500.CC/1–2745: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman)70

184. ReEmbs 4951, December 21; and 4963, December 22.71 The Department appreciates the importance of the article by H. Malinin which appeared in War and the Working Class No. 24 of December 15. For your guidance if the matter arises for informal discussion, the Department recognizes that the provisions on Regional Arrangements in Chapter VIII, Section C will need further elaboration and definition.

The Department agrees with the point of view that regional “blocs” or “spheres of influence” as defined in the article are undesirable. In other words the Department does not favor regional blocs directed potentially or in fact against other states or associations of states. Similarly it is opposed to the establishment of spheres of influence created by exclusive agreements of rival powers.

The “Security Zones” proposed by Malinin would require close scrutiny. Their acceptability would have to be determined by their conformity with the text laid down in Chapter VIII, Section C. That is, in their purposes and activities they would have to be consistent with the purposes and principles of the organization. In keeping with this consideration their primary purpose should be the maintenance through mutual action of peace and security within the respective regions. It would be an absolute condition of their acceptability that there must be no interference with the independence of the states within the zones.

The second condition put forward by Malinin for the establishment of security zones is open to serious question. According to him demarkation of frontiers and areas as between zones should only be achieved as a result of agreement between the chief powers of a particular continent. While there might be no objection to delimitation of areas by voluntary agreement of the states concerned (not only the leading ones) for purposes of fixing responsibility for security action on a regional basis, it should be recalled that under Chapter [Page 35] VIII, Section C, Paragraph 3 the Security Council is to be kept fully informed regarding the security, aspects of regional arrangements. The firm implication is that all such arrangements should be consonant with the responsibility of the, Security Council to maintain peace and security and it is furthermore clear that the Security Council would always have the power to take cognizance of any situation within any region which might lead to a threat to the peace and that no regional arrangement could undertake enforcement action without authorization by the Security Council. Any regional arrangement or understanding which did not make clear provision to this effect would in our opinion violate the intent of the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals.

In the light of a preliminary study the Department thinks it would be unwise to divide the General Assembly, of the Organization into four sections. The founding of general international organization upon regional substructures would be of doubtful service to security. While some form of regional assembly committees might possibly be found convenient for certain purposes any definite proposals at this time are regarded as premature. The Department’s primary concern is the creation of a strong and effective overall international organization. It is to be feared that the proposal of plans for a decentralization of the international organization or its organs along the lines advanced in the article under discussion would complicate the problem of achieving the establishment of the Organization and would impair its effectiveness. Thus it would appear advisable to postpone any discussion of moves toward decentralization certainly until after the international organization is firmly established.

  1. Summary of this telegram was transmitted by Acting Secretary Grew to Secretary Stettinius at Yalta in telegram of February 5 [6]; for text, see Conferences at Malta and Yalta, p. 954.
  2. Neither printed. Telegram 4951, December 21, transmitted the translation of an article, “On the Question of the Creation of an International Security Organization”, signed by Nikolai Malinin (500.CC/12–2144); in telegram 4963, December 22, Ambassador Harriman requested the Department’s reaction to the article in the event that the question of regional security should come up informally with the Assistant People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union, Maxim Maximovich Litvinov, or other Soviet officials. The article, Ambassador Harriman indicated, evidently emanated from high Soviet circles and the signature “Malinin” was probably a pseudonym for Litvinov. (500.CC/12–2244)