FE files, lot 55 D 128: Telegram

The Commander in Chief, Far East (Clark) to the Chief of Staff, United States Army (Collins)

top secret

C 52788 Refs: A. Deptar 914536.1 B. State msg 268, 25 July.2 C. CX 51489.3 D. C 69351.4 E. CX 52284.5

In commenting on the gen aspects of the proposal as set forth in ref B, I do not believe that, under the circumstances which exist at this time in Korea and at Panmunjom, Russia would see fit to intercede to cause these countries to agree to our terms for an armistice so long as there remains the remote possibility that additional concessions may be secured from the UN.
I agree that the time has arrived for us to determine if the Communists do indeed desire an armistice. Since no one doubts Soviet control of the Korean war, a dir referral to either Vishinsky or Stalin, preferably the latter, might bring an ans to the question. However, considering the sit which now exists in Korea, I believe the diplomatic approach as set forth in ref B is premature, and:
Would be construed as an indication of weakness on the part of our government to refer to the Soviets what up to now has been a purely mil negotiation, without first exhausting every possible effort at [Page 428] Panmunjom. Being construed as a weakness, the Communists would cont their efforts to secure additional concessions, thus causing more delay.
If they so desire, the Soviets can, by stalling on an ans, cont delay of an armistice indefinitely.
Our approach to the Soviet government would be used as a strong propaganda wpn by them. They could claim, with credibility, that the UNC openly admits its inability to secure an armistice through mil means, and must turn to the good offices of the Soviet Union to solve its problems.
I do not consider it advisable to present through diplomatic channels the alternate proposal contained in second to last para, ref B. Since this is detailed procedure and mechs of exchange, it can more aproply be presented at the armistice conf.
As indicated above, I feel the gen approach you outline in ref B is premature. We have not yet exhausted positive action which we can take at Panmunjom toward realizing an armistice. The effectiveness of dir governmental intervention would probably be increased and be more acceptable to our allies if it were plainly evident that our negotiators had reached an absolute impasse. It logically fols that we should first introduce the proposals outlined in part 2, ref B, and part 2 of ref C. Failure to achieve sat results would then bring us to unilateral recess as set forth in para 6 c, ref D.
I believe it to be essential that at this time we avoid all actions which might be construed by the Communists as a weakening of our psn and those which indicate to the Communists that it may be vital for us to achieve an armistice in Korea. To accomplish the foregoing it is nec that we be firm on the battlefield, with contd emphasis on aerial atk of North Korean mil tgts, firm in our statements and firm in our actions at Panmunjom, and that this firmness be fully supported by aprop statements and actions taken at governmental level both by ourselves and more particularly by our allies.
While I cannot fully evaluate here the use of the diplomatic approach, I have grave doubts if any approach to the Soviet Union will produce worthwhile results. One similar to that set forth in ref B might possibly be of ultimate value only if properly timed and presented at a high level in a clear, forceful, and non-conciliatory manner. The presentation of such a proposal should be made after all efforts at Panmunjom have failed, and possibly in conjunction with the unilateral recess of negotiations, ref D. By presenting it at that time we would increase the effectiveness of the recess and reduce any inference of weakness. I feel that the approach should be based on the concept of one dominant world power approaching another on equal footing. It must be assumed that the USSR is fully acquainted with the details of all of our proposals during the armistice negotiations. We should strongly imply that we are fully aware that there would have been no Korean war without [Page 429] Soviet sponsorship, and that it could not have contd without their active support. A simple and dir presentation of the Korean impasse to the USSR, properly timed and without much hope of making progress, would however strengthen our case worldwide, merit western support, and would reduce the likelihood of the Soviets capitalizing on inferred weakness. A dir approach can be made either formally or informally—that is, Kennan to Vishinsky, or the United States government to the USSR, preferably the latter, stressing that:
United States Government fully realizes the dir influence which the Soviets have exercised in Korea.
Months of negotiating make it clear that the only place to obtain a dir ans is through representatives of the Soviet Union.
Through mil negotiations, agreement cannot be reached, obviously because Soviet support for continuation of the war has not been withdrawn.
In presenting our case we should ask the Soviets if they have any solution to the question of the Chinese pris that will be acceptable to both sides. We should make clear that we are willing to cooperate in any reasonable approach, but cannot agree to forcibly repatriate any POWs. If we receive no ans, or if it is plainly indicated the USSR will not assist in obtaining a solution for an hon armistice, we might then inform that we have reached a point at which it appears we have no recourse but to refer the Korean sit to the United Nations. This could be accompanied by whatever implied threats and pressures which our government could make.
I believe the alternate proposal as set forth in next to last para of Part 2, reference B, has merit if presented at Panmunjom. It may be more acceptable to the Communists and less final in nature than the one contained in Part 2, ref C. I consider that the thought expressed in para 7 of ref E remains applicable.
In view of the foregoing, I feel that the diplomatic approach to determine if the Communists do desire an armistice as set forth in ref B should be held in abeyance pending future devs. Based on the above analysis and the facts aval to me here, I recm that I be auth to introduce the alternate proposal contained in Part 2 of ref B. If this does not produce favorable reaction, I further recm that I be auth, at a time of my choosing, to present the proposal outlined in Part 2, ref C. I have discussed this subject at length with Bob Murphy who is in complete agreement with the gen views expressed herein.
  1. In this telegram, July 26, the Chief of Staff of the Army requested CINCFE’s comments on the approach outlined in telegram 92 to Moscow. (DOD files)
  2. Printed as telegram 92 to Moscow, p. 422.
  3. Dated July 7, p. 380.
  4. Dated May 31, p. 270.
  5. Dated July 21, p. 415.