The Representative in Bulgaria
(Barnes) to the Acting Secretary of State
332. I consider the position taken in the Pres message to Stalin1 (Dept’s 168, June 82) to be the only feasible one with respect to recognition of the Bulgarian Govt. (This is reply to Dept’s 181, June 213).
In my tel 257, May 192 I expressed the opinion that the time when official representations direct to the Bulgarian Govt could be made, should be hastened by us. This opinion was based on extreme doubt that our participation of [in?] the AC[C] could ever become effective. It was also based on the assumption that until a popularly elected Govt has taken office the reestablishment of official relations with Bulgaria is out of the question. Nothing has occurred since to cause me to alter my views. In fact, subsequent developments in Bulgaria have served to strengthen me in the opinion that for the time being our total effort should be devoted to convincing everyone concerned with the conduct of the forthcoming elections, with participation therein and with the outcome thereof, that the democratic powers will not conclude a treaty of peace with any minority-dominated Bulgarian Govt, In this connection please see my tels 302 and 303 of June 7; 311, June 11; 320 and 321 of June 16.4
I assumed if we were prepared to recognize a Govt we would also be prepared to negotiate peace with that Govt. Certainly the present Communist dominated Govt is not one with which we should be prepared to conclude a peace treaty, even though we do desire, as I think we should, to shorten the armistice period to the briefest time possible. To recognize the present Govt or any Govt that might issue from Communist-rigged elections could only confirm the Russians in their maximum objectives in this country at the expense of Bulgarian independence.
Seven months of observing the Russians in Bulgaria has convinced me that their maximum objectives here are:
- Establishment of a one-party system with Communist influence dominant in the single party;
- Assimilation of the royal militia to the Russian NKVD;
- Utmost expansion of Bulgaro-Soviet economic ties and limitation of Bulgar economic relations with other countries;
- Complete control of Bulgar Army through less trained and communist formed [sic] officers on general staff and “purification” of the Bulgar military establishment in the sense of creating a “peoples army” with political commissars (assistant commanders) assigned to each subdivision thereof;
- Use of Bulgaria as a stepping stone to seizure and retention of control of the Dardanelles and
- Use of Bulgarian [ Bulgaria] and Yugo to assure access to the Med. If Yugo cannot provide Trieste, and Albania the outlet from the Adriatic then a Bulgaro-Yugo federation can perhaps ensure Salonica to Russia’s plans.
These, in my opinion, are Russ maximum objectives here. I also believe that insofar as Russ may be allowed to rest and recuperate from her exhaustive [exhausting?] efforts of the past four years so may she be expected to become insistent upon maximum solutions and scornful of compromise. I therefore believe that now is the moment for maximum resistance to Russ designs in all areas of interest to US with respect to the maintenance of peace and opposition to aggression.
If we are in the poker game of world affairs, and I assume we are, then we should play the game to the best of our ability. I believe that we have more chips than any one at the table. Circumstances in this area suggest that we should play our cards close to the chest but that when we do have a good hand we should not fail to make a bet. It seems, that in the case of elections in Bulgaria we do have a good hand, not four aces but enough to justify a call or even to make a modest bet. If we refuse to play the cards that come our way it hardly seems that we have the right to stay in the game. At any rate, if we do not make a serious effort to bring forth a Govt in Bulgaria in which the democratic elements of the country are effectively represented, we cannot with very good face claim later that we did our best in Bulgaria to carry out our commitments under the armistice terms and the Yalta declaration of [on] liberated Europe or to check the spread of totalitarian Govt.
If efforts to assure free elections fail then, in my opinion, would be the time to take stock again of a thoroughly unsatisfactory situation. If the Communists and the Russians have their way with the elections Russia will no doubt recognize the new Govt when it takes office and at the same time declare the armistice terms fulfilled. Hence the only time left to us during which we may possibly share in shaping the political future of this country for some time to come is between now and elections.
The Brit contention that conclusion of peace with Bulgaria now would entail withdrawal of Soviet troops in my opinion is spurious. On the other hand, conclusion of peace with a Bulgn Govt issuing [Page 384] from free democratic elections would certainly afford the hope that in the event we raised the question with Russia of continued occupation of Bulgaria by its troops we could count not only upon having the mass of Bulgn people behind us, but also the Bulgn Govt. So long as the Govt is dominated by the Communists so [long] will the controlling elements of the Govt oppose us in any efforts to terminate the occupation and favor against us and the future of peace, the designs of Russia as I have outlined them in the second pgh of this tel.
In 1940 and again twice in the spring of 1941 Pierre Laval told me he knew so much more about the strength of Germany than Americans possibly could that any argument that the US would ultimately be at war with the [sic] Germany and Germany would finally be defeated could have no effect upon his decision to have [sic] France along the road of collaboration. Today the situation is much the same with the Communists in Bulgaria, and I fear even with the Zveno group in the present Govt they are convinced of the overwhelming power of Russia in world affairs.
As I see matters so far as Bulgaria is concerned, the hope of the democratic nations must be based on the wide mass of agrarian opinion in this country which remains truly democratic and truly desirous of cooperating with the nations of the west while not ignoring the legitimate right of Russia to insist that never again shall there be a Govt in Bulgaria which will turn the country over as a military spring board to the enemies of Russia. In making a determined effort for free, democratic elections we will, in my opinion, be supporting this overwhelming mass of the Bulgn population in the only way that is left to us.
I realize that much of the foregoing may appear unsubstantiated by chapter and verse and perhaps too personal in the views expressed. Space does not permit citation of chapter and verse. As for the personal nature of the views I can assure the Dept they are fully shared by Gen Crane who has asked me to associate him with them in this tel. I can also say that my Brit colleague5 and Gen Oxley agree with them in the main. Both of them have strongly recommended against recognition of the present govt.
Rptd to Moscow as 178.