RSC Lot 60–D 224, Box 96: U.S. Cr. Min. 11 (Exec)

Minutes of the Eleventh Meeting (Executive Session) of the United States Delegation, Held at Washington, Tuesday, April 17, 1945, 9 a.m.

[Unofficial Notes—Extracts]

[Here follows list of persons (38) present at meeting.]

Trusteeship Arrangements

The meeting was called to order by Secretary Stettinius at 9:05 a.m.

Mr. Stettinius announced that he had asked the Secretaries of War and Navy to meet briefly with the American Delegation this morning in order to discuss the question of trusteeship.8 It was hoped that it would be possible to work out a policy recommendation on this question in the meeting for submission to the President. Mr. Stettinius emphasized that there was to be no discussion outside of the meeting room on this question until President Truman has reached a decision as to the policy which this Government will follow.

Statement by Secretary Stettinius on Trusteeship

Mr. Stettinius traced briefly the history of the trusteeship question. He pointed out that the subject did not come up at Dumbarton Oaks. There was fear that any discussion of trusteeship at those conversations might lead to difficulties and complications in connection with the prosecution of the war. At the request of the Army and the Navy, therefore, who particularly feared that a discussion of trusteeship at that time might lead to disagreement among the Allies on questions affecting territories in the Pacific, the subject was not included in the agenda. At Yalta the matter was reviewed by [Page 312] President Roosevelt, Marshal Stalin, and Prime Minister Churchill. It was agreed there that the powers who had participated in the Dumbarton Oaks conversations and who were sponsoring the United Nations Conference would meet in preliminary consultations prior to the United Nations Conference on this question. These preliminary consultations have not taken place. Invitations have been sent out to the other nations involved, and their representatives are here, but the consultations have not been held because the three Departments, Army, Navy, and State, have not been able to agree on a paper as the basis of discussion with the representatives of the other nations.

Mr. Stettinius further announced that the Secretaries of War and Navy and himself had met and had agreed upon a paper on a policy statement for presentation to the President.

Mr. Stettinius pointed out that on the diplomatic side it was felt that we would be in a weak position if we cannot deal with the question of trusteeship in some way at the San Francisco Conference. The Department, he said, is in complete agreement with the Army and Navy with respect to the necessity for full protection of our security interests, but the Department also appreciates the difficulty in which this country would find itself if it should lay itself open to the charge of expansionist ambitions by pursuing a policy of annexation. An annexation policy would be contrary to the policy consistently followed by the late President Roosevelt. Mr. Stettinius concluded by stating that he and the Secretaries of War and Navy felt that they had arrived at an agreeable solution and he asked Secretary Stimson if he would wish to make a statement on the subject.

Statement by Secretary Stimson

Secretary Stimson stated that the position of the War and Navy Departments has been, and Secretary Forrestal and himself feel strongly, that under no circumstances should anything be done which would prevent the American Government and Delegation from presenting a united front at San Francisco. This, said Secretary Stimson , tended to put Secretary Forrestal and himself in a somewhat difficult position. He stated that he knew nothing of the Yalta agreement on trusteeship until the results were made public.

Secretary Stimson continued that in the treatment of the question of trusteeship it is imperative from the standpoint of the safety of the United States that there should be an understanding of the difference between the kind of bases we feel essential to the safety of the United States in the Pacific and the territories out of which the whole system of mandates and trusteeship has grown. Secretary Stimson expressed the view that the question of mandates in the last war was completely different from the question of bases in this war. The [Page 313] territories dealt with at the end of the last war were the colonies of Germany and the territories to be taken from Turkey. These were colonies and territories with substantial economic resources and significant populations. With respect to them there was a danger of an exploitation of the resources and the populations by the enemy nations, and there was also a little difficulty of possible acquisitive tendencies among the victorious nations. These territories were disposed of in such way that a strong light played on their population and resources. This was done in order to prevent their exploitation. These big territories were therefore held as a trust of the world, although that objective grew slimmer and slimmer as the years wore on.

