The Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Smith ) to the Secretary of State
394. As seen from Moscow, it appears there may be a chance that with firm backing from US and other western powers, Finnish Parliament might well politely, but firmly turn down request, pointing out that Finland practically unarmed, is on good terms with all its neighbors, does not feel it is threatened by anyone, and therefore does not need mutual assistance pact.
We should assure Finns that if they turn down request and find themselves in difficulties by further Soviet pressure, we and other western democracies would be prepared back them in anything short of war, particularly by taking matter up in UN in a very firm way along lines that since duly elected parliament had refused request, Finns under no obligation comply. Case of Iran might well be cited this connection.1 We should also be prepared further assist them economically along lines ERP, or through Export-Import Bank, etc. In backing up Finns stand in UN, we might well make use of examples of what happened to Baltic states in 1939 after they signed mutual assistance pacts and what happened to most countries which signed the Litvinov nonaggression agreements in early thirties. Finland by refusing sign similar mutual assistance pact 1939, at least has succeeded in retaining independence.
Even possibility indecisive UN action should not deter us from leaving no stone unturned to show futility of counting on any reasonable action from Soviets either in or out of UN, and press for closer ties of Western Union,2 etc., as only chance to face up to them as a body rather than allow them continue to pick off one country after another.
Full information on and explanation to our own Congress of significance recent Soviet moves in Czechoslovakia3 and Finland may result in speeding consideration and adoption universal military training law and building programs for Army, Navy, and particularly [Page 767] Air Force. Measures of this kind are the only language Soviets understand.
Only when they and the countries they threaten realize that we mean business and are willing and prepared to back up our policies politically, economically, and if necessary, militarily, is there any real chance that the present Soviet policy of truculent aggressive expansionism may be modified.
Sent Department 394.
Department please pass Helsinki as 1, Stockholm 12, Paris 51, London 21.
- For documentation on efforts by the United States to secure removal of the armed forces of the Soviet Union from Iran, see Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. vii, pp. 289 ff.↩
- For documentation on Western European Union, see vol. iii, pp. 1 ff.↩
- For documentation on the crisis in Czechoslovakia in 1948, see pp. 733 ff.↩