795.00/9—3052: Telegram

The Commander in Chief, United Nations Command (Clark) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff1

top secret
operational immediate

C 54495. Ref JCS 917260.2

I am fully in accord with any proposal which will achieve an honorable armistice, does not compromise the principle on which we stand and does not jeopardize the security of UN forces. In many respects, the proposal contained in ref msg appears to parallel previous courses of action which have been submitted to you for your consideration, particularly that outlined in part 2, CX 51489.3 The essential difference between your proposal in ref msg and my recommendation is the fact that your proposal does not solve the ques of the disposition of the nonrepatriates but leaves it open to “subsequent negotiations”. Whether these negotiations are to be a part of the political conference agreed to as agenda item 5 and which is to fol the armistice is not clear. I interpreted the agreement reached in agenda item 5 to be such that only the United Nations and Communist dominated nations involved in the war in Korea will be represented at the political conf. I also assume that representatives to the political conf from the United Nations will be other than mil pers. This need not necessarily be true for the representatives of the Communist nations as their political advisers have a definite connection with the mil. I consider that the inclusion of the POW ques in the agenda of the political conf would provide the Communists with another means to force the UNC to:
Retreat from its announced psn of no forced repatriation, or
Concede to Communists demands on other important issues in order to secure Communists agreement to the UN psn on no forced repatriation, or
Continue the political conf indefinitely while the Communists mil capability increases due primarily to his immunity to atk.
I consider it far preferable that subsequent negotiations to determine ultimate disposition of non-repatriates be accomplished by a group of representatives from impartial nations, separate and distinct from those nations to be represented at the political conf. To accomplish this the armistice should specify:
Both sides agree to abide by the decision of the impartial group as to the disposition of non-repatriates.
The decision as to the disposition of a non-repatriate must be in consonance with the individuals choice.
The disposition of non-repatriates be accomplished within a specified time limit. Inclusion of the above provision in the armistice would clarify the procedure as to disposition of non-repatriates and lessen the likelihood of the impartial group arriving at a decision which would compromise our psn on no forced repatriation.
Having no knowledge as to the form of the subsequent negotiations considered, it is extremely difficult for me to comment on the manner in which the Communists acceptance of the proposal would affect the mil posture of our forces in Korea. If the Communists accept the proposal without change, we would recover practically all our POWs while retaining in our custody a large nbr of the enemies, particularly the controversial CCF POWs numbering approx 14,000. It is therefore likely that the Communists would make a counter-proposal insisting that a percentage exchange take place in order that they might hold some of our POWs as hostages. This counter-proposal would be extremely difficult for the UNC to reject; however, acceptance of this possible counter-proposal would subj us to severe criticism by the American public and by our allies if prisoners would be held as hostages for an indefinite period. In this connection, it should be noted that US POWs now reported by the enemy closely approach the nbr which might be retained by the Communists for an indefinite period of time, if exchange is accepted on a percentage basis. I consider that we should accept no Communist counter-proposal which would allow them to retain any reported UNC POWs. If they are permitted to retain any POWs after an Armistice is signed, we have no means of insuring their ultimate return. With the restriction on const of aflds deleted from the armistice agreement it must be considered that immediately upon signing an armistice the Communists will initiate extensive const of such flds. This, combined with the release from mil pressure now upon them, particularly the heavy bombing program in progress, would place the Communists in an advantageous psn to oppose indefinitely in subsequent negotiations any solution which would not assure them the return of all Communists POWs. This might develop into such a major disagreement that the Communists, having achieved an overwhelming mil capability, would use such controversy as a basis for resuming hostilities.
Recent agent report, identified as CC RAK nr J–750 with source evaluation of B, indicates that the heavy bombing program is having a material effect on the civilian morale in North Korea. Report is quoted herein for your info.
  • “1. Civilian morale in North Korean cities and towns which have been subjected to UN air attacks is bordering on panic. Great nrs of civilians, who earlier in the war had left the farms and villages because of food and job shortages and because of conscription in labor battalions, are now deserting their jobs and retd to their farms and villages.
  • “2. Civilian opinion of air attacks in the cities is that the UN is going to launch a gen offensive and end the war once and for all.
  • “3. There is some concern in North Korean government quarters that, because of the air attacks, many civilians will join the remnants of the UN guerrillas still operating in North Korea.”
From alleged sources of original proposal as stated in ref, it would appear that the Communists, including Soviet Russia, have extended an open but indirect invitation for us to propose that we refer the solution of the POW issue to some other form of subsequent negotiations. I am of the firm opinion that the aggression in Korea in 1950 was initiated with Russia’s concurrence. There can be no doubt but that it continues only because of their support. I consider that an armistice will be effected only when the Soviets consider that the cause of Communism will be further advanced as a result of such an armistice or, that mil pressure is of such a magnitude as to engender a possibility of defeat. Thus, it appears that in Russia’s opinion the course of Communism will be furthered by achieving an armistice which refers the unresolved POW ques to future negotiations. I consider that we should avoid falling into what appears to be an obvious trap. The risk involved is not justified by the optimistic hope of arousing divergent and possible conflicting reaction in Soviet and Chinese camps. In fact, if this is a trap and, in view of the sources and the support given by the Communist party, it may well be, I consider that none of the possible advantages set forth by Kennan in ref would accrue to the UN.
Considering the nebulous advantage which might be achieved by issuing the proposed statement at this time, the indefinite conditions under which subsequent negotiations would be conducted and the very plausible Communist reaction to same as set forth herein, I sincerely ques the advisability of issuing the proposed statement at this time. In any event, I strongly recommend delay in the issuance of the statement until we better determine the progress of negotiations now being conducted between Russia and China and until the armistice del has endeavored to secure Communist agreement to an armistice folg the course of action outlined in a msg being dispatched this date; meanwhile, continuing the heavy bombing to which the Communists are being subjected and which is apparently undermining morale of the [Page 470] people of North Korea and their ability to wage and support a war. This recommended course of action has been under intensive study here and represents in our opinion the most effective procedure for negotiating at this time.
  1. The following names were handwritten on the source text: Nagle, Matthews, Hickerson, and Johnson; presumably they received copies.
  2. Dated Aug. 29, 1952, not printed. In this telegram the JCS requested Clark’s comment on the tentative text of the proposed Presidential statement, then under consideration in the Department of State, which had been sent to Kennan in Moscow for comment in telegram 206, p. 463. In addition to the text of the proposed statement, the JCS quoted Kennan’s comments in telegram 385 from Moscow, p. 464. The JCS informed Clark that “There is no thought here that as a result of the ‘subsequent negots’ we wld in fact agree to any forcible return of remaining Commies POWs.” (FE files, lot 55 D 128).
  3. Dated July 7, p. 380.