This was the basis of President Roosevelt’s position in this war. We in the United States have no desire, for the acquisition of any kind of territory, but the kind of bases, said Secretary Stimson , which those in the military departments are interested in are primarily not exploitable bases. Some of them have almost no population and almost no resources, and many of them are mere atolls in the Pacific.

The purpose for which we anticipate that such bases will be used in the future may be appraised by an examination of United States history. The United States has been, and particularly through this war, not an exploiting nation. We have been fighting a battle of freedom and justice. We have not sought to exploit any territory beyond our own lands. The United States has been seeking to keep the Pacific in a condition of freedom, and it is for this that we have fought and it is for this that we have already, rescued Australia and the Philippines and that we are preparing to rescue China and the Netherlands East Indies. These things are inextricably connected. The United States is not taking a selfish attitude but is nevertheless much concerned that its own safety will be preserved.

Secretary Stimson remarked that this peculiar position of the United States in the Pacific has not been made clear in the press reports and in the discussions of this subject. If anyone is looking for an exploiter the United States can say, “don’t look here”.

This, said Secretary Stimson , is the background of the question. The next question concerns the methods of insuring that safety which we must have. For that we civilians must turn to our military advisers, who are experts on these questions. It is clear that the nation on whom responsibility for defense and security is thrust needs bases. If we are to have a naval base, for example, it is absolutely essential that there be complete control of that base. Naval bases are just as essential as battleships and supply lines. The advice of the naval and military officers is that control of a base must be complete, and Secretary Stimson pointed out that he was deliberately avoiding the use of “sovereignty”. What he had in mind was that [Page 314] management over such areas must be complete. This would be the only insurance against espionage, and the only means of protecting military installations.

The Secretary explained that President Truman was waiting to meet the Delegation and that they would return to the meeting within a few minutes. The Delegates left at 9:24 a.m.9

On their return Secretary Stettinius stated that he had mentioned to the President the fact that the Delegates and the Advisers were engaged this morning in a discussion of the question of trusteeship. The President stated that he would meet the Secretaries of State, War and Navy whenever the discussions on trusteeship were completed.

Continuing his statement Secretary Stimson observed that the interests which he and Secretary Forrestal were trying to protect in these discussions did not infringe on the concept of trusteeship. To a large extent, he said, it is a question of the atolls which this country will have to keep, and it is also necessary to avoid the paths of danger for possibly aggressive nations. He called attention to the error of our ways after the last war, and this, he said, had been burnt into his soul. After the last war, when the question of the disposition of the mandates to Japan was up for consideration, Mr. Wilson had been approached on the effect it would have on the Philippines.10 We had for twenty years been building up the Philippines.

Secretary Stimson stated that when he went to the Philippines in 1928 it had been his duty as Governor General11 to know the defense lines. Everyone knew then that Corregidor and the Philippines were defenseless even with the power of the United States. The Secretary of War continued that it was then his unhappy fate that what he predicted would happen and what we had known would happen did happen. He stated that he was at the other end at that time and saw that fate carried out on those doomed islands under our Flag. We tried to get arms to them but could not sail the seas or fly our planes because we were cut off by Jap-held bases. Reinforcement was practically impossible. We had to see those doomed men, the garrison at Corregidor, and that Commonwealth trampelled under by unspeakable methods of warfare,12 all because we had allowed the gates to be [Page 315] shut between us and those wards of ours. Our obligations and ties, he emphasized, will not be a bit less moral after the Philippines achieve their independence. They speak our language; they practice our religion; we must keep that gate open.

Secretary Stimson continued that after the last war we accepted the mandates system and then committed a further folly—the Four-Power Treaty13—which made the doom of those men in the Philippines even more certain. We saw what happened to the mandates and to the Four-Power Treaty when an aggressor power was on the loose. We cannot afford to make the same mistake twice. The role of the United States between East China and the Philippines must be such as to guarantee our ability to protect the Philippines. We cannot allow the necessity of the draftsmanship of the artifices of treaty-making to destroy what we in common sense know must be done. There are two essentials: (1) the United States must be affirmatively provided with full power over necessary protective bases; (2) we must have our eyes peeled as to what aggressive-minded but now quiet nations may wish to do. This can be worked out within the framework of international cooperation.

