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Memorandum by Mr. John Foster Dulles, Consultant to the Secretary of State, to the Secretary of State

US/A/2543 US/S/1437

Subject: Korea

It is no doubt sound that the United Nations should feel and exercise responsibility for the future military and political developments in Korea. However, this needs to be handled with great discretion:

It is unrealistic and sometimes dangerous when the military operations are dealt with in one compartment (Security Council) while political objectives are in another compartment (General Assembly). The two problems are inextricably related. A military operation should be designed to achieve political objectives and, on the other hand, political objectives should take account of whether there is the power to achieve them. The nature of U.N. organization may require a measure of separation, but the U.S. must be on its guard lest the General Assembly irresponsibly lay down political objectives which could not be achieved militarily, unless by victory over Russia in a general war.
We cannot know now whether it will be possible to “unify” Korea by United Nations action localized to Korea. That would involve an extension of what the Soviet Union would regard as U.S. influence and force into areas very close to Port Arthur and Vladivostok and which, if held by unfriendly elements, could neutralize or destroy these two main Soviet eastern bases. Any effort which seemed to imply this result might be met by Chinese Communist and Soviet force so strong that, as a practical matter, it could not be matched and commitment to attempt it would involved such concentration of U.S. forces in a remote Asiatic land area that it would endanger all of our objectives elsewhere in the world.
On the other hand, neither the U.N. nor the U.S. can repudiate the ideal of a united Korea. To do that would be to alienate the good will and support of all the Korean people, south as well as north, as unity is the one issue that the Korean people understand and will back with enthusiastic and sacrificial effort.
Under these circumstances it seems that the U.S., which has the primary responsibility for supplying the military force, should not take the initiative in the U.N. Assembly to propose political objectives which we cannot publicly repudiate but which, also, we may not be able to back up. I suggest that the U.S. should, in this respect, play a waiting game and let others take the initiative with respect to political objectives. It might be useful to explore putting more responsibility on [Page 752]India. If it proposes political objectives which will be difficult to obtain, then we can ask India to supply forces to help achieve these objectives. If India proposes political objectives which the Koreans will deem inadequate and involve a reversal of U.N. policy, then that will hurt India’s prestige and not ours.
There is, of course, the danger that India might propose a unity of Korea under conditions which would make it likely that that unity would be controlled by communist elements. However, it is not easy to see how this could be in view of the fact that under almost any peaceful conditions an election would give an overwhelming vote in the south against communism which, since the south represents two-thirds of the population, could not be overcome even by an almost unanimous communist vote in the north. Also, all Korea will depend largely on U.S. economic aid.
The vote might, of course, result in a strong communist minority representation in the Assembly which would be a cause of future trouble. But presumably, once a united government was established under predominantly non-communist control, and with U.N.–U.S. economic aid, the communist strength would recede, provided there were protection against subversive effort and a violent seizure of power.