there as conspirators. They really didn't want to hear about it, because they were embarrassed at the Indian step of arresting Abdullah.
A little-known sidelight of this story is that Ambassador Allen had himself planned a trip to Kashmir at this same time. As a matter of fact, he had had my wife rent the same houseboat, the Claremont, that Adlai Stevenson had stayed in because it was then regarded as the best houseboat on the lakes -- not luxurious, but just in very fine taste. The Ambassador had actually sent his car on ahead and was himself going to fly up to Kashmir. But the day before his departure the Ambassador received a telephone call asking him please to "Come down and see the Prime Minister."
I never knew the details of that discussion, but assumed Nehru probably clouded the request by talking first about other things. A normal tactic in this situation if you want to make a point, but not too obviously, is to just bring it up incidentally, perhaps casually, as your visitor is leaving. I think it was a kind of a "And by the way, I understand that you're planning to go to Kashmir. But you know, Mr. Ambassador, right at the moment the political situation up there is a little ticklish. I'd really appreciate it if you didn't go. Postpone your trip a bit."
Everybody in the Embassy knew the Ambassador's trip had been called off. Planning myself to go to Kashmir a week later, I asked the Ambassador whether I should call off my trip. He said, "No, you might as well go on up. The P.M. just doesn't want me there." So I went up and was there when the Indians arrested Abdullah. Quite obviously they had it all planned. They didn't want the Ambassador in the place while it was going on.
MCKINZIE: You just provided a kind of convenient addition to their propaganda?
ADAMS: Yes. I want to go back before I forget it to London.
We went from Delhi to London in 1955, where, among other exciting events such as the Suez crisis, ex-President Truman came to town, on a tour of some European capitals. Stanley Woodward, who had been a protocol officer and Ambassador to Canada under President Truman, was escorting him. We knew Stanley from 1941-42 in Washington. He was one of the first people we met in this city. We got in touch with Stanley who, after checking with Mr. Truman invited us to morning coffee with the ex-President. Well, you know, I was pretty excited.
So, just the two of us, my wife and I, went down. Stanley Woodward let us in. I suppose we had a drink, and pretty soon Mr. Truman came in. He sat down and was just as gracious, you know, as he could be. He had a busy social
schedule. This was in the mid-morning -- perhaps around about 11 o'clock. He was going out to lunch with the Fishmongers. There was some problem about the lunch; so there was some interruption to our conversation, but not much. Mr. Truman just sat there and talked to us; largely about what life was like in the Foreign Service.
About his luncheon that day with the Fishmongers, Truman laughed and said, "You know, people say I shouldn't go because they say I don't like fish. My not liking fish," he said, "is just like a lot of other things they say about me; it just isn't true."
Later on Truman visited the American School in Grosvenor Square. He spoke at the graduation exercises, his thoughts simple but genuine. He was a very attractive person -- went over beautifully with people -- very exciting. In retrospect it was a great treat to have met him in this fashion.
MCKINZIE: Could you go back to 1948 and give some further details about the India-Pakistan Commission
of the U.N., particularly about the time you spent in Pakistan, Kashmir and India?
ADAMS: Yes. Well, by way of background think of the emotional feeling I had on going to what is usually described as the Indian subcontinent. As a student I had been to Japan in 1936. This was the first time I'd been in Europe and east. I remember the sharp feeling when, upon leaving Cairo, we crossed the Suez Canal and flew over the Arabian Desert. You felt as if you were entering a different world, which you really were. At the end of our trip out there, when we returned to Europe from Karachi, flying via Dhahran, Baghdad and Cyprus to Athens, the sensation was reversed. I had never been in Greece. But Athens represented for me the Greco-Roman world of the West. I had come home.
In India and Pakistan we found a culture strikingly different from ours. There was a British veneer, but the sights and sounds and smells, the people's dress and language, the horse-drawn tongas, the crowds in the native bazaars, the ancient monuments -- all were alien
to us. Also, the heat and humidity were oppressive, nearly unbearable. And no air conditioning; only ceiling fans (except for some offices). In our hotel the beds were covered with cheesecloth nettings to keep out mosquitoes. It was, indeed, another world.
