News for this last day of August in 1951 was about the unsettled nature of things. The war in Korea was at the Charge and Countercharge stage – with claims of violations to the neutral zone around the town of Kasong. Peking radio claimed U.S. troops killed two Chinese police outside of Kasong and that we had dropped a flare over a General’s Headquarters, as well as a report that South Korean forces had pushed three miles into North Korean territory.
None of the claims had been substantiated, but fighting had been intensified throughout the war zone. NATO forces were making advances, while fending off enemy attacks in other areas.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Dean Acheson left Washington to attend the signing of the Japanese Peace Treaty in San Francisco. Acheson told reporters the conference would provide a test for those nations that really want peace and those that do not. A UN Commission report released earlier in the day said Japan would be in better shape economically, when the peace treaty was signed than many other Asian neighbors who were, technically victorious in the war. The report indicated that, in some fields, Japan was well above their pre-war production level, and that Japan has again become the dominant industrial and commercial nation in the Far East. 6 years after the end of World War 2, the Japanese people were once again, the best fed people in Asia. The report warned however, that trouble lay ahead for the Japanese economy because it depended so largely on American raw materials and has been cut off from the traditional markets and supplies in Communist China.
Union leaders called off the nationwide Copper Strike after both sides agreed to a 15 cent an hour wage increase. It was a compromise between the 16 cents the union wanted and the 14 cents management offered.
The Senate Crime Committee hearings ended on this day, with a final report summarizing its work. The committee recommended that a private, nationwide organization be formed to fight crime; to keep the spotlight on organized crime, and political corruption. Congress would put up $100,000 to get the organization started. The report went on to say that “the tentacles of crime reach into virtually ever community throughout the nation”.
Presidential Adviser Averell Harriman returned to Washington from a fact-finding mission and said he saw no reason why the British and Iranians could not settle their oil dispute.
The FBI said it had arrested three more Communist Party leaders in Los Angeles – two of the three arrested were not, according to the FBI, citizens of the U.S. and deportation proceedings were underway.
Defense Secretary Marshall told reporters that General Eisenhower was giving “close and continuous study” to the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons in the defense of Western Europe. The use of such weapons had been taken into account in the buildup of the North Atlantic Pact Army.
Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas had a few words to say about Communist China, when he reached the San Francisco Conference. After a Summer spent along the souther frontiers of Russia and China, Douglas thought it was time the U.N. give diplomatic recognition to Communist China. He felt that move would break China’s political ties with Russia, and would capitalize on the struggle between Chinese Nationalism and the Russian desire to control and solidify the whole of the Far East.
The statement drew immediate fire from Capitol Hill, with a row breaking out in the Senate, and many claiming a Supreme Court Justice had no business meddling in Foreign Affairs – that he wasn’t the President, nor the Secretary of State either. Douglas had, in the past, been more outspoken in the area of Foreign Policy than most of his colleagues on the Bench. He had spoken, and written in a highly critical vein, of the Administration’s Asian policy before. This time however, he hit a few nerves.
And that’s a small slice of what went on this August 31 in 1951 as reported by the legendary Edward R. Murrow.