Secretary Stettinius expressed thanks to Secretary Stimson for his statement.

Statement by Secretary Forrestal

Secretary Forrestal was then called upon to make a statement. The Secretary of the Navy began by saying that he was conscious of the fact that we are not the makers of policy. He considered it a restatement of the obvious to say that the world recognizes that the security of the Pacific depends upon the United States and therefore on the air and naval power of the United States. It follows, therefore, that the United States must have the means to implement this responsibility. The Navy, he observed, was in a difficult position because there was uncertainty as to what we are responsible for, and he appreciated this opportunity to present what naval people think they need.

Secretary Forrestal emphasized that he was not talking about isolated bases—pin points—but a system of defense in the Pacific. He then outlined the four essential American defense routes in the Pacific in 1943 and stated that we had lost the middle route which interdicted in the number one route, had only a toe-hold in the third route and decided to hold the fourth route in the South at all costs. We were able to make our hold on the third route firm after Guadalcanal.

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Secretary Forrestal stated that in the present draft the Navy people would like and would hope that that concept would be approved that whatever abstract ideas of trusteeship may be evolved there will be no commitment with respect to the islands in the Pacific which the United States occupies or will occupy without naval approval. Secretary Forrestal stated it as his view that American retention of power in such islands would not be inconsistent with the items embodied in the trusteeship concept. Power must remain with the people who hate power.

Secretary Stimson stated at this point that it was his understanding that this would be an executive session and that discussion should be confined to this session.

Discussion on Trusteeship

Secretary Stettinius pledged on behalf of the Delegation and all others present that the statements made in this meeting would be confined to this room.

Senator Connally observed that the chief difficulty would appear to be the kind of tenure the United States would have in the island bases. He pointed out that some theorists hold that title to the mandated territories is vested in the League of Nations. Senator Connally stated that he was in entire agreement that the United States should not come out of this war stripped of the strategic bases in the Pacific which are necessary to the security of this country and of the world. He remarked that we may have some difficulty with other nations with respect to the kind of tenure we will have in these islands.

Senator Vandenberg inquired whether any of the essential bases have any substantial population. Secretary Stimson stated it as his understanding that most of them have little or no population. Senator Connally inquired if any consideration had been given to the possibility of American bases on New Caledonia. Secretary Forrestal stated that consideration had been given to this matter in connection with the development of a strategic system in the Pacific under which we may need to have rights in places such as New Caledonia.

Representative Bloom inquired whether the original mandates were outright possessions and whether the terms of transfer from the mandate status to the trusteeship status would have something to do with our position in them.

Secretary Stimson stated that the mandatory was the trustee and could not fortify the mandated territories. He repeated that under a new system the United States must have full control in strategic areas and that this is not a question of who is the trustee or holds title. The question, he said, is really one of management involving full control, including the right to fortify.

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Representative Eaton emphasized the importance of building up a strategic system and that this would be our responsibility for being out there. He stated that it would never be possible to get anything through Congress that didn’t protect American interests in the Pacific.

Commander Stassen stated that these bases are as an essential a part of our armament as guns and ships. It is essential that these land bases must be under our own control. In some places there may be joint international bases, but these should not and cannot take the place of or interfere with our own defense network, but in the base areas for which we will be responsible we do have an obligation to protect the native population and not to exploit selfishly the economic resources of the area. We should agree that we will not do this and should accept an accountability for our administration.

Senator Connally suggested the Army and the Navy might prepare a memorandum of the bases they would need.

Secretary Stettinius read a recommendation which had been drawn up by the Secretaries of War, Navy and State.14 In these two paragraphs, he said, it was the feeling of the three Secretaries that the situation might be covered, and the approval of the recommendation was suggested to the Delegation, prior to its submission to the President. Secretary Stettinius added that he would think it advisable to make this statement public prior to the San Francisco Conference because of the wide public interest and discussion of the subject. The statement was read to the Delegation.

Commander Stassen objected to the phrase “we do not seek annexation of territory”, and Secretary Forrestal explained that annexation would be considered only as a last resort. Representative Eaton observed that while the United States would not seek annexation, it would undertake it if it became necessary.

