611.41/12–2951: Telegram

No. 327
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Gifford) to the Department of State

2903. This is second and final part Embtel 2898, December 28.1

[Page 724]
Foreign Affairs.

General Survey.

Under this topic Churchill will undoubtedly outline his concept of the West’s grand strategy, using a broad brush. He may thus attempt to set the stage for acceptance of British position on specific problems.

He will doubtless emphasize necessity of Anglo-American cooperation, and coordination of policy toward all trouble spots. He has said object of his visit is to insure that US and UK are looking at problems around the world in the same way. He will wish to demonstrate that relationship between us is one of real partnership. He may well refer to importance of British Commonwealth as a world power, and to importance of our supporting and buttressing Commonwealth and empire. We doubt that Churchill will propose any new organizations formalizing US–Brit Commonwealth relationship although last year he called for the recreation of combined chiefs of staff. He might spring a surprise on this subject.

A year ago, Churchill expressed his fear of too heavy US involvement in the Far East with possible “exposure” of Europe to the Soviets. He said his preoccupation with European defense arose because “we live here”. In talking about grand strategy, he may wish to exchange views about priority of defending Europe and possibility of avoiding heavier commitments in Far East, in spite of his worries re HK and Malaya.


Policy toward USSR.

It seems likely that PM will voice his own and gen Brit feeling that Soviet threat is less both than estimated by ourselves and than say year or two years ago. For a number of years Churchill urged that West seek a settlement with Soviets while US still had a monopoly on atomic bomb. He believed situation wld be dangerous when Soviets had the bomb. Even though monopoly has been broken, Churchill now believes war is not probable because West’s defense program is serving as a more and more effective deterrent.

Churchill will also wish to talk about strategy and ultimate objectives toward Soviets. He will wish to know whether we are thinking along lines of an indefinite armed truce, building up of strength to a point where we will wish to force the issue, or promotion of internal revolt in Eastern Europe. In line with theme of Eden’s speech at GA,2 Churchill likely to bring up ways and means of reducing immediate tension and this cld lead into general discussion of “provocations”. We have no indication that he will propose early mtg with Stalin or other such effort at direct negotiation, [Page 725] but informal introduction of subj for discussion seems probable. Churchill regards himself as an elder statesman in this field and doubtless wishes to make as well as write some history on relations with the Soviets.


Far East.

Overall FE brief prepared by FonOff for ChurchillEden conversations in Wash has following thesis. We have no info on Churchill’s reactions:

Commie China, whether we like it or not is here to stay and Western strategy and tactics must be shaped with this in mind. US has been so preoccupied with domestic politics that it has failed give due heed to long-term aspects of its FE policy, and has attempted to solve each problem in isolation.
It is obvious that, given present inflamed state US public opinion and with an election approaching, US cannot be expected to give serious consideration to long-term settlement in FE, involving as it wld concessions to Chi Commies, including admission to UN and some compromise over Formosa—concessions which Chi Commies wld insist upon as in keeping with their status as a great power. However, only a long-term settlement offers hope of charging Chi Commie conviction that West is hostile, and inducing them to adopt responsible non-aggressive policy. In present situation they can be expected to take advantage of their interior position by striking across frontiers at weak points at their convenience. Such being case, it is all the more essential that urgent consideration be given to a consistent short-term policy, i.e. containment of Chi Commies within their present frontiers. No point in stopping them in Korea and Formosa and leaving door to south wide open. UK and Fr, for example, are acutely conscious of vulnerability of Hong Kong and Indochina. Neither alone can be expected to hold the line. It is therefore imperative that they know what they can expect from US in event of an attack.

In above context, Churchill and Eden will probably wish discuss following specific points in Washington.

