Memorandum of Conversation
[ Washington , undated.]
- Present besides Mr. Dulles and Mr. Pearson were H. Freeman Matthews and John D. Hickerson on the American side and H. Hume Wrong and D. V. LePan on the Canadian side.
- Mr. Dulles said that the essential difference between the policy of the previous administration and the new administration was that Eisenhower was determined not to leave the initiative in the cold war to the Soviet Union. It would be his policy to create situations which would worry the Kremlin by creating threats to Soviet influence at various points in the world.
- The new administration desired to maintain and to improve consultation with its allies, but it was impossible for the United States to commit itself formally to consultation before taking action in every situation since such a commitment would give each of the allies a veto. Consultation would be more useful and intimate, therefore, if it were kept informal.
- The proper way around the difficulty, Mr. Dulles thought, was to increase the amount of informal consultation and this had been one of the purposes of his recent trip to Europe.2 He thought that political leaders there had been grateful for the way he had tried to let them know how he saw world problems and he hoped in the same way to keep leaders of the Canadian Government fully informed on an informal basis on the views and policies of the United States Government. Mr. Dulles agreed with Mr. Pearson that it would be difficult for a coalition of the democracies to conduct such a war of nerves as President Eisenhower’s policy would require. Nevertheless, he hoped that the United States could rely on faith among its allies in its peaceful purposes and in its desire to seek them by sober and unprovocative means. It would be a great help if the political leaders in other countries could try to increase this fund of confidence even on occasions when it might not be possible for them to explain fully the United States plans and intentions.
- Mr. Dulles thought that Korea was not the most critical point today; that there was little doubt that the line in Korea could be [Page 2068] held, and even if the worst came to the worst and Korea had to be evacuated, consequences would not be catastrophic, although politically deplorable. The most critical point, he thought, was Indochina since if it were lost the strategic consequences would be incalculable. Moreover, the drain on France caused by the war in Indochina was perhaps the chief reason why France was holding back from ratifying the EDC Treaty. It was therefore of greatest importance that Indochina should be held and that the war there should be brought to an end. What was required was a situation which would deter the Chinese Communists from throwing their forces into the war in Korea and if possible lead to the movement of some of those forces from North China and perhaps even from Korea as protection to a threat to their security from Formosa. That was the thinking which lay behind President Eisenhower’s decision to order the Seventh Fleet no longer to prevent attacks from Formosa on the mainland of China. The essential purpose of the order was to put the United States in a legal position where, if need be, it could encourage raids or feints against China as a means of preventing Chinese incursion into Indochina.
- Mr. Dulles said that one of his problems in explaining and defending the recent decision on Formosa was to keep Senators and Congressmen in leash. He thought that in large measure he had succeeded, but when he had commented on alarmist statements made by some of the Senators, he had been met with the rejoinder that they thought their statements would contribute to the psychological warfare he was waging. In his own view, his task would be lighter without too much assistance from Congressional leaders.
- Mr. Pearson suggested that a similar problem is created by statements made by generals and admirals. Mr. Pearson said, also, that he was rather disturbed by the way a legend seemed to be growing up that the UN command in Korea had been prevented from annihilating the enemy in 1951 by the cease-fire negotiations. As far as Pearson was aware, these negotiations had never inhibited the UN command in any operations considered militarily desirable. Mr. Dulles agreed with this view although he personally was inclined to think that it was a mistake not to have pursued the enemy farther in the spring of 1951. The decision taken was not because of any action of the United States, but purely as a result of a military appreciation at that time of the advantages and disadvantages of a further advance.
- Mr. Dulles volunteered that he is now engaged in drafting, along with a number of Republicans in Congress, a resolution forecast by President Eisenhower in his State of the Union Message when he said he would recommend that Congress repudiate secret understandings which had permitted the enslavement of free peoples. [Page 2069] The resolution on which Mr. Dulles was working would be drafted in more exact terms. It would refer not to secret agreements but rather to private agreements in order to distinguish them from treaties or agreements which had been submitted to the Senate, nor would the agreements as such be denounced. The resolution would merely denounce distortions and misinterpretations of such agreements, particularly of the agreement made at Yalta. The resolution would not affect Soviet claims to Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands and care would be taken not to disturb the legal basis for the position of the three Western Powers in Berlin. Mr. Dulles hoped that such a careful and limited resolution as he was preparing would be adequate to satisfy Congressional opinion. He stated frankly that some such resolution had become virtually a political necessity.
- Germany: Mr. Dulles considered that the degree to which the Soviet authorities were reducing the Eastern Zone more and more to the status of a satellite on the usual pattern was very disturbing since, although it was impossible to be sure how properly to interpret this development, the Soviets would behave in precisely this way if they were planning a military attack on Western Germany.
