221. Memorandum From the Counselor (MacArthur) to the Secretary of State 1
- US–UK Preparations, and Nature and Scope of the Discussions with Prime Minister Eden during his Visit to Washington, January 30, 1956
Mr. Macmillan has suggested to Ambassador Aldrich that the bilateral preparations for Prime Minister Eden’s talks with President Eisenhower should be as nearly analogous as possible with the tripartite preparations for the Geneva meeting.2 Specifically, he has suggested that a US–UK working group be established to prepare for the Washington talks so that the President and the Prime Minister could reach agreement on specific issues and not have to defer them for further study, when such study could be accomplished in advance. He also has in mind that the foundation for US–UK policy and action in the coming months vis-à-vis the Soviets should be along the lines of the various US–UK wartime governmental strategy meetings.
It seems probable that Mr. Macmillan’s views as indicated above reflect the views of Prime Minister Eden, who would doubtless like to reestablish the kind of US–UK operating arrangements with the President that Churchill had with President Roosevelt during the wartime period. Furthermore, we are told confidentially that Eden receives a full distribution of all substantive British diplomatic telegrams and intervenes frequently in the day-to-day operations of the Foreign Office rather than confining himself to matters of basic policy.
The closest US–UK cooperation in the field of foreign policy is more important than ever in the light of what the Soviets are now doing. However, Macmillan appears to have in mind that the proposed US–UK working group would prepare specific and detailed recommendations with respect to all the important problems with which we are faced. Such an arrangement would have serious disadvantages.
To try to reach firm and detailed US–UK agreement at the highest level of government on the key problems facing us in Europe, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, and the Far East, could result in an undesirable inflexibility of policy in an especially fluid situation created by the recently adopted attitudes and policies of the Soviet [Page 612] Union. Furthermore, in the light of the President’s recent illness and the fact that he will be beset with many problems when he returns to the White House, it would be placing too great a burden upon him to ask him to go into all the detailed and multiple facets of the various foreign policy problems. Also, it would tend to transfer the daily operational decisions within the framework of basic policy from the Foreign Ministers to the Heads of Government. This might in turn lead Eden to wish to have fairly frequent meetings with the President to review and to decide upon some of the more detailed aspects of foreign policy.
With respect to the reestablishment of the US–UK wartime relationship, it must be borne in mind that this was a result of special circumstances obtaining at that time, when virtually all Europe was over-run and in the hands of our enemies and where the US and UK were the only powers that had the resources, power, and resolution to prosecute the war. To reestablish this form of open bilateral relationship now would create the most serious difficulties with respect to France and some of our other allies. It is undeniable that the closest US–UK cooperation is essential, but this could be most effectively carried out in private, bilateral, diplomatic discussions at the Foreign Minister and Embassy levels.
While the above comments apply to Macmillan’s proposals, there are two areas where it is believed that useful US–UK working level discussions could be held preparatory to the Eden visit. They are:
- The Middle East;
- The general situation in South and Southeast Asia in the light of the recent Soviet offensive in these areas appealing in the first instance with economic and propaganda blandishments to the neutralist and uncommitted countries.
It is recommended that when you discuss the preparations for the Eden visit with Mr. Macmillan in Paris on December 15,3 you make the following points:
- In his talks with Prime Minister Eden, President Eisenhower will not attempt to examine the specific details of most of the various problems with which we are faced. He contemplates a broad and general exchange of views on the basic problems with a view of arriving at: a) a common assessment, and b) the general approach that [Page 613] the US and UK should take with respect to them. Therefore, there should not be a detailed agenda. A brief list of general topics might be drawn up to guide the discussion, and this could be accomplished through the Department–Embassy channel in Washington.
- We do not think it is feasible to set up a working group to
make specific recommendations on all the details of the multiple
and difficult problems which we face in the light of the
evolving situation and the broad nature of the Eden–Eisenhower talks. However, we
- that with respect to the Middle East, it would be useful to have further exchanges of views in advance of the talks. These would be on the principal problems of the area with a view to a common assessment and common approach to them. With this in mind, we would propose that Mr. Russell 4 and Mr. Shuckburgh meet in Washington to discuss the Arab-Israeli question about January 11. White here, Mr. Shuckburgh could talk with other officers of the Department about additional matters of concern such as the Buraimi question. This would enable Mr. Shuckburgh to return to London to report on the results of these talks prior to the departure of Mr. Macmillan and the Prime Minister.
- it would also be useful to have a general exchange of views with regard to the situation in South and Southeast Asia resulting from the recent Soviet offensive. Such an exchange of views could be held in Washington at about the same time as the Russell–Shuckburgh meetings, and would also be designed to develop a common assessment of the problems we face and a common approach to them. These would include: a) how we can develop and strengthen SEATO, and b) what we can do to counteract the Soviet “neutralist” offensive coupled with economic blandishments, which seems designed first, to detach the countries in the area from their relationships with the Western powers, and then gradually to communize them through the local Communist Parties which have been given a new respectability by the Bulganin–Khrushchev visit.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.4111/12–955. Secret. Drafted by MacArthur.↩
- Ambassador Aldrich’s report of his conversation with Macmillan, which MacArthur summarizes here, was transmitted to the Department in telegram 2339 from London, December 7. (Ibid., 033.4111/12–755)↩
- Secretary Dulles and Foreign Secretary Macmillan were in Paris, December 15–16, to attend the NATO Council of Ministers meeting; in their conversation on December 15, Macmillan agreed that the agenda for the Washington talks “could be prepared through normal diplomatic channels, Washington, except in case of Middle Eastern problems. For latter he proposed, and Secretary agreed, to send Shuckburgh to Washington shortly after Christmas for consultation with appropriate Department officers.” (Secto 6 from Paris, December 16; ibid., 740.5/12–1655)↩
- Francis H. Russell, Special Assistant to the Secretary.↩