611.91/3–1051: Telegram

The Ambassador in India (Henderson) to the Secretary of State

secret

2374. Consult Burton Berry, NEA, re distribution. Memo conversation March 8 between Assistant Secretary McGhee1 and Prime Minister Nehru follows:

I opened conversation explaining Secretary wanted make clear to Nehru we did not wish present differences of view between India-US centering around problem Communist China affect our basic understanding or impede full consultation with each other on matters common interest. I asked Prime Minister how he assessed present intentions two Communist states. I made clear it was their apparent aggressive intent rather than their Communist ideology which gave [Page 2128]us concern. Prime Minister embarked on historical claim proof wars do not accomplish their objectives, but merely lead to new wars.

First World War resulted in second and second raised problem Russian Communism. Russia is what she is today largely because way nations isolated her when young. Same mistake being made today with China. He went on prove undesirability war in terms social and economic chaos created, which, even if Russia were defeated, would leave world easy prey to Communism. I replied we were as thoroughly convinced as anyone of undesirability war. However, we would rather face war than be slave state under Russian domination, which appeared to be Russian objective for whole world. As for threat Communism after war—although this might be possibility, domination of world by Communism appeared be certainty if we did not prepare stop Russians in their immediate objective world conquest. He pointed out impossibility occupying Russia and imposing our will on Russia. I agreed this would be difficult but was not adequate justification for not taking adequate defensive measures.

I pointed out great disappointment of American and present popular reaction against GOI because of their present policies. To us these policies appeared run counter, even seek undermine our own efforts and those other UN nations toward development effective collective security against aggression.

Aggression by Soviets or Communist China or both appeared constitute greatest present dangers world peace, although it has unfortunately taken us as democracy long period become convinced these threats, we are now firmly determined any further aggressive moves will be met by force. We have therefore started rearm on large scale, which means great sacrifices in terms taxes. We have begun build up our military forces, which means normal citizens, many of whom fought in last war, are going into uniform, even though there is nothing they would prefer better than continue lead normal life. We have, in pursuance call of UN, suffered 50,000 casualties Korea. We have made great efforts help arm and train other nations threatened by aggression.

It was, therefore, source great disappointment to us India not only voted against SC resolution condemning China’s aggression, but appeared to be actively seeking influence other states toward neutral position in cold war struggle. We felt this trend toward neutralism constituted great danger since it detracted from strength free world which could come through unity. It would appear, moreover, provide encouragement to aggressor states through giving them impression of weakness on part neutral states, and left uncertainty as to whether they were willing or able defend themselves.

Prime Minister agreed Russia had aggressive and expansionist designs. He said he did not feel China had immediate designs on such [Page 2129]nature, since it would take China considerable period consolidate newly-won independence, perhaps decade or so. He dismissed both Korean and Indochina actions as not being clear evidence Chinese aggressiveness, explaining support Ho Chi-Minh2 forces had not yet involved any actual Chinese and any present action is stimulated by fact China has already been branded as aggressor in Korea and consequently has little further to lose. He refused agree there was impending Communist threat to Burma, even though I told him we had evidence this threat and members his own government felt it was possibility.

He explained there was no essential difference between his approach and that other free nations except as to method. He had found, in London, his objectives and those of other Commonwealth countries were same. When I pointed out UK and most Commonwealth countries had since branded China aggressor and were rearming, he observed each country must pursue policies consonance own traditions. It was in Indian tradition they make every effort explore peaceful settlement before resorting war, which repugnant to Indians. He felt those who had reacted to Communist threat by arming themselves and preparing their military forces would provoke war. Existence opposing forces would make it inevitable someone would start it off through some incident. I replied even though we armed ourselves, which I thought we had no alternative but to do in light Russian threat, we would never start war. Our public opinion, as indeed it must be in any democracy, was too much against it. When I asked whether his method negotiation with Communist China had produced results he said it had. It had stopped them from taking all Tibet and had produced reply to cease-fire proposals which, although crudely stated, was close to being satisfactory.

I raised question whether or not responsible government could fail take steps protect its people against threat which, even though discovered, must be considered have some degree possibility, if not probability. Since consequences miscalculation were so great it was grave responsibility assume. He did not respond to suggestion there was any such threat to India. I stated I had always admired strong qualities leadership which he had displayed, not only over India but other countries. In my judgment his greatest contribution world peace, and maybe only way assure there would not be another war, would be lead wavering states into support principle collective security against aggression. Surely this did not mean creation of any “bloc” which we know he dislikes. We are convinced this is only sure way deter aggression or, if it comes, assure victory. He gave no particular reaction this suggestion. He appeared respond suggestion US and [Page 2130]India seek more complete prior consultation on matters common interest, using US–UK consultation as an illustration. He agreed it was better discuss controversial matters between ourselves privately, rather than publicly and in press.

Henderson
  1. New Delhi was one of Mr. McGhee’s stops on a tour of South Asia and the Near East following his chairmanship of the Nuwara Eliya Conference.
  2. President of the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam.