304. Letter From Prime Minister Macmillan to President Eisenhower1

Dear Friend: Thank you for your letter of September 24 [23] about Disarmament.2 We have been going further into the possibility of working out some formula which might strike the imagination of ordinary people. It is not easy. I had a long talk with Lewis Strauss yesterday and went into it fairly fully. He has offered to pass on our thoughts to FOSTER. The immediate problem is whether anything specific should be said in the General Assembly debate and no doubt FOSTER and Selwyn Lloyd will go into this when the latter is in Washington with The Queen next week.

Meanwhile, what are we going to do about these Russians? I have been giving a great deal of thought to this in the last few days. I wish I could talk to you about it but I will try to set out my thoughts in this message. This artificial satellite has brought it home to us what formidable people they are and what a menace they present to the free world.3 Their resources and knowledge and their system of government will enable them to keep up the pressure for a very long time to come—perhaps two or three generations. After that we must hope that the Communistic ideology will be spent and that their people will revert gradually to ordinary human behaviour.

Is the free world really equipped to meet this challenge? We have N.A.T.O. and S.E.A.T.O. and so on for military defence. Even in the field I fear lest organisations of this kind will lose their vitality and fail to answer to the reality of the situation. Yet it is certain that no country can do the job alone. When we were all rich we could all afford—for reasons of prestige and all sorts of other reasons—to go our own ways and to try to be self-sufficient. But none of us can now afford the waste of effort and duplication that this involves.

The Russian challenge is on every front, military, political, economic and ideological. The free world has tremendous resources to meet this challenge if it acts together; but these resources must not be dissipated. Has not the time come when we could go further towards pooling our efforts and decide how best to use them for our common good. I believe that if your country and ours could join together to guide and direct the efforts of the free world we can build up something that may not defeat the Russians but will wear them out and force them to defeat themselves. One example of this pooling of resources [Page 786]springs obviously to mind. It is of course in such things as nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, anti-missile defences and anti-submarine weapons. By far the greater part of the resources and the effort on the Western side is in your country. But we have large teams at work and I believe that in partnership with you we could make a very real contribution. May this not be the moment to make a start here? But I am thinking equally of other fields. How can we counter the Russians in the economic field where they use their position as a socialist state for buying commodities above market prices, for making barter deals and so on. We had “economic warfare” in the war. We may need it in the cold war. The same applies to counter-propaganda of all kinds.

[1 paragraph (12½ lines of source text) not declassified]

I know that what I am saying is very general and abstract; and when there is time to think it through I will send you another message. But do let me know how you feel about this. It is the most important problem of our time and I feel sure that some bold new approach is needed.

Yours very sincerely,

Harold Macmillan4
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, MacmillanLloyd Correspondence 1957. Top Secret.
  2. For text, see vol. XX, p. 722.
  3. Sputnik I, the first manmade Earth satellite, was launched on October 4.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.