Memorandum by the Assistant Officer in Charge of Public Affairs, Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs (Harris)1 to the Director of the Office of Northeast Asian Affairs (Young)



  • Deptel 206 August 27 to Moscow (Kennan from Matthews)2

The essence of the face-saving device to permit the Commies to accept a Korean armistice proposed in the reference telegram—that we offer the Communists a cease-fire now on the basis of an exchange of all the UN prisoners in their hands for the 83,000 repatriates whom we hold with the question of the non-repatriates in our custody to be discussed later—seems to me worthy of serious consideration. Obviously the question is one for high-level decision. From the propaganda standpoint, I offer the following comment.

I am of the opinion that there is at least one very serious objection to the method of publicizing the scheme proposed in the telegram. For the President to make the proposal in a public announcement, tying it specifically to Hallinan, Daily Worker and Moscow initiative for “cease-fire now”, would be to lend the full weight of presidential prestige to the impression that the Commies had led the way in finding a peaceful solution in Korea. I recall the free ride on the peace band wagon which the Soviets got as a result of Malik’s statement last year which the Commies were able to represent as having led to the armistice negotiations.

I suggest that the proper channel for any proposals of the kind under consideration is our armistice delegation at Panmunjom. If the proposal [Page 466] is approved, it should be offered at Panmunjom as coming from us on our own initiative and without any reference to the apparent Commie propaganda feelers in this direction of the last week.

I do not believe that the likelihood of Communist acceptance of such a proposal would be in any way enhanced by its having been offered publicly by the President rather than by our negotiators at Panmunjom. I do think that the offer by the President would give the Commies an excellent propaganda opportunity to represent themselves before the world as the real protagonists of peace.

  1. George L. Harris.
  2. Ante, p. 463.