We spent our first two weeks in Delhi meeting with Indian officials, including Nehru. Also the Pakistani Cabinet Secretary, Mohammed Ali -- later to become Foreign and Prime Ministers -- came from Karachi, along with an aide named Mohammed Ayub, to be with the Commission as a liaison with the Pakistani Government while we talked with the Indians. It was in this early stage that the Commission was able to work out the cease-fire agreement, which actually went into effect immediately and stopped the fighting.
While in Delhi we met some of the leading figures in the independence movement; such as Sardar Patel -- the strong man, a kind of a Jim [James A.] Farley, Nehru's political hatchet man.
He died that summer. Gandhi, you recall, had been assassinated on January 30th of that year. A temporary memorial -- the Rajghat, a slab of concrete -- had been installed on the site of Gandhi's cremation. It was a point of pilgrimage already. So we went there.
I'm telling you this to provide some of the atmospherics of this situation. In those days, also, we stayed at the Cecil Hotel, where news correspondents told us what they had seen in the previous months as these two countries emerged into independence.
MCKINZIE: India I take it provided more of the amenities than did Pakistan?
ADAMS: Yes, but that is still not much. It was India as India was always supposed to be in the American mind. There was almost no modernization or western influence, except as it had been imported by the British, which of course was substantial. But, nonetheless, all of the customs and all of the markets and everything were strange. There were few
About the commission itself, it's difficult to know just what to say. We met each day. First members of the Indian Government would come and discuss some point. Subsequently we would invite in the two Pakistani officials who were in Delhi. Then we'd go back to trying to devise something that we thought would work in the way of a solution.
MCKINZIE: No delegate on the commission had any kind of instructions from his own government so far as you know?
ADAMS: No. So far as I know the American delegate was completely uninstructed, because there was nothing to instruct. This was virgin ground -- there was no knowledge on the part of the American Government as to what would be possible. This was a U. N. commission and the idea was to go out and find the best kind of a solution which five men of relative goodwill could bring about.
MCKINZIE: Was there any kind of previous decision on
the part of any of the members, so far as you know, to resolve it by returning Kashmir to one side or the other without a plebiscite?
ADAMS: No, not that I recall. You could say some members gave more credence to the Indian legal argument than did others. I think Josef Korbel was probably a little more inclined to go along with that position than others. It was hard to find the "truth" or "equity" in this complicated situation and legality was something to tie to. But there was never any serious division within the commission. There was no alignment of two against three, or four against one. They all worked very well together.
And I must say that our American representative, Mr. Huddle, in this respect was most sensitive. He made no effort as the representative of a big country, and obviously the most powerful one around the place, to try to impose his views and get them accepted. I would say he did an excellent job. He was the most interesting
personality, a slight man physically. He had a little mustache, combed his thinning hair straight back, and was a bit dapper, you might say. He was an old school Foreign Service officer, but had held an important position in our Embassy in Switzerland all during the war and was on leave from his post as Ambassador to Burma. He had a great reserve -- apparent reserve, which was hard at first to penetrate. People might think he was a little standoffish. He turned into a very warm human being when you got to know him. We lived and worked together for about six months and that takes a lot of getting along together.
MCKINZIE: How did you feel about the whole procedure of using the U. N. commissions like that? There were, after all, many commissions set up -- for example, Palestine, and this is not exactly the first one. Personally did you have the feeling that this was as good a way that could be found to resolve some kinds of international problems?
ADAMS: Yes. I think so. There really is no other
way except as the two parties can get together themselves. A U.N. body of this sort provided a forum in which the positions for the two sides can be ventilated and compromised. Representatives of the two sides were never brought together. The commission always met with them separately. But it was a means of carrying the viewpoint back and forth, and then trying to come up with something that was acceptable. As it turned out, it never succeeded. We got agreement to a plebiscite but, as we were discussing before, Mr. Nimitz finally resigned when he concluded that there was no prospect of his going out as a plebiscite administrator.
