Memorandum by the United States Member of the Five-Power Ad Hoc Committee on Southeast Asia (Davis) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff1
- Report of the Five Power Ad Hoc Committee on Southeast Asia.
- a. My memorandum of 29 January 1952
- b. SM-309–52 of 30 January 19522
- The attached report of the Five Power Ad Hoc Committee on Southeast Asia, Dated 5 February 1952, contains differences in fundamental viewpoints which I am satisfied could not have been reconciled by any further negotiation or discussion on the Ad Hoc Committee level.
- The following condensation is derived from analysis of the report in
combination with discussion during Ad Hoc
- The position of the United States member is consistent with your guidance and with the terms of reference3 of the Ad Hoc Committee;
- The position of the British and French members is in opposition to blockade of China. They are also opposed to bombing of China except in connection with direct support operations close to the border where Chinese aggression might occur;
- The French position is motivated primarily by the wish to forestall diversion of forces from direct support of Indochina operations;
- The British position, more definitely expressed than that of the French, is motivated primarily by determination to avoid any action that might unduly irritate Communist China or the USSR; and
- These French and British positions are, in general, rationalized by their assumptions that blockade and bombing would be both impracticable and ineffective.
- The foregoing may be restated to the effect that the French want all the help and commitments they can get in connection with their immediate Indochina problem and that the British position remains that of holding Hong Kong and Indochina if possible while avoiding any action of consequence against Communist China itself.
- It seems to me that the underlying difficulty is refusal on the part of the Ad Hoc Committee as a whole to recognize that their task is simply an initial step in determining what to do about the Southeast Asia problem and is clearly hypothetical. This is evident [Page 38] from the fact that the British and French are unwilling to meet the terms of reference, which, in essence, require recommendations as to what might be done if retaliatory action were to be taken. Instead, they undertake to decide that real retaliatory action should not be undertaken and that military measures should, in effect, be limited to defensive action.
- The point, however, is that we are about where we started, except for clarification of basic differences. It is my impression that the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff are not inclined to go along with recommending a warning with respect to “further acts of aggression” without prior firm agreement that, if such a warning were disregarded, actual retaliatory action would have the concurrence and participation of the other interested nations. I am satisfied that the British and French viewpoints, as shown in the Ad Hoc Committee report and amplified above, are primarily national, so that I doubt if our own views would be supported on their political levels even if supported by the British and French members of the Ad Hoc Committee.
- The foregoing raises the question of consistency as between issuing of a warning, if there is a Korean armistice, without prior international agreement as to what military measures might be taken if that warning were disregarded, and insistence upon such an agreement before issuing a Southeast Asia warning. I do not know the answer to this.
- In any event, strong efforts will continue to be made to commit us to complete direct support, as distinguished from retaliatory action in Southeast Asia. In fact, it might be said that there was considerable disposition to regard the Ad Hoc Committee task as a vehicle for this objective.
- In the latter connection, both the British and French made repeated objection in the Ad Hoc Committee to our position against commitment of troops and the basing of air units ashore. They wished the statements weakened, obviously in the hope that this could be the basis for more effective pressure on these points hereafter. I am sure this pressure will continue in any case.
- Another point of importance is that the British and French are determined to persist in their desire to set up a form of combined command in the Southeast Asia area. In the Ad Hoc Committee report this intention is toned down and, as will be noted, I have safeguarded our own position, but the original draft on this point as proposed by the British, together with attendant discussion, indicates that they think any direct support operations by us should come under the French in Indochina and under the British in Hong Kong. Whether or not this could be shown to be theoretically correct, it seems to me that, taking the British and French positions [Page 39] as a whole, they would like not only to determine what we shall do with our own forces in the event of our taking military action with respect to the Southeast Asia problem, but also to command our forces while these limited actions are being taken.
- It is of interest to note that the New Zealand representative was present only as an observer and that the Australian representative was relatively open-minded and cooperative.
- A final point, which I think requires consideration at once, is that the British and French representatives are recommending individually that the report of the Ad Hoc Committee be considered by the Chiefs of Staffs of the several nations in Lisbon during, but separate from, the forthcoming NATO meetings. I pointed out that the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff are not scheduled to be in Lisbon. I expect that the British and French will persist on the basis that General Bradley can, of course, represent the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. My opinion, for what it may be worth, is that consideration in Lisbon would be premature, for it appears that it is now time for us to firm up some sort of Defense-State position before engaging in further argument on the strictly military level. That is, I think the British and French already have firm politico-military positions and I believe that this is not the case as far as we are concerned.
- In light of all of the foregoing I recommend that the Joint Chiefs of
- Make decision with respect to the Lisbon meeting discussed in the last preceding paragraph;
- Take steps to firm up a Defense-State position regarding the Southeast Asia problem;
- Note the attached report of the Five Power Ad Hoc Committee on Southeast Asia;
- Approve and support paragraphs 30, 31, and 32 of the report as the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff position;
- Agree to take no unilateral action against Communist China, other than as provided in General Ridgway’s current instructions;4
- Consider limiting United States military action to assistance in evacuation if the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff position remains unsupported by the British and French; and
- Give serious consideration to our entire Far East position in relation to global problems, with a view to the possible desirability of some adjustment in emphasis.
Vice Admiral, USN
Transmitted to the Department of State under a covering memorandum of Feb. 7 from Admiral Lalor to H. Freeman Matthews, Deputy Under Secretary of State. The memorandum reads: “Pursuant to a request by General Bradley, as a result of his conversation yesterday with the Secretary of State, there are enclosed herewith for the information and use by the Secretary of State in possible conversations in connection with the Lisbon meeting, three copies of the subject report.”
The Ninth Session of the North Atlantic Council and tripartite meetings of the Foreign Ministers of France (Robert Schuman), the United Kingdom (Anthony Eden), and the United States took place concurrently in Lisbon beginning Feb. 20.
In telegram Secto 95 from Lisbon, Feb. 26, the Secretary reported: “Eden in tripartite mtg this afternoon raised question of Indochina. Commented on divergence of milit views. We indicated US making thorough review which from the milit point of view shld be completed within a month, and wld take another month of interdepartmental and other consultation. At end of that time, we might be ready to talk further.” (740.5/2–2652)
For a report of this tripartite meeting, see vol. v, Part 1, p. 167.↩
- Neither found in Department of State files.↩
- Not found in Department of State files.↩
Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway, Supreme Commander Allied Powers (SCAP); Commander in Chief, United Nations Command (CINCUNC); and Commander in Chief, Far East (CINCFE).
For documentation on General Ridgway’S role as CINCUNC, see volume xv.↩
- Lt. Gen. S.F. Rowell.↩
- Maj. Gen. K.L. Strout.↩