795.00/6–2550: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Kirk ) to the Secretary of State

top secret

1726. From Barbour.1 If estimate last paragraph Seoul’s 925 June 25 to Department correct, this aggressive NK military move against ROK represents clear-cut Soviet challenge which in our considered opinion US should answer firmly and swiftly as it constitutes direct threat our leadership of free world against Soviet Communist imperialism. ROK is a creation of US policy and of US-led UN action. Its destruction would have calculably grave unfavorable repercussions for US in Japan, SEA and in other areas as well.

We feel therefore, that we are called upon to make clear to the world, and without delay, that we are prepared upon request to assist ROK maintain its independence by all means at our disposal, including military help and vigorous action in UNSC. Embassy assumes that ROK has or will shortly ask for such assistance. Public declaration our willingness to assist in any feasible way desired by ROK need not, and should not, in Embassy view, await formal ROK initiative. Delay could suggest to Soviets possibility their precipitating with impunity further immediate action against Indochina et cetera.

Soviets probably calculating that we will be inclined to allow “neutralization” of Korean civil war in which numerically stronger and more heavily armed NK troops and Commie fifth columnists in ROK territory will form victorious combination and thus advance boundaries Soviet empire without actual use Soviet military forces. For reasons given Embtel 1214 April 24 [25] and despatch 514 same date (“Embassy estimate Soviet intentions”)2 which we believe still valid Embassy does not think Soviets prepared now risk possibility full scale war with West.3 Kremlin’s Korean adventure thus offers us opportunity to show that we mean what we say by talking of firmness, and at same time, to unmask present important Soviet weaknesses before eyes world and particularly Asia where popular concept Soviet power grossly exaggerated as result recent Soviet political and propaganda successes that area.

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View urgency situation foregoing transmitted without benefit views of Ambassador who returns Moscow early June 26. Ambassador will no doubt wish cable his comments as soon as possible after his arrival.4

Service Attachés concur in foregoing.

Department pass USUN, repeated info niact USUN 35. [Barbour.]

  1. Walworth Barbour, Counselor of Embassy, was Chargé in the absence of Ambassador Kirk.
  2. Documentation on this subject is scheduled for publication in volume iv.
  3. This estimate was based on the premise, according to despatch no. 514, that the Soviet Union stood to gain more by avoiding a shooting war and that the only way—according to the Soviets—in which the West could really stop Soviet cold War successes would be by initiating a shooting war (661.00/4–2550).
  4. Ambassador Kirk sent the following message in telegram 1736, June 26, 6 p. m., from Moscow, which was received in the Department of State at 2:47 p. m. on June 26: “I concur with views contained Embtel 1726, June 26 as basic.” (795.00/6–2650)