Following its report to the Security Council in January, 1949, the commission went back out to India and Pakistan to keep watch on the situation and to prepare for the arrival of the plebiscite administrator. When the commission returned to the subcontinent almost all member countries changed representatives. The Czech I mentioned -- Joseph Korbel -- was replaced by an appointee of the Communist Government. The commission stayed out there more or less the rest of that year and it then was disbanded out of a feeling that a five-man
commission was probably too bulky. It was replaced by a succession of mediators -- Kashmir mediators: General [Andrew George Latta] McNaughton of Canada, Owen Dixon from Australia, and Frank Graham from North Carolina. Graham was mediator for the longest time. Each of them must have thought he had the basis of a settlement, but it never came off. The simple reason, I think, was that the Indians grew more and more accustomed to having Kashmir. This is my own personal opinion. They were simply not about to hold a plebiscite which they might lose. There was the old Nehru argument that it would lead to repetition of communal strife within India itself. And the Indians, later on, took the view that the popularly elected National Assembly in Kashmir had approved the accession. In short, the people of Kashmir had already expressed their will on the subject. That Assembly, of course, represented only the Indian-held side, not the Pakistani side. The Pakistanis also insisted that elections to that assembly were rigged and that the Moslems had not been properly represented. Then, you see,
all these years there had been such questions as: Should any plebiscite decide the future of the whole state? Or, should it lead to partition? Or, should Kashmir be independent? Or, under joint protection of India and Pakistan?
Abdullah's wife, in conversations with us when we were up there, said she saw no reason why Kashmir should not be independent like Switzerland. And then this was elaborated on by other people very quietly because they didn't want to incur the Indian Government's wrath. But they thought maybe there could be some guarantee, military guarantee, by Pakistan and India jointly. When the Indian Government removed Abdullah I have no doubt it was because they had finally concluded that his real objective was independence. Also, he was obviously disillusioned with the Indians as the occupying powers. I'm sure he personally did not want to join Kashmir with Pakistan. Along with Nehru he believed in a secular state; that the creation of Pakistan was a mistake.
This raises the whole argument as to why there was partition and whose fault it was. Was it a good thing? Why did it happen? Abdullah was just philosophically against a religious state. He thought that the Moslems should have sought their role inside a united India. That's why he was in the Congress, what was called the Kashmir National Conference, which was just an extension of the National Congress of India headed by Nehru.
But then Abdullah quite obviously changed his mind to that of "A plague on both your houses. We would like to be independent." That's the point where the Indians threw him in the jug. And they kept him there, or under house arrest, off and on for 14 or 15 years. He was never in a cell but was kept in some cottage, either up in the Kashmir mountains or down in New Delhi, and his wife and family could visit him occasionally. He could do all the writing he wanted to. It was in the tradition of the British when they jailed Nehru. That's where Nehru wrote his book Discovery of
India while in jail.
To replace Abdullah the Indians picked Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed, Abdullah's Deputy Prime Minister. He, in turn, was ousted after some years for corruption, among other things, his brother acquired a lot of valuable real estate. He and Abdullah are both alive, both out of jail, but more or less out of the picture.
You get down to the '65 and the '71 wars between India and Pakistan. Basically it's still this same old quarrel over Kashmir with the Pakistanis in effect saying, "This is basically a Moslem country. The partition was to take majority Moslem populations to Pakistan. We will not rest until Kashmir is ours."
In reference to the Arab-Israeli conflict: Eventually you can't help but feel these very strong emotions which have held in issues like this. The odd thing was that when we went to Cairo in 1950 I was obviously aware of this background, but I really had no appreciation of the strength of the Arab feeling on the subject. Nor did I all the time we were in Cairo. The odd
thing being, perhaps, that in those years, when we were there, the Palestine or Israeli question was very much on the back burner, so to speak. The Egyptians were occupied most of that time with getting the British out of the Canal Zone. That dispute, as I said, actually flared up from October 15th of '51.
The Egyptians were also concerned about scandals centering around the 1948 war over Palestine -- scandals which came close to the palace. It was alleged, for example, that munitions sunk in the Mediterranean during World War II and completely useless, had been dredged up and sold to the Egyptian Government for use in the '48 war by corrupt contractors close to Farouk. Now whether this was a fact or whether it was an excuse for being defeated in the '48 war I don't know. But it was accepted as true and was one cause of popular hostility against the Farouk regime.
No, I didn't feel the intensity of the Arab feeling on the Arab-Israeli conflict until much later. In Cairo they spoke about it, but there
were these other issues, you see, that excited people. There was the Korean war, which began in June of '50, only two months after I arrived in Cairo; so, there was a great deal of talk and concern about that. There was a lot of opposition among Egyptian intellectual circles to our role in that war -- that really we had projected ourselves into it. They didn't use the word at that time, but it was the same as later accusations that we sought to act as the world's policeman. I remember having some arguments contesting this point of view as far as Korea was concerned. The point is that these other issues masked the hostility on the Israeli question.
