WHISTLING ‘DIXIE'

His­to­ri­ans are still un­cov­er­ing a doomed Amer­i­can wartime mis­sion to meet Maoist rebels and bro­ker an al­liance 美国“迪克西使团”1944年出使延安是中美关系史上的一次非常接触,至今仍吸引着无数学者不断研究

The World of Chinese - - Ed­i­tor’s Let­ter - BY EMILY CON­RAD

迪克西使团:中美关系史上的非常接触 In 1944, a short-lived US diplo­matic mis­sion to Yan'an found a lot to like about the Com­mu­nists. His­to­ri­ans are now re-eval­u­at­ing the legacy of these war­time choices, and imag­in­ing the pro­posed US-CCP al­liance that never was

Only six years be­fore Chi­nese and US troops fought over the fu­ture of the Korean penin­sula, they were bond­ing over the fu­ture of China.

In Jan­uary 1945, a se­cret mes­sage was passed along by mem­bers of a so-called “Dixie Mis­sion” to the US diplo­matic mis­sion in Chongqing: Both Mao Ze­dong and Zhou En­lai wished to visit Pres­i­dent Franklin De­lano Roo­sevelt in Wash­ing­ton DC.

The pro­posed trip was un­prece­dented in more ways than one; it would have been Mao’s first jour­ney out­side China. How­ever, this vi­tal mes­sage sat idle on Am­bas­sador Pa­trick Hur­ley’s desk, des­tined never to be seen by the State or War De­part­ment, much less the pres­i­dent.

To­day, his­to­ri­ans are still un­cov­er­ing the na­ture of the

co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the US and Chi­nese Com­mu­nists dur­ing World War II.

Fol­low­ing Ja­pan’s in­va­sion of north­east China in 1931, and the at­tack on Pearl Har­bor in 1941, the two groups were thrown to­gether into an un­ex­pected al­liance. While Amer­ica’s of­fi­cial war­time pol­icy was to sup­port the Na­tion­al­ists as the un­con­tested govern­ment of China, the US took a prag­matic ap­proach, pres­sur­ing leader Chi­ang Kai-shek to work with Com­mu­nists. How­ever, in the early stages of the Cold War, these frag­ile al­liances fell apart, and both the Mc­carthyite move­ment in the States and Maoist purges in China en­sured that these nar­ra­tives of co­op­er­a­tion re­mained mostly hid­den from pub­lic and aca­demic view for decades af­ter.

These days, a new gen­er­a­tion of schol­ars is in­ves­ti­gat­ing these World War II in­ter­ac­tions, ask­ing ques­tions that re­main rel­e­vant to to­day’s pol­i­tics: What would have hap­pened if Mao had come to Wash­ing­ton? And how would the Cold War have been dif­fer­ent if China had “leaned to the side” of the US, in­stead of the USSR?

By the time the US en­tered the war af­ter the bomb­ing of the Pa­cific fleet in Hawaii, China had been fight­ing for over nine years, fol­low­ing the Ja­panese con­quest of the north­east­ern prov­inces in 1931 and its cre­ation of the pup­pet state of “Manchuko,” ruled by for­mer Qing em­peror Puyi. The oc­cu­pa­tion called for an ex­tra­or­di­nary re­sponse: Chi­ang and Mao went from mor­tal en­e­mies to al­lies with a com­mon cause un­der the so-called “Sec­ond United Front.” Chi­ang made his mil­i­tary base in the south­west­ern city of Chongqing, while Mao re­tained a Com­mu­nist strong­hold in Yan’an, in north­west Shaanxi prov­ince.

Yan’an was al­ready well-known to many in Amer­ica. In 1937, Edgar Snow’s book Red Star over China had trum­peted the nar­ra­tive of the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party liv­ing in its ro­man­ti­cized guer­rilla out­post. An arid, tree­less val­ley, dot­ted with caves (al­low­ing Com­mu­nist cadres to es­cape Ja­panese bomb­ing), Yan’an had been the party’s spir­i­tual home since be­ing im­mor­tal­ized as the destination of the Long March.

Snow’s book, in which he in­ter­viewed top-level of­fi­cials, as well as en­try-level re­cruits, por­trayed the Com­mu­nists as rough-round-the-edges dream­ers who en­joyed grass­roots sup­port from a frus­trated peas­antry. In the minds of sev­eral in the Amer­i­can lead­er­ship, the Com­mu­nists’ pop­u­lar­ity among the lo­cals was at­tested by the dar­ing res­cues of 60 downed Amer­i­can fighter pi­lots. Go­ing be­hind en­emy lines, Com­mu­nist soldiers and their lo­cal sup­port­ers suf­fered over 600 ca­su­al­ties in their mis­sions to find, res­cue, and hide these ser­vice­men.

Un­like the Com­mu­nists in Yan’an, Chi­ang’s Na­tion­al­ists were not able to cul­ti­vate such pos­i­tive pub­lic opin­ions among the for­eign press and mil­i­tary sta­tioned in Chongqing. Na­tion­al­ist of­fi­cers were widely per­ceived as cor­rupt, and Chi­ang him­self an ego­ma­ni­a­cal au­to­crat. US army of­fi­cers sus­pected that their Na­tion­al­ist al­lies were less in­ter­ested in ac­tively fight­ing the Ja­panese than gain­ing ex­per­tise and aid from the US mil­i­tary. Their ul­ti­mate goal was bid­ing their time for the “in­evitable” re­sump­tion of civil war against the Com­mu­nists fol­low­ing Ja­panese de­feat. (In­deed, Mao’s gen­er­als were like­wise pre­oc­cu­pied with strate­gies on how to beat the Na­tion­al­ists.)

