Yuri Ivanovich Sum,
INTERVIEW WITH INTERVIEW WITH MARK WYATT, 15/2/96
INTERVIEW WITH MARK WYATT, 15/2/96
INTERVIEWER: Mr Wyatt, thank you very much indeed for agreeing to talk to us for our series on the Cold War. And can I start off by asking you: what was the mood in the young CIA in those very, very early days in late 1947?
MARK WYATT: Well, the mood was very good, actually. It was a small organisation. CIA didn't really expand to its enormous size until the Korean War really, when it burst. And then, as a tribute to Allen Dulles, the President agreed to build a beautiful, huge palace out of the Potomac, and I think it was a very, very bad mistake, and many of my friends feel that way, I think the British do it better: they have ivy-covered cottages where things are carried out and there isn't this great huge building; and it got bigger and bigger on the analysis side. But morale was good. Most of the personnel had been, in one way or another, involved in World War II; they were highly disciplined, they didn't question orders from above, unless there was... and we outstanding directors in the early days: Hoyt Vandenberg and Roscoe Hillenkoetter, in charge of the CIG, and then it became CIA; and the esprit de corps was excellent. I myself, like many others, were eager to go abroad. I had a pretty good background: I was in the war, served in the Pacific, and was in battle; I had already my BA degree. I came to Washington to work for my United States Senator from California, and to get a Master's degree. And when my Senator heard that I'd passed the foreign service exam and I was going to be a diplomat... he was not a friend of Dean Acheson, the Secretary of State, who he thought was a very elegant man but not hard and tough, and so when my Senator learned that I was going into the State Department, he said, "You know, that's wonderful if you want to cook... push cookies around and wear striped pants. But if you want to do something tough, you'd better check into the CIG, that's just starting now and I hope is going to blossom out." I bought that; I've never had a regret. I never became (Laughs) an ambassador, or did I ever intend to be one, but I had a very challenging life, as many of my colleagues at that time. We did not suffer extreme criticism. There were some renegades that wrote books that - and I'm in a couple of those books - that are completely erronous. They've made sort of a glamorous thing out of very little. It was a hard-working time. But the morale was truly good, and we were ready for a big challenge in 1948, which was the first big challenge.
INT: So, asking you to think back to those months at the end of '47 and early '48, how alarmed was Washington by the situation in Western Europe, particularly in Italy?
MW: Well, it grew slowly. I was very fortunate, because I wrote my Master's thesis here in Washington, on an Italian problem: the question of Trieste and the Slovenes, the Yugoslav country and the Austrians' interest in Trieste, and it was a big work, and I had the help of a senator who was chairman of the Peace Committee in Paris, that helped me with documents that were able... I was able to use. And the CIA, when they interviewed me - the CIG, it was at the time - leapt upon that, and I went to the Italian Desk as such, and that was a great fortune for me, because I referred to this crisis that arose, and it started in '46. The Italian Communist Party in 1947 was the largest Communist Party in the world outside of the Soviet and the Soviet satellite Communist parties. I learned later that the Italians were eclipsed by the Indonesian Communist Party, and that was a later covert action operation. But as I say, I was fortunate, and I had been in Italy as a student in 1938 and '39, and fell in love with Italy. And... so I was deeply concerned, and I was glad to see things like Mr Kennan sitting on the State Department's Policy Planning staff saying that "This election is coming up, and should the Communists be able to form a government, should they win, this will be truly,... it will completely,... our whole position in the Mediterranean, and probably in Europe, will be undermined." And I was delighted to see that that attention was paid on it. But if there was a... every... if there was one man that I would point to that really was responsible, that was George Marshall. George Marshall had a great distrust of the Soviets. He commented on the demobilisation of the British and the Americans immediately after the war, rather swiftly; it was time for peace, "We're going home." And he said that... the Soviet situation, the Soviet military situation at that time, he likened to a riot, and that was the idea of expansion, expansion, and he was very, very concerned about that. And when he became Secretary of State, replaced Mr Burns, this was very high on his docket. He had had very good briefings, and he felt that this huge Communist Party... and then, when he learned and we all learned that in municipal elections in '46 and in '47, the Christian Democrats and other clerical parties.... secular parties of the centre did very poorly and the Communists did very well, and so it was alarming. And I think, really, the experts were particularly concerned because the Soviets really asserted themselves in 1945 by insisting that labour and trade unions was critically important, and they called for a meeting which was attended by the Western allies as well, and the Soviets really pulled off a great coup: they got approval for one major labour confederation that would operate in trade union strifes, in democratic and Communist countries. And only a few months after that, in Paris, the WTFU, the World Federation of Trade Unions, was founded, and it was... it was really a facade, it was a Communist facade. And fortunately, a few years after that, the British TUC and the American CIO, Congress of International Organisations, withdrew, and... but that was a perilous period, and that was before the elections. And the head of the... for the WFTU in Italy was the most dynamic... a more dynamic speaker than Togliatti was Giuseppe [Devittorio]; he had control of labour. And the large corporations of Italy in those early days when Italy was rebuilding, that particular organisation, the CGIL WFTU, completely Communist-dominated, ran everything in labour; and it took us a few years to build free labour. But those things mounted up, and it really appeared that... the main struggle, I think in the world in '45-'46-'47, was this battle between the democratic left and the mass Communist parties of France and Italy. I mention those two countries because there the situation was perilous. And labour was the thing. Veterans' affairs was
INT: We'll come back to that in just a moment.
INT: We'll come back to that in just a moment.
(Something inaudible in b/g. Cut.)