Franklin Roosevelt stuffed another cigaret in his long ivory holder. The White House reporters asked: ". . . Anything you can tell us in the way of background on why it was necessary to call General Stilwell home?" The President flicked ashes from his chalk-striped suit, answered:
It's a simple fact. General Stilwell has done extremely well. I'm very fond of him personally. . . . You all have your likes and dislikes because you're all extremely human. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and General Stilwell had had certain fallings out, oh, quite a while ago; and finally the other day, the Generalissimo asked that somebody be sent to replace General Stilwell. And we did it. . . . It's just one of them things. . . .
The President announced that the resignation of his Ambassador to China, Clarence E. Gauss, had no connection with Stilwell's recall.
In Chungking, T. V. Soong, Chiang Kai-shek's brother-in-law and Foreign Minister, issued a written statement: "The recall of General Stilwell was entirely a matter of personality. . . ."
In Minneapolis, Minnesota's Republican Congressman Walter H. Judd, who had been in China, gave his version of what had happened: one day General Stilwell received orders to deliver an ultimatum from the White House to Chiang Kaishek. The ultimatum demanded that General Stilwell be made commander of all China's armies or the U.S. would withdraw its military support from China. No self-respecting head of state could countenance such an ultimatum. The Generalissimo's patience snapped. Angrily he retorted: Then the U.S. will have to withdraw its support. Said Congressman Judd: It was a diplomatic mistake by the U.S. "Stilwell did not make the mistake. He was merely the goat of personal government in Washington. We had to back down from an impossible position into which we should never have put ourselves."
Last week tart, taciturn Joseph W. Stilwell arrived in Washington from the Far East. He said nothing. His silence was eloquent. For few Americans knew China so well as General Joseph Stilwell. Few understood so well as he the gravity of the crisis dramatized by his recallits implications for the future fate of China, the U.S., the world.
China's Friend. Of all Americans, Joe Stilwell should apparently be persona gratissima to the Chinese. He is a staunch admirer of China, a close friend of her big & little people, a champion of her causes, a student of her culture. He is a rare "old China hand" who knows the language so well that he can think in Chineseone of that surprisingly large number of Americans who have overcome the barrier of an Asiatic language to become unofficial legates in the high tradition of U.S.-Chinese friendship.
And as Chiang Kai-shek's first foreign Chief of Staff, Stilwell was the symbol of China's hope in the abiding aid and friendship of the U.S.