790.5/4–2654: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Aldrich) to the Department of State

top secret

4725. Sent niact Geneva 43. Eyes only Secretary Dulles, Acting Secretary and Secretary of Defense and JCS from Admiral Radford. The position taken by the British chiefs of staff was in complete accord with that set forth by Mr. Eden delineated in Geneva’s 66 to London (sent Department Dulte 5).1 I endeavored to explain to them the same position as stated to Eden by Secretary Dulles (Geneva’s 66 and 67).2 It is my opinion that British chiefs of staff maximize the risks and potential requirements. They seem to minimize our collective capabilities. They are in accord with our appreciation of the serious future possibilities resulting from the loss of all or part of Indochina either through military action or negotiation. However they feel that they can hold Malaya both militarily and politically. I do not believe that they are squarely facing up to the prospects for Thailand, Burma and Indonesia or any part of Indochina that may temporarily be held by a possible Geneva settlement. The British chiefs did not relate the implications of the situation in Indochina to the future of EDC and effects on NATO. Their approach seems to be on a very narrow basis strictly in terms of local UK interest without regard to other areas of the Far East such as Japan.

I am having dinner with Sir Winston tonight3 and will continue to state the position taken by Secretary Dulles with Mr. Eden, also emphasizing point that a united front including the US and France now might afford the only opportunity to take any positive action to [Page 1417] save Southeast Asia from loss to the Communists one way or another.

While I did not mention to the British chiefs the adverse effect on the US Congress and US public opinion of their not standing firmly with the United States, with the concurrence of Ambassador Aldrich I will make this point evident to Mr. Churchill tonight.

  1. Regarding telegram Dulte 5, see footnote 3, p. 1414.
  2. For text of telegram Dulte 7 from Geneva, repeated to London as telegram 67, Apr. 26, summarizing a DullesEden conversation of that date, see vol. xvi, p. 570.
  3. Admiral Radford summarized his dinner conversation with Prime Minister Churchill in telegram JCS 960578 to Secretary of State Dulles at Geneva, Apr. 27. He reported that the position taken by the Prime Minister with regard to Indochina and united action in defense of Southeast Asia was in exact accord with the views of Eden as expressed to Dulles at Geneva. The Prime Minister, Radford stated, was aware of the serious implications of the declining French position, but was unwilling to commit British resources to collective action unless British territory, such as Malaya, was in immediate danger. (741.13/4–2754) For the complete text of telegram JCS 960578, see volume vi.

    For Admiral Radford’s account of his meeting with the Prime Minister as presented to the National Security Council, see memorandum of discussion at the 194th Meeting of the NSC, Apr. 29, p. 1431.