Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (MacLeish)

Policy of the Department of State on the Department’s Presentation to the Country of the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals

The Department of State is committed to the proposition that the only effective means of preserving peace in the contemporary world is through international organization.
The Department believes that the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals represent a practical effort to establish the foundations of such an organization.
The Department has no inclination to attempt to “sell” the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals to the country. In informing the country of the terms of the proposals, the Department will indicate not only their possibilities but their limitations. The people are entitled to know how far, and within what limits, the proposals, if adopted, would prevent war. Specifically, the international organization described in the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals would not constitute, in itself and of itself, a guarantee against all wars. Among other necessary correlatives to the proposed organization is the maintenance of good relations between the Great Powers. The proposals do, however, provide a machinery which gives the best present hope of peaceful settlement of disputes.
It is the Department’s policy to welcome criticism of and comment upon, the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals.18 The Department, however, wishes the public to realize that the proposals presented for comment and criticism are proposals developed in careful and extended conversations between representatives of this Government and of other Governments on the basis of studies undertaken over a long period of time by qualified experts. Furthermore, the proposals, to be practically effective, must be proposals such as the Powers constituting the United Nations can and will accept. The Department hopes that the criticisms and comments of the proposals will be made with these considerations in mind.
  1. For comment of Secretary Stettinius on the “unprecedented action by the four powers represented at Dumbarton Oaks” in publishing the proposals for world comment and criticism prior to the discussion of them at the proposed conference of the United Nations, see Charter of the United Nations: Report to the President on the Results of the San Francisco Conference … June 26, 1945, p. 26. For additional information on this subject, see Postwar Foreign Policy Preparation, pp. 378–380.