PPS Files, Lot 64 D 563
Abstract of Office of Intelligence Research Report, “Conflicts Between United States Aims in the UN and Those of Certain Blocs” 1
The Arab States
Despite dynastic and political rifts among themselves, the Arab states are probably the most cohesive non-Soviet bloc in the UN. However, even the Arab states act as a unit only on issues clearly affecting their common regional interests such as Palestine. This and related [Page 11]issues constitute the major source of Arab resentment against the US, which is prominently identified with the establishment and encouragement of Israel. Wide gaps between US aims in the UN and those of the Arab bloc may be expected to continue with respect to Arab resistance to any final peace with Israel, the disposition of the Palestinian Arab refugees and freedom of transit of Suez. As part of a larger group of former colonies the Arab states will oppose “colonialism” and “imperialism”, often embarrassing the US in its efforts to harmonize the conflicting interests of the major colonial powers and the anti-colonial states. Disagreement between the Arab states and the US is likely to arise over the future of North African territories such as Libya, French Morocco and Tunisia where the Arab states support the nationalist demands of the Islamic populations. As underdeveloped countries, they tend to advance exaggerated claims for economic and developmental aid which may be more visionary than realistic. Partly in retaliation against the US role in Palestine and partly as a result of their weak and exposed position, the Arab states also have to a considerable degree manifested “neutralist” tendencies in the East-West conflict and, after the Chinese Communist intervention in the Korean war, they joined with the Asian group in attempting to conciliate between the belligerents. However, such neutralism is largely tactical and opportunistic rather than rooted in principle.
The Asian Group
Unlike the Arab states, there is no formally organized Asian bloc, but rather a group of Asian UN members sharing a broadly common outlook on a number of international issues which permits them to work together on a loose ad hoc basis. Of the nine Asian members of the UN, only five (Afghanistan, Burma, India, Indonesia, Pakistan) seem to fall clearly within the so-called Asian group since the remainder have to a larger degree displayed a pro-Western orientation. Rival ambitions for leadership, differing attitudes vis-à-vis the cold war and the antagonism between India and Pakistan have defeated numerous efforts to establish a formal Asian regional organization. Nevertheless in December 1950, under Indian leadership, a combination of twelve Asian and Arab states interceded vigorously in the UN to seek a Korean cease-fire and peace together with a general settlement of Far Eastern problems including Formosa and Chinese representation in the UN. Although this initiative failed largely on account of Chinese Communist truculence, it afforded the members of the Asian group an opportunity to express their deep rooted neutralism in the East-West conflict. From this neutralist sentiment, shared by all members of the group in varying degrees, and from a closely related distrust of the West, stem sharp disagreement with [Page 12]the US as to the fundamental role and purpose of the UN. All are extremely cautious in supporting the concept of collective security through the UN, and India, Burma and Indonesia in particular, envisage a conciliating function for the UN in handling international disputes and tend to turn away from a more militant role. Thus none of the group contributed military forces to the Korean war. Each recognizes Peiping and they have consistently supported its seating in the UN. They are also likely to oppose the US position respecting Formosa. Since the group consists of underdeveloped countries until recently under Western hegemony, it, like the Arab states, opposes “colonialism” and “imperialism” and is suspicious of the close association of the US with major colonial powers. On any future UN questions arising out of the nationalist aspirations of French North Africa or Indochina, this group would tend to side against France. Although the members may not regard the US as an important colonial nation in the primary sense, they nevertheless fear the “economic imperialism” which they associate with the US, and, while seeking economic aid for their development, they will want to avoid any major limitation on what they conceive as their political and economic freedom.
The Commonwealth is merely a loose association of sovereign states which frequently consult on foreign policy matters. At such meetings, although joint policies are rarely adopted, attitudes are explored and the reasons for differences made understandable thereby attenuating centrifugal forces. No formal alliance binds the members, nor is there any obligation to act in concert or even to remain within the Commonwealth. Notwithstanding the flimsy legal ties between the members, a substantial functional unity exists, more pronounced in the case of the older English speaking dominions then in that of the recently admitted Asian dominions. For the first time, important disputes between members have been aired outside the Commonwealth, such as Kashmir case and South Africa’s treatment of its Indian minority. On the whole, the historic evolutionary trend in the Empire from British domination to the independence of the major components will continue to favor separate rather than unified action on major international issues. Yet serious as the differences between some of the members may be, it seems likely that the Commonwealth relationship, in some measure, moderates their violence.
In the UN, the Commonwealth is not a voting bloc and follows no agreed line. However, the interaction of the opinions of the members frequently is an important factor in reducing the spread between the different positions. The UK, in its anxiety to maintain the tenuous Commonwealth bonds, often tries as far as possible to avoid taking [Page 13]positions that would alienate the Asian members, especially India, and at times the older dominions support the UK in this effort. Thus at the January 1951 London Conference of Prime Ministers which considered the Chinese Communist intervention in Korea, the Commonwealth as a whole agreed that all possibilities of diplomatic negotiation with Stalin2 and Mao3 should be exhausted and that any action tending to provoke further intervention by the PRC should be avoided. The Asian Commonwealth components undoubtedly exerted an important restraining influence even on those members which ordinarily are western oriented. This development contributed to a slowing down of the UN’s reaction to Peiping’s aggression, although the UK and the older dominions ultimately supported the condemnation of the PRC and the GA’s recommendation of a selective embargo. The influence of the Asian members will continue to make itself felt in the attitude of the Commonwealth as a whole on issues involving international security, whenever there is general agreement among the members that the US is acting rashly and pressing too hard for UN action. However, this influence will not separate the UK and the older dominions from the US in the event of a showdown with the USSR. At the same time, the older members of the Commonwealth reciprocally exert some moderating influence on the extremism of the anti-Western views of India and Pakistan, and the Commonwealth itself is a potential medium for presenting the US viewpoint to the Asian dominions through those western oriented spokesmen.
The declining military position of the UK has weakened the once powerful unifying force of common defense objectives in the Commonwealth. At the same time, the older dominions have come to look increasingly to the US as the keystone of collective defense. This development lessens the possibility of any difference between the US and the Commonwealth as a whole on basic issues of collective security. In the economic and social fields, Commonwealth ties are stronger than in the political and military spheres since all members except Canada participate in the sterling bloc and imperial preference draws their economies together. For this reason, the US will frequently find itself at odds with the Commonwealth in the economic and social organs of the UN over such issues as trade restrictions, discrimination against the dollar and allocation of scarce raw materials.
The Latin American States
The twenty Latin American (LA) republics constitute the largest UN bloc numerically and are therefore of commanding importance.[Page 14] These states have given strong and frequently unanimous voting support to the US in the UN on issues involving the East-West conflict. However, tangible support has been limited in implementing UN resolutions. Although the LAs frequently caucus on positions to be taken on major issues, they have not operated as a solid bloc on most questions despite general impressions to the contrary. They ordinarily unite in voting för members of their own group to fill important UN posts. However, on substantive matters they more often divide, particularly when special ideological, national or even personality factors enter into the situation.
The LA states have more often voted with than against the US and even when the majority differed with the US position, this was attributable to their desire to uphold some special interest rather than to support the USSR. Like the Arab and Asian groups, their disagreements with US aims in the UN stem from their status as relatively underdeveloped countries and express themselves in anti-colonialism, dissatisfaction with the amount of economic aid received from the US and fear of the inroads of foreign capital on their natural resources. Religious considerations led the majority of the LA states to differ with the US in favoring the internationalization of Jerusalem.
[Here follows the body of the report.]
- As an intelligence report, nothing in this document represented either a statement of United States or Department of State policy or a recommendation of any given policy.↩
- Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin, Chairman of the U.S.S.R. Council of Ministers, and Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.↩
- Mao Tse-tung, Chairman of the Central People’s Government Council, People’s Republic of China, and Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.↩