25. Letter From the Representative at the United Nations (Lodge) to the Secretary of State1
Dear Foster: The publication of the Russian disarmament manifesto2 today makes me feel like the man who was lying on the New York Central track, knowing that the express was about to come through—and stays there and is run over.[Page 77]
Certainly you and I both have anticipated such a manifesto from Moscow. It is not particularly novel or particularly clever intrinsically. But it is undoubtedly extremely effective. Where others whisper in private, they act in public.
What bothers me about it is not primarily that they have scored again in the field of international propaganda.
What bothers me about it is not primarily that we have lost a magnificent opportunity—which we have had ever since Tuesday, March 1st,3 when their attitude in London would have justified us in putting out a manifesto of our own.
What bothers me about it basically is that it will intensify the already dangerous tenderness of British and French public opinion towards Soviet proposals.
We are actually now on a downward spiral as far as British and French public opinion towards the Soviet Union is concerned unless we do something about it.
I say this as one who has completely agreed with your policy to defer to the French and the British on the public relations phase of disarmament. It would certainly have been quite a wrench for us last autumn to have said what we really thought and what our public opinion would have really liked when Vyshinsky made his thoroughly dishonest disarmament proposal.4 Instead we started then to defer solemnly to French and British prejudices. Whenever we do this the whole Soviet cause gains in respectability and it becomes even more difficult for us later to espouse the position which we really think is right.
The Soviets will now come to New York with this new manifesto at their back—if, indeed, they do not come to San Francisco5 with it and because of having been the tail to the British kite on this issue for so long, we will probably be compelled to be an even bigger tail to their kite now.[Page 78]
It all makes me wonder whether we would not have done better to have taken our own stand early and thereby at least prevented British public opinion from getting more and more friendly and respectful of the Soviet line.
It may be that Harold Stassen will produce a new idea which the President can then proclaim to the world and we can then get a fresh start. But you badly need a positive position for your opening speech in San Francisco. You must expect the Soviet line there to follow that of today’s manifesto, with communist marchers in the street and all the rest of the dreary Picasso drill.
Once the British elections6 are over, I really think it will be time to reconsider and time for us to take a line of our own, knowing that even if it does displease the British at the time, it will displease them even more the longer we wait.7
We always seem to treat their8 protestations to us much more seriously than they take anyone else’s—or than they expect theirs to be taken.
- Source: Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers. Confidential; Personal.↩
- Regarding this proposal, see supra.↩
- The Russian draft resolution submitted to the Subcommittee of the U.N. Disarmament Commission on February 25 appeared to the U.S., British, Canadian, and French representatives to be a retreat from the Soviets’ more flexible and cooperative posture during the 1954 meetings. By March 1, the discussions had come to an apparent standstill. The March 1 subcommittee meeting was characterized by Western representatives’ searching questions of and critical comments on the Soviet position. On March 2, the four Western representatives decided to continue the meetings for the immediate future while pressing Gromyko for clarification of the Russian position. (Telegrams 3826, 3836, and 3838 from London, all March 2; Department of State, Central Files, 330.13/3–255)↩
- Lodge presumably is referring to the Soviet disarmament proposal submitted to the U.N. General Assembly on September 30, 1954. For the U.S. reaction to the proposal and its text, see Department of State Bulletin, October 25, 1954, pp. 619–626.↩
- The 10th anniversary meeting of the United Nations was held in San Francisco, June 20–26.↩
- The general election in the United Kingdom took place on May 26.↩
Dulles’ letter of reply to Lodge on May 18 reads in part:
“It is very irksome in this and in other matters to defer to our allies and certainly some reasonable balance should be found. After the British elections, we may, as you suggest, usefully reconsider whether the balance has been too much againist our interest.” (Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, Strictly Confidential)↩
- The word “these” has been deleted and the word “their” has been inserted in handwriting on the source text.↩