Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Robert E. Barbour
BARBOUR: Fritz Reinhardt was the Ambassador, Dan Anderson was the Deputy Chief of Mission, Frank Malloy was the head of the political section and his deputy was John McKesson. Anything I wanted to do they thought was fine, they would be glad to have. They would steer me, give me guidance which I badly needed. John McKesson, in particular, was an outstanding writer; he had a very graceful flowing style, could accomplish a lot with few words; he was a profound and beneficial influence.
Q: What was our view of the government? Diem was...
BARBOUR: Diem was to be the hero. I am sure the Ambassador had no illusions about problems and attitudes, things like that, but we were optimistic. I remember in particular, because it was published the other day, writing a dispatch about the electoral setup, how I was convinced that it was heavily rigged, heavily loaded in every way, institutionally, legally, etc., in favor of the chosen parties and individuals, and said so. I remember having to be careful about how I said it. The Ambassador, all the people I mentioned, did not impose any kind of censorship, but on the other hand they had their instructions and they didn't want to sow discouragement. So I had to be careful about how I wrote this particular dispatch.
Q: What about the timing? Was Magsaysay of the Philippines going strong or had he recently died? I was wondering if there was a correlation between these events?
BARBOUR: I think he was dead by then but there was a correlation in more ways than you realize. We had with us General Lansdale who considered that he had made Magsaysay. General Lansdale was very present and had his own little operation, I guess. Even to this day I am not sure what it was; had with him a number of scholars and academicians and people like that. I remember one Sunday my wife and I invited to go with us on a picnic that the Vietnamese-American Association had organized a Filipino jurist who was living in the hotel. He was working on the constitution and we had become friendly with him, so we invited him to go and off we went. The following week, I don't remember the details, I was told that General Lansdale didn't like the fact that I had invited Judge So-and-so to go off with us and would I please not pursue that relationship. My attitude toward that was that General Lansdale can do his thing and what I do socially is my business. That is the way it was left.
Q: Was there any other feeling about Lansdale's operation by the political section?