795.00/1–851: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom

top secret

3316. For the Ambassador. Please deliver fol message to the PriMin from the Pres at once:

“My Dear Mr. Prime Minister: I hasten to answer your message of January 8. In response to your questions:

First, there has not been any change in the position on which you and I agreed, that resistance to aggression in Korea should continue in Korea unless and until superior force requires the evacuation of our troops. Any other information you have received regarding the intentions and determination of this Government is wholly incorrect. The present tactical situation does not reflect any change in this position, but rather the essential adjustments to cover the increased jeopardy to UN troops resulting from a recent marked decrease in the effectiveness of the sorely tried South Korean divisions.

Second, the desire and intention of this Government to confine hostilities to Korea was correctly and, I think, plainly stated by the Secretary of State in his message to Mr. Bevin. Should the Chinese Communists extend hostilities as, for example by an attack on Hong Kong or Indochina or Japan or by massive air attacks from Chinese territory on UN forces, I should assume that you would agree that our desire and intention might be impossible of fulfillment.

Third, we do not intend to recommend to the United Nations a campaign of subversion or guerrilla warfare against the mainland of China by Chinese National forces.

Fourth, regarding action by the UN appropriate to the present situation in Korea, my chief concern is that it should be honest and honorable and directed to preserve the very essence of the great principle for which the United Nations was created—the principle of collective security. In my message to the Congress yesterday1 I said, ‘If the democracies had stood up against the invasion of Manchuria in 1931, or the attack on Ethiopia in 1935, or the seizure of Austria in 1938, if they had stood together against aggression on those occasions as the United Nations has done, the whole history of our time would have been different’.

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By all means let us keep all doors open for peaceful settlement. That is our duty under the Charter of the United Nations. But, if the truth be that aggression has occurred, let us not shrink from stating that truth, because of the fact that the power which launches it is formidable. If we take that attitude the great common problems which you and we have are insoluble.

  1. President Truman delivered his annual State of the Union message to Congress on January 8; for the text, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman, 1951, pp. 6–13.