396.1 GE/6–954: Telegram

Sixth Plenary Session on Indochina, Geneva, June 9, 3:05 p.m.: The United States Delegation to the Department of State


Secto 412. Repeated information Paris 409, London 262, Saigon 156, Tokyo 120, Moscow unnumbered. Department pass Defense. Under Secretary’s statement at sixth Indochina plenary Wednesday, June 9:

“Mr. Chairman, Fellow Delegates, as I listened yesterday to Mr. Molotov’s statement, and to that of Mr. Chou En-lai today, I felt a disappointment—shared, I am sure, by other delegations—at their unconstructive character. I had hoped for some definite response to our efforts toward compromise on basic issues. Since this has not been forthcoming and since we have had only a reiteration of accepted formulas which have been given us on a number of previous occasions, I feel that it is necessary now for me to comment on the charges reiterated on several occasions by Mr. Molotov and more intemperately repeated by Mr. Dong and Mr. Chou En-lai of aggressive designs and imperialistic intentions and deliberate deceptions and obstructions on the part of the US and of our friends and allies.

These charges are part of a familiar pattern. I’m quite sure that Mr. Molotov, and probably Mr. Chou En-lai, do not themselves actually believe that they will be taken seriously, except possibly in those countries where the instrumentalities of government are devoted to the suppression of the distribution of accurate and unbiased information.

I would assume, therefore, that Mr. Molotov was not actually speaking to us, but rather the regimented audience in Europe and [Page 1091] Asia which accepts the Cominform line. I believe, therefore, that it is sufficient for me, in reply, to say that the record of my country during and since the second world war is well known to the whole free world. We are quite willing to have our present and our future intentions judged from this record and I am sure that the confidence of our associates will not be diminished, and that of less fortunate people, if they were permitted to examine the record, would be restored.

We sometimes overlook the fact that we know a great deal, also, about the record of the Soviet Union during this same period and, in judging the present and future intentions of the Communist states and in assessing the validity of their proposals, I suggest we can learn more from reviewing this record than from such statements as those which our Communist colleagues have permitted themselves to make. For example, when Mr. Molotov and Mr. Chou En-lai speak of the national liberation movements of the peoples of Asia, I am at once moved to recall what Mr. Molotov and the government he has so long represented have actually done to affect the national aspirations of various smaller nations.

I would therefore remind you all of the mutual assistance treaties which the Soviet Union made in 1939 with Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. On October 31, 1939, Mr. Molotov, as reported in the Soviet press, said of these treaties that they in no way imply any interference on the part of the Soviet Union in the affairs of Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania … on the contrary all of these pacts of mutual assistance strictly stipulate the inviolability of the sovereignty of the signatory states and the principle of noninterference in each other’s affairs … we stand for the scrupulous and punctilious observance of the pacts on the basis of complete reciprocity, and we declare that all the nonsensical talk about the Sovietization of the Baltic countries is only to the interest of our common enemies and of all anti-Soviet provocateurs.

The fate which overtook Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania very soon after this verbally admirable statement by our eminent colleague is well known to all of us.

Have any of my colleagues forgotten the pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany dated August 23, 1939. Probably at one time Mr. Molotov considered this pact a diplomatic achievement, but I’m sure he must later have shared with the rest of us the bitter conviction that it paved the way first for the Nazi victories of the early years of World War II and then for the Nazi assault on the Soviet Union which cost the grave, long-suffering and wholly admirable Russian people so many millions of lives and such wide-spread destruction.

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I have examined this pact and particularly the secret annex thereto, which has since been revealed, and I remain deeply impressed by the following words from the second numbered paragraph of this annex to which Mr. Molotov appended his signature on August 23, 1939.

They read as follows:

‘The question of whether the interests of both parties make desirable the maintenance of an independent Polish state and that such state should be bounded can only be definitely determined in the course of further political developments. In any event, both governments will resolve this question by means of friendly agreement.’

No attempts to justify this international immorality on the ground of exigencies existing at the time can possibly be acceptable and read in the light of this paragraph, the history of Eastern Europe between 1939 when Poland was destroyed and 1948 when Czechoslovakia lost her proud place as a free nation becomes unmistakably clear. The national aspirations of small, weak countries are to be subject to what is called the ‘interests’ of large aggressive powers with designs of world domination. What took place in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, Albania and Czechoslovakia constitutes in each case a chapter in the Soviet record.

