396.1–LO/5–450: Telegram

The United States Delegation at the Tripartite Preparatory Meetings to the Secretary of State
top secret

Secto 138. 1. Following is text of revised draft memorandum on agenda item 1 as approved US–UK plenary May 41 for submission to Ministers subject to British clearance paragraph 12(d) and stylistic as opposed substantive rewording paragraph 12(f). Copy has been furnished French but has not yet been approved by them.

“Top secret. Item 1. Review and agreement on common world-wide objectives in the light of assessment of the current world-wide situation.

[Page 962]

The preparatory discussions between officials of the three governments result in the following analysis of the current world-wide situation:

A. General situation

1. The balance of military power in the last twelve months has shifted in favor of the Soviet Union, and the present situation is one of danger. Their possession of the atomic bomb is of cardinal importance, but will not of itself become a direct military factor until the Russians acquire a stockpile. The Soviets are trying out weak spots in the Western position throughout the world, and having got possession of the atomic weapon and strengthened armaments generally, they may feel inclined to take greater risks than hitherto.

2. But the strength of the Soviet position should not be overestimated. It suffers from certain fundamental weaknesses, namely the relationship of suspicion and fear between ruler and ruled, the similar relationship with satellite governments and peoples, the problem of Stalin’s succession, and the fact that the system depends on ‘dynamic advance’ and is liable to be endangered by any major check.

3. Among the factors which can be counted to the credit of the West over the past year are: (a) economic recovery in Western Europe: (b) the defection of Tito: (c) the success in Berlin: (d) the signature of the Atlantic Pact: (e) the holding of the position in Western Germany: (f) the development of an effective propaganda forum in the United Nations: (g) the fact that there has been no economic slump. Finally, it should be remembered that the Russians usually move with great caution in foreign affairs.

4. The defection of Tito may, in the general balance sheet, in the American view, largely offset the Soviet victory in China. This view is not shared by the French and United Kingdom representatives.

5. It is not thought likely that, apart from a miscalculation, the Soviets will launch a war for the next few years. The dangerous point would come when they feel they are strong enough to deliver a decisive aerial attack.

6. Since the industrial potential of the Soviet Union is considerably less than that of the West, it is unlikely that they will court a major war, but since they are becoming more confident of protecting the Soviet Union from attack, they may even in the immediate future adopt increasingly aggressive policies at key peripheral points such as Iran which the West would be obliged to accept or to counter with force, and they may now be inclined generally to take greater risks than hitherto in areas where they think the West may be likely to acquiesce in a Soviet advance.

7. Germany is the central point of the struggle between East and West and is so regarded by the Soviets. If the Soviets lose the struggle for Germany, they may lose the initiative generally, and the principle of ‘dynamic advance’ may come into play against them. Equally, the association of Western Germany with the Western Powers is essential to the latter and to any effective build-up of Western Europe, which is of urgent importance.

8. Southeast Asia including Burma, Indochina, and Malaya is a weak spot in the Western position. So also is Iran. Potentially dangerous situations in varying degree exist also in the Philippines, Korea, and the Indian Sub-Continent. In Greece the situation is greatly improved [Page 963] but the strategic position of Greece is such that it must be kept under constant watch and it is vital that our control should be maintained.

9. The situation requires a determined effort by the Western countries to regain and maintain the initiative and to build up a position of strength through the maximum deployment of their joint resources.

B. Particular situations

10. Germany. The holding of the situation in Berlin and the establishment of the Federal German Republic constituted important gains for the West in a vital area of the struggle. The Soviet Government have, however, also made great efforts in recent months to consolidate the Communist position in Eastern Germany and to keep up the pressure on the Western Powers, particularly in Berlin. To counter this pressure and retain the initiative in Germany the Western Powers must continue to pursue energetically the policy agreed upon in Paris in November 1949 of promoting the closer association of the German Federal Republic with the West and of developing the prestige and authority of the Federal Government as the only rightful government of Germany. The difficulties and misunderstandings that have arisen with the Federal Government in recent months are symptoms of a lack of confidence in the relations between Germany and the Western Powers, which it must be the chief aim of the latter to remedy.

11. Since the end of the war, the dominant theme in the greater part of Southeast Asia has been nationalism and desire for freedom from colonial tutelage. The Communists have been to some extent successful in turning this to their advantage, for example, by assuming leadership of the Nationalist movement in Indochina. Measures already taken and still in process of institution to satisfy the aspirations of the peoples of Southeast Asia for political freedom have, however, had varying but on the whole encouraging degrees of success in allaying but not in averting the danger that the area might take common cause with the Communists against the Western world. There thus remains the danger that the area, which is of great importance to the nations of the free world strategically, politically and economically, may yet be lost as a result of internal revolts by supporters of international Communism, within the borders of the various countries. The fact that China is at present under Communist control encourages these local Communists, tends to maintain the masses in a neutral or vacillating attitude, and makes the retention of a free Southeast Asia more difficult but even more necessary.

C. Broad common objectives

12. In the light of the above assessment it appeared to the representatives of the three governments in the preparatory discussions that the following should be the broad common world-wide objectives:

The Western Powers must not permit further Soviet advances in the world, by armed aggression, indirect aggression, or subversion, which would strengthen the Soviet position in contrast to the West.
Continuing economic progress and development is essential to the holding of the Western position.
The West must create a framework in which the maximum industrial and military strength can be deployed. This can only [Page 964] be done by the combined resources of the Atlantic Pact powers acting in the interest of the whole free world.
This involves the building of economic strength necessary to support the requisite increased defense effort and at the same time to permit improvement in standards of living, which in turn means, among needed steps, increased productivity, better use of available manpower, and where possible the development of free enterprise and convertibility of currencies.
The Atlantic Pact must therefore be strengthened through the development of common planning for defense, coordination of policies, and concerted action for the implementation of those policies.
The United States, United Kingdom, and France should exercise their world leadership in such manner as to take into account the aspirations of other free peoples and thereby demonstrate that the best interests of these people lie in closer association with the West. There should be close and continuous consultation among our three governments to this end.
The West should regain and retain the psychological initiative, which means building faith in freedom into a dynamic force rather than something which is taken for granted and increasing public understanding of the nature methods and danger of the forces by which it is threatened.”2

2. Following additional sub-paragraphs 1–a also approved US–UK plenary for submission to Acheson and Bevin.

“Sub f: With the above objectives in mind and in the light of their obligations as members of the UN there should be close understanding and cooperation between the US and the UK. It should be their aim in their common interests and for the common purposes outlined above to assist and strengthen each other.

Sub g: It is in the interests of the two governments that the position of France, as the leading continental power of Western Europe, should be strengthened.”

  1. The meeting was held at 4:45 p. m. at the Foreign Office.
  2. The first draft of this paper, TRI/P/12, dated May 3, not printed, had been circulated by Secretary-General Shuckburgh on the previous day. With the exception of paragraphs 3, 4, and 9 of part A and subparagraphs d and g of part C which were added during the bilateral plenary, TRI/P/12 is the same in substance as the revised draft transmitted in the source text. (396.1 LO/5–350) Regarding its further revision and consideration by the Foreign Ministers, see footnote 1, p. 1075.