611.00/11–350: Telegram

The Ambassador in India (Henderson) to the Secretary of State

top secret

1078. Embtel 1067, November 3.1 1. During my conversation with Nehru November 2 he referred to “anti-Communist hysteria, war psychology, and fear complex in US.” He said that it seemed to him that it would serve world peace better if US officials and press would stop talking about threat of Communist aggression and about necessity of military preparation to meet that threat. Such talk tended to excite other parts of world and to render it more difficult for restoration of international peaceful atmosphere.

2. I told him I would like briefly to describe situation in US as I understood it. Our analysis of world situation and experience of recent years in dealing with international Communism caused us to believe that international Communism planned expansion by force of arms or by threat of force of arms; that it would be prevented from engaging in aggression only if it was given to understand that aggression on its part would meet with such sharp armed opposition that it would be part of wisdom to restrain its expansionist ambitions. US was democratic country and American people were by character peaceful. They had no quarrel with, or dislike of, other peoples. Most of them wanted to live and work without bothering about international problems. They did not wish to pay taxes to support armament of US and other countries or to contribute either young men to military forces which might be sent to any part of world to fight aggression. They were at present [Page 1473]paying such taxes and contributing their youths merely because they now understood dangers to world and to them of international Communist expansionism. Unless such dangers were kept before them they would be likely to relax, lose interest, and refuse longer to bear main burden of curbing aggression. It would be shortsighted therefore for American leaders or press to give US people sense of false security to such extent that they would not be willing longer to carry terrific burden under which they were struggling. I said I would also like to emphasize that US Government was not opposing Communism as such in various parts of the world. It was unmasking and exposing aggressive characteristics of international Communism. It also believed that not only American people but world at large should be awake to fact that Communists look for leadership to Moscow no matter how peaceful they might declare their intentions to be, must actually be engaged in endeavoring to create economic deterioration and public disorder in non-Communist countries, to soften up areas where early armed aggression was planned, and to prevent various non-Communist areas from joining in collective opposition to Communist aggression elsewhere. I added that if more of free world could be awakened to dangers of international Communist aggression by collective measures whenever and wherever it manifested itself US could afford perhaps to relax somewhat and to be relieved of its present tensions.

3. Nehru said he appreciated force my remarks. Nevertheless he wondered if US public would not in time become tired of strain under which it was laboring and whether its fatigue might not result either in its launching into preventive war or refusing further to bear present burden regardless of effects on world at large. I said that of course such danger existed. US leaders had extremely delicate task. Certain demagogues took advantage situation to endeavor create hysteria. Activities of these demagogues appeared to excite more interest abroad than restrained intelligent work carried on by responsible American leaders. Result was misunderstanding of what was going on in US.

4. I added that mere elimination of fear either in US or elsewhere of international Communist aggression was not likely to assure international security. Absence of fear of peoples close to Iron Curtain would not save them so long as at any moment curtain might roll up far enough to permit eruption of tanks and planes and of armed men who would not desist merely because their victims were not afraid. I said that we believed that only active preparation and collective opposition to aggression could save these people and forestall world war.

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5. Nehru said that Gandhi2 had taught Indians that individual passive resistance could defeat mighty British Empire. I replied that I had considerable doubt that these tactics would have been successful against foe so ruthless as international Communism was willing to be. If Gandhi had been opposed to international Communism he probably would not have lived long enough to issue his call of passive resistance and his disciples would undoubtedly have been liquidated in short order. Nehru agreed that coping with international Communists was not quite same task as that of opposing British imperialism.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Mohandas K. Gandhi, Indian nationalist leader; assassinated in 1948.