In those years, also, there were repeated meetings of the Arab League, presumably to take action or coordinate some action against Israel. But the League became almost a laughing matter. Everybody assumed that the member states were not going to be able to agree on anything; that there was no Arab unity and that the League was just going through motions. Some people made
careers of arranging and attending sessions of the Arab League. Some of the Egyptian cynicism about participation in the League was contained in assertions that the Egyptians really weren't Arabs -- they are Egyptians.
The brings up the question of what is an Arab? And there are various definitions. I suppose you have to say the real Arab is somebody who came out of Arabia or is a descendant thereof. But there is a broader definition now which included anyone who speaks Arabic. The Egyptians, you see, had a completely different history from the Arabs of Saudi Arabia. Their history is based in Egypt and the fact they spoke Arabic was a happenstance of being under Arab conquerors. While there has obviously been a great mixing of blood from outside, the people consider themselves indigenous to Egypt. Perhaps the Copts, who are Christian, are today of purest Egyptian stock, while in those days there was a lot of noise about Egypt participation in the Arab League, there was some feeling that Egypt wasn't quite Arab. This feeling ended, of course,
when Nasser took over. We left there seven weeks before Farouk, as I said. Then you had [General Mohammed] Naguib and then Nasser coming to power in 1954. Nasser, in effect, seized the banners of pan-Arabia and proclaimed himself head of it. Nasser also projected himself on top the rising tide of Arab nationalism and anti-colonialism, which had their roots in the nineteenth century. Then there was ideology. Nasser made himself leader of the struggling masses against their overlords; of socialism versus capitalism. This inclined him to be more sympathetic to the Soviet Union than to the U.S. And then you've got the anti-Israeli feeling. And there are one or two more currents. The one thing in which they all unite, of course, is anti-Israel. Within the Arab world also, you've got competing political regimes, which we all know about. You've got the conservative monarchial regimes and, on the other hand, the progressive or radical regimes. It becomes impossible really, on any basic issue other than Israel to bring together the monarchies
of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait and the radical regimes of Iraq, Syria and Algeria.
The Lybian regime is radical in one sense -- violently anti-Israel -- but it's anti-Communist. They are a little different in the whole picture: basically conservative, but radical in having thrown out a monarchy and being anti-Israeli.
Well, all this is just by way of background. I said that while in Cairo I didn't feel the real strength of Arab hostility to Israel. My wife perhaps got a bit more of it. She got fairly well-acquainted with the issue of Arab refugees in Gaza because of programs of relief for these refugees. So I would say that actually she was more aware of this than I was. It was years later when we went to Baghdad in 1963 and then later in Amman, Jordan, that we really became aware of the strong feeling among Arabs of being victims of the Israeli military machine, of having been kicked out of their own country, which the Arabs feel that Palestine was. The Israelis in this view simply drove them out at the point of a gun; that is, took
their land away from them. And of course, the informed Arabs, the educated ones, will cite chapter and verse about World War II and how the British dealt out Palestine to three different people, a country which wasn't theirs to give.
In 1915, during World War I, they wanted to get the Arabs, who had been a part of the Turkish Empire for 400 years, to attack the Turks from behind. So, in an exchange of letters between McMahon, their High Commissioner in Cairo, and Sherif Hussein of Mecca, the British agreed if the Arabs joined the war against the Turks, they, the British, would support Arab independence from Turkey, provided the Allies won the war.
