No. 144
The Chargé in Yugoslavia (Wallner) to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Bonbright)1
top secret

Dear Jamie: Not from vanity but from real concern about the future, I quote you an extract from the letter I wrote you on May [Page 332] 19 of this year2 after the resounding failure of my démarche of May 7 with the Yugoslavs.3

“I know it is the fashion to say that Tito is a dictator and has no parliamentary or public opinion problems. He may not have any parliamentary problems but he has an internal party problem and he derives non-party support from national issues such as Trieste and big power pressure. On these most Yugoslavs are united, whether they like Tito or not. It is true that Tito cannot go back to the cominform now but he can return to isolationism, especially if satellite pressure on his borders diminishes. Such an isolationism would make him more susceptible to the magnetism of Moscow should Moscow at some future time change her policies to the extent necessary to alter the basis of the break of 1948. I mean of course the tolerance of national Communism in neighboring countries. We encouraged and applauded Tito’s recent shift away from isolation which led to the conclusion of the Balkan Pact . . . . How far are we prepared to go to reverse that trend? Is it in the long term interests of our Italian NATO partner to do so? I am not a military man but I do not think one has to be one to answer that question in the negative.

“There is a tendency in the Department if I correctly read certain signs, to consider Tito … should be taken down a peg from time to time. I do not entirely disagree with this tendency but I do know that when it is put into practice the psychology of the man and his regime, and the nationalistic tendencies of his people should be taken into account if the taking down a peg is going to be successful. …I think the recent episode should serve as a lesson to all of us. I do not think that we should again take Italian proposals and call them American.”

Despite the background of the October 8 decision, which, if I am to judge by certain memoranda written by Doug MacArthur, was based on the “no favorites in the harem” principle that we needed both Yugoslavia and Italy (to which all sensible people subscribe), the way the thing worked out, both publicly and privately, but above all publicly was to weigh the business heavily in Italy’s favor. Much of this was predictable, though by no means all—as was equally predictable to any one that knew anything about Yugoslavia that the louder the Italians applauded the worse it was here. I agree that it would have been superhuman to have balanced things equally, but I wonder, on the basis of the innumerable memoranda of conversation that the Department has been sending me, whether the people whose business it was to know about Yugoslavia even got a hearing. I know Wally Barbour attended many of the meetings, but the record shows that he (who has the entire Soviet complex as his responsibility) was out-balanced four or five [Page 333] to one by a WE team headed by Homer Byington. And I think you should start thinking about the record, if remarks by Congressman Blatnik (admittedly a Democrat and of Slovene origin) are any indication of how a congressional blowup might go if Yugoslavia is lost to the defense setup.

The above illustrates the reasons why I have asked that Turner Cameron stay on here so that he (or alternately I) could be available for a conference. The head of the US delegation simply must have the benefit of the opinions of people whose business it is to know how these Yugoslavs react. The same would apply in the unhappy case that we had to take the whole business to the UN.

Best to you,

  1. Attached to the source text was a handwritten, undated note from Wallner to Bonbright, in which Wallner wrote that he was sending a copy of the letter to MacArthur, but not to Barbour, since he knew that Barbour was “sensitive and feels that he has been put in a false position in all this.” He also stated that Bonbright, at his discretion, could show the letter to Barbour and assure him that Wallner’s comments about his role were not personal.
  2. Not found in Department of State files.
  3. Wallner’s May 7 démarche is described in telegram 1531 from Belgrade, May 7. (750G.00/5–753)