614. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Kingdom to the Department of State1
2917. Eyes only for Acting Secretary. Have just seen Butler immediately before he went to a Cabinet meeting re Suez. He told me that he himself was perfectly calm and believed absolutely in the ultimate indestructability of good and close relations between the US and Great Britain because he believed with passionate intensity that such relations were absolutely essential to the survival of western civilization. He said, however, that the wave of anti-American feeling in Great Britain, caused by the action of the US on Saturday2 in abstaining from voting for the Belgian amendment to the Afro-Asian resolution and the subsequent vote of the US Delegate in favor of the Afro-Asian resolution calling for the withdrawal forthwith of the British and French forces (in spite of the fact that it was clearly apparent that the withdrawal of such forces was already under way and when it was equally apparent from the resolution with regard to the clearance of the Canal that it was not intended that the British and French forces should be withdrawn except pari passu with the clearance of the Canal under the aegis of the UN) could not possibly be exaggerated. Butler said that he felt he should point out in all seriousness that he did not think it beyond the bounds of possibility that if the UN did not act with firmness to bring about immediate clearance of the Canal Great Britain would [Page 1197]withdraw from the UN and the situation might even reach the point where the US would be asked to give up its bases in Great Britain. Butler did not mention the effect of such events on NATO.
On my way out from my interview with Butler I saw Salisbury who was deeply agitated and who said that if the story which appeared this morning in the Daily Mail regarding Egyptian brutality and especially regarding the action by Egyptian customs officials forcing British women to “strip completely in a little uncurtained room” were true, it would be extremely difficult to prevent the situation here from getting out of control.
I realize of course that is impossible to modify the action taken in the UN, but I feel that it is of extreme importance that the President should invite Butler and Macmillan to come to Washington for consultation at the earliest possible opportunity. I do not think that Butler could leave London at the present time, but Macmillan undoubtedly would come at once if invited. As Butler is planning to explain to Humphrey on telephone today Macmillan would not wish to appear to come as a suppliant for financial aid, but both Butler and Macmillan believe that early consultation is becoming vitally necessary. It is tragic to sit here in London and observe the rapidly changing attitude of the British public toward the US. I believe that it is not exaggerating in the slightest degree to say that we are rapidly reaching the point where we are thought of by the British public as enemies of Britain working against them with the Russians and the Arabs instead of as allies. I can think of no way in which this extremely dangerous trend of opinion can be halted except through an early invitation by the President to such conference as I have referred to above which invitation of course may be felt to be justified if British take action in UN along lines outlined in mytel 2915.3
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 974.7301/11–2656. Top Secret; Niact; Presidential Handling. Received at 11:46 a.m.↩
At the Acting Secretary’s Staff Meeting that morning, Hoover noted that Aldrich had telephoned from London earlier that morning to emphasize the great concern in the United Kingdom over the U.S. vote in the General Assembly. Hoover asked the Bureau of European Affairs to consider steps to offset this unfavorable reaction. (Department of State, Secretary’s Staff Meetings: Lot 63 D 75)↩
- In telegram 2915, November 26, Aldrich reported that, according to Kirkpatrick, Lloyd had been authorized to tell Hammarskjöld that Great Britain was prepared to establish a definite schedule for troop withdrawal on the assumption that the United Nations would at the same time move ahead with Canal clearance using available equipment and that Hammarskjöld was in a position to obtain Egyptian agreement to an immediate clearance of the Canal. Lloyd’s instructions, according to Kirkpatrick, envisaged that if Hammarskjöld could give this assurance, the British Government would make a public statement in the United Nations very shortly announcing the date for the completion of their evacuation. (Ibid., Central Files, 974.7301/11–2656)↩