IO Files: USGA/Ia/Del. Min./Exec/4 (Chr)

Minutes of the Meeting of the United States Delegation (Executive Session), Held at London, Claridge’s Hotel, January 26, 1946, 3:00 p.m.


[Here follow list of names of persons (16) present, and preliminary remarks by Mr. Stettinius about the progress of the work of the General Assembly and its Committees.]

Mr. Stettinius reminded the group that Item 7 of the Security Council agenda concerned the Council’s recommendation to the General Assembly of a candidate for Secretary General. He said there had been a pause of two days and nights on this question, that it was necessary to get ahead but that as a result of the discussion in yesterday’s Delegation meeting he needed to know exactly what the position of the Delegation on this question was and what he should do.

Mr. Stettinius said that he had talked with the Secretary about this matter immediately before the latter left London90 and that it had been agreed that:

Mr. Pearson of Canada was the first choice of the United States and that the Delegation should hold out for him as long as there was hope of his nomination by the Security Council;
If and when it became clear that the nomination of Mr. Pearson was not possible, the second choice of the United States should be Mr. Lie of Norway; and
If and when it developed that Mr. Lie could not be nominated, the third choice of the United States should be Mr. Wellington Koo of China.

[Page 173]

Mr. Cohen agreed that this had been the understanding.

Mr. Stettinius said that the Secretary had told him that he (the Secretary) had talked with Senator Vandenberg concerning this matter and that the Senator had said he would not object to voting for Lie. Mr. Stettinius said, however, that recalling Senator Vanderberg’s statement on this subject at yesterday morning’s Delegation meeting, he thought that the whole matter needed clarification. Mr. Stettinius also recalled the statements of Mr. Dulles and Mr. Walker at yesterday’s meeting.91

Ref erring to the Delegation discussion of the previous morning, Mr. Bohlen said he wished to suggest that in his opinion neither Mr. Lie nor his native country of Norway should be considered as falling within the Russian sphere of influence. Mr. Bohlen observed that the question was not necessarily one of geographical proximity. He said that the only overt pressure that Russia could influence would be through taking action against Norway and this was not to be thought of as a likely probability. He observed that the USSR was not in a position to exercise direct influence on the Norwegian Government itself and that the situation was therefore quite different than if, for example, the Foreign Minister of Poland were to be chosen as Secretary General. Mr. Bohlen said that it was his understanding that Mr. Lie resented any assumption that he was under Russian influence and that Mr. Lie had also stated that he had not been approached by the USSR Delegation on the subject of the Secretary Generalship. Mr. Bohlen also pointed out that the situation would be quite different in the case of a Yugoslav Secretary General but that Norway would not be under USSR influence as much as Czechoslovakia, for example, and indeed the latter was not in the USSR network.

[Page 174]

Mrs. Roosevelt remarked that she and Mr. Townsend had arrived at the same conclusions yesterday. She said that in the course of a luncheon conversation with Mr. Lie yesterday she deduced that Mr. Lie was trying to indicate his independence although he did not directly refer to the subject. Mrs. Roosevelt said that Mr. Townsend had independently formed the same impression. Mrs. Roosevelt observed that obviously if Russia wanted to move against Norway any Norwegian, as Secretary General of the organization, would be in a difficult position. But she observed that the same would be true in the case of China. Mrs. Roosevelt added that with United States backings Norway would be much less apt to fall into the Russian orbit than without such backing.

Mr. Townsend added that he had asked Mr. Lie directly how Mr. Lie thought the question of Secretary Generalship was going and that Mr. Lie had also indicated then that he felt he should be considered as independent of USSR influence. Mr. Bohlen said that Mr. Lie had put the same thought in stronger language the night before.

Mr. Stettinius said he should tell the Delegation that the French Delegation has recently told the Chinese that they (the French) have reason to believe that USSR support will shift to Masaryk92 and that then the USSR Delegation, at the final stage, will give the impression that it reluctantly will accept Lie but only if someone else sponsors him. It was pointed out that whereas Mr. Masaryk had said earlier that he was not available for Secretary General he was now coming around to the position that he would be available and that he might even take an Assistant Secretary Generalship. Mr. Dulles said that a couple of weeks ago he had indicated he would accept the latter.

Senator Connally said he would prefer Lie to Masaryk and observed that any one selected will be charged with being under the influence of one of the great powers.

Mr. Stettinius called on Mr. Pasvolsky for his opinion, observing that Mr. Pasvolsky had given a great deal of thought to this subject over a long period. Mr. Pasvolsky said he thought the contest had narrowed itself to Mr. Lie and Mr. Pearson. … Mr. Pasvolsky recalled that Mr. Gromyko had told him that he would prefer a Slav for the position and Mr. Pasvolsky said that unfortunately the question of the geographic area from which the Secretary General comes was bound to arise. He recalled also that Mr. Bevin had said that he attached no importance to geography but that Canada was, after all, halfway between the danger spots of Europe and the Far East. Mr. Pasvolsky observed that he himself would prefer Mr. Bruce of Australia [Page 175] to Mr. Koo of China. Mr. Stettinius said he thought Mr. Victor Hoo of China better than Bruce. It was generally felt, however, that the time was past for considering new names.

Mrs. Roosevelt declared she was in favor of sticking to the line that the United States Delegation had taken. …

Mr. Pasvolsky said he felt that the only real question was that of who would propose Mr. Lie in case of a deadlock on Mr. Pearson. Mr. Pasvolsky said he felt that the United States should not propose Mr. Lie.

Senator Vandenberg said he was not impressed with what Mr. Lie himself had to say about his independence and Norway’s position. The Senator remarked that the more Mr. Lie, as a candidate, had to say on this subject the less impressed he was. He thought it was inevitable that if Mr. Lie were elected the general impression would be that the USSR candidate for the General Assembly who had been defeated in that election actually was getting a better job. He said he would prefer Mr. Koo to Mr. Lie since he did not doubt but that China would turn to the United States in case of action against China by Russia. Mr. Bohlen pointed out that Mr. Lie as a longtime Socialist was not likely to be under Communist influence.

Senator Vandenberg asked why it should be assumed that Mr. Pearson could not be elected. Mr. Cohen said that the basic reason lay in the need for unanimity of the great powers on this subject under the voting rules of the Security Council where the nomination would be made. He said that rightly or wrongly the Russians might well take the counterpart of the views being expressed at this meeting—they might well take the position that any Anglo-Saxon would be influenced by the United States. Senator Vandenberg said he thought the Russians would be correct in that. Mr. Cohen continued that the search was for a compromise and doubted that it would be possible to find a country that would better satisfy both the USSR and the United States than Norway.

Mr. Pasvolsky said that both the United States Delegation and the USSR probably were wrong in ascribing too much importance to the job of Secretary General. He said the Russians ascribed too much political importance to the job and that the United States’ viewpoint was wrong in ascribing too much political importance to the choice of a man for the job. He continued that it should be possible to find better candidates among the Big Five than Mr. Koo if the understanding were to be broken that no Big Five national should be a candidate. He said, however, that among the smaller powers only Mr. Pearson and Mr. Lie seem possible, and that the United States group should revise its views on the political importance of this action. He [Page 176] said that from a geographical standpoint since the site was in the United States it was logical to think that the Secretary General should be from Europe. He continued that he was not impressed with Senator Vandenberg’s argument that any Secretary General would operate with his country as a hostage. He said that the most serious influence the Secretary General might have would be to affect the speed of the Security Council action. He said, however, that under the rules of procedure likely to be agreed to no individual could hold up a meeting of the Council since any member could request that a meeting be held. Mr. Pasvolsky said he attached more importance to the individual qualities of the Secretary General, his talent for administration, for example. He said that while Mr. Lie had a poor reputation as an administrator that would not be too much of a handicap if the rest of the Secretariat was good enough.

Senator Vandenberg said he thought that rather than overrating the post of Secretary General, the group may have underrated it. He said that he thought the trend of events in Committee 5 indicated that professional European career diplomats expected to make a good thing of employment in the Secretariat. Mr. Pasvolsky said that this impressed him the more with the need to have an able American for Assistant Secretary General in charge of administration and Senator Vandenberg said he thought that might well be.

Senator Connally suggested that the United States Delegation ought to inform Mr. Lie of its position concerning his candidacy, but warned that it should be tactfully done lest too much United States enthusiasm might discourage Russian support of Mr. Lie. Senator Connally said he doubted if the United States could secure the election of Mr. Pearson because of the United States having been selected for this permanent site. He observed that he was therefore against having the site in the United States because it will be repeatedly brought up as an argument for not accepting United States candidates for various positions. He continued that he thought Mr. Lie was the only possibility on the horizon. …

Mrs. Roosevelt excused herself from the meeting saying that she felt Mr. Lie was satisfactory.

Senator Connally continued that he was more concerned about USSR influence with Mr. Koo than with Mr. Lie.

Mr. Walker asked Mr. Stettinius if the latter had the impression as a result of yesterday’s Delegation meeting, that Mr. Walker was against Mr. Lie. In this connection Mr. Walker said that his remarks at yesterday’s meeting were directed rather to the need for unanimity within the Delegation. It was observed that it would almost be a case for the use of the veto by the United States if the USSR insisted upon a Yugoslav for Secretary General and that Russia might feel [Page 177] the same way about a Canadian candidate. Mr. Walker continued that he did not know Norwegian politics but by tradition no country was more independent. He could not therefore believe that Russia would dominate Mr. Lie. However, he did not want to return to the United States with two or three members of the Delegation against the Delegation’s choice for Secretary General and recalled that on the way over to London the need for unanimity in the Delegation had been stressed. He also stated that he had been unimpressed with Mr. Koo’s work as presiding officer today and felt there was a greater danger from Russian influence being exerted on a Chinese Secretary General than on a Norwegian in the same post.

Mr. Stevenson said he was certain that Russia would accept Mr. Lie. He said that this was certain to be the case although the Russians have consistently stressed the fact that the choice should be from Eastern Europe. He said that in the recent meeting with Mr. Vyshinsky and Mr. Gromyko they had contended for Eastern Europe. Mr. Stevenson said, however, he wondered what would happen if the United States shifted from Pearson to Lie and the latter did not prove acceptable.

Mr. Bohlen asked how firm Mr. Koo was as the third United States choice. Mr. Stettinius said that after today’s discussion concerning Mr. Koo he would take the responsibility for dropping him from the United States list. He said that the Secretary had merely agreed to the suggestion of Mr. Koo as third choice and did not feel strongly on the point. Mr. Stettinius said that it was therefore understood that Mr. Koo was dropped and the United States had no third candidate. He said it further was clear that the United States did not want a Secretary General from the Balkans or Eastern Europe nor from France. Senator Connally said that van Kleffens would suit him. Mr. Stettinius said he did not find van Kleffens acceptable and that the choice was therefore down to Mr. Lie and Mr. Pearson and he doubted if there was any chance to elect the latter. He said it was then a question of whether to take Mr. Lie with pleasure or hold out for Pearson and lose.

Mr. Stevenson said he agreed with the thoughts expressed earlier by Mr. Bohlen and Mrs. Roosevelt concerning Mr. Lie but said it ought to be understood that if Mr. Lie were elected it would look like a Russian victory. He said the Delegation should not delude itself that the United States would get credit for Mr. Lie’s election. He said in fact there was little to be salvaged and that the public impression would be that the USSR’s defeated candidate for the Presidency of the General Assembly won the Secretary Generalship instead.

[Page 178]

Mr. Cohen said he saw no reason for putting a less favorable light on the situation than the facts warranted. He recalled that Mr. Lie had first been put up as a candidate for the Presidency of the General Assembly by the United States. Now our first choice for Secretary General would be Mr. Pearson but with the veto in prospect it was necessary to find a compromise candidate. He saw no reason why Mr. Lie was not a logical compromise and that the result would then be that we had neither won a victory nor suffered a defeat. Senator Connally added that it was well known that Russia’s first choice was Mr. Simic. It was commented that this first choice had shifted to the Foreign Minister of Poland, Wincenty Rzymowski.

Mr. Cohen continued that in the United States Norway was thought of as having the American type of democracy and that in a crisis Norway might well turn to the United States.

Mr. Dulles said that while he did not know the facts he doubted if the United States had really fought for Pearson; he also did not know whether Russia would really veto Mr. Pearson. Mr. Stettinius said there had already been two informal votes at the 4:30 meetings in the rooms of Mr. Makin of Australia, in which all Delegations represented on the Security Council had spoken. There was, of course, no public knowledge of the veto. Mr. Stettinius continued that as a result of talking with the Secretary before the latter left they had hoped to get a clear vote in one of these meetings but that Australia had upset the plan by opening discussion of various candidates.

Mr. Pasvolsky said that six votes were all that could now be rounded up for Mr. Pearson. Mr. Stevenson said he thought it would be possible to get a 9 to 2 vote in favor of Mr. Pearson.

Mr. Walker asked why anyone thought it necessary to defeat the USSR in this instance and become a dominating force.

Mr. Dulles said he thought the United States’ standing would be improved if the United States picked a candidate and fought for him. Mr. Stettinius said he did not know how the United States could have fought any harder, that everything had been done but to ask for a public vote; Mr. Pasvolsky added that the United States had even asked for that.

Mr. Dulles said he had known Mr. Lie for four or five years and had a high regard for him as a person. He felt there was no Russian influence exercised on Mr. Lie personally but Mr. Dulles observed that Mr. Lie had once told him that he had cast a vote because of the presence of Russian troops on Norway’s border. Mr. Dulles said the United States did not use its influence in the same way but that in any event he agreed with Mr. Bohlen that Norway was not in the USSR zone [Page 179] and probably would not be penetrated; however, Norway could be placed in an awkward position with sudden deterioration in her trade, finance, et cetera, whereas the USSR could not, for example, exert such serious influence on Canada or on the Netherlands. Mr. Dulles said he thought it was an extremely important factor that the Secretary General would control every appointment to the Secretariat for five years and further that he would be the only individual who could bring situations likely to disturb the peace to the attention of the Security Council. Mr. Pasvolsky pointed out that this provision of the Charter was only for convenience in bringing situations involving non-members to the attention of the Council and that too much importance should not be attached to it.

Senator Connally inquired who could oust the Secretary General under the Charter. Mr. Pasvolsky said there was no provision for this step. Mr. Stettinius pointed out that the Secretary General obviously would go if the majority wanted him to.

Mr. Stettinius said it was clear that Mr. Pearson was the first choice of the Delegation. He then asked whether if Mr. Pearson were vetoed by the Russians privately or publicly, the Delegation should stand by the instructions from the Secretary which Mr. Stettinius outlined earlier in the meeting, making Mr. Lie the second choice of the Delegation, or whether the Delegation should get in touch with the President and the Secretary for new instructions.

Mr. Dulles said he preferred van Kleffens to Lie as more nearly a free agent. Mr. Stettinius said he was against Mr. van Kleffens because of his temperament and the condition of his health.

Mr. Dulles and Mr. Stevenson thought van Kleffens also would be vetoed by Russia and Mr. Dulles said he thought Lie was the USSR candidate from the start. Mr. Stevenson said that in his talks with Mr. Gromyko concerning the Presidency of the Preparatory Commission, Mr. Gromyko made it clear that they looked cordially upon Mr. Lie but thought Poland should have the honor. In subsequent talks Mr. Gromyko had always put emphasis on Eastern Europe but Mr. Stevenson thought he would accept Mr. Lie. …

Mr. Stettinius asked if anyone had any further names to suggest.