Commander Stassen remarked that in his view it would be carrying forward a confusion in thinking to employ the words “we do not seek the annexation of territory”. Secretary Stimson pointed out that at San Francisco the machinery of the system would be constructed, but there would be no determination of what territories would go under it.

Commander Stassen stated that it should be the policy of this Government that any bases which are essential to the security of the world and to our own security would be held in trusteeship, and that we would define the terms of the trusteeship. Secretary Stimson observed that he preferred that approach, but that he recognized that the Secretary of State is confronted by certain reactions. Senator Connally said that he saw no objection to taking Japanese territory.

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Dean Gildersleeve remarked that on the whole she agreed with Commander Stassen’s statement. We should, she said, make it clear that we don’t intend to grab, but we do intend to hold what is necessary for our security.

Senator Connally said that we are going to take these islands and hold them, but if we hold them under trusteeship we might get in difficulty with our Allies. The implication, however, is clear that we are going to take them and hold them. In his view we would be doing too little too fast in making a public statement. He said that it might be advisable to make a clear declaration, but that it should not be published at this time.

The Secretary stated that all that is wanted is to agree on United States policy with respect to the subject of trusteeship at San Francisco.

Senator Vandenberg stated that Congressional opinion is totally in sympathy with the position of the Secretaries of War and Navy. He suggested the substitution of “indispensable” for “necessary” in the next to the last line of the statement, and the deletion of the reference to annexation. Secretary Forrestal stated that he would prefer the retention of the word “necessary” and Senator Vandenberg withdrew his suggestion.

Dr. Bowman stated that Secretary Stimson had used an expression which might stick in the minds of all present, and that was the Secretary’s warning against putting our trust in a network of treaties. All conditions require that we cannot turn these islands over to a network of treaties, he said. We must remain in them. It is very easy to talk on that side of the problem. Moreover, it is no good assuming that we solve the problem by an appeal to the patriotism of the people. It is a question of timing. If we take unilateral action we destroy what we are going to San Francisco to achieve. We have been led into a situation in which the world expects us to do something on trusteeship. We are faced with such questions as whether we wish Somaliland to go to the British. We will have to participate in its disposition. What in this situation is our safeguard? It is in the fact that we have set up a principle—a principle of trusteeship in the interests of the natives.

Dr. Bowman stated, however, that he was not ready to discuss a text he had not seen, but that he could be ready to discuss it on the following morning after an opportunity to study it.

He continued that it would be possible for this country to participate within the framework of a trusteeship system without any impairment of our military necessities. He stated that he would be willing to take the military version of this system without quibble, but he emphasized that it is important to nail down the position on the other side—that no matter how few the people in a particular [Page 319] territory, to insure that our obligation to those people will be discharged, because if this should be given up there would be no defense at all in dealing with Britain and Russia. We would be at the bar of opinion, and if we accept the trusteeship system we will be able to say that we have taken a position.

Commander Stassen observed that it appeared that Dr. Bowman had misinterpreted the position of the Delegation. There was no intention to retreat from the idea of a trusteeship system, and there is a recognition and acceptance of the fact that we must account for what we do in territories for which we are responsible, but there must be a distinction in the degree or in the terms of the trusteeship in the strategic areas on the basis of military requirements. Commander Stassen pointed out that he had spoken about the desirability of trusteeship two or three years ago and that he had no intention of retreating one whit from the needs and the right of the peoples of such territories.

Mr. Bloom inquired whether there might be several kinds of trusteeship, and Commander Stassen replied that in some areas the trustee would be an individual nation; in others the trustee would be a joint agent.

Senator Connally cautioned that it would be proceeding on a very tenuous basis if it should be assumed that this country is going to get what it needs easily.

Mr. Taussig suggested that if it should be decided, as Dr. Bowman had implied, that there could not be agreement on a statement at this meeting, that then the military people might outline their needs.

