IO Files: US/A/C.1/1971

United States Delegation Working Paper


Tentative Staff Views on Tactics for Dealing With Vishinsky Resolution


How should we deal with the Soviet draft resolution “On the Removal of the Threat of a New War and the Strengthening of Peace and Security Among the Nations” (A/1376; attached as Annex I)?1

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We should attempt to defeat the resolution, after a minimum of debate consistent with the maximum exposure of its fraudulent.
We should begin consultations immediately with other delegations, attempting to get agreement on this course.
During these consultations, we should determine whether other delegations feel that defeating the resolution is adequate, or whether the affirmation of the positive goals of the non-Soviet world is necessary. Delegations which feel that this is necessary should be asked what affirmation should be made and when and how it should be made. Specifically, they should be asked whether they would favor
A substitute resolution meeting the Soviet resolution point-for-point; or
An affirmative declaration embodied in the preamble of the Uniting for Peace resolution.2 Before this suggestion is generally made, we should ask the Indians, and perhaps the French, whether the inclusion of such a general preamble would make the Uniting for Peace resolution any more agreeable to them.


Preliminary consultations, in which we asked the views of other delegations without urging any specific proposal of our own, have revealed that delegations favor outright rejection of the Soviet resolution, with two more delegations favoring this course plus the adoption of a specific proposal like the Uniting for Peace resolution. Four delegations favor amending the Soviet proposal to make it acceptable to us. Five delegations favor offering a substitute resolution. (The list of these delegations is attached as Annex II.)

The working group has rejected the suggestion that we seek to amend the Soviet resolution. Amending could be expected to appeal to some of the Asian and Latin American countries which seek a relaxation in at least verbal tensions, and which would be glad to capitalize on the present Soviet mood of calculated affability. However, if the final result should by chance be an agreed text which everyone could accept, there might be a diminution in the present well-founded alarm in the world as to Soviet intentions, and a consequent diminution in the disposition to pay the high price demanded of the free world in order to block these intentions. Tactically, if we started offering amendments, it would open the door to innumerable amendments from other delegations which might have wide appeal but which we might not like. Even if the amendments were designed only to clarify and define the hollowness of the Soviet words, the Russians could fudge the [Page 400]definitions and gain propaganda advantage from a protracted and devious debate.

The working group considered that the arguments in favor of simply defeating the Soviet resolution were strong. The aggression in Korea has revealed the true nature of Soviet practice as opposed to its protestations. The peaceful words no longer have a convincing ring to many people. The resolution itself is a succotash, containing three old proposals and only one new idea: condemnation as a war criminal of the first nation to use the atomic bomb (lifted from the Stockholm appeal). The majority of delegations are now on to the Soviet line. Extended debate, and the offering of amendments or a counter-resolution, would give the resolution more attention, and Vishinsky a chance to make more speeches. The Uniting for Peace proposal can be considered our answer to the Soviet resolution: it proposes deeds not words. As for the statement of large principles, its preamble specifically reaffirms the Essentials of Peace. Presumably this resolution will have been passed by the time the Political Committee reaches the Soviet resolution; it can be pointed to during the debate on the Soviet proposal. The hollowness of the Soviet proposal could be exposed by the working out of a careful schedule of speeches among friendly delegations, each of whom could take a specific point and ask a series of questions designed to show the Soviet reality underlying the fair words: e.g., Mr. Pearson’s3 suggestion that Vishinsky be asked to state precisely what he means by “strict international control off atomic energy”.

As against these considerations, which will undoubtedly carry great weight among delegations to the GA, it is questionable whether world public opinion has reached the level of sophistication which characterizes Assembly delegates. Even among the delegations which favor simple rejection of the Soviet resolution, several have raised this point as an important second thought. It is likely that as the Assembly progresses, more and more delegations will feel the necessity for a positive proclamation of non-Soviet goals. Despite Korea, many people still feel emotionally that the Soviet Union stands for peace; or at least that the United States Government and its Western Allies are resigned to the inevitability of war. The Stockholm appeal has continued to gather signatures despite Korea, not only in the Soviet orbit but in Western Europe and, to some extent, in non-Soviet Asia. “Neutralism” retains a certain wistful appeal in Western Europe, especially in France. Important sectors of public opinion in India, Indo-China, Indonesia, and other countries of the middle world regard western policy as being too aggressive and hostile.

