The Secretary of Defense (Marshall) to the Secretary of State
Dear Mr. Secretary: I refer to Deputy Under Secretary Matthews letter of 27 September 1950,1 setting forth the terms upon which the Department of State proposes to stimulate Latin American offers of military assistance for service in Korea.
I am pleased to inform you that the Department of Defense is in agreement with the indented statement appearing upon the second page of this letter, which is in consonance with the principle that each foreign government receiving supplies, equipment, services, or other logistical support from the United States should recognize the existence of an obligation owing to this Government for such support, to be discharged in accordance with the criteria which you have outlined. As you indicate, an exception may be made where special circumstances in connection with a specific offer make this particularly desirable from the standpoint of our general foreign policy. My letter of 27 September 1950 concerning the offer of the Government of India2 points out, however, that each such exception should be made only after the President has given us his express approval, and should in no manner be communicated to third governments.
I should like to observe that the Department of Defense attaches great importance to preserving this principle of reimbursement. In my opinion, the precedent which we are now establishing in the case of Korea will set the pattern for future collective military action by the United Nations. In a larger sense, this Government is acting as executive agent for the United Nations, and it would appear undesirable to establish any general principle that U.S. military supplies, services or equipment will be donated without creating any obligation on the part of their recipients. This is indeed an uncharted area in international affairs, and I therefore do not consider that we should be bound by such precedents as Lend-Lease, which was conceived and executed before the establishment of the United Nations. Rather, I would suggest that our present position as the leader of collective military action requires us to stimulate and awaken all other members to the difficult responsibilities as well as to the many privileges of participation in that world organization.