Views of Interdepartmental Committee

Mr. Pasvolsky remarked that it is necessary for us to decide quickly the basis on which we would wish to negotiate. He pointed out that the interdepartmental committee on trusteeship had been working on this problem for some time and outlined the points on which agreement had been reached in this Committee. The trusteeship system was to be established under the Organization. There would be no reference to the territories to be placed under the system. The basic objectives would be broadly stated and there would be procedures and machinery on the basis of which the system would operate. Each territory would be subject to a separate agreement. A distinction would be made between the strategic and nonstrategic areas. The trusteeship arrangements would take into account such factors as the geographical situation of the territory; the stage of development of the people, its economic resources, etc.

Mr. Pasvolsky pointed out that under this system it would be entirely possible for the United States to control any territory it might [Page 320] need and want. With respect to the question as to who are the title holders, Mr. Pasvolsky noted that the policy had been laid down by former Secretary of State Hull to the effect that the title is vested in the peace treaties. The initial arrangements affecting the Japanese mandated islands, therefore, would have to be made between the three residual Principal Allied and Associated Powers, namely, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. On this basis, said Mr. Pasvolsky , nothing could be settled affecting these territories without United States consent.

General Discussion on Trusteeship

Secretary Stimson pointed out that the United States would also have established certain rights of title deriving from occupation of the islands. Mr. Pasvolsky affirmed this, adding that our position would be actually one of the three title holders, and we would also be in possession.

Secretary Stimson observed that he would be opposed to the suggestion made by Mr. Taussig of detailing the military needs. If this were attempted, he pointed out, something would surely be left out. Governor Stassen added that in any case this would be done in the Charter for each specific territory as it was placed under the system.

Mr. Dulles observed that there was in his view not a real difficulty involved. The trusteeship was originally a legal device and it was not intended to deal with military questions such as those under discussion. The new organization, he said, should have the authority to look into the condition of colonial peoples. This, he said, is not inconsistent with the right of military defenses. He could see no conflict in this respect. All that is needed, continued Mr. Dulles , is to set up an organization with the power to look into these questions.

Mr. Fortas remarked that the problem of dependent peoples has in the past created a great deal of unrest in the world, and it will continue to do so. He referred to the work of the interdepartmental committee as showing the possibility of achieving strategic needs on the one hand and at the same time of erecting machinery to meet the needs of the dependent peoples on the other. In the view of Mr. Fortas it is entirely possible to reconcile these two points. With respect to the question of annexation, Mr. Fortas pointed out that if we were to confine our discussion to the Japanese mandates a simple result could follow—they could be annexed, but he cautioned, if that were to be done, if the United States were to take a position in favor of annexation, an international grab bag would surely follow. In that event we might well find that our tremendous military and security interests in other parts of the world would be prejudiced. Mr. Fortas [Page 321] also advised that an effort should be made to avoid becoming legalistic on these questions.

Mr. Stettinius suggested that a redraft of the statement be undertaken for the purpose of establishing United States policy for submission to the press.

Secretary Stimson stated that he had taken an extreme position in his statement and that what is really wished by the military people is “full control”.

Mr. Stettinius inquired whether he represented the view of the Delegation accurately in assuming that they would wish more time to study the question. It was agreed that the matter would be taken up at the meeting of the Delegation on the following day.

Commander Stassen stated that he was opposed to complete annexation of any territory by this country.

The Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Navy, and the military advisers and staff left the meeting.

Press Statement on Work of the Delegation 15

. . . . . . .

Further Topics for Discussion

The Secretary asked what further topics remained for discussion. Mr. Pasvolsky indicated that there were three important points of substance still to be covered: (1) amendments, (2) an introductory statement on Chapter IX, Arrangements for Economic and Social Cooperation, and (3) completion of the discussion of domestic jurisdiction. Mr. Pasvolsky recommended that the three questions listed on the Agenda for discussion with advisers for Commission 4 should be studied by the staff between now and its arrival in San Francisco, and that recommendations would then be made to the Delegation. The Secretary asked which questions Mr. Pasvolsky referred to, and Mr. Pasvolsky replied that the three questions were: (1) juridical status, (2) registration of treaties, and (3) inconsistent obligations.

