217. Memorandum of a Conversation Between the Secretary of State and the British Minister (Scott), Department of State, Washington, September 17, 1955, 1 p.m.1

Sir Robert called primarily to say goodbye prior to his taking up his new task in Singapore.2 He did mention the Cyprus matter and the strong hope of his Government that we would vote against inscription.3 I told him we were giving sympathetic consideration to this but could not make up our minds until we knew just what the British themselves would say on this point in the General Committee. I said I intended to ask Macmillan for a copy of their prospective statement and hoped to have it by Monday4 morning before I left for New York.

Sir Robert spoke of the concern about trade relations and the fear that we were going “protectionist”. I said I had no such fear. I said that the US was pursuing, and I thought would continue to pursue, “liberal” trade policies, although the world “liberal” could not be interpreted as meaning that under no circumstances did we give consideration to our domestic economy. I said that foreigners should realize that the US was going to keep for its own people a reasonable percentage of the markets of various kinds and that whenever foreigners seemed to be absorbing almost the entire market of a given product that would be a danger signal.

Sir Robert spoke particularly about their worries about petroleum. I said that if there was cause for worry, it would be because some of the importing companies were being too greedy.

I said that I did not think we should look on the situation as either all black or all white. There was a grey zone but that did not prevent the US from having trade policies which would provide enterprising foreigners with ample opportunity to earn dollars through sales here.5

Sir Robert expressed the enjoyment he had had in being here, the regret he felt in leaving, and spoke highly of his personal regard for me. I reciprocated.

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Sir Robert and Lady Scott had dinner with Mrs. Dulles and me Sunday evening. He then gave me copies of two statements by Macmillan regarding Cyprus.6 He said that he had been in communication with Macmillan who hoped to have in my hands a draft of their proposed statement sometime Monday morning.

I spoke of press relations and asked whether they had much trouble with the American press. He admitted that they did, pointing to the fact that the American press were extremely well informed, very persistent and resourceful, and that it was extremely difficult to prevent their gaining information from one or another source, despite precautions which were taken. He said he did not believe the two recent leaks about the security treaty actually came from British sources, although British sources were attributed. He said that in such cases the attributed source was rarely the real one. I said that I felt that this was a difficult problem which deserved consideration as we were concerned about leaks.7

We discussed the Western European situation and German unification. Sir Robert was somewhat gloomy at the prospect of getting any action out of the Russians. I said that it would be a disaster if the Russians did not accept the coincidence of West German willingness that Germany integrate with Western Europe and accept limitation and control of armament, while at the same time the US would be willing to give Russia assurances as against a possible future attack by Germany. I said that this last was a very momentous commitment. I was somewhat surprised that it seemed to be accepted casually and as a matter of course. I said indeed that I was by no means confident that such a commitment would be ratified by the Senate and that it would take all President Eisenhower’s authority to get it through. I felt that we would have to dilute somewhat the strength of the commitment, at least for initial bargaining purposes. I said that unless the Russians would take something like this, they might face a situation where the US would not commit itself as regards a future struggle. Sir Roger [Robert] remarked that this might mean that the US would more or less get out of Europe, which, he said, was what the Russians wanted and the UK feared. The other major UK fear was that the US might decide not to bother about allies but to deal directly on a bilateral basis with the Soviet Union on the theory that if our two powers could get [Page 607] together, the rest would easily fall into place. He said that the present friendliness of the US toward Germany and Japan indicated how easily an attitude of hatred could turn into one of cooperation.

We discussed the question of “morality” in foreign relations. Sir Robert said that although at times it proved aggravating, particularly in relation to colonial matters, nevertheless he was convinced that the US was guided by moral principles in its foreign relations and that this was of immense value to the rest of the world. Only strong moral considerations could have led a nation to follow the enlightened course which the US had followed over the last years.

I pointed out that whereas most countries operated their foreign policy with a view to some concrete, short-term gain for their country, the US had not done so. We had acted primarily out of a sense of duty, and if that sense of duty were destroyed or rendered inoperative in foreign relations, then there would be no alternative but a reversion to isolationism and lack of responsibility in relation to world problems, both political and economic.

I said that I recognized that there was a school of thought, represented by Kennan8 and Hans Morgenthau9 who claimed that we should always act in terms of direct national expediency and not of morality. I did not see how, if that were the case, other countries could count on what the US would do and coordinate their policies with ours. If we were guided by moral principles, then they could know where we would stand. Sir Robert expressed his concurrence with this view.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, General Memoranda of Conversation. Secret; Personal and Private. Drafted by Dulles on September 19. In a covering memorandum, September 22, to Herbert Hoover, Livingston T. Merchant, and Douglas Mac-Arthur II, John W. Hanes, Jr., reported that Dulles did not want this memorandum of conversation to be generally circulated. Selected paragraphs were sent to Thorsten V. Kalijarvi and Carl W. McCardle.
  2. He became British Commissioner-General in Southeast Asia.
  3. Reference is to the inclusion of the Cyprus question on the agenda of the U.N. General Assembly later in September. The United States ultimately supported the United Kingdom in both the General Committee and the General Assembly.
  4. September 19.
  5. The preceding three paragraphs were sent to Kalijarvi. See footnote 1 above.
  6. The draft of the proposed British statement at the United Nations on Cyprus is enclosed in a letter from Sir Robert Scott to the Secretary, September 19. (Department of State, Central Files, 747C.00/9–1955)
  7. Reference is to press reports about the new European security treaty proposed by the United States.
  8. George F. Kennan, Director of the Policy Planning Staff, Department of State, 1947–1950; Ambassador to the Soviet Union, 1952; Member, Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton since 1953.
  9. Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago.