IO Files: US/A/559

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. John Foster Dulles of the United States Delegation


Subject: Dr. Aranhas’s Views on United States-United Nations Relations

Participants: Dr. Aranha, Brazilian Delegation1
Dr. Muniz, Brazilian Delegation
Mr. John Foster Dulles, United States Delegation
Mr. David Wainhouse, United States Delegation2

Several days ago Mr. Aranha expressed a desire to talk to me about the Interim Committee. He stated then that if the Brazilians could lead off on the subject it would very likely constitute a cue for the other Latin American States to follow the Brazilian lead. I invited Dr. Aranha for lunch today and asked him to bring along one other member of his delegation to discuss the matter of the Interim Committee. He came with Ambassador Muniz. Mr. Wainhouse also was present at the luncheon.

Dr. Aranha, observing an advanced copy of Mr. James Byrnes’ book on the library table, asked me if it was not my belief that Mr. Byrnes’3 policy is not the cause of the present United States-U.S.S.R. tension. I replied that I was not at Yalta and Potsdam and did not know what had transpired there. It was clear that Mr. Aranha had the subject of United States-U.S.S.R. tension very much on his mind.

Dr. Aranha started the conversation by saying, as we sat down at the luncheon table, that he wanted to speak frankly and informally. He asserted that the League of Nations died because both France and Great Britain used it as an instrument of their own national policies. The United States, he went on to say, is using the United Nations in the very same way. He predicts that unless the United States ceases to use the United Nations as an instrument of its foreign policy, the United Nations would die as the League had died.

Dr. Aranha was deeply disturbed by our attitude towards the candidacy of the Ukraine for the Security Council.4 He believes that the Russians are correct in insisting that the understanding reached at London to the effect that there would be two Eastern European Members on the Security Council is being violated by the United [Page 82] States. He saw our support of India for that post as a breach of that understanding. He went on to say that from the United States standpoint it is really better to have on the Security Council a Member like Ukraine than it is to have a Member like India, for with the Ukraine voting with Russia, it was really only an expression of one Member. Everybody would understand that. From the standpoint of the welfare of the United Nations as a whole, however, it was more important to adhere to the understanding reached at London, than to disaffect Russia from the United Nations.

Dr. Aranha stated that he was very much puzzled by United States policy towards the United Nations, and United States policy towards the U.S.S.R. He wanted to know whether our intention is to drive Russia out of the United Nations. He wanted to know further whether our aim is to go to war against Russia. If that is the case, the Latins were with us, but all they wanted to know is if that was the case.

Dr. Aranha was critical of the fact that we were using the United Nations to air our conflicts with the U.S.S.R. He referred to the United Nations as a hospital where sick problems are brought of an international nature and character not where divergencies of views between two countries are brought. At this point I stated that the world was a pretty sick place and maybe the United Nations was the hospital for it. Dr. Aranha repeatedly asserted that the Latin American States are not only willing to support the United States but are ready to do so. The great trouble is that the United States has failed to inform the Latin American States as to what our policy is. He cited by way of illustration the United States Resolution on Greece.5 All of the Latin America was prepared to vote for that resolution., Several days later the Latin American States learned that the United States had changed its mind, and that it would support the French amendment to its own resolution. That kind of a change was never conveyed to him. (Whenever Dr. Aranha referred to “we” or “us” it was not clear in my mind whether he meant himself as President of the Assembly, as Brazilian Delegate to the United Nations, or as the Latin American States as an entity. He used that word “we” or “us” interchangeably.) Dr. Aranha kept repeating the importance of keeping the Latin American Representatives informed of American policy in the United Nations. He stated that there was no doubt in his mind or in the minds of any of the Latin Americans that the United States is the moral and spiritual and economic leader of Western civilization; that the Latin Americans are prepared and are only too eager to follow the American lead, but because of our failure to keep them informed a number of embarrassments had arisen for the Latin Americans since the Assembly opened.

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I explained to Dr. Aranha that while I was not a member of the administration and speaking entirely unofficially, that he was wrong about the thought that we had any intention or desire, first, to go to war against Russia or to use the United Nations as an instrument of American foreign policy against the Soviet Union. Moreover, I said that Dr. Aranha’s thought that we were trying to drive the Russians out of the United Nations was equally wrong and far from our desire or intention. The problem as I expressed it to Dr. Aranha is simply the matter of how far the Soviet Union can spread its system of despotism and the police state throughout Europe and perhaps the rest of the world. To us as the leader of freedom and liberty that issue was very important. It is our understanding that the smallest states of Europe desire to live their own lives and to live under a system of government of their own choosing. The issue presented in Greece is just that. The United States has no desire to force its moral, spiritual and economic assistance upon smaller nations who themselves have no desire to maintain a system of freedom. The protection of Greece as an independent State which is now being threatened by its Northern Neighbors under the control of Russia represents to us one of the fundamental principles which we under the Charter are obliged to protect, as is every other Member. Unless the small States are free of this domination there is little chance that they will survive in the coming years without a close adherence by all nations, particularly by us, to the principles and the obligations of the Charter. I stated that we had no desire to force freedom upon countries who do not themselves desire it, and that we are perfectly able to take care of ourselves, if the rest of the world prefers to get along without us. We are not like the Russians who are endeavoring to impose a police state upon others. We are only acting through the Charter in the thought that the Members of the United Nations are desirous of living a life of their own. The notion that we are using the United Nations as an instrument of our national policy is totally wrong and misleading.

I stated that there must be some confusion and misunderstanding on the part of the Latin American States. I reminded Dr. Aranha that it was he who told us that he was not a candidate for the presidency of the General Assembly. At this point Dr. Aranha asserted that it was his own Government that created the confusion on this subject. I went on to say that with the assurance that he, Dr. Aranha, gave us that he was not a candidate we committed ourselves to Dr. Evatt, only to discover that the Latin American States were solidly supporting Dr. Aranha for the presidency. This was a matter of great embarrassment to us for it appeared to all of the others that we had abandoned our Latin American friends which, as Dr. Aranha knows very well, is not the case.

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[Here follows a reference to the election of a Trusteeship Council slate.]

I pointed out to Dr. Aranha that there is no doubt in the minds of any of the American Delegation that the solidarity of the Western Hemisphere was an important and essential factor in the peace of the world. The voting power of the Latin Americans, if not combined with the strength of the United States, was artificial and could have as bad results in the Assembly as the veto in the Security Council but together we had a right to some forty percent of the voting strength in the United Nations. We must, however, use that voting strength with great restraint. To this Dr. Aranha agreed.

Dr. Aranha stated that he was going to have luncheon with General Marshall on Saturday and that he would speak as frankly to him as he had to us on the subject.

Not one word was said about the Interim Committee, which was the purpose of the luncheon.

  1. Dr. Aranha was also President of the Second Session of the General Assembly.
  2. Advisory Staff.
  3. James F. Byrnes was Secretary of State, July 1945–January 1947. The reference is presumably to Mr. Byrnes’ account of his tenure in that office, found in his memoir, Speaking Frankly (New York, 1947).
  4. For documentation relating to U.S. policy concerning elections to United Nations offices and organs, see pp. 100 ff.
  5. For documentation regarding the Greek border question, see vol. v, pp. 816 ff.