Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with George L. West
There was this constant warfare with the African Bureau on all items down the line. The Far East, why, the Dutch were being a little not too, giving too much... They were going to get out of the West Irian as they called it, West New Guinea we call it. And they, we finally... They didn't get much negotiating... And I found out my predecessor as...
One of the first weeks I was in at WE as Director, a Dutch Deputy, a DCM I think it was, came in, a guy I'd known in Bonn, and said, “Well, you know, your predecessor said we could land these men in uniform, these soldiers not in uniform, stopping off in Guam,” I think it was. And I looked at Hilton Stone, who was on Dutch Affairs in the bureau, and I said, “Well, let me look into it.”
At any rate, I brought this up in the Secretary's meeting. Tyler did not like to go to a lot of these staff meetings, so I very often would represent the EUR in the Secretary's morning meeting.
Oh Christ, Harriman just went nuts about this thing. As a matter of fact, Bobby Kennedy had just been to Japan and not been well received. He was going to Indonesia. I remember Harriman: “I am not going to have the blood of the President's brother on my hands. We cannot do this.” I said, “No, don't worry.”
But everybody laughed, it was so exaggerated, Harriman going, you know... It was a little lese majeste, I guess, laughing in his face.
But at any rate, most of the things you did had to do with other bureaus and encountering them. It was either that or with the military.
Incidentally, the Chief of Naval Operations was not too well liked after the briefing he'd given, and pretty soon you know where he winds up — Ambassador to Portugal. He's a nice guy, George, but he's not too able. I'd see him quite a bit, but still.
In the spring, I was... I'd been divorced in '61, summer of '61, while I was in the Inspection Corps. I came back to Washington in January of '62 and found it... I'd been sitting in as Deputy Director of the office.
Then it was put up to me, would I become Director? Well, I was engaged, there were a lot of factors. I still was carrying on as director while in Western Europe they hadn't gotten a replacement in. A guy came after much delay, then he was in an automobile accident and was out for a couple of years and came back later.
I was sort of fed up, and I thought, “Well, I'd better be getting some money if I'm... I've got a daughter to support and I want to get married again.”