Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with George L. West
Norstad wore two hats: the other being SHAPE, as the Supreme Allied Commander. Also he was the Commander of U.S. Forces in the European Command. Normally, his Deputy in that capacity voted the stock. In other words, he was at Camp DesLoges. And there were these four-star Generals who were Deputy to Norstad in his U.S. command. He did get into the U.S. side of things quite a bit with respect to Germany and Berlin. And there my background... He used me a great deal more than he used his own Political Advisor, although the two of us were together.
I was there with two different guys. We met once a week over at SHAPE. First was Ridgeway Knight and then Ray Thurston. With respect to Thurston, Norstad used me primarily to go to Berlin and things like that for him. We did an awful lot of travel.
Q: In a way I'd like to move back one thing, and then we can finish up. First could you tell me a little about your impression of George Ball and how he operated.
WEST: That comes further ahead when I'm in WE as Director. From Paris I did not go to Cambodia, because it was an impossible situation. I had my mother-in-law who was dying in Paris. I just couldn't have left the whole business.
At any rate, I went into the Inspection Corps for two years, which I found vastly rewarding in terms of experience. Fascinating, strenuous. And then I came back.
Bill Tyler had become Assistant Secretary. He wanted me to come back. McBride had gone back, had been Director of Western Europe. The guy that he had replaced before... I don't know if you'd know these names at all. McBride was later, after Morocco, Mexico, and a few other places. A great officer, long since dead. Tyler wanted me to come back to take over Director of Western Europe, and then replace him as Assistant Secretary.
I came back, and I was immediately very much involved with problems outside of Europe. One was Indonesia. We're talking about January 1962, to be precise.
As soon as I got back, the CNO, Chief of Naval Operations, Anderson, was having a big briefing on the Azores with all the White House people and all the State Department people, but particularly all of the NSC, and people like Schlesinger who were with Kennedy. This is where I came in sort of business, and the terrific importance of it, and what we had to do to do it.
And I said, “No, you don't do it that way. You do what we've always been doing, and that is we dole out enough arms to the Defense Minister.” (His name was Santos Costa as I recall.)