Mr. Dulles again referred to van Kleffens and said that if the United States was to start by looking for someone acceptable to the USSR the United States might just as well go to the Russians in the first instance and accept their choice. He said he thought the United States should not assume that a veto will be exercised on this issue and doubted if the USSR would use it. Mr. Cohen said he did not like [Page 180] to contemplate the prospect of the veto but after having suggested a candidate and having found he was not likely to be accepted he thought the best course was to settle upon a candidate who was agreeable to both the United States and the USSE. Mr. Stevenson suggested the name of Mr. Evatt of Australia. Mr. Bloom thought he would not be suitable.

Mr. Walker said he thought it might be necessary to stay with Mr. Pearson since there did not appear to be general agreement in the Delegation.

Mr. Dulles said he was prepared to go along with the position of having Mr. Pearson as the first choice and Mr. Lie as the second and would take no public position against it. He said he thought this was a question of individual judgment and not an issue of principle and that it was upon issues of principle that he wanted to be free to disagree.

Mr. Pasvolsky outlined the positions of the members of the Security Council as of Wednesday evening. He said the United States and Brazil were unequivocably for Pearson. China favored Pearson and had given a long statement of its reasons. Egypt had favored Pearson but felt that Lie was a very adequate second choice. France favored anyone on whom the other members of the Big Five could agree, had dropped Bonnet, and expressed a personal preference for van Kleffens. The Netherlands payed tribute to both Pearson and Lie on even grounds. Australia favored Lie as first choice and Pearson as second. Russia favored the Polish Foreign Minister, Wincenty Rzymowski, as first choice and Simic of Yugoslavia as second. Poland agreed with Russia and also thought the selection was a political matter. Concerning the British position, Mr. Bevin had expressed a personal preference for Mr. Jebb, but would be happy, however, with Mr. Pearson. Mexico had dodged the issue and said the big powers should agree and the smaller powers would then make up their minds. Egypt had said the big powers should agree on two or three acceptable candidates.

Mr. Pasvolsky reiterated that if Lie is the ultimate choice his candidacy should come not from the United States but from some other nation and that if the inclination were toward Mr. Lie we should agree. However, at the next discussion with Security Council members we should begin by standing firm for Mr. Pearson.

Mr. Dulles thought it would be possible to get a 9 to 2 vote and Mr. Stevenson added that he felt the United States had not worked hard enough for it. Mr. Pasvolsky thought it would be possible to [Page 181] get 7 votes for Pearson. Mr. Stevenson said that he thought much more could be done with Mexico and that Mr. Nervo had only been told that we were for Pearson without being definitely urged to take the same position.

Mr. Pasvolsky said the real position was that the Russians had vetoed Mr. Pearson and that the United States had vetoed both Rzymowski, Polish Foreign Minister, and Simic of Yugoslavia. He said he thought the British would stand with the United States in vetoing both Rzymowski and Simic.

Senator Vandenberg said that Mr. Stettinius had his instructions and that the only question Senator Vandenberg could see was how long to stand by Mr. Pearson. Mr. Stettinius replied that after yesterday’s Delegation meeting he had not felt that the Delegation’s position was clear.

Mr. Stettinius asked if any member of the Delegation objected to Mr. Lie if the United States was unable to push through the election of Mr. Pearson. Senator Vandenberg said he thought it was settled but Mr. Stettinius said he did not feel the position was completely clear.

Senator Vandenberg then said his position was the same as Mr. Dulles had expressed somewhat earlier when Mr. Dulles had said that he did not expect to take a public stand against Mr. Lie. Senator Vandenberg said, however, that he would go down with Pearson and when the fight was clearly lost he would go to Lie but that he agreed with Mr. Stevenson that the United States should give all possible effort to the fight for Pearson.

Mr. Pasvolsky suggested that the question should be brought to a vote and Mr. Dulles suggested that we should be sure it was a 9 to 2 vote. Mr. Pasvolsky said a vote might be possible at the next Big Five meetings but felt that the smaller nations should not be put on the spot by requesting them to vote. Mr. Stevenson said he thought that the support of France could be gained for Pearson but Mr. Stettinius said that Mr. Boncour was not likely to take a strong position in view of the current French political crisis.

Mr. Cohen said he thought it was one thing for the United States to vote for Mr. Pearson and another to bring great pressure on others to do the same. He thought the latter course might make agreement on the second choice more difficult and felt that an appeal but no high pressure would be the best course in favor of Pearson.

[Page 182]

Mr. Stettinius asked Senator Vandenberg and Mr. Dulles if they would be satisfied if the United States was able to bring the question to a vote, tell friends of the United States how we expected to vote, and if defeated to vote then for Mr. Lie. Senator Vandenberg said he saw no alternative. Mr. Dulles said he thought that would be satisfactory and that while he would have made a tougher fight that fight was not made, and he felt the United States was not going to make an all-out fight for Mr. Pearson. Mr. Pasvolsky said he thought that had been done and Mr. Dulles said he did not see how it could have been done with Mexico still on the sidelines. Mr. Stevenson observed that Mexico had suggested to him earlier that they would like to have an Assistant Secretary Generalship and that he had said that was for future decision. Mr. Dulles asked if some trading could be done with the USSR who wanted an Assistant Secretary Generalship for political and security affairs as he understood it.

Mr. Townsend said he felt that if the United States could not succeed in getting Mr. Pearson elected the Delegation should then vote for Lie and suggested that the United States might talk in advance to Mr. Lie in terms of having a United States national appointed as an Assistant Secretary General. Mr. Stettinius and Mr. Pasvolsky agreed that the United States should have the Assistant Secretary Generalship for administration.

Mr. Stettinius then asked Senator Vandenberg if he was satisfied. Senator Vandenberg replied that “satisfied” was not the right word but that he could not think of the word he wanted. Mr. Stettinius then asked if he objected; Senator Vandenberg did not reply. He said there should be no suggestion of a subsequent partisan political position that would differ from that which had been outlined by Mr. Stettinius.

Mr. Stettinius then stated that he would stand by Pearson and vote for him, and when the break came would shift to Lie.

Mr. Bohlen then suggested that the greater the United States success in lining up votes for Mr. Pearson, the greater would be the appearance of USSR victory for Mr. Lie after Mr. Pearson had failed of nomination.

Mr. Stettinius said he understood the position of the Delegation and that this would be the last meeting on this subject. He would, however, report progress.

Mr. Dulles said that was satisfactory.

Mr. Stettinius said the next Delegation meeting would be at 9:30 Monday morning.

  1. Secretary Byrnes left London to return to the United States on January 25.
  2. A marked difference of opinion had been registered at the January 25 meeting of the Delegation. This was whether agreement had been reached between the Delegation and Secretary Byrnes on the question of whom the United States would support for the Secretary Generalship, specifically whether the United States should back Mr. Lie of Norway if the candidacy of Mr. Pearson appeared lost. Senator Vandenberg and Mr. Dulles, in effect, voiced opposition to Mr. Lie, holding that “Mr. Lie, as a citizen of Norway located near the Soviet Union, could not be a free agent and would not dare to be a free agent. … Mr. Walker said that he did not think the United States Delegation should support Mr. Lie if Senator Vandenberg and Mr. Dulles were strongly opposed to him. … Mr. Stettinius observed that Mr. Lie had been the second choice of Secretary Byrnes and that at the last meeting of the Delegation Mr. Stettinius had been authorized to vote for Mr. Lie in case of an emergency. …” (Minutes of Meeting of the U.S. Delegation (Executive Session), London, January 25, 1946, document USGA/Ia/Del. Min./Exec/3(Chr), IO Files) Concerning Mr. Stettinius’ reference to the last meeting of the Delegation, no Delegation minutes have been found in the Department’s files for the period when Secretary Byrnes was in London (January 8–25). An entry in the January 23 minutes of a meeting of the executive and political officers of the Delegation suggests that records may not have been kept, reading, “It was noted with regret that records of certain informal meetings held by members of the Delegation and the meetings of the Delegation itself were not being kept.” (IO Files, document USGA/Ia/Exec Off/8)
  3. Mr. Jan Masaryk, Czechoslovak Minister for Foreign Affairs and Delegate on the Czechoslovak Delegation.