281. Memorandum of a Conversation, Mid-Ocean Club, Bermuda, March 23, 1957,10:30 p.m.1

The President Mr. Macmillan
The Secretary of State Mr. Lloyd

The United Nations

This was a matter which had been reserved for our informal discussion. I spoke initially, pointing out that the UN procedures were admittedly defective. I had long advocated weighted voting in the General Assembly and a change in the veto power in the Security Council. I regretted that these matters had not been boldly approached at the time for the contemplated Charter review conference. The US [Page 755] had not been able to obtain the support for such a conference from its European friends. Since then, membership had been largely increased and changes became more difficult. However, even the present procedure had not yet led to irresponsible action. The Assembly could only recommend, and it would soon fall into futility if important nations were unwilling to accept and support the recommendations. Therefore, a 2/3 majority of small nations, theoretically obtainable, would not in fact expose their impotence by adopting resolutions which would not in fact carry any weight in the world. In the case of sanctions against Israel, while votes were obtainable, there had been a responsible deferring of action to permit the US to find a solution. On the Algerian and Cyprus items, the debate had been responsible and had ended in resolutions unanimously adopted. It was necessary to have a just cause, to present it carefully, and to prepare the way by private consultations, and there was a good chance of a reasonable, indeed constructive, result. The American people were a moralistic, and perhaps sentimental people, but they had a real faith and belief in the UN and US policy remained faithful to it.

Mr. Macmillan expressed his concern lest countries like Ghana, Cambodia, and so forth, with prejudice against colonial powers, should form a solid voting bloc with the Soviet bloc. He felt that the UN should be downgraded and perhaps regional associations upgraded.

The President suggested that there should perhaps be a period of testing of the new nations before they were brought into the UN. I said that while in theory this would have been possible under the Charter, which said that the will and capacity to discharge Charter obligations should be demonstrated, in fact the practice had developed otherwise, and it would be difficult now to reverse it. I said the US had not favored the “package deal” which had so greatly enlarged the General Assembly, but that this had been backed by the UK, perhaps following Canada’s lead. Mr. Macmillan said he recognized now that this had perhaps been an error.

I said that there was nothing in the Charter which prevented the developing of regional associations and the settlement in that form of their controversies. Mr. Macmillan spoke of the OAS as a pattern which should be followed more. I said the US agreed, and had been urging that pattern upon NATO. Mr. Macmillan referred to the fact that we had dealt with the Guatemalan problem through OAS and not in the UN. I said that was so but that at the time our procedure had been severely criticized by the UK. Mr. Macmillan admitted that in this respect they had been in error.

The President referred to the very strong sentiment against the admission of Communist China. He said if Communist China were admitted, that might very well lead the US to get out. Mr. Macmillan [Page 756] picked this up by saying it showed the US only supported the UN so long as it agreed with us and that we too would want to scrap it if it disagreed with us on any essential matter. The President said while he was expressing what he thought would be the indignation of the country, that he personally would strive to keep the US in the UN, but that it would probably take a real effort on his part.

I mentioned that while the Congressional sentiment was very strong, recent polls had indicated that public opinion as a whole favored staying in the UN even if Communist China were admitted.

Mr. Macmillan referred to the procedure as being very difficult. He said he had had Cabinet meetings day after day, or rather night after night, often in the middle of the night, with a view to instructing Dixon whether or not to vote for or against an Israeli sanctions resolution. If they voted for, they would be in great difficulty with public opinion at home. If they voted against, they would be in deep trouble with the Arabs. He thought that the procedures required excessively rapid decisions. The President agreed, particularly in the case of countries considerably removed in space and by time differentials. The President admitted that procedures left something to be desired.

There was then further discussion of the evolution of NATO. I said the US in principle would be willing to send to NATO a representative of “Cabinet rank” if there was a real effort on everybody’s part to lift up the Council meetings to that level. The President referred to the fact that he had several times indicated he wished the Council would act more as an autonomous body makings its own independent recommendations to governments, and not merely presenting governmental positions as unchangeable. Mr. Lloyd pointed out that as regards the European countries, the problem was not so complicated because they were close to Paris and could easily bring Cabinet opinions to bear. It was somewhat the reverse of the UN situation where the center was close to us but far from them. Both Mr. Macmillan and Mr. Lloyd thought it would be useful if we could have a high level representative who would be in the US frequently enough to know authoritatively our viewpoint.

Both Mr. Macmillan and Mr. Lloyd indicated they thought that Cabot Lodge did not have the best relations with Dixon and that perhaps Mr. Lodge was too much interested in getting votes to develop positions in cooperation with the UK. The President indicated a lack of sympathy with this UK viewpoint.

No effort was made to reach decisions on any matters. However both the President and I had the impression that Mr. Macmillan’s negative attitude toward the UN was somewhat altered by our positions.

[Page 757]


Mr. Macmillan brought up the question of Cyprus, indicating his strong hope that the US could in some public way express its support of the initiative of Lord Ismay, the former NATO Secretary General.2 Neither the President nor I made any response to this request, hearing it in silence, and Mr. Macmillan did not press the point.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 62 D 181, CF 868. Secret. Drafted by Dulles on March 24.
  2. Lord Ismay had offered to mediate in the Cyprus dispute.