501.BB/10–2646

Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Acheson) to the Secretary of State

secret

Subject: Russian Proposal with Respect to Troops in Non-Enemy States

There is attached hereto the memorandum from Mr. Bevin8 which I mentioned to you on the telephone the evening of Wednesday, [Page 967]October 23, while you were still in New York. The British Embassy, in leaving it with us, emphasized that it was a personal message from Mr. Bevin for you.

Also on Wednesday, General Sir Henry Maitland Wilson of the British Joint Chiefs of Staff mission left a similar memorandum at General Eisenhower’s office (the General was not available). General Norstad9 immediately informed us of this and said that he was sure the General would wish to afford the British Joint Chiefs the courtesy of hearing General Wilson’s arguments. General Norstad said that as our Joint Chiefs would be meeting on Friday, October 25, he would see that the British representations were made by then and a Joint Chiefs’ decision reached this week. Meanwhile he knew that General Eisenhower would wish to recommend to the Department that no action be taken by us in New York until General Wilson’s presentation of the British views had been obtained. In the light of my conversations with you, General Norstad was assured that we would take no action prior to your return next Monday.

On Friday, October 25, we learned that General Eisenhower had told General Wilson that he had never thought that military considerations were involved in the issue, and that after Mr. Churchill’s inquiry in the House of Commons about total Soviet forces outside of Russia he thought the British had no case at all. We were told that the Joint Chiefs will make no further recommendation to the Department, which means they were not impressed by any military aspects of General Wilson’s arguments.

Our Delegation in New York was also informed on the evening of Wednesday, October 23, that they should take no action on this matter until further communication to them following your return next week. They were also told that the British will not oppose the item going on the agenda and, of course, neither should our Delegation.

The British Embassy was also informed on Wednesday evening, October 23, that we would take no action in New York until your return next week.

The British Embassy has informed us that Mr. Bevin is sailing on the Aquitania on Saturday, October 26, and is due to arrive in New York the following Saturday, November 2. It is quite possible that as early as Wednesday or Thursday, October 30 and 31, the Soviet proposal will be taken up for discussion in Committee 1 (Political and Security) on which Senator Connally is our representative. The Delegation has, not unnaturally, been pressing us for our position on this subject. If it is raised for formal discussion in committee before you have a chance to confer with Mr. Bevin it may be embarrassing unless Senator Connally is authorized to take a definite position either of [Page 968]simple opposition to the Soviet motion or of proposing an amendment to include ex-enemy states. Having this in mind, Mr. Cohen observed to Mr. Maclean of the British Embassy, when Mr. Maclean brought in Mr. Bevin’s personal message to you on Wednesday, October 23, that while in response to Mr. Bevin’s request you might (as in fact you did a few hours later) be able to agree that we would take no affirmative action before the General Committee or in plenary sessions of the Assembly when the agenda was being adopted, other than to support the inclusion of the Russian item on the agenda, it might be necessary for us to propose our amendment to the Russian proposal if the subject came up in committee before Mr. Bevin’s arrival here. This warning has been communicated to Mr. Bevin by the British Embassy.

The British Embassy have informed us that in view of the considerations set forth in the preceding paragraph their delegation in New York will seek to postpone consideration of the Russian proposal in Committee I until after Mr. Bevin’s arrival. We have informally asked our delegation not to oppose such a British proposal. (In view of the British Embassy’s request that their representations be regarded as top secret, we have not informed our delegation on this point and have merely said that you were personally considering our position). On the basis of our latest information from New York, we think that other items now on Committee I’s agenda will keep the issue from arising until after Mr. Bevin’s arrival. If it should arise, a British proposal for postponement would almost certainly be accepted.

In view of the foregoing I should like to recommend that you promptly send the attached wire to Mr. Bevin on the Aquitania stating that as he knows you were glad in response to his request to drop our intention to take positive action in the General Committee or in plenary sessions of the Assembly and that you will be glad to confer with him about the matter upon his arrival, but that in the unlikely event the Russian proposal is raised in committee before he arrives, you feel it necessary to instruct our Delegation to propose an amendment of the proposal expanding it to cover ex-enemy states. The British Embassy has facilities for sending messages in code to Mr. Bevin on the Aquitania. I also recommend that a day or so later the Delegation be authorized to propose our broadening amendment if the proposal comes before Committee I before you communicate further with them, and that in talking to other Delegations who may inquire as to our views and in response to press inquiries, the Delegation should say that we consider the Russian proposal one-sided inasmuch as it does not cover troops in ex-enemy states.

You may be interested in the attached extract from a summary of [Page 969]press comments on our action in the Security Council when we opposed the same Russian proposal.10

[Annex]

Draft Message From Secretary Byrnes To Be Sent to Foreign Minister Bevin Aboard the Aquitania 11

I have carefully considered the message which you sent to me on October 23 about the Soviet item on allied troops abroad. In view of your problems on this subject I was glad, as a result of your request that we take no action until you and I have an opportunity of discussing the matter further, to give up our plan of promptly informing the Assembly that we favor amending the Soviet proposal to include troops in ex-enemy states. I will, of course, be very glad to discuss this whole matter with you on your arrival but the course of events in the General Assembly may force us to state our position before you and I can confer further. Consequently, I want you to realize that in the unlikely event that this issue is raised for discussion in the appropriate committee of the General Assembly before you and I have been able to discuss the matter, our representative will state that we consider the Soviet proposal one-sided, inasmuch as it excludes the ex-enemy states, and will propose an amendment covering the ex-enemy states if an actual proposal along the lines of the Soviet thesis is presented to the committee.

  1. Ante, p. 962.
  2. Maj. Gen. Lauris Norstad, Director of Plans and Operations, War Department General Staff.
  3. The summary of press comments is not printed.
  4. Delivered to the British Embassy on October 28 for transmittal to Mr. Bevin; see Mr. Hiss’ memorandum, October 30, p. 978.