Then in 1917, of course, in the Balfour Declaration the British undertook to support creation of a Jewish National Home in Palestine. In between, in the secret Sykes-Picot agreement with the French, they agreed to divide the area up between themselves when the war was over. I think they were in process of doing the latter when President Wilson's 14 points and
self-determination intervened. But they got virtually the same thing under the League of Nations mandate system. The French were given a Class A mandate over Syria, which now includes Lebanon, and the British got the same in Palestine. Then the British had the Balfour Declaration written into the preamble of the mandate, as one of their directives as to what they were supposed to do as administrative power. They were, in effect, encouraging the founding of a Jewish National Homeland in Palestine, which they proceeded to do. They took the mandate in 1923 at which time the Jewish population in Palestine was about eight percent. Through British encouragement of Jewish immigration the Jewish population had risen to somewhere around 36 or 37 percent by the time they dropped the mandate in '48. Much of that consisted of Jewish refugees fleeing the holocaust in Europe and in Germany. And after the war you have Mr. Truman pressing British Prime Minister Attlee to admit another 100,000 Jewish refugees. Ernie Bevin, Britain's Foreign Minister, was livid with President Truman over the subject. There is a fascinating thing
here: the dichotomy between State Department officers and the executive on the subject of Israel-Arab relations. I recall reading those segments of Mr. Truman's Memoirs dealing with those 100,000 refugees. He remarked that whenever he brought this up with the State Department they were always more concerned about the Arabs who lived there than about sufferings of the Jews. The implication was -- he didn't say it exactly -- that they were anti-Semitic. It was probably a rather widespread outside opinion that the State Department didn't have any particular sympathy for the Jewish refugees from Germany; that opposition to putting more Jewish refugees in there was an anti-Jewish sentiment rather than concern for Arabs.
I think that if there is a different attitude here, and I think there is, it's simply that State Department people who have lived in the area are aware of the intensity of the feelings of the Arab at having their land stolen from them and what this means for our whole policy.
MCKINZIE: There was some feeling that the oil resources were just being recognized and that they might be jeopardized by pushing partition of Palestine too hard or by endorsing the creation of a Jewish State.
James Forrestal, for example, counseled Truman against recognition.
ADAMS: Yes. Then of course, one of Roosevelt's last official acts apparently was sending this letter to King Saud [Ibn Abdul Aziz] saying that nothing would be done in the settlement of Palestine without consulting the Arabs. I should say that the resentment against Mr. Truman is monumental in the Arab world. I mean, it's hatred and it stems from what they believe to be his role in turning Palestine over to the Jews, and then in insuring that Palestinians didn't have the wherewithal to fight back, or that the Jews had the wherewithal to keep it.
MCKINZIE: Was that stronger in 1950 and '52 when you
were there, or had it been reduced somewhat when you went back in the fifties?
ADAMS: I suppose it was immediately strongest in Cairo perhaps in the early fifties. You kept hearing it all the time. Some people would say, "Well, we can understand why the United States did this, but why did Mr. Truman have to recognize them within an hour after they proclaimed their independence? You don't do that for anybody else. Why didn't you let the body cool a minute, and then recognize the new state?"
Margaret Truman in the book section which just appeared in the Post said it was within 11 minutes.
To the Arabs, and I must say to any person looking at it from the outside, this simply does suggest that there was collusion; that it was all arranged. The Israelis had said they were going to proclaim a state. But the Arab feeling was, well, the least Mr. Truman could have done would have been wait a day. You see, they deeply
resented the fact that no sooner had the Jews proclaimed their state than "bang," it was recognized by the U. S.
MCKINZIE: Could I ask you to say something about what you thought at the time the future of U.S.-Middle Eastern relations held? Whether you could at that time foresee the increase in Arab nationalism -- and some people talk about the revolution of rising expectations on the part of the people demanding more material things of life in the period you were there -- '50 to '52. Did you have any inkling of this kind of thing? Is this again that you can see better looking back?
ADAMS: Well, no. You could see the demand was there and the idea that things could be better was certainly there. I think we were all aware, and appalled really, at the situation within Egypt where you have this sharp dichotomy between the wealthy and the poor. We talked about this with Egyptians quite openly and frankly and I remember talking with a wealthy Coptic landlord about
education, and why it was essential that more education be provided because the literacy rate was infinitesimal, certainly no more than about 10 percent, if that. And his answer was a simple one, "Why educate them," he said, "they'll only want something." And he wasn't about to bring them to the position where they wanted anything. It was not an unusual reaction. I suppose it's typical of many, many countries.
Certainly it was typical in the mountain regions of Latin America that, in effect, the peasants were nothing more than slaves to the landowner. They are indentured in the sense that they are so indebted to the landowner that they can never get out of debt in their lifetime, and this appears to be the way the landowner wants it. In other words, he lent them money for weddings or for funerals and similar things in order to keep them bound to him.
together, they don't have the money for the wedding. But, the earnings of the mass of Egyptians was infinitesimal. And so naturally, hearing about possibilities around the world of a better life, these people wanted part of it.