It now begins to appear that one of the next chapters in this record may reveal an intention to subordinate the national aspirations of the people of Indochina to what has been termed the ‘interest of both parties’ as they may be represented by the treaty relationship between the Soviet Union and Communist China.

I should like at this point to bring to your attention another interesting quotation which will be familiar to Mr. Chou En-lai: ‘Truce is the military counterpart of the political tactic of coalition govt. It is the means to an end, not the ultimate objective’. In the words our colleague, the Foreign Minister of Communist China, gave to the familiar military truce a meaning entirely new in the history of war. That meaning was spelled out in a war of aggression in Korea and the same concept hangs over the battlefields of Indochina and it will be understood that it is for this reason, among others, that the majority of us have insisted on definite understandings regarding some of the vital issues that we are considering in our effort to bring peace in Southeast Asia.

Our objective and our hope are peace and security. Mr. Molotov himself will recall that at our first formal conference in Moscow in 1946 I stated that the vital question in the mind of the entire free world was, ‘how much further is the Soviet Union going to go’.

I said also at that time that if the aggressive expansionism, which the Soviet Union had already demonstrated, were to continue, the free [Page 1093] world, purely in self-defense, would if necessary draw closer together.

The repressive effect of Soviet armed might was not so soon felt in South or Southeast Asia as it was in Eastern Europe. Consequently, therefore, we saw, since the end of the last war, the peoples of this area make giant strides in attaining independence and the control of their own destinies. Burma, Ceylon, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Philippines have taken their place in the family of free nations. These developments have been viewed with the greatest satisfaction by the people of my country.

Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam have more recently joined the other free South and Southeast Asian nations in the achievement of independence, and it is our sincere hope that they will attain peace and security based on a true respect for the national aspirations of their peoples. Those national aspirations should not be subordinated as has occurred in the case of the unfortunate nations mentioned at the beginning of this statement, to the interests of a large aggressive power or powers.

The Soviet Union today is the great Asian imperial power, holding vast colonial territories in the Caucasus and Central Asia. The solicitude I have heard expressed by Mr. Molotov of the people of Southeast Asia apparently does not extend toward the Armenians, the Kazakhs, Mongols, and I think it might be worth the while of all my colleagues to recall the circumstances under which the former small independent state of Tanatuva disappeared completely from the map.

I might say also to Mr. Pham Van Dong that accusations against the use of aggressive intentions and imperialist designs come rather strangely from his lips when we recall that the troops of the Viet Minh have invaded the peaceful countries of Cambodia and Laos, and have spread death and destruction there.

But, Mr. Chairman, and gentlemen, I intensely dislike these charges and countercharges. I have, so far, refrained from replying myself because of the really serious and important business facing this conference.

Having now recorded my testimony with regard to the matter of imperialism, I should like to return to consideration of the specific proposals before us. At this moment we are still confronted with three important issues which have been debated at length at a number of meetings and without result. The first of these is, as I and others of my colleagues said yesterday afternoon, the special nature of the problem existing in Laos and Cambodia.

I believe that both Mr. Eden and Mr. Bidault unanswerably demonstrated the necessity of separate treatment for those two countries [Page 1094] where peace would automatically be restored by the withdrawal of the invading Viet Minh force.

The second issue is that of the powers of the international supervisory commission for Vietnam. This commission must, obviously have the authority and facilities to settle any problems or differences which cannot be adjusted by the joint commissions of the belligerents, and, logically, therefore, its decisions must be binding on those joint commissions.

The third vital issue is the composition of the international supervisory commission. As I and others of us said before, a commission containing states unable to meet the test of impartiality e.g. that is, a commission, the counterpart of that set up in Korea, on which Communist state members have been able by veto to prevent effective supervision, is obviously an unsatisfactory and an unacceptable proposal. Yesterday the representative of the UK proposed the Colombo powers. I welcomed that proposal. This afternoon the representative of Vietnam proposed the UN. That would be acceptable.

Both are reasonable proposals. The proposal of the Soviet Union from my point of view, and I think from that of the majority of my colleagues, is not reasonable.

I am obliged to state that the Soviet, the Chinese Communists, and the Viet Minh Delegations have, so far, shown no signs of willingness to resolve these issues on any reasonable basis which could be acceptable to this conference, or which would inspire and insure the return of peace to Indochina. I hope that I am wrong, but the negative results of our last meeting seems to support this conclusion.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.”