396.1 WA/7–753: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Aldrich) to the Department of State 1


100. Following is our best judgment British position on topics likely to be discussed in Washington. We limit ourselves to attempting to convey British atmosphere, preoccupations, and reasoning. We make no attempt in this telegram to assess their validity.

1. Western unity

British view with concern signs of slackening in Western unity, including growing evidence of priority in Western German thinking to reunification over Western integration, French balkiness over EDC as evidenced most recently by Socialist insistence on impossible US guarantees, new doubts of Italian ratification, growth of neutralism and wishful thinking as to Soviet policy, and cutback of defense effort in all Western powers. They hope that the strongest possible reaffirmation of Western unity and purpose can come out of Washington meetings.


British consider NATO cornerstone of Western policy and essential to Western security. They want the strongest possible reaffirmation of continued Western adherence to this concept and Western determination to continue building on this foundation to come out of Washington conference. They have been concerned by implications Senator Taft’s recent remarks about termination of military aid2 which seem to raise question as to US determination to stick by NATO and particularly raise doubts as to implementation Article 3 of NATO treaty. It is quite possible that Salisbury will mention these misgivings in Washington.

3. EDC

British are all-out in their determination that EDC must be brought into force. They are prepared to join US in confronting French with basic realities of their position, namely, that it will be impossible to maintain status quo in Germany much longer, that US and UK will not lend themselves to any French effort to keep Germany divided and under occupation, and that only alternative to a Germany rearmed under EDC is a Germany rearmed independently and subject to weaker [Page 1596]ties with West and less satisfactory safeguards against remilitarization and possible deal with Soviets. We believe that British would be prepared to join US in a strong attempt to pin French down to firm timetable. They are not prepared to consider alternatives to EDC until US and UK have exhausted every possibility of getting French ratification. They are not prepared to accede to possible French insistence on four-power talks prior to ratification. They are not yet prepared to admit that EDC is unattainable.

4. Four-power talks

Salisbury will confine himself in Washington to trying to keep door open for possibility four-power “fishing expedition” talks along lines Churchill’s proposal May 11.3 Whether British will press Churchill’s proposal when and if a “Bermuda meeting” is held, will depend on situation at that time. But this should not be interpreted as willingness to let Churchill proposal die of neglect. They feel very strongly that if at any time Western powers have to make any hard decisions, such as facing up to possibility of war, or even continued heavy burden of armaments, there is very great danger that we may not be able to bring public opinion along with us unless Soviet intentions have been thoroughly tested. As indicated below, they do not think that Soviet strategy has changed or that Kremlin is prepared to yield anything of substance. They therefore believe that four-power talks will end in failure and they regard this as their chief merit and as essential to consolidating Western public opinion behind maintenance of policy of strength and firmness toward Soviet Union. The only exception to this is the lingering belief of P.M. that contact at highest level with his personal participation might produce some easing of tension and progress toward better relationship with USSR. Churchill speech clearly caught temper of public opinion in Britain and Western Europe and the events in East Berlin, the changes in Hungary,4 the new moderation in Soviet domestic policy, and the prospects of truce in Korea have all fed the public mood of wishful thinking which in British view makes it essential that in the not-too-distant future the Kremlin be put to the test of four-power talks. Failing such a demonstration they fear that neutralism and infirmity of purpose will grow in the West with consequences that could ultimately be disastrous. But as to timing, they are definite that German elections and French ratification EDC must come first.

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5. Germany

One of principal British objectives at Washington will be to (a) “confirm and reaffirm publicly our existing policies toward Germany” and (b) “continue our support of Adenauer in pursuit of those policies.” British think it likely Adenauer will be in power another four years as result of elections, though coalition may be oriented more to right if, as they foresee, he has to take in refugee party.

