The United States Representative at the United Nations (Austin) to the Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs (Hicherson)

top secret

Dear Jack: Since your welcome visit to New York,1 I have been thinking a great deal about the problems of the forthcoming General [Page 20]Assembly which we discussed together. I am persuaded by further consideration that the United States will need to project a large and positive theme. The fundamental problem before us has been well stated in the August 24 draft paper prepared in UNP entitled “United States Program in the General Assembly”.2

All of us, I think, are agreed that we must “formulate a comprehensive United States program for the General Assembly that can meet our expected policy requirements at that time; serve as the main focus of attention in the General Assembly; and be clear and positive enough to enable the United States Delegation to maintain the initiative and to present our position in each Committee as part of a coherent over-all policy”.

What I am not yet sure about is whether we have found the answer to this problem. I have considered the draft paper together with the staff here, and set forth our views herein.

I am sure you will agree that the United States theme at the General Assembly should be positive, vital and uplifting. Our greatest asset, it seems to me, is at once our simplest and our grandest concept: the idea of freedom.

Ambassador Sayre3 has called to my attention a quotation from Abraham Lincoln which expresses beautifully the inter-connection between the free institutions of the United States and the promotion of human freedom everywhere:

“What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us. Our defense is in the spirit which prizes the liberty of all men, in all lands, everywhere.”

It is obviously in our national interest to support and uphold that spirit which prizes the liberty of all men. The General Assembly provides a unique forum for the upholding of that spirit. I should therefore like to see our chief activities at the Assembly converge around the central theme of “the foundations of freedom”, or “the promotion of freedom”, or whatever form of words you like which embodies this thought.

Much of our work in the Assembly can be related to this theme. Thus, if we are able to advance what the draft position paper calls “a positive and realistic program for the reduction and control of armaments”, we will be contributing significantly to freedom by limiting the capacity of aggressors to threaten freedom. The same may be said of our program for advancing the work of the Collective Measures Committee, which protects freedom by helping to build a universal [Page 21]collective security system. The work of the free nations in the economic and social fields can likewise be emphasized as building the economic and social foundations necessary for the establishment and maintenance of human freedom. The United Nations work in the field of trusteeship and non-self-governing territories lends itself obviously to this treatment.

I am sure you will also agree that what the world needs now is deeds more than words. We should therefore not only proclaim the objectives of the free world; we should show what progress the free world is actually making and what forward steps we envisage to make human freedom a worldwide reality.

By seizing the initiative at the outset of the Assembly with such a statement, we can counter the expected Soviet peace offensive through proposing a more realistic and hopeful alternative to the world than the one the Soviets offer. The world situation demands more of us than merely a counterattack against the Russians. Mere negative criticism is not enough. What I am suggesting is that, in addition to showing how and where the Russians are wrong, we should propose a positive and concrete program for the achievement of human freedom throughout the world.

Part of this approach might be historical. We could point to the six years of work of the United Nations in building the foundations of freedom in the political, economic, social and educational fields, and compare with this Soviet achievements during the same period. More important are projects for the future. We should suggest practicable programs for the future building of these same foundations by proposing what the free world should do, not just say. The contrast with what the Russians say will be so obvious that the world will readily draw the moral.

Something of what I have in mind can be achieved by carefully coordinated speeches and public relations activities. Basically, however, its achievement rests on the positive content of our program. As I said above, the world needs deeds more than words. We must therefore decide what we can do, or at least propose doing, that will help build the foundations of freedom. If we feel that we cannot afford the money for any new programs of economic development, for instance, then we should exercise our ingenuity in proposing deeds which will not cost so much money, and in talking about the things we have done and will continue to do in such a way as to carry conviction that we are not merely paying lip service to these great ideas.

Our specific comments on the Department’s draft paper are as follows:

On Korea, we think that even if we should decide to “keep the problem of the political settlement of the Korean situation out of the [Page 22]Assembly”, we will want to have the Assembly reaffirm the United Nations political objectives in Korea. We feel there might be advantages in the General Assembly appointing after armistice a United Nations representative to assist the General Assembly in effecting a political settlement in Korea. In addition, we imagine that we would want the Assembly to take some action initiating, authorizing or approving whatever steps are taken outside the United Nations towards a political settlement in Korea. On Korean relief, we are considering some proposals designed “to encourage wide participation in relief programs by non-official groups throughout the world”. We hope to be able to send something specific on these points to the Department soon.

On the Collective Measures Committee, we think that it would probably be advantageous to have the Assembly adopt a substantive resolution embodying various recommendations to members on steps which they might take to further the development of an effective universal collective security system. We also agree that we should press for continuance of the Collective Measures Committee for another year so that it can finish the formative aspect of the Uniting for Peace Program. We agree that consideration should be given to making the POC more useful and effective, and we hope to send you some specific proposals on that question in the near future.

