740.5/9–2059: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Acting Secretary of State


Secto 36. Personal for the President from Acheson.1 Since my telegram to you of September 14,2 we have kept you informed of developments from day to day both on NAT and the meetings of the three Ministers and the GA. This telegram attempts to give you some impressions of my own from these various meetings.

1. In the first place in the NAT Council our discussion there, as I thought would happen, did not end on Saturday and had to go over to Monday.

Out of these discussions came these general conclusions, one of which at least represents a change of position.

The French throughout the meeting merely reiterated views which I reported to you before, and I think made clearer than before the fact that the difficulty lay in Paris and, specifically in the Socialist Party and even more specifically with Moch.3 As a result of the discussions and the views of all the other Ministers, Moch will be here tomorrow. The British are also bringing Shinwell,4 who because of his Socialist convictions has influence with Moch.

The British did change their position as a result of communication with London. They are now prepared to accept the principle of German participation in a united defense force and to work out the details as speedily as possible.

So far as the rest of the countries were concerned, although we started out with varying degrees of hesitation, I think we ended up with very little doubt indeed that all of these countries accepted the principle and would join in its application.

However, as the discussion went on, it became clear that in some cases, Norway and Denmark, for instance, and Portugal to a minor extent, the implications of a united force had to be very carefully considered. Their geographic position made it clear to them that they will want to be sure how much of their own force would be retained for the defense of their own country and how much would be used for general operations on the continent. They also wanted to know to what extent the supreme commander would direct his strategy toward defending their particular countries. Of course, no one could [Page 1246] answer this latter question. Therefore, they wanted to consult their governments, which is wholly understandable.

The result of our meetings is that during the recess all of us will consult our governments and one another and will meet again next week. At that time I think the idea of an integrated force will be accepted by all and that the idea of German participation in it will be accepted by all except France, unless our discussions in the next few days with Messrs. Moch and Shinwell bring about a change. As to the chances of this change, the various European Ministers assure me that they believe that the French will be able to alter their position in a matter of a few weeks; whereas McCloy hears from the French that Moch is coming over here in a very negative attitude of mind and will be hard to deal with.

As I analyze this situation, it seems to me that we should clearly differentiate in our minds what we can get the French to agree to in extreme secrecy and what we can say about the situation both in the supposed secrecy of the Atlantic Council and in the communiqué. I should advise that we press the French very hard in private and that we should be as moderate as possible in public. McCloy shares this view thoroughly. He believes that the immediate future is very critical in Germany and that the High Commissioners must have enough leeway to talk with Adenauer in a constuctive and not in a negative way. It seems to me that we cannot accept any French position which puts us back to the position of the twenties, when we were adamant in not making any concession to the Germans who were on our side, and then yielded under pressure to the Germans who were against us. If, however, the French will tell us they will enter on a program I do not think we should push them too far in public confessions.

2. In the meetings of the three Ministers which followed the NAT Council on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning we really made great progress. Aside from the military side of Germany mentioned above, we reached agreement on all German questions and the High Commissioners are well armed to move in useful and forward looking directions in Germany.

Also, after a somewhat bitter battle regarding East-West trade, I think we got agreement which carried out fully the decisions of the NSC approved by you as to my attitude in these talks.5 I think the British are going to move and move quickly and constructively.

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3. In the GA, it seems to me that yesterday and today were most successful.6 The question of seating the Chinese Communists was brought up at the outset and I think handled in a way that showed we had the utmost resistance to any sort of pressure but that we were quite willing to discuss this matter in an orderly way bringing out all aspects of the problem and not attempting to dictate to anyone. This seemed to make a favorable impression as against Soviet attitude, and it certainly attracted the votes. As to the future course, I am being governed by the discussions which you and I have had before on this subject and I am trying to use the discussions on seating the Communists not as an end in itself but as a means to preserve peace with China, prevent an attack on Formosa, and to bring about the sort of a solution which you have been advocating in Korea. I think this can be done if our Republican friends are not permitted to drive us into extreme positions.

Today, aside from the election of officers, the important business was the beginning of the general discussions. I spoke at the opening, outlining the points which you have approved. I think the program we outlined and the moderate way in which it was done made a favorable impression. I say this not merely because of the comments made by the friendly delegations, but because of the effect that it made on Vishinsky. He was scheduled to speak tomorrow morning. He asked to have the order changed so that he could speak this afternoon. It seemed to be quite clear that he was not willing to give us twenty-four hours lead because he was troubled by what we had done. His speech also showed that he was troubled. He definitely was off balance. The program he put out was a rehash of every suggestion which the USSR has made for four years. It made exactly that impression on the delegates.

I think I can tell you that the first two days of the GA have gone well.

Please let me have your thoughts either directly or through Webb whenever you think that what we are doing needs molding or direction in view of the problems with which you are dealing, or whenever you think we are not carrying out your wishes.

I talked with the General7 over the telephone today, and it seemed to me like old days once more.

  1. In the top margin of the source text was the handwritten notation: “Copy to W[hite] H[ouse] Sept 21 12 noon.”
  2. Regarding Secto 8, see footnote 1, p. 1229.
  3. Jules Moch, French Minister of National Defense.
  4. Emanuel Shinwell, British Minister of Defense.
  5. Indicated in text of NSC 69/1, dated August 21, 1950, Export Controls and Security Policy, scheduled for publication in volume iv.
  6. For a record of the General Assembly sessions on September 19 and 20, see United Nations, Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifth Session, Plenary Meetings, pp. 1–34.
  7. Undoubtedly a reference to Gen. George C. Marshall, who had just been appointed Secretary of Defense.