110.11 DU/6–1054: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Department of State

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1. The following my comments on Under Secretary’s Dulte 164 repeated as Number 2 from Department.1

I agree that Geneva is getting us nowhere on Indochina except backwards. The pendency of negotiations leads to delaying vital decisions on our side while the Communists pursue actively and vigorously their program of action in Indochina. I had hoped that we too might have had a program of action while Geneva was going on, but this the British rejected. The sooner the British get into a mood where we can seriously talk with them about collective action the better off we shall be. I agree with the issues he names but I could not agree that they are necessarily the only public issues on which we would break. For example, I feel that there has been a general lack of good faith and a use of Geneva as a cover to promote Communist aggression.
I have no particular opinion about Eden seeing Molotov again. Also I am quite sure that this action in that respect will not be influenced by either your opinion or mine. I concede that there is some advantage in getting a better understanding by India and Burma provided this is not at the expense of alienating Korea, Formosa, the Philippines and Thailand. I know that the British look upon the former as their particular friends and the latter as our friends. But apart from this difference, the latter group are willing and able to fight and that is an element which I fear is conspicuously lacking in the former group.
I hesitate to make a firm decision now about Cambodia and Laos until we know what will be the policy toward Vietnam. A program for Laos and Cambodia, excluding Vietnam, will almost surely be interpreted in Vietnam and elsewhere as its total abandonment, and until we see no alternative to such abandonment, I would not want to promote it by UN action on behalf of Cambodia and Laos alone.
With reference to the Thai application, I agree that it should not expressly include neighboring ARMAs, but also I agree that it should not expressly exclude POC operations outside of Thailand.
With reference to Commonwealth withdrawal from Korea, this is partly a military problem, but even more a political and psychological problem. We are going to have a hard time restraining Rhee from open military action following the termination of the Korean phase of the Geneva Conference. Until we have lived through the immediate crisis which I think will follow the termination of Korean talks in Geneva I would prefer to avoid adding any elements which he can seize on as a further excuse for independent action.
I do not agree that nothing can be salvaged from Vietnam. That very largely depends upon the UK itself. I feel confident that the Communists are prepared to stop wherever we are prepared to stand. However, that stand must be a united one to be effective, and the one element so far conspicuously lacking in that unity is the UK.
On the question of what we and UK do if France insists on continuing negotiations after we believe they have collapsed, I believe answer would be to reduce our delegations in stature. I believe, for example, you should then return, perhaps leaving Robertson in charge, and that there should be corresponding action by UK. If this happened and then we began the united-front talks which we had planned for early April, that in my opinion would prevent French continuance at Geneva from thwarting all our plans.
As regards internationalization, it should be made clear to the French that our offer does not indefinitely lie on the table to be picked up by them one minute before midnight. As we instructed Dillon to tell Laniel, our offer was made in the light of conditions at the time, and conditions could so deteriorate that no point intervention could be successful. The French cannot permit Geneva to be dragged out indefinitely while the situation in Indochina deteriorates and then at same time at sometime in July expect our position to be precisely as it was in April. I believe we should begin to think of putting a time limit on our intervention offer.
  1. Dated June 9, p. 1083. The Secretary’s comments were repeated to Under Secretary Smith in Geneva as telegram Tedul 185, June 11. (790.5/6–1154)

    In telegram Tedul 183, June 10, Acting Secretary of State Murphy informed Smith that he had “forwarded your Dulte 164 to the Secretary and he is thinking about it. I doubt that any substantive comments can be forthcoming before his return Saturday [June 12] when we will know outcome French confidence vote, but we will of course send you comments just as soon as we can.” (751G.00/6–954)