6. Korea

On assumption that there will be an armistice, British will urge that India be included in “special status” in political conference to follow, because of India’s importance as Asian nation and its contribution to bringing about armistice. British assume some sort of de facto temporary division of Korea must be accepted, without sacrificing UN’s declared objective of unification by peaceful means. They would not exclude consideration of other Far Eastern issues at such conference provided Communists show good will and desire to reach reasonable compromise on problems relating to Korea. They think that West must give Chinese Communists some hope of eventual admission to UN. If political conference is successful they anticipate that trade with China would be put on same level as trade with USSR and they think we should be ready, acting in close consultation, to make some trade concessions to Chinese Communists in return for concessions from them in other fields. British do not wish to commit selves indefinitely to present level of controls. They agree that Formosa must be kept out of Chinese Communist hands and cannot be used as bargaining counter. They expect French to insist on putting Indochina on agenda of political conference. If an armistice has not been reached by time they get to Washington they will probably press for convocation of General Assembly.

7. Indochina

British will express pessimistic view of military and political situation in Indochina which they think can only result in further deterioration and perhaps disaster if allowed to drift much longer. While conscious of their minor role and of limited assistance they can give, they will urge need for more aggressive military action concurrent with concrete proof French readiness concede widest autonomy within French Union. They think recent offer of new French Government5 has probably come too late, and that it does not go far enough; it will certainly not satisfy Cambodia, and in fact it merely is an offer to negotiate full implementation of something promised over 4 years [Page 1598]ago (March 8, 1949 agreements). They will probably follow our lead in any representations to French along these lines. They hope O’Daniel’s recommendations will have been received in time for consideration at conference.6

8. Egypt

British are likely to maintain that no agreement possible with Egypt unless United States and United Kingdom firmly support common line of action. They will undoubtedly press for essentials of Case A7 as basis of United States–United Kingdom agreement relying on Robertson belief that Case A can be obtained with concessions of form and arguing that it cannot be said that Case A is unobtainable, since British never got to point of putting details to Egyptians during last negotiations, so that we do not know Egyptian reactions. British probably will not agree to take initiative in reopening negotiations, but will probably be willing for United States try to bring parties together provided United States and United Kingdom can agree to common line of action.

In any new negotiations with Egypt, though probably not as initial position, British might be willing make some concessions which would move Case A substantially toward Case B, including:

Agreement valid for 5 years;
3, 000 to 4, 000 British technicians;
Technicians under Egyptian command, but subject British technical control;
Certain equipment from base might be available for use of Egyptian army free of charge.

British will probably stand adamant on following points:

Total number British technicians agreed with Egypt must remain on base for duration of agreement, there being no question of their gradual replacement by Egyptians as latter are trained fulfill their functions.
Technicians must be subject to direct technical control by War Office and receive instructions directly.

There will be no objection to simultaneous notification of Egyptian authorities, with provision for consultation if latter question any orders.

Technicians must wear uniforms and be free carry sidearms. (In last analysis British would probably not insist on uniforms.)
Egyptians must guarantee re-access to base in event of war or threat of war by outside power affecting ME areas.
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British will probably also ask for reaffirmation of US undertakings about supply of arms to Egypt. They will undoubtedly make strongest effort to get assurances of a continuing common front toward Egyptians.

9. Middle East oil policy

British considering raising subject of ME oil policy. They continue feel strongly that some means must be found to permit US and UK oil companies to consult directly or indirectly regarding proposed solutions to similar problems in ME. They are also anxious establish some medium for regular US–UK Government consultations, both on specific problems relating to ME oil and for purpose developing agreed oil policy for area.

10. Buraimi 8

British are likely make strong plea for US support for complete mutual withdrawal from Buraimi area with neutral supervision during period of arbitration. Alternatively, if Saudis adamant, British might agree to maintenance of status quo in area with mutual undertakings refrain from aggressive acts. They are likely strongly to oppose Saudi suggestion for equalization of forces or any other solution which involved Turki’s9 remaining in Buraimi while UK withdrew substantial forces.

