Memorandum by the Adviser on Political Relations ( Murray ) to the Assistant Secretary of State ( Acheson )

Mr. Acheson: Mr. Achilles of EU41 has left with us the attached copy of a letter42 from OLLA in which the latter organization expresses disagreement with the proposed draft of an aide-mémoire to the British Embassy42 in which it is stated that the United States Government would be grateful were the United Kingdom Government to undertake to furnish as reciprocal aid raw materials from India in view of the fact that we have no reciprocal aid agreement with the Government of India and do not consider that it would be practical at this time to conclude such an agreement. OLLA asks that we express our willingness to approach direct the Government of India on the question of receiving raw materials from India as reciprocal aid. It is the contention of OLLA that Indian feeling would be ruffled were our approach to the Government of India in the matter different from our approach to the Dominions, that we have almost nothing to lose by so doing, and that the adoption of an opposite course (i. e. acting through the British) is capable of placing our Ally (Great Britain) in a very embarrassing position. I do not consider sound the argument advanced by OLLA.

The Indian position, as distinct from the Government of India’s position, is in general that the Indians have not asked for lend-lease aid, do not particularly want lend-lease aid, and would probably have no need for lend-lease aid if it were not for the unwanted British [Page 277] domination in India. Many Indian nationals would, I believe, modify the above statement to the extent of saying that “Yes, if we were free we would be fighting Japan, but the fight would then be our own, and ours would be the responsibility in lend-lease matters. As it is, however, the fight is not our own, arrangements undertaken are not of our making, and ours is not the responsibility for lend-lease direct or reverse.”

For us to make direct arrangements with the Government of India for the supply of $87,000,000 worth of raw material (the amount involved as reciprocal aid) is tantamount to our requiring a contribution of $87,000,000 from the Indian people to the war effort. That contribution may in this instance be required of the Indian people if the United Kingdom Government does not see fit to provide a sterling credit to compensate for the cost of the material. The British Government’s failure to do so would in so far as I can see be the only cause for the “embarrassment” mentioned by OLLA. That is an inter-Empire matter and to relieve the British Government of this embarrassment we would by following OLLA’s suggestion simply transfer to ourselves the onus of having arranged the deal with a government which the Indians claim to be unrepresentative in every way. It would appear to me that the cost of reimbursing the Government of India for the raw material, or such embarrassment as may accrue through failure to do so are a part of the price which Great Britain must expect to pay for its insistence on maintaining in India a government which is unrepresentative. Even if it is contemplated that the United Kingdom Government will in any event reimburse the Government of India for the cost of the materials, it is nevertheless felt that direct arrangements with the Government of India regarding a matter which the Indian people view with so little sympathy should be avoided and that Indian feelings would be “ruffled” by our dealing direct rather than by our failure to do so.

Wallace Murray
  1. Theodore C. Achilles, of the Division of European Affairs.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.