The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2020

24 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2020 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL The China hands and others accused of disloyalty fought back, but for the most part they fought alone. John (Jack) Service, John Carter Vincent, O. Edmund Clubb, John Paton Davies Jr., John Emmerson and the others spent years enmeshed in hearings on the Hill and multiple administrative loyalty investigations and reviews in the executive branch. Jack Service was arrested in 1945 and charged with passing classified information (some of his own reports from China) to a journalist. A grand jury refused to indict him, by a vote of 20-0. He was then cleared of disloyalty in at least eight investigations by loyalty boards at State. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles fired him in 1951. Rein- stated by a Supreme Court decision in 1957, he was assigned to Liverpool and retired in 1962. John Paton Davies passed nine security reviews, but Secretary Dulles fired him anyway in 1954. Others had similar experiences. Members of the Foreign Service fac- ing dismissal for disloyalty or as security risks had nowhere to turn. The American Foreign Service Association acted then as part of management: it offered no help and little sympathy. Its chairmen and presidents issued no statements and made no speeches; its executive committees and boards of directors passed no resolutions; and the minutes of their meetings record no discussions of the wreckage being vis- ited upon the Service. ( The Foreign Service Journal , however, published a number of editorials and articles in support of the China hands —see p. 23 for a list. The AFSA Board of Directors signed on to the edito- rial of January 1953.) Today’s situation is different. The threat to the integrity of American foreign policy—and to the integrity of the foreign-affairs professionals of the Foreign Service, Civil Service and armed services—is widely recognized. The disparagement and belittling of expertise, the attacks on the competence and loy- alty of particular individuals, the substi- tution in foreign affairs of private parties with obscure motives and paymasters for sworn and commissioned officers of the United States are widely challenged. Those under fire have the support of their colleagues. “We have your back, and we will assist and defend you when you need help,” AFSA President Eric Rubin wrote not long ago in these pages. AFSA has in-house counsel and a legal defense fund, supported by donations, for this purpose. There is broad support, too, from much of the media and the public. Witnesses can speak with candor to committees of Congress. s The lessons of history are often lessons we already knew but need to be taught again and again. Among the lessons of the McCarthy era are that demagogues and bullies can be stopped but not appeased, and that their damage to people and institutions endures long after they have lost their grip on public attention. President Truman established, and President Eisenhower expanded, loyalty and security boards that subjected mil- lions of employees to investigation, yet the Republican right was not appeased. Hundreds of people were fired, yet cries of perfidy and perversion did not dimin- ish. McCarthy was stopped only when he attacked a target—the United States Army—with the heft and will to fight back. At last, in 1954, many of his friends deserted him. He lost a vote of censure in the Senate, and his power rapidly evaporated. The assault on the China hands, and on men such as General Marshall and Secretary Acheson, was an assault on knowledge, honesty, complexity and seriousness. George Kennan, a pes- simist who was rarely disappointed, wrote in 1955 that “the postwar security programs” had brought “humiliation, bewilderment and the deepest sort of discouragement to hundreds of [Foreign Service] officers.” Fear of challenging accepted opinion, or reporting bad news, entered State Department culture and lingered for years. McCarthy, said another writer, was “like a flashbulb witnessed up close, seen much later when one’s eyes were closed.” s In time the era passed. In January 1973, AFSA’s board of directors held a luncheon in the ceremonial space of the eighth floor of the Department of State to honor the China hands. As The Foreign Service Journal reported, 300 places were reserved in a week, and another 500 seats were taken up in an auditorium to hear the speakers, John Service and historian Barbara Tuchman. Television networks filmed the event and broadcast it nationally. Press coverage was extensive— “Honor Came a Bit Late” said The New York Times . Ms. Tuchman said of the honorees: “Your colleagues and prede- cessors were hounded because able and honest performance of their profession collided with the hysterics of the cold war, manipulated by a man so absolutely without principles as to be abnormal.” When Ms. Tuchman spoke, the McCarthy era was close to 20 years in the past. Today’s honest performers and truth tellers will not have to wait 20 years for the honor they deserve. We honor them now. n