148. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to the Under Secretary of State (Bowles)0

It seems to me that the attached study1 is incomplete, in that it does not deal with some important questions relevant to a United Nations administered trusteeship.

How much would such a trusteeship cost? This is relevant for us because we would be expected to pay a very large part of the bill. Do we know how much Dutch administration costs them? If so, we could multiply it by a factor of three or four because of the additional services and developmental efforts which would be insisted upon under UN administration.
Who would staff the administration of the armed forces? Approximately how many would this require?

On practical grounds, I am dubious about a UN administration of almost a million people which would be under the control of the Trusteeship Council or the General Assembly.2 Or do we have in mind that the Secretary General would be the principal executive agent? Would not a governor of such a trust territory be in a most difficult position with respect to his own bosses and governing authority?

Could we think of any compendium of three or four countries who might accept such a trusteeship and take all the responsibilities that go with it?3

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I am not now suggesting an answer, but I do think that at least the first two of these questions should be given somewhat more attention.4

Dean Rusk5
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 656.9813/2–1861. Secret. Drafted by Rusk.
  2. Not attached, the study was a draft paper that George McGhee of S/P submitted on February 15 to McGeorge Bundy entitled “Possible United Nations Resolution on West New Guinea.” The paper traced the West New Guinea/West Irian dispute from 1949 and concluded that a U.N. trusteeship might be the best solution since it would give the Dutch a way to retire gracefully. To succeed, however, Sukarno would have to be convinced a trusteeship was the only practical way of removing Dutch control. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, West New Guinea, Vol. I, 2/61–3/61)
  3. In a February 17 memorandum, Robert Komer informed Rostow that the trusteeship idea might have succeeded 5 years ago, but not at the present time with Indonesia’s new military power and the new alignment at the United Nations. Komer recommended a policy on West New Guinea offering the Indonesians a promise of early effective control with as much face-saving for the Dutch as possible. (Ibid.) Director of Central Intelligence John McCone made similar points in a February 20 memorandum to McGhee. (Ibid.) Kenneth Landon, in a memorandum to Rostow on February 15 commenting on McGhee’s proposal, stated that the United States “should not permit this colonial issue to continue to infect adversely our aims and objectives in South and Southeast Asia.” (Ibid.)
  4. On February 3, Rusk had asked Parsons about the utility of a U.N. resolution calling for settlement of the West New Guinea problem by peaceful means. In a February 21 memorandum to him, Parsons stated that the resolution would probably provoke acrimonious debate on the colonial issue at the United Nations and would not contribute to a settlement. (Ibid.) Also on February 21, Rusk met from 3 to 3:43 p.m. with McGhee, Rice, Kohler, William L. Blue, Deputy Director of the Office of Western European Affairs, Steeves, Bell, and Woodruff Wallner, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs. The topic of discussion was Indonesia, but no other record of the discussion has been found. (Johnson Library, Rusk Appointment Book)
  5. On February 21, McGhee submitted a memorandum to Rusk through Bowles that attempted to answer the Secretary’s questions. (Department of State, Central Files, 656.9813/2–2161)
  6. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.