Memorandum by the Director of the Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs (Raynor) to the Counselor of the Department of State (MacArthur)
- Bermuda Meeting; British Angles
Churchill thinks traditionally in world-wide terms. It is perhaps stating the obvious to say that he will tour the world in the discussions. This he will probably do in a general way but, if he approaches past form, he will not fail to make the British position clear area by area, problem by problem.
I think, moreover, it is likely that at this meeting he will go beyond this and argue the case for global planning (politico-military). He is likely to cite this as the greatest void in our western security shield. He is apt to argue that we must “sort out” priorities on a world-wide basis; i.e., what relative weight should be given to areas such as Western Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, the North American Continent, etc. (See Field Marshal Montgomery’s memo1).
This concept has long been present in the thinking of Churchill and the British military. They would favor such planning on an U.S.– U.K. basis but would grudgingly admit France in the arrangements. [Page 1716]The ideal arrangement from the British point of view probably would be the re-creation of the war-time Combined Chiefs of Staff type of organization. Alternatively, their objective may be some form of combined political direction of worldwide strategy.
I do not anticipate that those or other specific proposals necessarily will be made (Churchill is aware of our opposition to the Combined Chiefs concept). I do think, however, we should expect the argument in general terms and be prepared to meet it.
I understand we intend to stress this subject. I would expect the British position to be that the members cannot stand the present high defense costs indefinitely and that our job is to formulate the type of program which countries can maintain for 20 to 25 years (again see Montgomery’s memo which rather surprisingly seems to me to be close to what I believe U.K. thinking to be).
If our program is, as I believe it should be, along similar lines we should have no difficulty on this one with the British.
We should remember Churchill has never thought much of the EDC concept per se and goes along with it only on the theory that it has appeared to be the most feasible method of accomplishing western German rearmament. The British favor western German rearmament for both security and economic reasons.
It is my impression that the maintenance of U.S. troops in Europe is presently the point of cardinal importance to the British in this whole complex of western European defense. Whatever reassurances the President is in a position to give on this point should serve “to sweeten” the British re this general subject.
We should bear in mind that short of appeasement, and there is no evidence whatsoever of appeasement in the attitude of the present British Government, the British are willing to go further than we are in seeking talks with the Russians. The reason for this is largely one of geography (vulnerability to atomic warfare).
Churchill is certain to want to explore thoroughly all aspects of possible talks with the Russians including his May idea of high-level exploratory conversations.2 I doubt if he will press this against our opposition, however, as I think he realizes that the moment of best timing for such a meeting was when he made it and not now.[Page 1717]
I believe Churchill will go along with a reasoned and persuasive case put up by us provided we avoid giving an impression of rigidity.
The British feel it is of vital importance to get the Korean Political Conference going fearing that in the absence of a conference the general Far Eastern situation will deteriorate further.3 It is quite possible, on the one hand therefore, that Churchill may advocate that we make further concessions in the interest of getting a conference going. Contrary wise and as he has done before he may indicate or more probably imply, a willingness to concede more to our own point of view in the Far East (reason of record the responsibilities we are carrying there) provided we take more fully into account U.K. views and interests in the Near East.
As I see it, the odds as to which tack he will take are about even with perhaps a little edge on the former because of public opinion in the U.K.
In any event we should keep in mind three fundamentals in the U.K. position (1) desire to accommodate Indian viewpoint to greatest extent possible in view of great importance attached by U.K. to India (rightly I think) and her hope that through the Commonwealth machinery India can be kept with the West, (2) antipathy in U.K. and Commonwealth to Rhee and feeling that U.S. should and could do more to control him, and (3) general feeling in the U.K. that Communist control of mainland China is a fact of life which must be faced which must entail membership in U.N. in relatively near future.
The Near East remains the most critical area in our relations with the British. The British, rightly or wrongly, appear to feel that we have not given them the public support in the area which they feel is required in order for them to carry out their agreed primary responsibility for the defense of the area and to protect their interest in the area. I am preparing for you a separate memorandum on this question.4
Trade; Economic and Financial Questions
As these questions rarely catch Churchill’s imagination, they are unlikely to be stressed by him at Bermuda.
We would be doing ourselves a disservice, however, if we overlooked the fact that apprehension over the possible course of U.S. foreign economic policy is one of the major question marks about us today in England—in both the Government and the public. Our inability to pursue the proposals developed in the Commonwealth Economic [Page 1718]Conference plus a number of Buy American and other actions have occasioned expressions of British concern over future U.S. policy in this field. At Bermuda, we are most likely to feel the impact of this in the discussion of the future of NATO, the well-known theme of “trade not aid”, one or the other being a necessity.
We may possibly be confronted by an argument for relaxation on East-West trade controls on the ground that Western Europe, indeed the free world, requires more of that trade if their economies are to be self-supporting without the dollar dole. China trade might be raised in the Far Eastern discussions.
The conference will be held against a background of repeated public expressions in the U.K. of concern over the present state of the Anglo-American relationship. Undoubtedly it will be a major objective of Churchill to strengthen and improve the relationship. The situation will therefore provide an opportunity to correct those misunderstandings which have contributed to British concern. A number of these have been referred to in the previous sections of this memorandum. It should be noted that the British, from the Government point of view, feel that as problems arise, area by area, which involve their interests, we are prone to give too great weight to the local area considerations and not enough weight to the British interests at stake.
- The memorandum under reference has not been identified further.↩
- 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.↩
- Documentation on the Geneva
Conference on Korea is presented in
- The memorandum under reference here has not been identified further.↩