Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Rusk)

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Subject: The Korean situation.

Participants: Baron Silvercruys, Belgian Ambassador
Mr. Rusk—FE
Mr. Winfree—WE 1

The Belgian Ambassador called today at his request.

He began by stating that his Foreign Minister, Mr. Van Zeeland, was, in his capacity as President of the Council of Ministers, a very active man who journeyed frequently to many of the Western European [Page 1266]capitals to converse with the leaders of other Western European Governments. Mr. Van Zeeland was, accordingly, in a position to convey any opinions we might have to the heads of other European governments. Therefore, the Ambassador stated, although my discussion of Korea yesterday had been crystal clear, he believed that if I could give him a firm statement of policy that he could pass on to Mr. Van Zeeland, the Foreign Minister could assist us by helping to clarify our position before other governments. The Ambassador added that, as we knew, in certain European capitals there was great indecision as to what should be the attitude toward the most recent aggression in Korea, and that certain groups opposed to the democratic way of life were not averse to using such moments of indecision under the guise of nationalism to further their own ends. Therefore, he felt that Mr. Van Zeeland could help the common cause.

I told the Ambassador that, as he of course knew, the situation in Korea was serious but not disastrous; however, the United States did not intend to permit the United Nations troops to be driven out of Korea. While we were a peace loving and peace seeking nation and were prepared to do everything possible to avoid a general breakout of war, we were not going to withdraw from Korea. The Ambassador then referred to the President’s statement regarding the use of the atom bomb and asked if I meant that we were going to use it. I replied that I could not say whether or not we were going to use the atom bomb. The Ambassador said that he presumed the President meant that he would be guided by the recommendations of the military commanders in the field, since the President alone could authorize the use of the atom bomb.

I told Baron Silvercruys that there were possibly some additional political and economic moves we could make in this situation. However, it had now become clear that the Chinese Communists had as their objective driving all UN troops completely from Korea and if the Chinese Communist delegation in New York had come to the United States to attempt to bargain with us, they were certainly not anxious to do so since they had surrounded themselves with a very effective iron curtain and had rebuffed crudely every attempt by third nations to contact them. I emphasized again that we had no intention of letting ourselves be driven out of Korea.

The Ambassador then referred to the meetings of the Security Council and stated that he was quite confident that we could expect a veto of our resolution in the Council and that the matter would then be turned over to the General Assembly. He asked whether we were going to present our same resolution to the General Assembly. I replied that I did not think we would use the same resolution but would present a new one to the General Assembly.

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Baron Silvercruys then said that van Langenhove, the Belgian delegate to the United Nations, who was a very shrewd observer, had noticed a general feeling of indecision among the members of the United Nations in regard to action by the General Assembly. Many members were lacking instructions as to how they should vote when the question was raised in the GA. The Ambassador thought that we should get in touch with other friendly governments just as soon as possible in order that appropriate instructions might be sent to the delegates of other nations in time for the General Assembly meetings. I agreed with him on this and said that we would do so.

The Ambassador then asked what would happen if the United Nations failed to support the United States’ proposals regarding Korea. I replied stating that the free nations of the world must present a united front on this issue. We would win together or hang separately. I also quoted to the Ambassador a remark I had heard some months ago: “Would the United Nations benefit by gaining Communist China and losing the United States?”

The Ambassador thanked me for the information I had given him, adding his opinion that we must act together in this crisis.

While Mr. Winfree was walking to the elevator with the Ambassador, the Ambassador stated that if we were to use the atom bomb, he could not see any particular value to using it against Chinese cities. Why not go a little further and destroy the Soviet facilities for manufacturing atom bombs which, according to the Ambassador, were not located at too great an air distance from the scene of our present operations.

  1. Robert M. Winfree of the Office of Western European Affairs.