- In answer to an inquiry by Mr. Pearson, Mr. Dulles said he thought that the odds on ratification of the EDC Treaty were about 60–40 in favor of ratification. Mr. Mayer in France was trying his best to appease various parties of the Opposition to the treaty by drawing up elaborate protocols which might remove their objections. In England he had recommended to Eden that the British should look for an occasion to present to France in a single and dramatic form wrapped up with a great deal of red ribbon all the various links which the United Kingdom was prepared to establish with the EDC.
- Mr. Pearson suggested that the NATO powers could, perhaps, be of some assistance in obtaining ratification of the EDC Treaty by extending the life of the North Atlantic Treaty from 20 to 50 years. Mr. Dulles said that this idea was worth considering, but that it would require amendment of the NATO Treaty. Even if an attempt were made to get around this objection by attaching to the Treaty a protocol in which all the signatories would express their intention of not denouncing the Treaty under Article 13 for 50 years, it is probable that even such a protocol would require Senate ratification.
- Referring again to the question of close informal consultation, Mr. Pearson remarked that he had always hoped that this could also be effected in the North Atlantic Council and hoped that Mr. Dulles would give consideration to the possibility of strengthening the role of the NATO Council by making it one of the chief instruments [Page 2070] of consultation between the United States and its principal allies.
- Mr. Dulles said he would like to pay a visit to the Assembly of the UN if it reconvened, but would not wish his presence to give rise to a long vituperative debate. Mr. Pearson replied that now it was known that Mr. Vishinsky was returning, a good deal of vituperation was probably inevitable.
- Mr. Dulles confirmed that the United States would not put forward any new proposals on Korea in the General Assembly but would be content to stand on the India resolution.
- In general, Mr. Dulles hoped that the discussions of the General Assembly would be comparatively brief and routine since the new administration had not yet had time to take firm positions on all the questions which might come before the United Nations.
- Mr. Hickerson suggested that it might be possible to resume sessions of the Assembly without a plenary meeting and possibly even without a meeting of the General Committee. Mr. Pearson thought this might be difficult but would, nevertheless, see what he could do. In any event, if an open plenary meeting became necessary, he would try to rule out-of-order any attempt by Vishinsky to deliver a propaganda tirade.
- It was suggested that it might be possible to have a discussion of the personnel policy of the Secretary General in plenary committee without the General Assembly passing any resolution on the subject. Mr. Pearson said he would favor such a procedure, but it had rarely ever been possible in the General Assembly to dispense with a resolution.
- Touching on the resignation of Mr. Lie, Mr. Pearson said that he hoped action to appoint a new Secretary General could be taken before the second session of the General Assembly came to an end.
- Mr. Pearson said he thought that the United Kingdom Government’s proposals for a collective approach to convertibility showed imagination and courage. Mr. Dulles stated that he had just received on February 13 the memorandum3 outlining the United Kingdom proposals and had not yet had an opportunity to study them. Mr. Pearson assured Mr. Dulles that if the proposals commended themselves to the United States Government, and if it were decided in Washington to support them, the Canadian Government would also be willing to do its part in making them a success.
- Mr. Pearson pointed out that an election was likely to be held in Canada some time this year and it would be disappointed if by that time all the clearances necessary from the United States in [Page 2071] regard to the St. Lawrence Seaway project had not been secured. As soon as the Federal Power Commission had handed down a ruling favorable to the application from the State of New York, the Canadian Government would be glad to consult with the United States Government on means whereby the Seaway could become a joint undertaking between Canada and the United States provided these consultations did not involve further delays. The important thing at the moment, however, was to secure a favorable ruling from the Federal Power Commission. Mr. Dulles said that he was not fully acquainted with this subject, but asked Mr. Hickerson to take note of the representations made by Mr. Pearson.
- In connection with Mr. St. Laurent’s proposed visit to Washington,4 Mr. Pearson said that the Prime Minister would no doubt want to discuss foreign economic and commercial policy, but that it was also possible that he would want to consider with the President the possibility of making a new agreement on principles of defense cooperation between the United States and Canada. A statement of principles on this subject had been drawn up in 1946 but circumstances had changed so materially that it should be reviewed and possibly enlarged and brought up to date.
- The drafter of this memorandum has not been identified. This conversation between Dulles and Pearson took place in Washington on Feb. 15.↩
- For documentation on Secretary of State Dulles’ visit to Western Europe, Jan. 31–Feb. 8, see vol. v, Part 2, pp. 1548 ff.↩
- “Collective Approach to Freer Trade and Currencies”, Feb. 10, not printed.↩
- The visit was scheduled for early spring. In a letter to Sherman Adams dated Jan. 21, 1953, Bliss mentioned a letter made public in Ottawa in which St. Laurent had congratulated President Eisenhower on his new office and had referred to the possibility of paying him a call in Washington. Bliss urged Adams to help arrange such a meeting early in the coming succession of diplomatic visits. (033.4211/2–953)↩