Implementation Singapore conference recommendations (this fully covered in recent exchanges of telegrams with Paris, London and Saigon).3
Defense of Hong Kong (UK wld hope for more explicit commitment than that made by Secretary in May 1950).4
Next steps in Korea (UK unhappy over recent proposal advanced by Gross in Paris for establishment of Korean commission in New York.5 Such a move wld in UK view tend to isolate commission from direct contact with Chi Commies and North Koreans [Page 726] and to result in dragging out indefinitely political solution for Korea).
Japan’s future relations with Formosa (understood Dulles and Dening failed reach agreement in Tokyo this subject).6

Conservs not responsible for setting current Brit policy in FE and therefore, theoretically at least, cld be more flexible in accommodating themselves to meet US viewpoint. However, we have so far not noted and hardly expect any substantial change in Labor Govt FE policies. Views expressed in immediately preceding paras are widely held here and are largely shared by both major political parties.


South East Asia.

So far as we can learn this subj will be very closely related to immediately preceding topic. Churchill’s remarks will probably emphasize support of Pleven’s plea to President Truman for US–UK–Fr military conversations on defense of SEA in furtherance recommendations Singapore conference (referred to in C. above).7

Brit interest in this subject has been stimulated by recent alarming rumors that Chi Commies plan invade Indochina in near future.


Middle East.

In ME new govt has been absorbed mainly with Egypt and to less extent Iran problems. Insofar as any area-wide policy is emerging it seems to be hardening of lines already laid down by Labor Govt. Importance govt attaches to our support in ME cld hardly be exaggerated and this gives us good opportunity urge hearing for our views. At same time, UK expects large measure sympathetic understanding and support for its attempts cope with grave responsibilities under circumstances which Brit feel demand show of strength and determination. Brit papers have, for example, compared need for resolution and solidarity in Egypt with similar need in Korea, with obvious implications for US and UK.


Brit want maximum US support for their present efforts hold firm position in Egypt and keep Canal and base functioning. This means strong moral and political support, perhaps some specific acts assistance (e. g. Embtel 2859, December 248) and assurance of continued close support shld Brit be forced take more drastic measures (e. g. greater mil control Canal Zone) as result increased terrorism. [Page 727] Brit policy towards dispute with Egypt is, on one hand, to give no encouragement to Egypt’s arbitrary demands, and on other, bring about sitn in which Egypt will be willing discuss MEC proposals. There is strong tendency believe such a sitn can only be achieved thru King’s intercession and replacement present Wafd Govt. UK is unwilling to make any concessions on Sudan, including recognition King’s title, which it is convinced wld be unacceptable to Sudanese (Embtels 2856, December 22, and 2661 December 79).


New Cons govt, in indicating its desire negotiate oil dispute has said simply that any settlement must be based on three principles; practicability, fair share profits and fair compensation. However, it continues skeptical that Mosadeq will ever agree to such a settlement and attaches great importance to return of at least some Brit nationals to oil industry. Brit are interested in IBRD’s efforts work out interim operation oil industry and with important qualification that difficult price, personnel and management problems are satisfactorily resolved will probably welcome Bank’s intervention. Here again, however, UK doubtful Mosadeq will modify extreme demands.

It is quite possible Brit will take occasion Washington talks voice their objections to any direct American financial aid to Mosadeq Govt. They may also wish discuss prospects of removing Mosadeq.

Re ME section TCT paper,10 we strongly endorse efforts convince Brit we are anxious help them regain lost prestige. In this connection, it seems to Emb that, in view our worldwide commitments, it shld be our constant endeavor to make it possible for UK to play maximum role in ME and for US to make up minimum deficiency between what is required for area defense and stability and what UK in present straitened circumstances is able bring to bear on sitn. At same time, we feel US shld make it clear to UK that in any such partnership, US will expect UK to give careful consideration its advice on area problems.

In past US and UK have had little difficulty in reaching agreement on broad objectives but differences have tended to rise over specific applications of policy. To our mind this underlines importance coming to grips to extent possible with specifics as well as generalities of our common interests in area. Sudan is good illustration.

[Page 728]

Only other specific comment is that we do not understand underlining of word “legitimate” in “legitimate Brit interests” (P 5 para IV (A), TCT paper11) and suggest this thought be clarified.


Atlantic Community.

