Miller Files, Lot 53 D 26

The Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Miller) to the Ambassador in Argentina (Bunker)


Dear Ellsworth: I think your letter of December 131 presents us with a lot of problems that deserve considerable thought. In particular, I am concerned over your worry that we should not close the door, or give them the impression that the door is closed, to an improvement of relations between our two countries. In this connection you will be interested in reading the enclosed study2 of the handling of U.S.-Argentine [Page 1139] relations in recent years prepared by Louis J. Halle, Jr., who was formerly policy planning adviser in ARA and who is now at the War College. I find that this study is helpful and timely even though I think that in parts it is a little naive in dealing with the formulation of American foreign policy as if it were a task that could be executed without reference to the state of domestic public opinion in this country. However, the thing that struck me most forcefully in reading this paper just after having read your letter was the very penetrating analysis on how two countries can get themselves into an inflexible situation like this. In a sense I cannot help but feel that it would help if I shuffled off the scene since I expressed my views on the Perons when I made the statement that Halle refers to in the La Prensa case. However, I am not going to leave (the Secretary only yesterday having insisted that I stay on until the end of the current Presidential term), and it is idle for me to speculate if I would have been better off not having said anything about the La Prensa case.

Having agreed with you, however, as to the fact that we should not close the door—and I have done everything in my power to keep good relations with Paz and Remorino and not to let the Aloe–Apold–Colom3 diatribes suck us into a dog fight—I have to express skepticism as to what is going to come through that door if it is kept open. The reason for my doubts is that I am afraid that what Peron really wants from us is something that is not within our power to give him—because I feel that what is really important to Peron and to his wife to receive from this country is not so much loans or even military equipment but rather something much more intangible and impossible for us to deliver, namely, our official approval of them personally and of their regime coming from both our Government and our press. That is what my talks with Peron really came down to in February 1950 when he talked about “arreglando mi situación con los Estados Unidos” and what is fundamentally, in my opinion, at the root of all of this press campaign against us down there. In this connection, I think that one of Halle’s shrewdest observations in the enclosed study is that although Peron attacks us to attract attention to himself he is also particularly eager to be accepted as one of the boys. This bears out precisely the impression I got when I lunched with Peron when I was in Argentina this last February.4 As he expatiated about the virtues of Eisenhower, Marshall, Bradley and Ridgway,5 one almost felt that he considered [Page 1140] himself as being part of that great group even though only half an hour earlier he had been exculpating himself for Argentina’s non-participation in Korea on the ground of internal political expediency.

I do hope that you can come up to Washington at your earliest convenience for a number of reasons; provided that it would not be embarrassing for you to come.

[Here follow personal references.]

Sincerely yours,

Edward G. Miller, Jr.
  1. In his letter, Ambassador Bunker stated in part:

    “The overriding impression that I have received during these last few weeks is that there is a desire on the part of Perón to try to improve relations with the United States, and that he also feels that, in view of his handsome victory at the polls (an outstanding example of purity in elections), we should be inclined to take a more favorable, less antagonistic view of his administration.” (Miller Files, Lot 53 D 26)

  2. Not found with the source text.
  3. Eduardo Colom, a Peronista member of the Argentine Chamber of Deputies; Raul A. Apold, Sub-Secretary of Information; Carlos Vicente Aloé, Governor-elect of the province of Buenos Aires.
  4. Mr. Miller had met with President Perón in early March.
  5. General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe; General of the Army George C. Marshall, Secretary of Defense until September 12, 1951; General of the Army Omar N. Bradley, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway, Commander, Far East Command.