Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with William A. Crawford
CRAWFORD: Dungan, yes. Ralph Dungan. And so I went over and had a half an hour or so with Ralph Dungan. And we chatted about this and that, and he asked me many questions. He was particularly concerned about a story recently carried in the New York Times on the political advisability of encouraging an opening to the left in Italy. He had seen Ambassador Reinhardt's [G. Frederick Reinhardt] messages on the subject and wanted to know my views on Nenni [Pietro Nenni] and so on.
Q: He actually asked you about the Communist effort at that time?
CRAWFORD: Yes, he did. And I told him that I hadn't been following Italian affairs too closely, as my present job was to deal with Eastern Europe and Soviet Union.
Q: Rather than Italy...
CRAWFORD: But that, so far as Nenni was concerned, I would be inclined to be very cautious indeed before moving too far in his direction, because he was an old Comintern [Communist International] hand who had played an important role throughout the entire international Communist movement. My estimate of him was that he was a very cagey and very able guy who had not really changed his spots despite his recent protestations, and that I wouldn't want to rely upon him in the present situation.
Q: How hard was Dungan pushing this, or was he...
CRAWFORD: Not too hard. He was just sounding me out, I think, to get my ideas. At any rate, we had a pleasant and lively discussion. And then, about two or three months later, I was again called in to the Director General's office and was told that I would be given the mission.
Q: And how did you react to that?
CRAWFORD: Well, that was fine with me. Romania was a place which at that time nobody was very conscious of, as it had been in the deep freeze politically for some years. So I didn't expect it to be especially exciting. Yet my whole specialization had been in Eastern European affairs—I had started out as a Russian language officer back in 1944 when our wartime program first began, and had served in Moscow, then in Paris on Communist matters, later in Prague, and finally in my present job. So, while I anticipated nothing very dramatic, I was sure that as a specialist I'd find life in Romania most interesting. In fact, it proved to be far more exciting than I could have imagined, which shows how hard it is to predict about a post. Anyhow, my reaction was, fine.