The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Kirk) to the Department of State
Reference: Embassy despatch 301, December 18, 1950.1
Subject: The First Session of the World Peace Council and Subsequent Developments
This despatch contains Embassy comments on the activities of the World Peace Council session in Berlin, and on subsequent related developments, as they were reported in the Moscow press, as well as on probable Soviet-Peace Partisan tactics in the future. The World Peace Council proceedings have not been reported in complete detail, since the Embassy’s main reference source was the Moscow press and since it is assumed that those proceedings have already been fully covered elsewhere.
The Soviet propaganda machine gave tremendous publicity to the activities of the Peace Council. The opening day, February 21, was marked by unusually heavy attacks on the UN in the Soviet press. Stalin’s February 17 interview in Pravda obviously exerted a great influence on the Council proceedings. This influence was so apparent that it should increase Peace Partisan vulnerability to attack as Communist inspired and controlled.[Page 465]
The course of events since the Second World Peace Congress (November, 1950) was reflected in the sharper and more aggressive tone of the Council speeches, as compared with those of the Congress. As was to be expected, the Council’s activities in no way deviated from the regular Party line. The Appeal for a Peace Pact, which one speech described as an even more important document than the Stockholm Appeal, has received the greatest publicity thus far. Among the other Council decisions, the resolutions on the United Nations and on German remilitarization also received considerable comment.
Although they received much less notice, the Council’s discussion and decisions concerning ways and means of expanding the Peace Partisan movement and obtaining new allies were of great importance, for to a large extent the future success of that movement will be contingent on the possibility of attracting new supporters, particularly those who are respected and not considered pro-Communist, but who are politically naive and susceptible to manipulation. Specific reference was made to the possibility of contacting religious groups and adherents of world government, as well as those who favor pacifism or neutrality (in other words, those who may serve to help widen the split in non-Communist ranks).
Particularly alarming was the Council’s reference to the possibility of joint action with the Quakers, for such an event would undoubtedly constitute a major achievement for the Partisans (page 10). It was clear from the Council speeches that the Partisans had worded their program in such a way as to attract the greatest possible number of people.
A large number of conferences were planned or discussed, most of which will obviously do much to give the World Peace Council the appearance of a world organization engaged in solving all sorts of problems. This aspect of the program is apparently calculated to buildup the World Peace Council still further as a rival to the UN. The International Economic Conference, scheduled for this summer, in Moscow, appears particularly suitable for Soviet propaganda purposes (page 12). The fact that some of these conferences have been scheduled for this summer (and one in Moscow) will probably not be overlooked by many on both sides of the Iron Curtain who are concerned regarding the possibility of war this year.
The Soviet Peace Defense Act and the European Workers’ Conference Against Remilitarization of Germany, in Berlin, were two further developments in the peace campaign which received great publicity in the Soviet Union. On the other hand, the recent exchange of messages between the UN and the World Peace Council (concerning the desire of the WPC delegation to visit the UN) was only briefly reported in the local press and has not been played up editorially.[Page 466]
The World Peace Council is undoubtedly scheduled for further development as a rival to the UN. However, ultimate Soviet action will probably be influenced by the results of the present Paris talks and the Council of Foreign Ministers meeting, and the possibility of obtaining a Peace Pact. The Soviet Union could find both advantages and disadvantages to seceding from the UN. In the future, its decision may well be determined to a large extent by its estimate of the probable effect of secession on the important neutral countries (page 18). Meanwhile, anti-UN propaganda continues and the World Peace Council is being rapidly developed for future use, either as a threat or as an actual rival.
[Here follow 14 pages of detailed discussion under the subheadings of “World Peace Council”, “Council Activities”, and “Some Subsequent Events”.]
III—Possible Future Developments
The World Peace Council session and its decisions appear to bring the Soviet Union and the Peace Partisans closer to a showdown with the UN. Undoubtedly, strenuous efforts will be made in the future to justify the portrayal of the Council as the most representative international organization. At the same time, Soviet-Peace Partisan attacks on the UN will probably continue, unless Soviet power and influence in the UN is greatly increased by some drastic change in the international scene.*
Soviet action vis-à-vis the UN will probably be influenced by several factors, including, among others: the possibility of securing a Five Power Peace Pact; the results of the present Paris discussions and, possibly, of a future Council of Foreign Ministers meeting; and the likely repercussions of secession from the U.N.
If the USSR were to achieve a Five Power Peace Pact it would presumably prefer to remain in the UN and continue to exercise its influence in that organization and to use it as a forum for its propaganda.
If the Soviet Union were to obtain what it considered to be outstanding diplomatic successes at a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers,2 it might well decide against seceding from the UN, on the grounds that such action would probably arouse fresh alarm and provoke new energetic measures among the principal anti-Soviet governments which would undo or nullify the previous Soviet gains. In [Page 467] the absence of any substantial gains for the Soviet Union at the Council of Foreign Ministers meeting, such considerations would not, of course, exert an influence on Soviet thinking regarding secession.
No matter what the results of the Council of Foreign Ministers meeting, the Soviet Union might well try to utilize that meeting to minimize, at least indirectly, the influence and prestige of the UN, by arguing that the most important problems are, perforce, settled by direct negotiation among the Great Powers and outside the UN.
Secession by the Soviet bloc would tend to increase, at least on paper, the importance of the World Peace Council. The latter now “represents”, in its own peculiar way, the “peace-loving peoples” of 81 countries. Following secession, on the other hand, the UN would appear to be less of a world organization than it is today. To dramatize its charges that the UN is not truly representative of the people of any country, whatever, the Soviet bloc might well seize on the inability of the Peace Council delegation to obtain satisfaction from the UN as the most appropriate occasion for leaving that organization, should other developments seem to make such action advisable at that time.
Secession, however, would not be without drawbacks for the Soviet Union. For one thing, it would leave the non-Soviet countries in a single organization and free from Communist vetoes. Moreover, in addition to the above mentioned repercussions on the major anti-Soviet governments, secession might well have the effect of reducing; sympathy for the USSR among the countries which are not consistently anti-Soviet, and among various groups which favor pacifism or neutrality. Undoubtedy, the USSR hopes to manipulate those countries and groups so as to widen the split in non-Soviet ranks, and it would, presumably, prefer to avoid any action which would reduce the opportunity for such manipulation. Therefore, the ultimate Soviet decision with regard to secession eventually may be determined by Soviet thinking regarding the effect such action would have on the important neutral countries.
At any rate, whether the Soviet bloc will ever actually secede from the UN or not, the Peace Council can be, and is being, developed as a useful club which the Soviets can either wield for intimidation or actually use at the most propitious moment.
First Secretary of Embassy
- Not printed.↩
- One noteworthy forecast of future international developments was made by Nenni, in his speech at the Council, in which he stated that the most likely result of the “American war policy” was a “prolonged period of neither peace nor war”, which will create a particularly favorable soil for every sort of adventure, including those of a facist and Nazi type”. [Footnote in the source text.]↩
- For documentation regarding this subject, see volume iii .↩