Memorandum by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Bonbright) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State (Matthews)1
- Department’s Preliminary Position on Proposed Antarctic Expedition
To determine the Department’s position concerning the request of February 25 from Mr. Finn Ronne2 (Commander, USNR, and leader of a private expedition 1947–48) for the Department’s support for his proposed Antarctic expedition. The question divides into (1) whether it should favor the proposed project, and (2) if so, whether it would be advantageous to give it official sponsorship. A third question of a tactical nature concerns how the Department’s position should be expressed.
Any American expedition would convey certain benefits through its strengthening of United States rights in the area as a whole and its acquisition of scientific data unavailable anywhere else. Against these factors must be weighed the potential cost to the Government and the fact that any expedition would increase tension with other interested powers. All of these factors would become more important in the event that the expedition should be officially sponsored.
Because of the commendable record of Mr. Ronne and the location of the area in which he plans to operate, the favorable factors appear at this time to greatly outweigh possible objections. In any event, strong political grounds for objecting to the expedition do not exist and it is very likely that Mr. Ronne could organize the expedition without the support of the Department. Until the views of other Government agencies, including the Defense Department, become known, the question of possible official sponsorship is difficult to decide. Even thereafter it will be important for the Department not to become involved in inter-service or personal rivalries concerning the expedition.
A fuller discussion of these considerations is attached.
It is recommended that for the present Mr. Ronne be informed that the Department has no objections on political grounds to his proposed expedition and that he will wish to sound out other departments, particularly Defense.[Page 1735]
- Drafted by Grant G. Hilliker of the Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs. A covering memorandum to Deputy Assistant Secretary Bonbright from Frederick E. Nolting, Special Assistant to the Deputy Under Secretary of State reads: “Mr. Matthews concurs in the recommendation of the attached memorandum. He has asked me to follow up on any action with Defense that you may wish this office to undertake.”↩
- A copy of the memorandum of conversation between Finn Ronne and members of the Department of State on Feb. 25, 1953, is in Department of State file 031.1102/2–2553. Ronne was a leading Antarctic explorer of the 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s. He served in the Second Byrd Expedition of 1933–1935, headed his own private expedition to Antarctica in the winter of 1947–1948, and led that portion of the Operation Deepfreeze II expedition of 1956–1957 that established Ellsworth Station in the Wedell Sea area of the Antarctic.↩
- Drafted by Hilliker, with the concurrence of the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, the Assistant Legal Adviser for Inter-American Affairs (Whiteman), and the Office of the Special Adviser on Geography, Bureau of Intelligence and Research.↩