On the control and reduction of armaments, we agree in the formulation of what is necessary. We would only underscore what the Department has no doubt already thought of: that we will need something more than a reiteration of our previous positions in this field if we are to fill the bill of “a positive and realistic program … designed to convince other delegations that we intend to reduce armaments when the necessary conditions have been met.”

On the problem of meeting Soviet propaganda suggestions for East-West negotiations and the Five Power Pact, it seems to us that basically this is a question of how the United States establishes an initiative in the General Assembly and retains the momentum of prior resolutions (Essentials of Peace, Peace through Deeds, etc.) The adoption of a broad theme of freedom would be part of our initiative. Relating specific proposals and agenda items to this theme would be another part. In addition, the importance of deeds rather than words can be shown by an outline by the Secretary in his opening statement of the real causes of tension.

On the general economic and social themes, we feel that the United States will not be able to make much progress politically or propagandawise unless proposals of more substance can be made. General advocacy of increased productivity and an expanding economy is not enough. In fact, it may even boomerang if we leave to the rest of the world the task of reconciling our advocacy of expansion with (a) our earlier opposition to the International Development Authority, which many of the underdeveloped countries rightly or wrongly regard as a major method of achieving the recommended expansion, (b) our attitude on East-West trade. It seems clear, therefore, that the expanding economy theme, to be effective, should be accompanied by substantive proposals for making fuller use of the United Nations as an instrumentality for economic and social advance.

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We are not in a position here to put forward detailed proposals, but suggest that the following topics, in addition to those mentioned in the Department’s draft paper of August 24, might be investigated:

The conditions under which more technical assistance might be channeled through the United Nations, and more nations might be brought to participate more fully in the program;
The presentation of a more affirmative attitude toward the creation of an International Development Authority. If there is need for international development, as we assume there is, and if the United States is meeting that need at least in part, we do not think that many other countries will be profoundly impressed by the United States argument against such an authority on the ground that the United States would be almost the only contributor;
If we cannot indicate in an affirmative way the conditions under which the establishment of an International Development Authority could come about with United States support, we might be able to offer some hopeful suggestions concerning implementation of the ECOSOC recommendation for exploring the establishment of “an International Finance Corporation to promote the financing of productive private enterprise either through loans without government guarantee, through equity investments or by other methods intended for the same purpose”;
The Community Development Employment scheme worked out in Greece by a United Nations Technical Assistance expert, and now being tried out also in Ecuador, appears to offer substantial possibilities for capitalizing on local initiative and expediting economic development at minimum cost. Perhaps the United States could encourage Greece or Ecuador to emphasize the potentialities of this scheme in a manner which would underscore the importance of national and local efforts in the development field and correspondingly reduce the pressure for large-scale international action;
The feasibility of international action to stabilize commodity prices should be investigated. The receipts of underdeveloped countries from their exports of copper, rubber, jute, tin, wool, hemp, tobacco, etc. now vary so much from year to year that it is hard for them to make practical long-range plans for economic development. At the same time, the expenditures of the more developed countries in Western Europe for the raw materials they have to import are subject to variations that jeopardize their rearmament and recovery programs. For contrary reasons, therefore, proposals looking toward greater stabilization might evoke wide-scale support. We have no recommendations as to what the United States might propose by way of international action (more International Wheat Agreements, other types of long-term commitments, creation of international buffer stocks, etc.) but we suggest that the problem merits imaginative consideration. If an overall approach is impractical, action with respect to one or two commodities might be suggested.

The foregoing would be in addition to the suggestions in the August 24 paper regarding increased productivity and land reform, which we agree are useful items. In this connection we have also thought about the possibility of Assembly action along the lines of [Page 24]the recent OEEC statement on increased productivity and the prospect of a better life after the needs of rearmament have been met. We were much struck by the exchange of telegrams on this subject and the related subject of a possible NATO initiative in this field between London, The Hague and the Department—more struck by the telegrams, in fact, than by the OEEC product. It seems to us that this sort of thing would be useful and heartening, particularly with the Assembly in Paris; and it occurred to us that the United Nations members of OEEC might conceivably wish to co-sponsor in the Assembly a resolution setting forth these views.

We assume that the sections of the draft paper on human rights will be amended along the lines of the Department’s present thinking on Soviet violations of human rights. Our specific comments on this subject are being sent separately to the Department.

In the field of trusteeship and non-self-governing territories, we are attempting to develop a specific proposal which we hope to be able to send to the Department soon.

On all other substantive parts of the Department’s paper, we have no comments at present.

Sincerely yours,

Warren R. Austin
  1. Assistant Secretary Hickerson was at USUN in New York on August 22, consulting with USUN staff on pre-General Assembly matters.
  2. The specific document has not been identified. It seems to have been a composite of the informational circular airgrams, pp. 15, 16, and 24.
  3. Francis B. Sayre, United States Representative on the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations.