Lot 60–D 224, Box 59: Stettinius Diary

Extracts From the Personal Diary of the Under Secretary of State (Stettinius)

Meeting with Ambassador Gromyko in the President’s Bedroom.

As arranged yesterday, I met Ambassador Gromyko promptly at 9:30 at the main entrance of the White House, and took him to the President’s bedroom immediately. We talked for thirty-five minutes and I felt it was most constructive. At the beginning the President warmed the atmosphere by telling Gromyko some of his plans for his trip to Quebec to meet Churchill. In this connection, he spoke of the desirability of having another conference of the three Chiefs of State [Page 785] as early as possible.66 The President also spoke briefly of the war, that our forces in the west as well as the Soviets in the east had gone beyond their respective supply lines and that this was a period of pause for consolidation on the part of both. The President told Gromyko how delighted he was with the way things have gone on both fronts. He then read to him a wire from General Pat Hurley67 in which Hurley had said that Molotov had told him that the Soviets were not interested in the Chinese Communists, that they were not really Communists anyway.68 The President commented that they were agrarians.

After this preliminary friendly exchange of comments on the several subjects mentioned, the President finally came around to Dumbarton Oaks and said that he understood there was only one fundamental point remaining open. Gromyko said that there were others and I then nailed him down on the others and it turned out that only the one point is really difficult. Gromyko indicated pretty clearly that he would be able to yield on everything else except the voting question, specifically mentioning that he could approve our economic and social council proposal. He also seemed perfectly open minded on the question of the international air force, indicating that to his mind it had now reached the point of merely being a question of saying the thing in the right language. Gromyko told the President he was sure we were all talking about the same thing and said that if we seriously objected to the term international air force, or the proposal as originally submitted by the Soviets, they would be perfectly willing to drop it. I said I was confident we could write a provision in simple language which would accomplish the aim which all of us sought on this aspect of the problem.

The President then told Gromyko that we would be prepared to accept a majority rather than a two-third vote in the Council if that would help him at home. He then went on into the major issue, opening this part of the discussion by saying that traditionally in this country, husbands and wives when in trouble never have the opportunity to vote on their own case, although they always have an opportunity to state their case. The President told a beautiful story tracing the development of this American concept of fair play back [Page 786] to the days of our founding fathers. He then stressed the difficulty which we would have in our Senate with the Soviet proposal, saying at the same time that he felt the issue of the quick and immediate use of force could be met successfully in the Senate.

Gromyko did not seem at all depressed by what the President said. He accepted the remarks gracefully, asked a number of questions about it, and discussed the way in which he could explain our position clearly to his people at home.

At this point I asked him if it would be helpful to him if we sent a message on the matter to Marshal Stalin. The President added that we did not desire to send such a message unless it would be helpful to him. Gromyko said he would leave that to our judgment. I then lianded to the President the draft cable which Chip Bohlen had prepared, which referred to the President’s talk with the Ambassador, outlined the difficulty we faced on the voting question, referred to the traditional American concept that parties to a dispute never vote on their own case, and we said that American public opinion would neither understand nor support a plan of international organization in which this principle was violated. It also indicated that we felt that other nations, particularly the smaller nations would feel as we did. It ended with an expression of hope that Stalin would be able to instruct his delegation to meet our point on this issue. The President thought the cable was excellent but wanted us to add a reference to his husband and wife simile which he had made earlier in the conversation, and stress more the probably adverse reaction of the Soviet proposal on the smaller nations and the difficulty we would have in getting their plan through our Senate. The President asked that the cable be redrafted to incorporate his suggestions and be sent to Miss Tully for transmission immediately.69

The President then said we should start with the Chinese on Monday. I did not comment. The President inquired if Mr. Kung would be around for these Conversations and I said “Yes”, but only as an observer. I told him he had asked to go on the Sunday trip to Virginia. The President asked what kind of arrangements we were making for the Chinese phase of the Conversations and I said the Chinese would expect the same ceremony which we had had for the opening phase. I told him we would expect to have Mr. Hull speak at the opening meeting with the movie and still photographers present, have a diplomatic dinner and give them, say a week for the actual discussions. The President said he thought that was too long, that we should do it in four or five days, adding that he wanted to have this whole matter finished up by the end of next week when he would be returning to Washington. He said, “I want at that time the document signed and [Page 787] a report from you that great success was achieved. This is an order to you”. During this conversation, Gromyko squirmed a bit in his chair as I did in mine. I could not, however, let it all go by without comment and I said that I had not yet had a chance to sound out the Ambassador on this idea and asked him, if we were delayed in the Conversations with them if it would be all right if we recessed, and in order to save time, hold the Chinese Conversations in the interim, resuming and completing the Soviet phase after finishing with the Chinese. Gromyko at first said he thought this would be all right but later came back to the matter and said he hoped that we would not make these plans definite yet. He indicated that he felt the general principle should be established before we talked with the Chinese. I then asked him how long he thought that would take and he expressed the opinion that we should be able to cover everything in another two days, and certainly finish up not later than Monday. The President then suggested that we start with the Chinese on Tuesday, to which Gromyko agreed. We had considerable discussion about the question as to whether all four powers should sign the same document and I argued strongly for that course of action, following the Moscow pattern. Gromyko commented that I had mentioned this to him yesterday. I inquired of the President if he wished the signing to take place at the White House. As he would be away from Washington and would not be there to witness it, he said he felt we should have a formal ceremony at the signing and that it should take place at Dumbarton Oaks. He said we must be certain it will feature full agreement, full understanding, and complete unanimity of the four great powers of the world.

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Meeting with Sir Alexander Cadogan and Ambassador Gromyko

I met privately with Ambassador Gromyko and Sir Alexander at the invitation of the former for the express purpose of eliminating as many brackets as possible. We reached agreement that provision should be made for an economic and social council along the general lines of our proposal. Sir Alexander and I agreed to the reinstatement of the expulsion provision so that now both suspension and expulsion will be covered in the document. I announced that we are prepared reluctantly to agree that the normal vote of the Council could be but a simple majority, if it should prove necessary in order to reach agreement on the joint recommendations as a whole. Sir Alexander reserved in order to consult his Government on this specific point. We reached agreement that the Council should be in continuous session. Sir Alexander and I agreed that in addition to considering the regulation of armaments, the organization should be empowered to consider the question of disarmament. The phrasing [Page 788] of these provisions remains to be worked out. (As does the language of the economic and social council.) This results in bringing the list of open items to the following.

Initial membership (the question of whether the Associated Nations should be included as well as the United Nations).
The vital question of voting when a great power is involved in a dispute.
Sites for bases, although we gathered that the Soviet group is not pressing this as hard as they had been.
International air force. We seemed to be getting nearer together on this although final agreement has not yet been reached.
Assistance to states suffering loss as a result of carrying out decisions of the Council. The Soviet group still reserves, but not very strongly, on this issue.

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  1. For documentation on the Yalta Conference of President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, and Marshal Stalin, February 4–11, 1945, see Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, pp. 549 ff.
  2. Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Hurley, Personal Representative of President Roosevelt in China.
  3. Reference is probably to telegram 3328, September 5, 1944, from Moscow, reporting a conversation between Donald Nelson (Chairman of the War Production Board) and Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov. General Hurley accompanied Mr. Nelson to Moscow and apparently was present at the conversation. For an extract from the telegram summarizing Mr. Molotov’s remarks, see Department of State, United States Relations With China, p. 71.
  4. See infra.