At Mr. Pasvolsky’s suggestion it was generally agreed that the Agenda the following day would include: (1) trusteeships, (2) amendments, (3) domestic jurisdiction, and (4) reconsideration of Chapter IX, Section A—Economic and Social cooperation—and that following the clearing up of these points the Delegation would begin its general review of the decisions made during this series of meetings. Mr. Pasvolsky suggested that discussion of Chapter X could be deferred until San Francisco, and the Secretary agreed.

Language of Report of Jurists’ Committee

The Secretary announced that Mr. Hackworth had a question he wished to raise with the Delegation.

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Mr. Hackworth commented that the question was a very important one but that it would take only a brief time for him to present it. The question, he said, was what language the report of the Jurists’ Committee and the draft statute of the court should be printed in. He reported that the Soviet Union wished to print the report in five languages, and that a heated debate had taken place on this matter,16 since there was considerable opposition to printing the report in any languages other than English and French.

The Secretary commented that it had been agreed by the sponsoring governments that they would recommend that there would be five official languages at the Conference and that all basic documents would be published in these five languages. He thought, therefore, that the suggestion of the Soviet Union was quite in line with our position. Mr. Hackworth explained that the British representative had apparently not heard of this decision and that there was some confusion, although the point the Secretary had made had been stated during informal discussions following the main meeting. Mr. Hackworth noted that it would be very difficult to find adequate time to prepare five translations, and that it would be impossible to postpone the translations until San Francisco, since some of the individuals not going to San Francisco would have to sign the document here. On the initiative of the Secretary the Delegation agreed that the report of the Committee of Jurists together with the statute of the court should be published in five languages. Mr. Hackworth asked whether he was authorized to tell the Jurists’ Group that this system of five languages had been agreed upon for the main Conference. The Secretary said that Mr. Hackworth should simply agree to the Soviet proposal that five languages be used in printing the jurists’ report and that he leave the other question in the hands of the delegation. He added that this was one of the questions which would be talked over with Mr. Molotov.

Mr. Hackworth noted that to use other than English and French opened too many demands for other languages, including Greek for example, and that the larger number of languages that were recognized the more feelings would be hurt. The Secretary explained that the political experts had given considerable attention to this question, and had advised him that French, Spanish, Chinese, Russian and English should be adopted as official languages. He thought if there were more time to discuss the matter a good justification could be made for this decision.

The Secretary said that he had heard very good reports of the work of the Jurists’ Committee and of Mr. Hackworth’s chairmanship, [Page 323] and that he assumed that everything was going well and the revised statute would be ready for San Francisco. Mr. Hackworth commented that there had been many difficulties, but that good progress had been made and a statute would be ready. He stressed that the spirit throughout had been cooperative.

. . . . . . .

The Secretary adjourned the meeting at 11:45 a.m.

  1. For summaries of views exchanged at the meeting of April 17, see Henry L. Stimson, On Active Service in Peace and War, pp. 601–602; Walter Millis (ed.), The Forrestal Diaries, p. 45; and Arthur S. Vandenberg, Jr. (ed.), The Private Papers of Senator Vandenberg , p. 169.
  2. No memorandum of conversation between President Truman and the delegation found in Department files.
  3. For an explanation of the United States interest in the Japanese mandated islands, in relation to the Philippines, see memorandum by the Third Assistant Secretary of State (Long), December 14, 1918, Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vol. ii, p. 512. For the attitude expressed by President Wilson, see David Hunter Miller, My Diary at the Conference of Paris, vol. i, p. 100.
  4. See Henry L. Stimson, On Active Service in Peace and War, pp. 117 ff.
  5. See Louis Morton, The Fall of the Philippines, in the official Army history United States Army in World War II: The War in the Pacific (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1953).
  6. For the treaty between the United States, the British Empire, France, and Japan, signed at Washington, December 13, 1921, see Foreign Relations, 1922, vol. i, p. 33; Department of State Treaty Series Nos. 669 and 670; or 43 Stat, (pt. 2) 1646 and 1652.
  7. Draft recommendation not found in Department files; for final draft, see memorandum to President Truman, April 18, p. 350.
  8. See Department of State Bulletin, April 22, 1945, p. 724.
  9. See summary of tenth meeting (Jurist 58, G/46, April 16, 1945), UNCIO Documents, vol. 14, pp. 212 ff.