42. Telegram From the United States Delegation at the North Atlantic Council Ministerial Meeting to the Department of State1
Polto 1393. Re Polto 1392,2 in restricted session NAC 11 am Dec 11, Secretary spoke along following lines:
Begin statement: Preface: Need of philosophy of faith, for living and acting, at critical point in our history.
- Second postwar decade one of great promise and opportunity but also fraught with great danger.
Soviet Communist structure in deteriorating condition. Disintegrating power of rulers.
There is sharp contrast at least superficially between today and two or three years ago. Several years ago there was iron discipline within Sov Union. Satellites were under firm control providing reliable bases and dependable forces. Communist parties in free world followed Sov line and exerted considerable influence. Now there is great change. Communist parties in free world in disarray. Satellites no longer reliable bases and their forces may even be liability. Within Sov Union there is greater demand for liberalization and consumer goods.
- Good reason believe forces so manifested will ultimately prove be irresistible, not in detail but in overall impact.
- However, this situation creates dangers. Sov rulers have difficult, hazardous and unsatisfactory choices. Therefore they may take some of their risks in their external relations and thus create greater chances of war.
It is this situation which creates opportunity for an evolution of Sov system into something tolerable. But also there is danger.
Khrushchev last Feb stressed that Stalin’s successes made rigors of regime acceptable at home and in period new strain leaders might seek foreign successes to relieve pressures at home, especially with greater Sov military power. He would therefore rate military danger somewhat higher than Lange had because of this tendency to take greater risks.
- In face of this situation it is necessary for free nations: [Page 112]
- To maintain moral pressures which helping undermine Sov-Chinese Communist system; and
- To maintain their military strength and their resolution for defense.
- US believes that at present juncture it more important than ever to conform to high ideals, expressed in Charter of UN and in Article 1 our own Treaty, that international disputes should be settled by peaceful means.
- We well aware of interconnection of justice and peace and that it is difficult preserve peace with perpetration flagrant injustices. I personally expressed this view on many occasions, including London Suez Conference August and at UNGA at its emergency session called end last October.3 Indeed the interconnection is expressed both in UN Charter and in our Treaty. But I did this not as argument for war but as argument for more effort to obtain justice.
- Wherever we look we find those subject to what they believe to be grave injustices. In Far East, partition of Korea, subjection of China to what Republic of China on Taiwan regards as forcible aggression from without, partition of Vietnam. In South Asia there is problem of Kashmir. In Europe partition of Germany, subjection and oppression of nations of Eastern Europe; in Middle East there is problem of Israel. Risk to Europe that production and transportation of oil may be under unfriendly or hostile control. These are but few of many situations where nations tempted to use force to redress injustice.
- We must be aware of fact that under present world conditions we could not accept concept of each nation, subject to injustice, attempting to remedy that injustice by force. That would set loose forces which would almost surely lead to World War III, particularly given present predicament and power of Sov rulers.
- Heretofore concept of “just war” has been deeply rooted even in religious belief. But there is growing tendency to doubt that modern war can in fact eliminate more injustices than war itself inevitably inflicts. Both morality and expediency now reject deliberate resort to war as instrument of national policy. That indeed is our engagement. If we live up to that engagement it is more likely, not less likely, that we shall live up to others.
- Restraint exercised, often under great provocation, by divided and menaced nations is proof, not of cowardice or irresolution but of moral strength. It serves mightily to create moral climate which gives stimulus and encouragement to forces which disrupting Sov Communist system. Notable is recent acceptance by France and UK of recommendation of UN.
- Also this tends to inhibit Sov rulers from themselves engaging in undisguised armed aggression. It enables immorality their conduct be exposed.
Nations of Europe and Asia which are subjected to grave injustices and dangers understandably find it hard accept double standard which results from respect of free nations for opinions of mankind, notably as expressed through UNGA. While rulers of Sov bloc follow only their own devices, we must all bear in mind that existence of double standard of conduct in world bears heavily upon many nations. Also it bears more heavily upon some more than upon others. US feels however that we do not need to contemplate that this double standard will go on forever. We convinced that free nations should continue to conform to high standards of conduct which are prescribed by Charter and which indeed were written into Charter primarily at their behest as expressing ideals their peoples. They are Article 1 of our Treaty.
We believe impact this conduct will become steadily greater and Sov despotism will become unable go on living by standards decent people despise. If we pursue with resolution course we have set before ourselves, we can expect it to prevail and that dangerous division of world will draw to end.
Many of difficulties which beset free nations soluble, particularly if each nation does its utmost to secure justice for others even where its own interests are not directly involved. There are deficiencies in this respect. Much can be done by cooperation and resourcefulness. Also we should recognize fact that since burdens of double standard do not fall equally upon all free nations, consideration for each other is not charity. US has in past tried to act in accordance with this principle, and I hope we shall continue do so for future.
