Editorial Note

In connection with the circular telegram of January 31, supra, and telegram 114, January 26, from Budapest, page 223, the Department of State received varying comment and advice from the concerned missions. The Embassy in Moscow regarded the general course of action outlined in the circular telegram to be excellent, but cautioned against the entertainment of illusions that such action would deter the Soviet Union from consolidating its position in Eastern Europe and warned that economic or other sanctions were not likely to cause any Communist regime to back down or reverse current policy (telegram 277, February 3, from Moscow: 864.404/2–2349). The Embassy in London agreed on the necessity of making clear the American attitude in the most forceful manner possible, but warned that any course of action be carefully weighed against the danger of merely emphasizing Western ineffectiveness. The Embassy in London was skeptical that ECOSOC would serve as the best United Nations body to consider the human rights question, and it expressed serious doubt that the British would support sanctions (telegram 411, February 3, from London: 864404/2–2349). The Legation in Sofia heartily concurred in the proposals to take action on violations of the peace treaty. The Legation, which thought such action would serve as an excellent counter-attack to the Soviet peace offensive, also warned that denunciations not followed by effective action would only accent Western ineffectiveness in Eastern Europe (telegrams 69, January 31, and 101, February 8, from Sofia; 864.404/1–3149 and 864.404/2–849). The Legation in Bucharest, while generally supporting the proposed actions, also felt that any demarche would be useless and possibly harmful to American interests unless the United States were prepared to pursue the matter in the United Nations and possibly risk the rupture of diplomatic relations (telegrams 75, February 2, and 97, February 8, from Bucharest: 864.404/2–249 and 864.404/2–849). The Embassy in Czechoslo vakia expressed the view that Catholicism in Czechoslovakia had [Page 227] historically been regarded as an instrument of oppression, and Bohemian Catholics were notoriously lukewarm in the militancy of their faith. The Embassy felt that the Church issue was not the best one to press in Czechoslovakia (telegrams 149, January 31, and 206, February 12, from Praha: 864.404/1–3149 and 864.404/2–1249). The Embassy in Warsaw found serious disadvantages in including Poland within the scope of any action initiated with respect to human rights and treaties with Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania. In the absence of effective sanctions which might be taken against Poland, any action would have to be of a propaganda nature, and in Poland such a propaganda action had risks of failure that outweighed the possibilities of success. American failure in the effort would cost the United States prestige in the eyes of the Poles and add to their current sense of frustration (telegram 231, February 15, from Warsaw: 864.404/2–1549).