5-536 To Bernard M. Baruch, August 21, 1946

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: August 21, 1946

Subject: China

To Bernard M. Baruch

August 21, 1946 Nanking, China

My dear Baruch:

Your letter of May 24th reached me in Nanking in June and I immediately acknowledged it with a radio stating that a written statement by me would follow.1 It so happened that a day later I became involved in the most strenuous and difficult period of my negotiatory procedure out here which absorbed all of my time from early morning until late at night until well into July. During this period I found no opportunity for sober reflection regarding the difficult questions you put to me.2

Since then the situation has been almost as bad so far as I am concerned and in the meantime I read of your own conclusions and proposals.3 I have thought these over to see if I had any definite or additional ideas on the subject and so far have reached no conclusions which would be of use or even interest to you. I do not think my approach to the problem has been clear cut mentally because the distractions here have been so pressing that it is almost impossible to be purely objective regarding other and exceedingly complicated matters.

So far as I can see, the proposals you have made are sound and I have heard of no other procedure which seemed more practical or desirable.

After explaining above my own difficulty in giving clear thinking to the atomic question, I might say that the turbulence in which I am involved and its tragic consequences to almost five hundred million people leads all my thinking to the urgency in this period of our civilization for finding a development without further delay of a positive means to put a stop to the probability of wars. My own experience here has led me to a few conclusions which of themselves might seem rather small factors. It grows more clearly evident to me every day out here that suspicion of the other fellow’s motives, lack of understanding of his conception of your motives are the greatest stumbling blocks to peaceful adjustments. When trade factors and the pursuit of the dollar are added to the plot the problem grows even more complicated in time of peace.

Out here I have sat in the middle for many months and listened to an outpouring of suspicions and beliefs of the representatives of each side regarding the other. I find that in most instances neither side properly, or even casually, evaluates the fears or suspicions of the other and their effect on the action taken or the attitude in negotiations. When I emphasize this state of affairs neither side treats it as of much importance, but as a matter of fact from my middle position it has appeared to me of the most vital importance because misunderstandings are a fruitful cause of unhappy situations or events.

I am sorry not to be helpful and possibly if I were in Leesburg with no more serious occupation than gardening, I might be able to contribute something of value to the solution of your problem.

Katherine is, I am happy to state, up in the mountains at Kuling away from the sultry heat of Nanking. She is looking very well and is most comfortably situated, but continually worrying because she is not here with me in Nanking. She would join me in affectionate regards if she knew I was writing. I do hope that your health has remained good despite the strenuous work you have been doing in the leadership of a matter which may have a determining effect on the future peace of the world.

With my affectionate regards.

Faithfully yours,

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed letter.

1. See Marshall to Carter, June 10, 1946, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #5-470 [5: 586-87].

2. In the spring, Baruch had been trying to get the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, on which he was the U.S. representative, to draft a treaty to outlaw the use of atomic weapons in war and to provide for inspections and penalties to enforce it. He asked if Marshall could “offer any suggestion for creating in the minds of men the desire to comply with the Treaty” and how he “would set up in the Treaty a plan for automatic punishment of the violators,” given that the five permanent members of the Security Council (Britain, China, France, U.S., U.S.S.R.) had veto power over all U.N. actions. In a postscript, Baruch asked: “Have you any immediate suggestions as to how our present attitude could be expanded into a movement toward the elimination of war itself? I recognize, in posing this question, that the main purpose of the United Nations is the same objective—elimination of war. But I ask because you may have discovered some short cuts.” (Baruch to Marshall, May 24, 1946, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].)

3. At the U.N. Atomic Energy Commission’s first meeting on June 14, Baruch laid out what came to be called the “Baruch Plan” on atomic energy: (1) control over all atomic energy activities would be given to an International Atomic Development Authority; (2) after the authority established its control, the United States would stop manufacturing atomic bombs and destroy its stockpiles; (3) thereafter, atomic weapons would be outlawed; (4) the authority would have unprecedented powers of inspection within national territories; (5) no member of the Security Council would have the power to veto authority actions. On June 19, the U.S.S.R. rejected the Baruch Plan and offered one that: (1) outlawed atomic weapons; (2) omitted effective inspection or verification; (3) required the U.S. to destroy its weapons immediately; (4) rejected the elimination of the Security Council’s veto over questions of atomic energy. (New York Times, June 16, 1946, p. 4; June 20, 1946, p. 4.)

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 5, “The Finest Soldier,” January 1, 1945-January 7, 1947 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), pp. 660-662.

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