Churchill considers himself virtually the father of the Atlantic Community idea. He has frequently taunted Labor with condemning and then adopting the policy of the Fulton speech.12 He regards the UK as the catalyst uniting the trinity of Western Europe, the Commonwealth and the US. The Atlantic Community resolves his dilemmas (it provides a way to avoid conflicts between London and Washington on the one hand and the Dominions on the other). It reduces embarrassment of accusations that, having fathered concept of European unity, he is now refusing Brit participation in Western European organizations.

We doubt that Churchill has anything specific in mind, but is probably thinking along lines of Eden’s statement to House of Commons November 19 “I hope that with the gradual development of these Atlantic contacts at all levels as they are now being made we shall increase the sense of being an Atlantic Community organized not only on a military basis for the purpose of defense, but also for a joint endeavour in our common betterment in every sphere. That is the way I shld like to see this movement develop.”

Re Deptel 3072, December 27,13 we believe Churchill is thinking about common problems NAT area plus Commonwealth but not of new organizational arrangements outside NATO framework. It is, of course, possible that he may raise some more drastic proposal involving political union, but we doubt it. His skeptical attitude toward federation was well revealed during his Paris talks. However, he may well talk about union of the free world, or of English-speaking world, as vision for the future.


(A) Economic position and problems of the UK.

While we have very little specific info that PM intends to discuss under above heading, we assume that he will wish to emphasize once again extremely serious economic situation confronting UK. In presenting such general review, he is also likely to go into long-range aspects as well as current crisis. As has been reported previously, we have had several assurances that he does not intend to discuss US economic assistance to UK in any detail, or to present any specific request for such assistance. We have been giving some thought to problem presented by recurring UK economic crises, and I am bringing memo outlining our views on this point and proposal [Page 729] for setting up non-governmental study groups to go into question.14

(B) Steel and equipment.

It is certain that one of major points which PM hopes to accomplish during visit is to emphasize to US Govt importance of increased steel allocations to UK. We have been told Brit are preparing detailed material for PM on this point, but have so far been unable to obtain this info. We also know that PM is considering some sort of proposal concerning tin. This may take form of agmt by UK to provide fixed quantity of tin over period of time at agreed price in hope that such an arrangement wld create favorable atmosphere in US for additional steel to Brit. Brit are aware that we may raise question of other scarce materials which they might supply us—such as additional small amounts of aluminum.

Under equipment heading we understand PM intends to raise question of increasing scale of military end item aid program to UK and broadening criteria (see section II 1 (A) Embtel 2898, December 28). Brit have repeatedly attempted to get US position on this point without success.

  1. Supra.
  2. For the text of Eden’s speech before the Sixth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Nov. 9, 1951, see Eden, Full Circle, pp. 10–12.
  3. For documentation on the Singapore Conference, held in May 1951, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. vi, Part 1, pp. 64 ff.
  4. Not further identified.
  5. Regarding this Commission, see Delga 615, Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. vii, Part 1, p. 1302.
  6. For documentation on conversations on this subject, held at Tokyo in December 1951, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. vi, Part 1, pp. 1431 ff.
  7. See the notes of the tripartite military conversations on Southeast Asia, held at Washington Jan. 11, 1952, vol. xii, Part 1, p. 8.
  8. Not printed; it transmitted a Foreign Office request that U.S. naval personnel assist in the handling of ships transiting the Suez Canal. (974.5301/12–2451)
  9. Neither printed; the former transmitted Eden’s position on Egypt and Sudan, while the latter expressed concern at the possibility of a widening difference between the United States and the United Kingdom on the question of how to deal with the Egyptian crisis. (611.74/12–2251 and 641.74/12–751)
  10. See Document 323.
  11. Presumably another reference to Document 323.
  12. Under reference here is Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech delivered at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, Mar. 5, 1946.
  13. Not printed; it transmitted a list of topics which the United States was interested in and asked for details on those which Churchill was likely to raise. (741.13/12–2751)
  14. Not found in Department of State files.