Volume #18 - 191.|
SIXTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, FIRST PART, NOVEMBER 6 - DECEMBER 21, 1951, ASSESSMENT
Memorandum by Deputy Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs|
January 11th, 1952|
THE DELEGATION'S ASSESSMENT OF THE UNITED NATIONS ASSEMBLY|
Telegrams from Paris Nos. 252 of December 21? and 272 of
December 291 appear to me to indicate that a natural
feeling of irritation against the Asian and other under-developed
countries may be clouding the judgment of the Delegation on tactics
and strategy. The irritation may also be making it difficult for
our Delegation to understand the Asian approach to problems before
the Assembly. The Asians seem to be judged by one standard and we
2. Thus the reason we support certain resolutions which are otherwise futile is that they are good propaganda in the Western world. When the poor countries insist on passing a resolution about an international development fund we say that it is futile and will debase the currency of United Nations resolutions and machinery, but we do not accept the fact that from their point of view it is good propaganda in the under-developed world.2
3. When we refuse to accept compromise proposals, we are opposing wishful thinking which assumes that a clever form of words can eliminate vital differences of principle. When the poor countries refuse to water down their resolutions they are being intransigent and unrealistic and irresponsible. Presumably, however, they could retort that what we are asking them to do is to assume that a clever form of words can eliminate vital differences of principle between poor and rich countries on how much assistance rich countries should give to poor.
4. A good deal is made of the so-called irresponsibility of the poor countries. I assume that an irresponsible delegation is one which supports policies which are not in the interests of that delegation's country. Perhaps, however, the pressure that the poor countries are putting on the rich countries in the debates over Morocco, Southwest Africa, economic development, human rights is, on the whole, serving the interests of the poor countries. While this pressure is annoying to the West, if it is kept up, it is probably going to make it increasingly difficult for the West to refuse to increase the pace of the granting of self-government and to increase the pace and extent of the economic aid which it grants.
5. Paragraph 8 of telegram No. 252 contrasts the Western propaganda resolutions on disarmament, Germany, Yugoslavia and Italy with impractical and ideologically confusing compromises put forward by the poor countries. The impression conveyed is that the Assembly had to choose between these two types of resolution. I suggest that on some at least of the resolutions a half-way house might have been possible. Thus in the disarmament resolution we were, from the beginning, of the opinion that it was unwise to ask the Assembly once again to affirm support of the majority plan on atomic energy. The Americans were intransigent on this. There may have been other amendments which could have made it more palatable to the Asian and Latin American Delegations. The same may have been true of the other three Western propaganda resolutions. The feeling I get from this distance is that insufficient efforts have been made by the principal Western Delegations in Paris to try to reach agreement with the Asian Delegations on compromises which would not diminish greatly the propaganda value of the resolutions in Western countries and might increase their propaganda value in other countries.
6. The suggestion that the United Nations might adopt a "coming into court with clean hands" doctrine is disturbing. The short answer is that the Assembly is not a sort of court but a sort of parliament. Another answer is that the clean hands doctrine is applicable only to certain types of cases before courts. If an assault or theft is committed, the criminal is prosecuted even if the person who has been assaulted or whose belongings have been stolen does not have clean hands.
7. The basic objection, however, to the doctrine is that its adoption would mean that the Assembly would be turned into a Quaker meeting in which no one would be moved by the spirit to speak since no country comes to the Assembly with clean hands. There are relative degrees of dirt.
8. In one place at least the telegram indicates that the author has accepted at face value public statements which the Canadian Delegation has made even though it is clear that these public statements are misleading. It is said in paragraph 21 that "of course the highly industrialized countries cannot under present circumstances increase expenditures for foreign assistance." It is not a matter of cannot but will not. There is no economic bar to Canada, for example, increasing its Colombo assistance from $25 million to $100 million a year. We could do so either by reducing our defence expenditures by $75 million or by reducing the investment boom in Canada by $75 million or by cutting down civilian consumption in Canada or by borrowing from the United States or by a combination of all five methods.
9. Telegram 252 seems to oversimplify dangerously the difficult problems created by the rise of Islamic nationalism in areas which are of strategic importance to the Western world. It seems to assume that the aspirations of Islamic nationalism can be satisfied only at the expense of the defence requirements of the Western world. This is too simple a view. There may be cases where the defence requirements of the Western world require us to satisfy Islamic nationalism at the expense of a metropolitan power. We have, for example, to weigh the possibility that a continuation of present French policy in Morocco might provoke so much disorder there as to constitute a greater strategic danger to us than a grant of self-government to Morocco.
10. Moreover, to look at the wider picture, it is impossible for the Western world to prevent the Islamic world from falling under Communist domination if we permit the Communists to capture the various Islamic nationalist movements. We must, therefore, not allow these movements to conclude that we are their enemies and the Communists are their friends. This is of the utmost importance to us for purely realistic strategic reasons. Thus when we consider what is "a realistic if inglorious" policy in Morocco or Southwest Africa we must realize that strong strategic arguments can be brought forward in favour either of supporting the French and the South Africans or of supporting the Arabs and the coloured people. Indeed, on purely realistic if inglorious considerations, it may be in the interests of the West to throw to the wolves the two million white people in South Africa if it should become clear that our continued support of them would increase greatly the danger of the Communists getting the support of the billion or so coloured people in the world. I am not suggesting that our policy on Southwest Africa should be based on such purely "realistic" considerations. I do suggest, however, that those who call themselves realists about South Africa may be sentimentalists.
11. Similarly, I suggest that the policy of the Western countries on Morocco at this Assembly was contrary to our own interests and was unrealistic and sentimental.3