Volume #21 - 300.|
RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES
VISIT OF THE UNITED SATES SECRETARY OF STATE TO OTTAWA, MARCH 17-19, 1955
Memorandum from Secretary of State for External Affairs|
to Prime Minister
March 17th, 1955|
CONVERSATION WITH MR. DULLES|
Mr. Dulles called on me this afternoon, accompanied by the United States Ambassador and Mr. Douglas MacArthur, Jr., the Counsellor of the State Department. Mr. Léger and Mr. Arnold Smith were with me.
Mr. Dulles said that he expected the furore over publication of the Yalta papers would die down in a few days.1 Virtually all the items which the press seemed to consider sensational had already appeared in books, e.g. the memoirs of Mr. Stettinius. He also said that the British authorities had had the text of the papers which it was proposed to release, for two months before they gave their consent to publication. Mr. Dulles added that the State Department had made a few deletions in the transcripts before publication - e.g., a statement by President Roosevelt that he despised the Jewish vote.
I suggested to Mr. Dulles that to put the quietus on any recriminations about unwarranted release of confidential conversations, it might be useful if his people were able to point out to newsmen details of when and where the various items had previously appeared.
Turning to more important current matters, Mr. Dulles said that he had been giving considerable thought to a long-term problem which would arise regarding relations between the West European Union, which he expects to come into existence shortly, and NATO. Closer West European cooperation was desirable: so is trans-Atlantic cooperation. For a period, there would inevitably be duplication between the WEU and NATO forums, but sooner or later choices will have to be made as to which forum should be used for particular purposes. Where should the United States throw its weight on this matter? I said that our own policy has been and is to stress the primary importance of the North Atlantic framework, with WEU having a subordinate role within it. I said that I understood the British had come to a similar conclusion. One factor to be considered is that if WEU plays an increasingly important role at the expense of NATO, Denmark, Norway, Greece and Turkey would unquestionably press to enter it.
Turning to Formosa, I made clear to Mr. Dulles our own position, and also stressed the distinction which Canadian opinion makes between Formosa and the Pescadores on the one hand, and the off-shore islands on the other.2 Mr. Dulles said that the relevance of the off-shore islands was in his view largely psychological, relating to the morale of the Nationalist Chinese troops on Formosa. Chiang Kai-shek fully realized that there could be no question of his returning to the mainland, but his troops did not recognize this, and he dare not tell them. Most of his troops are from the mainland, and their overriding ambition is to return there, where their families, their homes, and the graves of their ancestors are. The danger is that if they did not think they had some hope of returning by conquest, they would subvert to return. The real problem is therefore, as Mr. Dulles put it, that "the morale of the Chinese Nationalist troops is based on a fiction". Little by little the soldiers who came from the mainland are being replaced by younger men who are native Formosans, and whose interest lies in defending Formosa, but Mr. Dulles said that this process will take a considerable time to work itself out and this improvement in the morale problem will at best be only gradual. I said that this morale problem would exist quite apart from the position of the off-shore islands.
I told Mr. Dulles of the uneasiness which Canadians feel (as I am sure the people of other countries which are not great powers do, likewise) when they come to realize that the facts of interdependence are such that involvement is not necessarily related to commitment, and that decisions taken by others may lead to hostilities in which they would be expected to play a part. Though I recognized the difficulties, the feeling that people who would be involved in the results of defence policies should have a voice also in the decisions which might bring these policies into play, was an important political fact.
Mr. Dulles replied that he attached importance to consultation, and weighed carefully their associates' views in reaching their decisions. The U.S. were, he said (and I agreed with this as far as Canada is concerned), consulting a great deal with their leading associates, particularly the United Kingdom, but also Canada, Australia and New Zealand. "We are consulting less lately with France," he added, "because she has been acting rather irresponsibly."
Mr. Dulles referred to statements which President Eisenhower and he have made during the past week regarding the use of small atomic weapons against battlefield and tactical targets, and the distinction between these and the big hydrogen weapons.3 He thought it important that the public should come to recognize this distinction.
He mentioned that in a recent discussion he had with President Eisenhower about the availability of military aircraft in the Formosa area, Eisenhower remarked on the small number of planes - four or five hundred, recalling the days in Europe when he could order 5,000 planes into the air in a single area. The difference, Mr. Dulles continued, is in the power of the weapons. A small atomic bomb can knock an airfield out for a considerable period of time, whereas peppering it with a lot of conventional bombs merely makes potholes which can be repaired overnight.
American defence forces and policy, Mr. Dulles observed, have been shaped on the predicated use of small atomic weapons. If the Americans had to prepare also to fight only with conventional weapons, this would involve having, in addition to atomic facilities, something like a hundred times as many aircraft, at prohibitive cost. The U.S. would in any case have to have forces capable of atomic warfare to use if the other side used such weapons, and to duplicate this with forces which could operate with conventional weapons would involve such financial and economic strains that the U.S. would have to introduce all-out economic and political controls for an indefinite period, and thus sacrifice many of the free values for which they stood. The decision therefore to rely on atomic weapons was more than merely a financial one.
Mr. Dulles went on to say that if war came, he expected that it would start by Communist air attacks on North America: either on the industrial centres, or the airfields from which retaliation could come, or more probably both. Sir Winston Churchill found it hard, he said, to recognize that the United Kingdom would not be the primary target, but this was nevertheless in Dulles' view unquestionably the case. The U.K. might even be by-passed. This meant that the primary field for America's defence resources would be North America. Maintenance of some forces in Europe would continue to be necessary, but chiefly for psychological and political reasons.
Toward the end of the meeting I brought up the subject of exports of oil from Western Canada to the United States, and stressed the great concern which we felt about the action contemplated by the Americans to curb this trade.4