11. Evolution of Soviet policy and situation in satellite countries

British believe new Soviet tactics do not indicate any change in basic Kremlin objectives, which remain: In short term disruption of Western alliance and promotion revolution in colonial territories, in long run, establishment its brand Communism in Soviet Union and its extension, under Moscow domination, throughout world. They do not believe that new tactics impelled by feeling of weakness, either at home or abroad. New leadership seems plainly collective and although possibility of discord not excluded no evidence yet that it will not maintain unity and control over Soviet and satellite structures. Also seems to be no reason for it to think that it is any more imminently threatened by Western strength than for some time past. Nevertheless, British believe that Soviet has been undergoing period of relative stress, both before and since Stalin’s death. New regime assumed power smoothly and without apparent difficulty, but its first concern has been consolidate position at home and with satellite countries. For this, it may wish respite from tension, both at home and abroad, and to obtain this it is trying tactics both more flexible and more cautious than Stalin’s. Internally these shown in measures of relative moderation toward Soviet peoples. In external affairs Soviets have now put forward [Page 1600]considerable number minor conciliatory gestures which, though sacrificing nothing of vital interest, seem designed to try to relax tension.

Furthermore, Soviet may well, and with reason, reckon that more subtle approach in foreign policy will not only be safer but better calculated divide Western Governments and lull people of West into false sense of security. New tactics may be directed to this end.

This presents West both with opportunity and caution. We should overlook no opportunity to meet Soviet conciliatory moves, on chance we may be able reach agreement specific issues. We should avoid any unnecessary provocation. But we must continue improve our united strength. Firmness on part of West over long period of time might make it more difficult for Soviet revert to earlier aggressive tactics and compel them to negotiate on issues of real substance.

British consider that recent disturbances in Eastern Germany and other satellites, and fact that Soviets had to use troops to control uprisings in Germany, have been serious setback to them. They think these events show stronger potential for resistance and of instability in satellite area than previously supposed. They do not however believe that Soviet control is shown to be any less secure. Danger to dictatorship in relaxing grip has been demonstrated but this does not mean “Soviet power crumbling”.

British now believe that new Soviet policy of greater moderation in Eastern Germany is primarily tactical maneuver with view to effect on Western Germany and our own efforts integrate German strength into Western alliance. They do not believe that Soviets contemplate any real loosening of hold on Eastern Germany or intend to modify terms for settlement of German problem. In easing pressure on East Germany Soviets may have decided take calculated political risk. As it turned out maneuver got out of hand; their prestige throughout satellites suffered severe blow and they were probably set back in efforts confuse and divide Western Germany. They were faced with dilemma of whether to continue new tactic of moderation or reimpose most severe repression. Their actions thus far seem to indicate that they intend continue measures of economic moderation in Eastern Germany.

Reason for change of government and announcement of concessions to people in Hungary have not yet been appraised by British.

Please have copy available for Ambassador Aldrich when he arrives Washington.10

  1. This telegram, which was transmitted in three sections, was repeated to Paris, Bonn, and Moscow.
  2. In a press interview on July 4, Senator Taft had stated that he believed Congress was through with foreign aid unless there was a big change in the world. Regarding Taft’s remarks on foreign aid, see the New York Times, July 5, 1953, p. 1.
  3. For the text of Prime Minister Churchill’s speech to the House of Commons on May 11, see H.C. Debs., 5th series, vol. 515, cols. 883–898.
  4. Presumably this is a reference to the election of a new politburo of the Central Committee of the Workers Party in Hungary at the end of June and to the formation of a new government under Imre Nagy on July 4. Further documentation on these developments is presented in volume viii .
  5. On July 3, the French offered, to begin simultaneous but separate negotiations with the three Associated States for a review of their status within the French Union. Documentation on the situation in Indochina is presented in volume xiii .
  6. Documentation relating to the recommendations of Lt. Gen. John W. O’Daniel, head of the U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group in Vietnam, is presented in volume xiii .
  7. Documentation on the three British proposals for settling the Anglo-Egyptian dispute, Cases A, B, and C, is presented in volume ix .
  8. Documentation on the U.S. interest in the Anglo-Saudi dispute over Buraimi is presented in volume ix .
  9. Turki bin Ataishan, the Amir of Buraimi.
  10. On July 8, Holmes reported that the positions outlined in paragraphs 1 through 5 and paragraph 11 had been approved by the Cabinet and Prime Minister Churchill, while paragraphs 6 and 7 had at least ministerial approval (telegram 140 from London; 396.1 WA/7–853).