- We aware of fact UN an imperfect organization and that voting procedures both in SC and GA are inadequate. Nevertheless UN is great step toward organization of international order. It has gained greatly in stature within recent weeks. Some nations, despite their own views or national interests, have conformed to the recommendations of the United Nations General Assembly. Also this assembly has been able to organize on quick notice a military emergency force. Despite the fact that so far the UN recommendations have been disregarded in relation to Hungary, the UN has nevertheless focused [Page 114] the attention of the world upon the dramatic strength of captive people to regain freedom.
Despite its imperfections the UN has achieved a prestige and an influence which make it a power for good. It cannot do everything and should not be expected to do everything. But to destroy the UN, or to reject the basic principles expressed in its Charter, would be a disaster. Then each nation of Europe and Asia would feel at liberty to try, by force, to remedy the injustices which so far it has not been possible peacefully to correct. This would lead almost certainly to global war. The disaster would be the more inexcusable because the peaceful correction of these injustices which lie within the free world is now a possibility. And to the extent that they are due to the Soviet Communist world, a change of the character of that world seems now to be within the realm of possibility.
- It is necessary to rely upon moral pressures to disrupt powerful Sov despotism based upon materialistic and atheistic concepts which deny concept of justice, which deny sanctity and dignity of individual and which admit use of violence and trickery wherever and whenever this expedient. But meanwhile it so necessary also to have, for defense, military capacity to resist what Sovs trying to make greatest military machine which world has ever had.
- We all know at least in general terms of immense intensive effort being made by Sov rulers to gain military position which would enable them to dominate world.
- For a time there was illusion in some quarters—even in NATO—that those who build formidable military machine at so great cost would never think of using it. Recent events Hungary have shattered that illusion.
- It is of utmost importance that NATO strength be maintained and that there should be no doubt of our resolve to use that strength if need be. Some quarters had curious impression that because US under very difficult circumstances lived up to what it believed to be its obligations under Article 1 of our Treaty, made it less likely we should live up to other articles—that we could not be depended upon. It seems it is just other way around. Fact we did live up to first Article of Treaty even though that required us to act in disaccord with our closest historic friends made it more likely, not less likely, we would be faithful to provisions of Treaty. Hope there no doubt about that in any quarter and assure there need be no such [Page 115] doubt. Only thus can we be confident that Red Army tanks which rolled into Budapest4 will not also roll on into Western Europe.
- We do face of course very difficult problem maintaining proper balance between military and economic expenditures. Free nations not willing, and indeed not able, treat their working people as slave labor. Every one our countries needs find way to improve living standards and give those who labor increasing benefits from their labor. That is why we strongly endorsed development of Common Market and other means building stronger economies and fostering growth. Failure to achieve such growth would expose us to subversive penetration which could be as disastrous as military occupation because it would pave way to military domination. Our policies must not invite economic collapse.
- US believes however it is possible consistently with maintenance acceptable economic standards, to maintain strength adequate to deter and if need be to repulse Sov aggression. One of great advantages of collective security system is that no one of us has to carry unaided that gigantic task. We can each help the other.
- A principal deterrent is atomic retaliatory power and protection of sources that power. This potential largely resides in US but is aided by many countries which contribute bases necessary to assure intercommunication.
- We cannot however assume that deterrent of nuclear power will solve all our military problems. One certain thing which history proves is that it is impossible forecast certainly the character of future war. We dare not put all our eggs in one basket. There must be diversity of capability and must be flexibility.
- Also there must be fair sharing of burdens so that they do not become excessive for any one or so there is not fatal gap because of inadequacy of any one. These are matters which will presumably be discussed further as we consider political directive to be given our military authorities. We see however both necessity and possibility of creating as between us a situation such that Sov rulers despite their temptations will see folly of their attempting to attack NAT area.
- We also face problem of bringing about closer and more intimate understanding between us with respect our foreign policies, particularly as these seriously affect each other. Need for this has been strikingly demonstrated. At prior meetings we alluded, almost [Page 116] casually, to problems such as that of Middle East which vitally affect Western Europe. But we did nothing here to seek common policies with respect these and other vital problems which threaten very life of our Alliance.
- Lessons of recent past will we hope reinforce recommendations of three FonMins which we shall have to consider under another item of agenda.5
- So far as US concerned, past differences are usefully considered only as they help us to build more wisely and more firmly for future.
In conclusion we reaffirm our conviction that future is one of great opportunity as well as of danger. Perhaps order these words and emphasis should be reversed. For we confidently believe dangers can be and will be surmounted and that opportunities will be seized.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 740.5/12–1156. Confidential. Drafted by Bowie. Transmitted in two sections and repeated to the other NATO capitals and Moscow.↩
- For text of Dulles’ statement of August 20, 1956, at the London Suez Conference, see The Suez Canal Problem, July 26–September 22, 1956 (Washington, 1956), pp. 178–182. For text of Dulles’ statement in the U.N. General Assembly on November 1, 1956, see United States Policy in the Middle East, September 1956–June 1957 (Washington, 1957), pp. 151–157.↩
- Soviet troops entered Budapest first on October 24, 1956, and again on November 4.↩
- See Document 47.↩