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For these reasons, the free world cannot afford to look as if it is afraid that peace will break out. It must continually state and restate its goals: which go far beyond the mere prevention of aggression and involve such concepts as the elimination of barriers to the interchange of persons and ideas, the mobilization of the world’s resources for constructive ends, and the establishment of the dignity of man in practice as well as in principle. The Uniting for Peace proposal is one of the steps necessary to achieve this kind of world; it is not a blueprint for its achievement, or even an architect’s sketch of what the achievement might look like. The resources of the free world will not be mobilized effectively for defense against aggression unless these larger goals are proclaimed and worked for. It is therefore a political and psychological necessity to proclaim our objectives and to describe the roads by which they might be reached. To fail to do so is to leave the Soviet Union in the field as the loudest proponent of peace. Something like the Free World Appeal suggested by the Department would meet the Soviet resolution point for point.

The Department’s suggested counter-proposal (Gadel 5, Control 4619) is attached as Annex III.4

If consultations reveal growing support for some affirmative declaration, the question remains what it should say and how and where it should be said. A simple substitute offers many disadvantages, apart from the obvious tactical difficulty of trying to organize 53 votes in favor of an agreed text; a process which would open the door to a host of suggestions from other delegations, leaving us with the alternatives of producing either an unwieldy document or a good many hurt feelings. Substantively, it is more difficult for us than it is for the Russians to formulate ringing principles, since our formulations must remain relatively in touch with reality, especially with what we ourselves believe to be practicable. We have already stated some of our principles in the [1949] Essentials of Peace resolution, which was useful in the General Assembly but hardly set the world on fire with enthusiasm. A reaffirmation of the Essentials would thus contribute little in the present situation. Selection and restatement of a few of its purposes would imply that the others were less important. Without some new proposal of substance in the field of security, freedom or well-being, the resolution would tend to be merely rhetorical: which we cannot, as suggested above, do as successfully as the Russians can.

Because of these disadvantages, the working group has tentatively considered the possibility of stating our larger goals in some other [Page 402]way, perhaps in the preamble to the Uniting for Peace resolution. Such a preamble could express the long-term objectives of the West, and lead into one specific and practical proposal for moving towards that kind of world. The Uniting for Peace proposal does not meet the Soviet proposal directly, while the Free World Appeal could be made to do so. A combination of the two items could meet the Soviet allegation that the US is against peace and could provide some of the psychological stimulus necessary if the free world is to fulfill its defensive commitments. A general preamble attached to the specific proposal avoids the weakness of simply replying to the Soviet resolution: the US and other delegations could in debate dismiss the Soviet proposal as a re-hash of old ideas, which the Soviet delegation could not do to a Western resolution embodying the specific proposals of the Uniting for Peace resolution.

The combined Free World Appeal-Uniting for Peace resolution has a logical appeal. It shows concern over the problems facing the world, then lists the all-too-often frustrated aspirations of free peoples, then points up the difficulties faced by the United Nations in meeting the most urgent problem, and finally proposes a technique for meeting this.

The working group is aware of the difficulties involved in this course. The addition of such a preamble might throw the Uniting for Peace proposal out of balance, as to both style and substance, with the specific proposal appearing to be a rather modest means of carrying forward the grandiose themes of the preamble. Moreover, since the Uniting for Peace proposal would have been adopted before the Vishinsky resolution came up for debate, we might still be faced with a demand for a direct substitute introduced at that time. This suggestion is therefore offered to the delegation primarily with the thought that it might help in gaining Indian, and, perhaps some other, support for the Uniting for Peace resolution. If this proves not to be the case, the delegation may choose to drop the suggestion and proceed with the rest of the recommendations: that is, defeat the Soviet resolution, expose its hollowness, and await developments to see if a substitute is necessary.


Annex II Incorporating the Views of Other Delegations on the Soviet Peace Resolution, as of October 1,1950

1. Outright rejection of the Soviet resolution:

Costa Rica Honduras
Denmark Norway
Dominican Republic Panama
France Sweden
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2. Outright rejection of the Soviet resolution plus the adoption of a specific proposal like the Uniting for Peace resolution:

France Luxembourg

3. Amending the Soviet proposal to make it acceptable to us:

Canada (defining) Peru
Haiti Syria

4. Offering a substitute resolution:

Belgium Liberia
Cuba Netherlands
Ecuador Paraguay
  1. Annex I is not printed as such; for text of the Soviet proposal, see citation in preceding footnote.
  2. See footnote 1, p. 367.
  3. Lester B. Pearson, Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs.
  4. Annex III is not printed as such; see Department’s telegram Gadel 5, September 21, supra.