The Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs (Hickerson) to Mr. Frank C. Nash, Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Marshall)


Re: Work of the CMC

Dear Frank: In the Collective Measures Committee we are now approaching the stage where it is hoped that the Committee can agree on a plan of work and proceed to delegate to its individual members, the United Nations Secretariat, and to subcommittees the responsibility for the preparation of papers which can form the basis of Committee consideration.

Because of the nature of the Committee’s task the Departments of Defense and State will have to work in close collaboration so that the United States point of view can be most effectively put forward. It might be well therefore for me to outline our views on the purpose and scope and objectives of the work of the Collective Measure Committee during this first phase of its operations prior to the report that it is required to render under the Resolution by September 1, 1951.

In the first place, we regard the development and organization of collective measures which could be taken by Member States in furtherance of United Nations action as a project of real importance to our national defense. In our view it is in effect one component part of the total United States effort to prevent war, or if it cannot be prevented, to win it. In this sense it is a component part standing in the same category as and differing only in degree from the other components to supplement our national strength, such as the North Atlantic Treaty, the Military Assistance Program,1 the regional defense system in the [Page 640]Western Hemisphere,2 and the collective defense arrangement now under consideration for the Pacific Area.3

The development of effective collective measures under the United Nations is important not only because of its deterrent effect on a potential aggressor, but also because of the role which we assume the United States will want the United Nations to play in any future action against aggression to which the United States decides in its national interest to commit its forces. It is our assumption based on various decisions of the National Security Council that in such case the United States will wish to obtain the support of the world community by appropriate United Nations action. As in Korea, but to a greater extent in any future cases, we would then be acting with the moral support of the large majority of the nations of the world and with the useful material support of such nations, including those outside the immediate area of conflict. Thus the Members of the United Nations should be able to provide an increasingly important increment to the effort to deter or to suppress aggression, an increment which would not be forthcoming if we relied solely on our own strength and that of our partners in regional and self-defense arrangements. The extent and value of that increment will depend upon the ability of the United Nations to make progress in the organization and planning for the coordination of the participation of other Member States.

Accordingly, it is to the real interest of the United States to pursue our policy of strengthening the principle of collective security, of working in and through the United Nations and developing its machinery against aggression.

The work of the Collective Measures Committee therefore and the progress that it can make in the task before it has definite possibilities for our national policy in the present state of world affairs. At the same time without minimizing the long-range possibilities or limiting the horizons, it is recognized that we must proceed prudently and gradually and in a way that is consistent with our other fundamental policies and, as we stated in the attached telegram,4 we must be hardheaded and realistic in our approach to the problem. For example, although neither the USSR nor its Satellites is a member of the Collective Measures Committee, its presence in the United Nations and specifically its participation in the General Assembly to which the Collective Measures Committee must report necessarily forecloses any effort to utilize the Collective Measures Committee as an instrument for any sort of strategic planning. Moreover, as the telegram points out, the steps that we take must be complementary to and in furtherance [Page 641]of effective progress in our efforts in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in the building up of effective hemispheric defense, and in the soundest implementation of the Military Assistance Program.

We are aware that in terms of concrete achievement the Committee’s progress before its first report on September 1, 1951 will not be extensive. It can, however, make practical gains in obtaining responses from Member nations, in planning arrangements for interim coordination, and in evaluating the problems which the United Nations must meet in order to realize its long-range potential in security matters. Such progress will, it is hoped, make all nations realize that the development of a collective system under the United Nations offers hope for future strength which is susceptible of practical realization.

In terms of the immediate tasks of the Collective Measures Committee the Department of State transmitted on March 17, 1951 to the United States Mission to the United Nations telegram #792, which outlined the problems on which we believe the Collective Measures Committee should concentrate in the first phase of its work. Although I understand you saw this telegram prior to its transmission, I am attaching a copy for your ready reference.

In so far as the problems enumerated in the telegram are concerned, we believe that paragraphs numbered 1 and 2 present no substantial difficulties.

With respect to items 3, 4 and 5, however, it seems clear that these subjects require substantial work particularly by the Department of Defense before our representative on the Collective Measures Committee will be able to express this Government’s views. Indeed, because the matters are primarily of a military nature, we cannot be sure that the problems themselves have been precisely formulated or adequately defined in a way that makes them most meaningful. It would be most helpful therefore if you and your staff could examine these general questions both with a view to articulating the problems in the most precise form and to begin the studies in the Department of Defense as promptly as possible.

We cannot, of course, be sure that the Committee in formulating its plan of work will agree that these problems are the ones to which priority of consideration should be given, but we think it is likely that they will be studied by the Committee in one form or another and it would seem prudent for the United States to be fully prepared.

In respect to item #6—the concept of a United Nations legion—it is our view that this also should be studied in the Committee. Such a study would bring out the practical as well as the political merits and disadvantages of the subject on which so much public attention has been centered in recent months. However, because of its complexities, it need not be accorded the same priority in terms of preliminary studies by this Government as the other questions.

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The Department of State is continuing its studies of the other subjects listed in Part II of the attached telegram and we hope that as these studies progress we will be able to obtain the views of the Department of Defense thereon. As to all these matters the views of our two Departments can be coordinated through the Working Group on the Collective Measures Committee which has already been established and on which you are the principal representative of the Department of Defense.

I would be very glad to have a further exchange of views with you on the subject matter of this letter at your early convenience.

Sincerely yours,

John D. Hickerson
  1. For documentation on the Military Assistance Program, see pp. 266 ff.
  2. For documentation on defense of the Western Hemisphere, see vol. ii, pp. 985 ff.
  3. For documentation on this subject, see vol. vi, Part 1, pp. 132 ff.
  4. Telegram 792 to New York, March 17, p. 632.