This was the back­drop for one of the least-ex­pected and lit­tle-known ex­pe­di­tions of the war—the Dixie Mis­sion. The name hear­kened to the “slave states” south of the Ma­sonDixon Line, as one of the Mis­sion’s founders claimed sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the South’s re­volt dur­ing the Amer­i­can Civil War, and the Com­mu­nists’ re­bel­lion. The mis­sion that ar­rived in Yan’an in July 1944 was cer­tainly im­bued with a sense of sub­ver­sion among its of­fi­cers and diplo­mats, which in­cluded China Hands such as Colonel David

Bar­rett, John Ser­vice, and Ray­mond Lud­den.

In­deed, never be­fore or af­ter has there been such com­pre­hen­sive co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the Com­mu­nist and US mil­i­taries: While the Amer­i­can mis­sion was pro­hib­ited from pro­vid­ing arms, there was no bar­rier on the ex­change of ideas and strate­gies. The mis­sion also pro­duced some of the more re­mark­able pho­to­graphs of the era: the US Am­bas­sador to China at a rough wooden ta­ble, smil­ing be­side Mao and Zhou; a group of Amer­i­can of­fi­cers lug­ging rocks along­side their Chi­nese coun­ter­parts; and Amer­i­can diplo­mats wear­ing dark Mao suits.

Most of all, the Dixie Mis­sion was a fact-find­ing ex­pe­di­tion. The Amer­i­cans wanted to en­sure there would not be a di­vided China fol­low­ing the de­feat of the Axis Pow­ers, and be­lieved that the best way to bro­ker peace was by work­ing di­rectly with the Com­mu­nists. Richard Bern­stein’s China 1945: Mao’s Revo­lu­tion and Amer­ica’s Fate­ful Choice delves into the events, and pro­vides a com­pre­hen­sive look at why this co­op­er­a­tion fell apart so quickly— even though the Com­mu­nists agreed to a post-war agree­ment with the Na­tion­al­ists, bro­kered by the am­bas­sador.

When the Amer­i­cans pre­sented this power-shar­ing agree­ment in Chongqing, Chi­ang quickly shot it down; the US am­bas­sador was deeply em­bar­rassed, and the fate­ful Roo­sevelt let­ter was stuck in a drawer. One of the most sig­nif­i­cant re­sults of this break­down was that the Chi­nese Com­mu­nists be­gan to view the Soviet Union as a more suit­able post-war part­ner.

As the war reached its con­clu­sion, it be­came clear that sev­eral Dixie Mis­sion par­tic­i­pants had been af­fected by the iso­la­tion of Yan’an, lack­ing a clear un­der­stand­ing of the break­neck speed of in­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics and the loom­ing Cold War. Bern­stein de­scribes them as ded­i­cated and ca­pa­ble in­di­vid­u­als, but ul­ti­mately naïve and eas­ily ma­nip­u­lated. By 1945, as it be­came ap­par­ent that the US was not plan­ning on launch­ing an in­va­sion of Ja­pan from China, State De­part­ment of­fi­cial John Ser­vice al­most wist­fully stated, “If Amer­i­cans land in or en­ter Com­mu­nist ter­ri­tory, they will find an army and peo­ple thor­oughly or­ga­nized and ea­ger to fight the en­emy.”

In the midst of Cold War ten­sions over the next decade, many veter­ans of the mis­sion found them­selves fired or dis­missed from pub­lic ser­vice for their sup­posed Com­mu­nist sym­pa­thies. But by the 1960s, the key ques­tion among Belt­way for­eign pol­icy cir­cles was “Who lost China?”

Some blamed Gen­eral George Mar­shall, who had led the Al­lies to vic­tory in the Euro­pean theater and later be­came Sec­re­tary of State, lend­ing his name to the renowned Mar­shall Plan to re­build West­ern Europe. As Daniel Kurtz-phelan de­tails in The China Mis­sion: George Mar­shall’s Un­fin­ished War, 1945-1947, Mar­shall was tasked by Pres­i­dent Harry Tru­man to pre­serve the peace in China. At first, Mar­shall’s en­gage­ment was con­sid­ered a suc­cess: He ne­go­ti­ated a cease­fire be­tween the Com­mu­nists and the Na­tion­al­ists.

As the Cold War in­ten­si­fied, how­ever, it be­came in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult for the for­mer gen­eral to work both sides, lead­ing him to urge for the US to dis­en­gage from the con­flict al­to­gether. Was this Mar­shall’s great­est failure? Kurtz-phelan ar­gues that Mar­shall’s China ex­pe­ri­ence greatly in­flu­enced his pol­icy in Europe. Con­se­quently, Mar­shall avoided fur­ther sug­ges­tions of power shar­ing agree­ments with any Com­mu­nist govern­ment.

A largely for­got­ten part of Amer­ica’s war­time nar­ra­tive, China’s role is only re­cently be­ing reeval­u­ated, in works such as Sam Kleiner’s The Fly­ing Tigers: The Un­told Story of the Amer­i­can Pi­lots Who Waged a Se­cret War Against Ja­pan, and Kevin Peraino’s A Force So Swift: Mao, Tru­man, and the Birth of Mod­ern China, 1949. With the USChina trade war heat­ing up on both sides of the Pa­cific, the Dixie Mis­sion is an im­por­tant re­minder of when the US and Com­mu­nist China were al­lies, not en­e­mies—and how frag­ile this bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship was his­tor­i­cally prone to be.

The pin­na­cle of the Dixie Mis­sion was US am­bas­sador Hur­ley's peace talks with Mao and Zhou

Gen­eral George Mar­shall trav­eled to Yan'an in a sec­ond at­tempt to bro­ker peace

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