HickersonMurphyKey files, lot 58 D 33, “US–UK talks—September 1952”

United States Informal Minutes of Meeting Between United States and United Kingdom Groups (Second Session), Washington, September 23, 1952



  • united kingdom
  • Sir Christopher Steele
  • Sir Gladwyn Jebb
  • Mr. J. K. Thompson
  • Mr. F. S. Tomlinson
  • Miss Barbara Salt
  • Mr. R.W. D. Fowler
  • Mr. D. S. Laskey
  • Mr. M. Butler
  • united states
  • Mr. John D. Hickerson
  • Ambassador Ernest Gross
  • Mr. Harding F. Bancroft
  • Mr. David W. Wainhouse
  • Mr. Walworth Barbour
  • Mr. Walter Kotschnig
  • Mr. George M. Ingram
  • Mr. James N. Hyde
  • Mr. Hayden Raynor
  • Mr. J. G. Parsons
  • Mr. David H. Popper
  • Mr. Ward P. Allen
  • Mr. Eric Stein
  • Mr. Bernard G. Bechhoefer
  • Mr. Richard H. Davis
  • Mr. Louis Henkin
  • Mr. Howard Meyers
  • Mr. Lawrence Weiler

part i—the un in the political and security field

A. Objectives and Instrumentalities

Item 1. Relationship of UN Collective Security Activities to UN Pacific Settlement Functions

Item 2. How Could UN Machinery Be Utilized in Event of Future Localized Aggression or General War

Item 3. Pace and Scope of Future Efforts to Strengthen UN in the Collective Security Field

Item 4. Relationships between UN and Other Collective Security Arrangements (NATO, Other Regional or Collective Defense Systems)

The meeting convened at 10:30 A.M.

Mr. Hickerson, in commenting on Sir Gladwyn’s statement of the previous day, asked if the British believed that there was any difference in concept between “collective security” and “collective resistance to aggression”. Sir Gladwyn replied that there was no difference in fact but considerable difference in the relative appeal of the two phrases; “collective resistance to aggression” made it easier to put across to the public what was expected of it. The British did not want to give the impression that their preferred phrase indicated less willingness to make prior preparations to meet aggression.

[Page 22]

Mr. Hickerson referred to Sir Gladwyn’s statement that in the event of Soviet aggression the hard core of resistance would be the US, the UK, and the Commonwealth, and asked if there was any significance to the omissions. Sir Gladwyn said that no overtones were intended, that of course we must go ahead with the build-up in NATO, but we must recognize that the hard core might be merely the US, UK, and the Commonwealth.

Mr. Gross remarked that many UN Members are not now so much concerned with the possibility of immediate Soviet attack as they are with long-range economic and social dangers that are peculiar to their areas. What role, then, should the UN play in terms of the long-range future? He wondered if the UK felt that the next few years were so critical that we should concentrate on the immediate problem of defense against Soviet aggression.

Sir Gladwyn stated that he was not suggesting that the UN not be used to deal with certain types of aggression, i.e., possible conflict over Kashmir, and certainly we all wanted to avoid giving the Arab and Asian countries the impression that the West was concerned exclusively with Stalinist aggression. In reply to a comment by Mr. Gross that, because one of the major problems of the foreseeable future was how to deal with the cold war, economic and social questions are extremely important, Sir Gladwyn said he did not mean to underestimate the importance of such questions.

Mr. Hickerson referred to the deterrent motive and effect of NATO. He pointed out that US strength had never been forces in being, but, rather, industrial capacity and potential, and that while the US had more forces in being today than in previous non-war periods, it had not and never would have the forces sufficient to meet at the same time all its commitments. The organization of collective resistance in the UN should have, as was the case with the NAT, a deterrent effect, morally as well as materially.

Sir Gladwyn replied that UN efforts might have a minor deterrent value. However, many in the US overemphasized the deterrent effect of any UN action, for the Soviets are not much concerned with what the UN might do in case of aggression.

