501.BC/3–1948: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the United States Mission at the United Nations


150. For the purpose of further discussions with the British and French Delegations in particular, and other friendly Delegations in your discretion, Dept wishes to outline below present thinking as to what our position on Zecho case1 should be as it unfolds in SC and to give you additional background as to our thinking on this problem.

Major objectives are as follows:

We should avoid a showdown on this issue with the Soviet Union which would have the most serious effect on the UN.
No illusions are held as to these proceedings resulting in action which will have corrective effect within Zecho. Effort should therefore be to handle situation in manner which will result in greatest beneficial political effect in other countries where serious Communistic threat exists or may develop shortly. Dept feels this can best be done by taking advantage of this case to paint the stark realities of the situation in Zecho and, but only for purpose of illustration, similar situation in other eastern European countries.
Entirely consistent with points (1) and (2) we should handle the matter in such a way as not to cause damage to UN and to avoid [Page 746] creation of feeling of frustration among people of this country and of western Europe.

In working toward above objectives our thinking at this point is that we should support a resolution calling for establishment of SC Commission of Investigation. This would be based on the serious nature of the charges themselves and the evidence presented to SC which although admittedly circumstantial would provide prima facie case sufficient to justify investigation. As part of such evidence to be taken into consideration by SC are the more fundamental factors in the present situation in eastern Europe generally and the heightened tension caused by the events in Zecho following similar pattern of events in other eastern European countries.

We are working on a statement along these lines which will refer to the seriousness of the charges and the evidence presented and contain (a) a recital of the actual facts of the Zecho developments and (b) for purposes of illustration actual facts as to developments in certain other eastern European countries pointing out the similarities and the appearance of a pattern. We do not propose to make actual charges against the Soviet Union as such, although we may use the method of posing questions heavily weighted with implications.

We are studying best ways of steering development of case so as to avoid as much as possible a reaction of frustration and ineffectuality of UN, both in this country and in western Europe. But we believe proposal for investigation must be carried forward until it is vetoed. After that point we are tentatively considering supporting consideration by GA or IC of the general question of indirect aggression on the ground that if the Charter is to succeed ways must be found to deal with this type of situation. We have tentatively concluded that not enough would be gained to attempt to establish a committee in New York on the Spanish case model.2

We are conscious of and are studying technical problem involved as to whether USSR must abstain on a decision under Chapter VI as a party involved in the situation.

Additional guidance which is inherent in this and preceding telegrams on our general attitude and suggested course of conduct are:

We should continue to act merely as a loyal member of the SC, stating our views frankly without making a great issue of the case and without attempting to persuade others to see the case with our eyes.
We should therefore make every effort to avoid becoming an active proponent for investigation and to avoid putting in resolutions of our own.
We should not try to speak early in the Debate. We should certainly not speak before Papánek and the Czech Rep and it would be preferable not to speak until after the Soviets. Dept believes it would be desirable for SC to adjourn after Papánek and Czech Rep statements so that we as well as other members will have opportunity to consider them.

  1. See the editorial note, supra.
  2. The situation in Spain arising out of the existence and activities of the regime of General Francisco Franco was brought to the attention of the United Nations Security Council at the initiative of the Polish Government in April 1946. For documentation regarding the attitude of the United States with respect to the “Spanish question” see Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. v, pp. 1023 ff.