396.1 GE/5–2554: Telegram

The United States Delegation to the Department of State

top secret

Dulte 113. Limit distribution. In conversation with Eden this morning, he showed me in great confidence, message from High Commissioner in India,1 the text of which is given below, which is illuminating and shows some of the considerations which are conditioning United Kingdom thinking regarding our maneuvers with respect to Southeast Asia:

  • “1. Indians realise that if Geneva Conference fails, dangerous situation will arise throughout Southeast Asia and the Far East, carrying with it whole series of alarming possibilities. These are seen as ranging in order of gravity from large scale Western intervention in Indochina (involving another ‘Korean’ campaign with every risk that this time the conflict could not be localised) to abandonment of Indochina, but formation under Western auspices of a collective defense organization designed to safeguard neighboring territories. In Indian eyes, former at best, would be a tragedy, not least for the people of Indochina themselves; at worst, it would be suicidal as opening way for general war. Latter might enable peace to be preserved for a while, but in Indian estimation, further clash would only be a matter of time. And either course would involve renewed Western domination in a large part of Southeast Asia which would not only offend Asian nationalist sentiment everywhere, but would, in Indian view, be a futile and self-defeating policy. They are convinced, indeed, that peace can never be established on any lasting basis, unless Western powers keep their hands off Asia and leave Asian countries on a basis of full independence to settle their affairs amongst themselves.
  • “2. But while such considerations may be at back of their minds, Indians have not yet brought themselves to think seriously of possibility of failure of Geneva Conference. It is all-important to them [Page 931] that it should succeed, and they view progress to date, though slow, as not unsatisfactory. They feel that there is now good hope of a ceasefire. Once that stage is reached, the rest should, in their view, be much easier, even though negotiations for a political settlement are bound to be prolonged.
  • “3. In the above circumstances, any new deal between the United States and Siam on the lines indicated in your telegram would be regarded here as quite disastrous. It would be looked on as a new attempt by the United States to sabotage the Geneva Conference and one which almost certainly would have that result. All hopes built on present negotiations would be shattered and it would be felt that last opportunity for peaceful settlement has been wantonly thrown away. American stock, already very low here, would sink to rock-bottom and political reactions would be very serious.
  • “4. Apart from impact on Geneva Conference, proposal would be bound to cause indignation from India’s own standpoint. With United States/Pakistan deal on one side, and United States/Siamese deal on the other, India would feel herself being contained by United States and her associates; distrust and suspicion of United States motives would be magnified, and there would be serious risk of anti-American feeling taking an anti-Western form.
  • “5. From the angle of this post, therefore, I must hope that advantage will be taken of any opportunity that arises to impress on Americans extreme unwisdom of pursuing any such proposal while Geneva Conference is in session. If Conference fails, whole situation will no doubt have to be considered de novo, and this might be part of the defensive measures that may then become necessary. But if trouble here is to be avoided, it is essential that current negotiations should be given every chance before there is any airing of measures which, from Indian standpoint, are bound to appear provocative to the other side.”

  1. Sir Alexander Clutterbuck.