Sir Christopher Steele granted that it might be convenient to have the UN as a “front” or “blanket” under which resistance to aggression might be organized and that such a “blanket” might be of value to someone like Tito in case of aggression. However, what really deters the Soviets is NATO, for here there is a command in being.

Sir Gladwyn commented that use of the UN in collective action helped the morale of the West but did not affect the Soviets. Some danger exists that if the UN is “overstretched” it may not work. The UK agreed with the desirability of obtaining a more equitable sharing of the burden in Korea.

[Page 23]

Agreeing that Article 51 pacts are, of course, desirable, Mr. Hickerson expressed the view that the prospects for additional pacts in the next year or two are not good. Furthermore, the development of collective UN action would seem to appear to most “fence sitters” as less provocative than Article 51 pacts. Certainly the CMC can be used to turn their minds to the importance of Article 51 pacts. While we do not want to push the development of the CMC too fast, we do not want to abandon the Committee or its work.

Mr. Gross pointed out that, according to Trygve Lie, both Schuman and Schuman had agreed the Soviets had been successful in their propaganda efforts (i) to isolate the US from other UN Members and build mistrust of the US in the Middle East and Asia and (ii) to create the impression in the Near East, Asia and to some extent in Western Europe that Korea is an American War. Sir Gladwyn agreed that this was true and that additional “token troop units” would be desirable. Mr. Hickerson replied that divisions would be of more value. Mr. Bancroft commented that it would be helpful to the prospects for an effective deterrent if others were made more aware of their responsibility to help and the Soviets saw a developing community of nations conditioned to collective action.

Mr. Gross felt that the continuous development of the security provisions of the UN Charter had real value. Reference was made to recent private comments by Austrian and Yugoslav officials to the effect that connection with the UN carried security advantages. Sir Gladwyn expressed some disagreement with Mr. Allen’s view that the “neutral” states would be more likely to join UN security arrangements than Article 51 pacts. Such states, he said, would feel that they were losing their position as neutral conciliators if they became too involved in UN security arrangements. Mr. Laskey added that, while in theory the CMC has a universal application, in fact everyone knows it is directed against the Soviets.

The US, Mr. Hickerson stated, doubted whether the more passive UN role contemplated by the British would be as likely to attract the fence-sitters as the more active role for the UN that we contemplate. Sir Gladwyn agreed that how to treat the fence-sitters is a basic problem.

Sir Gladwyn said the only way to use the UN to bring about change in the Soviet system without war was to continue to use the organization as a propaganda forum and possibly to use it to split away the Satellites. While the British desired to play down the propaganda aspects during the coming GA, they generally favored the use of the UN as a propaganda forum. Mr. Hickerson noted that we had found it necessary not merely to ignore or vote down Soviet resolutions but to answer them with modest counter-offensives.

[Page 24]

Referring again to the CMC, Mr. Bancroft said some form of stimulus, some further recommendation by the GA, was necessary. Sir Gladwyn indicated the UK would support a resolution commending the CMC and giving it the right to receive communications from states. The British did not feel that it had accomplished as much as the US believed. Furthermore, other states do not agree that it is not anti-Soviet. The British agreed that you could not drop the CMC but doubted that much more could be achieved through it, for all who were willing to support its work were already cooperating. In reply to Mr. Hickerson’s comment that the CMC’s new term should not be limited to one year, Mr. Laskey said he understood it would be re-established with no mention of the term but with an understanding that the GA could undertake a review next year. This would mean that the GA would not be committed to having the CMC for longer than one year.

It was agreed that further consultations on CMC membership would be necessary.

Mr. Gross remarked that due to the publicity it had received the American people tended to view the development of the CMC as a symbol indicating whether the UN was growing or dying. Mr. Laskey replied that there was no value in launching a program if the results will not match your objectives, for this had the opposite effect to that of a deterrent. Mr. Bancroft commented that all the results were not yet in, that progress was being made, and that each step forward brightened the prospects for the future. This was true, Mr. Laskey replied, but the British were skeptical regarding the “speed and size” of the US program for the CMC; he referred once again to the widespread suspicion that the CMC was anti-Russian.