Sometimes people inquire whether the American Embassy knew in advance that Farouk was going to be overthrown? Well, of course, we didn't know when he was going to be overthrown or by whom. If we had, Farouk presumably would have, too, and then he would have seen that the overthrow didn't take place. But it was perfectly apparent to me, personally, and I'm sure to most of the rest of us, that the Farouk regime was a corrupt regime. Everybody knew this, and that at some point in time it faced overthrow. When this would happen no one could tell. In retrospect, you can say that the army officers who deposed Farouk were fairly generous in letting him go physically with no trial or no physical harm. They just put him on a boat and said, "Good-bye." So, there was no recriminations or killings.
In subsequent years, of course, Nasser's strength came from the fact that he gave hope of some realization of this desire of the common man in Egypt that he share a bit in what seemed to be the goodies of modern life. It's very easy to criticize Nasser -- widely said, you know, that a lot of his money was foolishly spent; that it didn't go into productive enterprises. That's probably true to a certain extent, but I got the impression when we went back there in 1955 that there was a lot of new housing. It wasn't the best housing, but it was housing. And then again it's said, well, real wages went down during Nasser's time. Well, maybe they did. But I think there was a genuine effort to try and improve the standard of living of people. But, again, when you are involved in a military venture you waste most of your money on armament. The Egyptians didn't, as I recall, pay out this money immediately to the Soviets, these billions of dollars, but they are in hock to them. And of course, they've pledged -- I don't know the details --
but I assume they pledged their cotton crop. This, of course, was the reason Mr. [John Foster] Dulles gave for reversing himself on the offer to finance the Aswan Dam. The Egyptians had mortgaged their cotton crop to pay for the arms they got from the Czechs, which was instigated by the Soviets in 1955, and that therefore they would have no money to service repayments on the Aswan Dam. The issue here is one of guns or butter. In the case of Egypt they obviously can't have both. The country doesn't produce that kind of money.
MCKINZIE: So when you were there between '50 and '52 under Farouk there was no seeking of U. S. advice on how to go about improving the living standards -- getting programs that would sort of build the economy at the bottom?
ADAMS: No, I don't think so. It's true that the aid program was on the books at that point, but to my knowledge there was no approach by them to Egypt. The only approach was the one for a military hookup in this Middle East Defense
Organization which they turned down.
After we left and Nasser came in there was a definite organization of an aid program and very substantial aid extended both under PL480 wheat deals and in capital development loans, too. I don't really know the nature and extent of all those, but it went on for quite a while -- until about the time Nasser said we could go drink sea water. I've forgotten what the issue was. I think it had something to do with the Congo. But in any case, he gave a speech in which he said we could go drink sea water if we didn't like what they were doing. This antagonized the Congress, and I think our aid program ended within that year.
In Baghdad during the years '63 to '66 when we were there the Israeli question was again a bit in the background because the Iraqis were engaged in an internecine fight among themselves. And then after one of the elements got the upper hand they spent a lot of time dealing with the Arabs in various summit meetings. Now, true,
those summit meetings were directed in part toward the Israeli problem, but it seemed to be more of a problem of trying to get cooperation among themselves. It was a period in which there was something of an accord between Abdul Salam Arif, who was the President of Iraq, and Nasser. They actually got as far as drafting an agreement, projecting a kind of federation. But, of course, it never went any place, because the Iraqis were unwilling to relinquish control of their own country. There was a great deal of talk of Iraqi-Egyptian friendship in that period, but nothing came of it.
I don't think the Arabs felt any threat from the Soviets. Maybe it's because they subconsciously relied on our keeping the Soviets out of the area or perhaps they just really didn't have any concern about them. They presumably should have had some concern because of known historic Soviet interest in the Middle East, including Turkey and the Straits. But they were able at least to say they had no concern. They
probably didn't. But as I say, they probably thought this was a U.S. problem and the U.S. should take care of it. That's just a guess as to their attitude. Certainly the Arabs were not interested in any Middle East Defense Organization against the Soviets. I'm speaking now of Egypt under either Nasser or Farouk and Syria and Iraq under the Baathists. Their problems were all among themselves and against Israel. I'm not speaking of either Iraq under Nuri, or of Iran. I don't profess to know how the Iranians felt about the Soviets. I imagine they felt a much more immediate threat. But Nasser's objections to the Baghdad Pact was that Iraq was included under Nuri al Sa’id and that this brought the Arab world into the cold war. I wouldn't speculate on all the reasons Nasser might have objected. Maybe he objected because this gave Nuri and the Iraqis a separate forum, which prevented Nasser's being able to speak for all the Arabs. From a very early stage, the Egyptians press and radio blasted against the Iraqi membership in the Pact. The resulting hostility to Nuri was
undoubtedly behind his assassination and the overthrow of the Hashemites in Baghdad who had signed up with the U. S. and British imperialists against the interests of the Arab world.
So the Nuri regime was overthrown and one of the first acts of [Abdul Karim] Kassem was to take Baghdad out of the Baghdad Pact. From that day to this there has been no stability within Iraq because you have forces contesting for control. First you had Kassem who was head of the troops that swept out the Nuri regime and King Faisal in 1958 -- July 14th. Five years later -- February, 1963 -- he, in turn, was assassinated by Abdul Salam Arif. I think Arif personally shot him. So then a Baathist regime took over, to be followed in mid-November -- shortly after we arrived -- by an anti-Baathist coup. That was the nearest I've come to a battlefield situation because for a whole day the army tanks in Baghdad were blasting at Baathist strongholds -- blowing them up. There was machine-gun fire throughout the city for the whole day and by nightfall the army
had more or less control of the city. What they were fighting was the para-military force which the Baathist Government had maintained. The army simply was not about to allow the control of the streets to be held by these young kids in shirt-sleeves, who were going around swinging submachine guns under their arms. So they move in. Now, the army contained quite a few Baathists. So it wasn't technically against the Baathist Party. It was against this para-military organization. But once the army had taken control, Baathist commanders were gradually released. Some were sent off to be ambassadors of various places. One of them was assassinated a year or so ago in Kuwait -- Hardan Takriti, from the family that now runs Iraq. My point is simply that within Iraq there seems to be a continual struggle for power.
But the Israeli thing is always in the background. I think part of it is frustration. This element of the Arab world feels an intense frustration. They had some of their troops in the '48
war, I believe, they certainly were there in the '67 war. Maybe you can't say they were defeated because they were not in the front line, but they didn't win.
My final observation, from having served so many years in the Arab world, is that this Palestine question, or Arab-Israeli question, simply controls the Arab's whole attention. And it is one which they feel so passionately about that they simply won't let loose of it. It disrupts everything else that they want to do. They can't really organize themselves to do anything else. You might say they should organize to build themselves a munitions industry so they can have their own munitions to use against the Israelis. They can't even get to that.
One last thought from our days in Amman, Jordan, where we were so near Jerusalem and Israel and where we had lots of Palestinian friends. I would say to these Palestinians, "Why don't you just forget it? You aren't the only people who've lost your homeland in the history of the
world. The world is a history of people being swept out of their homes into some other area. Why don't you accept the fact that the Israelis have beaten the hell out of you and make peace with them? Then maybe you could go back -- you might even be able to see your own homes. You might even be able to go swimming down on the Mediterranean. And in the best of all possible worlds you could even trade together just like people in any other part of the world -- in Central Europe or whatever." But their answer always was: "No, it took us two hundred years to get the Crusaders out of here and we're prepared to wait."
I don't know what they'd say today. The last time I was actually in the Arab world was 1967 -- after their defeat. They were very chastened as well as bitter. Bitter at us -- bitter at themselves -- bitter at the Israelis. So at the moment they are a very frustrated people. I think if I were the Israelis at this point and I really saw a chance to make peace with the Arabs on some
kind of concessionary terms, I think I would. The Arabs simply aren't always going to remain backward and there are a hundred million of them. If they are bitter they will take revenge somehow, sometime, someplace. That would be my lesson for today.
MCKINZIE: Thank you.
Egypt, assignment to, 52
Foreign Service, entry into, 44-46
India, assignment to, 70
Kashmir, visit to, 79
and Office of International Security Affairs, 14
and Roosevelt, Franklin D., death of, 1-3
Allen, George V., 72, 85, 86-87
Arab Israeli conflict, 104-107, 119-122
Arab League, 101-102
Armstrong, Hamilton Fish, 12
Aswan Dam, 68, 114
Attwood, William, 78
Gough, Betty, 50
India-Pakistan Commission, procedures of, 89, 93, 96-97
Oakes, Hawley, 27
Truman, Harry S.:73
United Nations Charter:13-14
Woodward, Stanley, 88