330/2–550: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Kirk) to the Secretary of State 1


394. We continue to believe as stated Embtel 195, January 19 that Soviet walkouts UN organs represent tactical manoeuver squeeze fullest possible advantage to themselves from China situation and ensure maximum difficulties for US and friends and that step not purposely intended as prelude Soviet permanent withdrawal UN (USUN’s 98, January 31 to Department). General tenor New Times editorial reported Embtel 366, February 2 appears substantiate this [Page 221] view, particularly emphasis at end on defense and support of prestige and authority UN by Soviets.

While thus primarily prompted by what must appear to Soviets as almost sure-fire opportunity to seize upon this issue where US may seem off balance, Soviets must at same time be well aware that their action involves risk serious consequences including destruction UN as universal international agency for maintenance peace and must be confident that they will be able propagandawise to place the onus for this eventuality on US. Extent to which Soviets willing to risk protracted uncertainty and consequence possible disruption is pointed up by Soviet recognition Ho Chi Minh regime which insofar as critical UN situation concerned could be interpreted as Soviet effort to reduce chances that France as pivotal member SC would move in direction unseating KMT representative that body, and thus to force resolution problem by clear-cut capitulation US.

From this situation and from previous Soviet actions in US it is abundantly clear that Soviet attitude toward UN is completely cynical. Confronted on one hand with opportunity exploit Communist victory China and on other hand with possibility that such step could lead to break-up UN, Kremlin probably had little difficulty in making decision on narrow basis their “cold war” with US.

We still think Soviets will remain in UN as long as they believe net advantages accrue to them from their utilization UN for propaganda prestige and obstruction. They may well feel now with tide of events going their way in China and perhaps elsewhere in Asia, that if, contrary to their original estimate, their walk-out on China should lead to their permanent absence from UN, they would have left on an issue which will advance their long-term goals in Asia.

Walkout should also be viewed against background current indications recrudescence Soviet aggressive attitude along entire Soviet periphery including in addition China such key situations as Japan, Indochina, Burma, Iran, Finland, Yugoslavia, Austria and Berlin, not forgetting Trieste and Cyprus. Embassy feels that Soviet walkout UN on China may not be unrelated broader aspects Soviet plans for next few years which may entail further crystallization international line between “two worlds”. In this connection we are convinced that Soviet Union does not on its part view UN “as only available instrument for potential bridging gap between Soviet world and free world” but rather as one of several means to advance Soviet aim making world over in its image. Apparent Soviet willingness risk breakup UN in present form may stem from belief that it is now advantageous to concentrate on other more effective, perhaps revolutionary, means attaining this goal. It does not, in Embassy’s view, indicate that Soviets are contemplating early outbreak armed hostilities [Page 222] on global scale but perhaps points to feeling on part Soviets that UN membership during next few years might be more of liability than asset in light prospective opportunities Soviet Communist expansion through indirect aggression, particularly in Asia.

We concur with USUN’s view that issue of China representation in UN is not per se a favorable one from our viewpoint.

However, I believe that principal issue now facing us in UN is not question of China as such but rather the problem posed by the USSR as a willful and irresponsible saboteur of the delicate mechanisms of the entire UN organization. The Soviets walkout, when they did not immediately get their way as to who should represent China in SC and other UN bodies, is only the latest and most flagrant break of Charter and UN rules by USSR. It was only last October that Communist Chinese regime formally proclaimed and only in last few days that government resistance can be said to have ceased on Chinese mainland. Not only is question national policy each member state UN toward new situation China one requiring careful and prudent deliberation over period of time, but for UN itself the problem posed is unprecedented and may well necessitate time-consuming but essential formulation of extraordinary procedures to solve. Furthermore, formula to be devised to determine consensus will member states UN as whole can be achieved through orderly and democratic means and must cover not only present case but also future contingencies of the same general nature, otherwise one can envisage future irresponsible Soviet walkouts should e.g., Burmese Communists proclaim new government Burma and get Soviet recognition.

Soviets walked out of SC in face US willingness let question be settled by legal seven vote majority and without veto, and in clear violation Article 28 charter, as aptly stated by US representative at that time. Under these circumstances Embassy believes our position moral leadership in the UN and the free world dictates that we meet situation by emphasis on censuring Soviets for their disruptive attitude. We have in mind the forward thinking that fathered the Atlantic Pact and by analogy suggest we should be prepared, if necessary, to challenge Soviets on basic question of their cooperation with the UN.

In taking bold line we should look beyond the immediate UN policy objectives set forth USUN telegram and weigh our whole policy in light of the possibility that Soviets and their satellites may in not distant future no longer be associated with UN, as a result of their blatant disregard for all elementary rules of organized international society. Embassy believes that Soviets may well expect to win easy victory by their walkout and that cold water of challenge might have constructive effect, if permanent withdrawal from UN not now contemplated. A forthright attitude would contribute foundation firm [Page 223] basis continuance UN in absence USSR as cohesive force among free world which would seem be our interest.

I feel that problem should be approached not through our adopting neutral attitude of neither discouraging nor encouraging fellow members UN recognizing Communist China or voting one way or another on unseating or seating respective representatives China, but by positive insistence that question of who should represent China in UN is matter for determination by all UN member states (except China itself for both practical and logical reasons) in accordance with orderly and democratic procedures to be devised by means of an exchange of views among the governments concerned. The problem confronting UN is an extraordinary one not envisaged in Charter or in other UN rules and initiative must be taken by leading member governments themselves in cooperation with SYG Lie and President UNGA Romulo.

Soviets should be pressed to participate with other members in suitable informal or extraordinary forum to work out plan for majority determination of means to settle question seating new governments. If they decline further onus disruption universality UN will inevitably devolve on them. Attitude of USSR should be repeatedly emphasized as in violation Charter and not conducive appropriate solution.

Initiative for consultations could be taken by SYG who by virtue his general responsibilities is probably only UN figure in whose name extraordinary procedures can be devised to meet unforeseen situations of this kind. In discussing this plan with Lie by US representatives, we should emphasize our impatience with Soviet tactics on one hand and our desire see Chinese representation issue settled by orderly procedures on other hand regardless US position on national recognition. We should make clear that if Soviets refuse to cooperate in preparatory consultations envisaged, we are prepared to challenge the legal and moral validity of the Soviet position in every UN organ including next GA.

Sent Department 394. Department pass USUN 17.

  1. In telegram 401, February 6, the Ambassador cabled the request that this telegram “in which Service Attachés concur” be passed to the Department of Defense (380/2–650).