It was agreed that when the time came for GA speeches there should be further consultation on how to present the CMC question.

Turning to the relationships between the UN and NATO, Mr. Gross said that Article 2 of the NAT was not intended to diminish the paramount importance of the UN facilities on such questions. Mr. Hickerson pointed out that in case of aggression against Yugoslavia, a meeting of the NATO Council might decide, if it were felt that the action could be localized, that NATO members should put on their UN hats and act through the universal organization. Consultations in this case would take place first within the NATO, whereas in case of aggression against Afghanistan, consultations probably would take place primarily in New York in the UN. Sir Christopher added that if NATO decided to act in case of aggression against Afghanistan, it would undoubtedly want to use the UN “blanket”. Referring to possible use of NATO consultations in anticipation of armed invasion where there is general disquiet or border incidents, Mr. Gross raised the question of the relationship of NATO and the UN’s Peace Observation [Page 25] Commission. France, for example, had resisted the use of the POC in Indochina. There was general agreement that action would probably be taken through the UN in case of a major war in Indochina.

Mr. Parsons pointed out that NATO discussions were of two types: (i) consultations within the scope of NATO where decisions involved action and (ii) consultations on outside matters for the purpose merely of discussion and exchange of information rather than action or use of NATO as a public forum. Mr. Hickerson referred to his reference in the previous meeting to UN designation of the machinery of NATO as the executive military authority in case of a general war; the machinery referred to was not the NATO Council but rather the military machinery already established. Mr. Wainhouse added that if similar action were taken by the UN in case of aggression in other areas, the machinery would have to be improvised.

In answer to Mr. Gross’s question regarding the steps that might be taken to meet the Soviet GA propaganda attack on NATO and blunt its effect in Asia and the Near East, Sir Christopher suggested that we counter by pointing to the Soviet relationships with their Satellites. Mr. Hickerson thought that this was unwise. We should continue with the line that NATO is legal under the Charter and that it does not become operative until aggression against one of the members occurs. Sir Gladwyn noted that Nehru objected to the build-up of western power and unity because he believed it meant the West would speak with one voice in the UN on such matters as Tunisia. It was agreed that if the Soviets attacked NATO in the GA we should restate the basic relationship between the UN and NATO.

Item 5. Development of UN Pacific Settlement Functions

Mr. Hickerson stated the US view that equal efforts should be placed upon efforts in the pacific settlement and collective security fields. We supported the employment of the POC in Greece and believe that it has proved beneficial there. We have no specific proposals for the use of the POC in other areas, although some thought has been given to the possibility of sending a POC team to Berlin to observe along the Western Sector’s boundary lines if the situation there worsens. We do not believe any additional machinery is required at this time.

Sir Gladwyn stated the British view that the peaceful settlement function was the primary function of the UN. There was at this time no need for additional machinery. Mr. Laskey added that the UK would accept any solution on POC membership that would gain general support. It was agreed that, at the present time, it was not wise to tamper with the existing membership.

Mr. Gross asked whether consideration should not be given to the possibility of making the POC self-starting. Mr. Hickerson replied that a great deal could be said for such a step, assuming, of course, that the countries involved wanted to use the POC. However, use of [Page 26] the POC had been limited and there was no real value in making such a change now.

Sir Gladwyn said the UK wanted to see the POC continued but resisted as provocative the idea of sending observation teams to the Soviet frontiers.

It was agreed that the over-riding consideration at this time was to avoid unnecessary debate on the POC.

Mr. Hyde questioned the wisdom of a recent British effort to find a way to send controversies to the Sixth Committee when legal questions arose. Such a procedure would formalize action whereas the mediating function works best when it is not formalized.

There was general agreement that there was no reason to expect pressure at the coming GA for an intersessional ad hoc committee of all members. It was noted that the Soviets had rejected Lie’s ideas on the subject.

[Here follows discussion of item 6 of Part I of the agenda, “Role of UN Disarmament Activities”, which is not included here because of the specific character of the matters discussed.]