Volume #21 - 757.|
PACTE DE BAGDAD
Note de la Direction de l'Extrême-Orient|
le 18 janvier 1955|
WITHDRAWAL OF CANADIAN TROOPS FROM KOREA135 |
It has been suggested that the forthcoming Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference might provide the occasion for a useful discussion to determine the conditions in accordance with which a final withdrawal of Commonwealth troops from Korea could be accomplished. (Letter to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs from Chairman, Chiefs of Staff of December 30, 1954,? copy attached.)
2. Canada's military contribution to the Korean conflict resulted from obligations accepted by this country under the terms of two United Nations resolutions. On June 27, 1950 the Security Council recommended by resolution that "the members of the United Nations furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack and to restore international peace and security in the area". On July 7 it approved another resolution calling on all members providing military forces to make them available to a Unified Command under the United States. In a note to the Secretary General of the United Nations dated September 26, 1950 our Permanent Representative stated that the Canadian Army's Special Force, upon reaching a satisfactory state of training, would "be made available for combat service with the United Nations Forces in Korea as required".136
3. The extent of our present military commitment if the armistice should collapse as a result of further aggression from North Korea is delineated by a sentence contained in the Warning Declaration signed on July 27, 1953 shortly after the conclusion of the Armistice Agreement by the representative of Canada and of the other fifteen nations which had participated in the United Nations military effort. This sentence reads: "We affirm in the interests of world peace that if there is a renewal of the armed attack challenging again the principles of the United Nations we should again be united and prompt to resist."137
4. Canada might be considered to have some responsibility deriving from the provision of the Armistice Agreement which enjoins the military commanders of both sides to protect the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) and its inspection teams. This task could not be left to South Korea in view of its hostility towards the Commission and its instruments generally, and their Czech and Polish members particularly, and its refusal to recognize the continued existence of the Armistice Agreement.
5. Our support of the United Nations objectives in Korea is a matter of record. The General Assembly most recently reaffirmed these by a resolution of December 11, 1954, to which we subscribed: they remain "the achievement by peaceful means of a unified, independent and democratic Korea under a representative form of government and the full return of international peace and security in the area".
6. Would the withdrawal of our troops from Korea be consistent with the obligations we have assumed there?
7. It might be argued that in the absence of a Korean settlement, those Commonwealth countries which have been most conscious of their responsibilities as members of the United Nations should leave at least token forces in Korea to guard what has already been achieved by the United Nations there. The Armistice Agreement, although binding on both sides until superseded by another mutually acceptable agreement, is still an interim arrangement and the Commonwealth countries which sent troops to Korea to further United Nations objectives should not withdraw them all until it is quite clear that their presence no longer serves a useful purpose. There is still no peace in Korea, and United Nations objectives have yet to be realized.
8. On the other hand, it could be said that the withdrawal of our troops would be consistent with our obligations for the following reasons:
(a) The Union of South Africa, which assumed the same obligations relating to Korea that we did, has withdrawn its military contribution without being criticized as having shirked any responsibilities. Of the non-Commonwealth countries concerned, Colombia, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have withdrawn all their troops, also without being subjected to adverse criticism.
(b) The words of the Warning Declaration quoted in paragraph 3 do not say how we should be prompt to resist in the event of a renewed communist attack and therefore we cannot be regarded as having to leave troops in the area to meet this obligation.
(c) As the Canadian representative stated before the General Assembly on August 19, 1953 "all that the United Nations ever undertook to do by armed force has been accomplished. The aggression has been repelled."138
(d) Only a distorted interpretation of United Nations objectives would require us to leave military forces in the Korean theatre indefinitely. We have met our obligation to seek a peacefully united Korea through our attendance at the Geneva Conference and will continue to meet it through the appropriate instrumentality of the United Nations which remains seized of the problem. Presumably, the two United Nations objectives are consistent with each other. Thus if Korea is to be unified peacefully then peace and security in the area cannot be restored by force. Moreover, while the Armistice Agreement is not a peace treaty, it has made for a cessation of hostilities. Finally, the phrase "restoration of international peace and security in the area" should be considered a broad one, with at least as many political as military implications.
(e) Concerning the protection of the NNSC, no particular responsibility seems to devolve on this country. The Canadian view has been that the two sides of the Armistice Agreement consist of the communist powers on the one hand and the United Nations on the other. The General Assembly has approved of the Armistice Agreement. Therefore, it would seem to follow that Canada has no more responsibility concerning the NNSC than any other United Nations member which supported the resolution approving the Agreement. It might be argued that Canada having contributed troops during the fighting has less responsibility to keep them there to protect the NNSC than a country which has consistently supported United Nations objectives by its vote in the General Assembly but has not sent any forces. Finally, there is a strong possibility that either the Swiss or Swedes, or the United States, will take action in the near future either to reduce the NNSC to little more than a token organization or to render it inoperative at least in South Korea.
9. It might be mentioned here that the withdrawal of our troops probably need not entail the recall of the Canadian destroyer now on duty in the Korean theatre. The destroyer by remaining there in these circumstances could provide concrete evidence that we were not neglecting our military obligations.
10. Is it now opportune to take up with the Commonwealth countries concerned the question of withdrawal of forces with a view to subsequent consultations with the United States? The following arguments may be listed in support of an affirmative answer:
(a) The armistice has become more of a fixed reality. The Geneva Conference provided evidence that the United States on the one hand and the Soviet Union and Communist China on the other were prepared to live with the situation resulting from the Armistice Agreement. Communist China has followed the United States lead in South Korea and has reduced substantially its forces in North Korea. The danger of President Rhee breaching the armistice in a manner calculated to bring about a resumption of hostilities has declined, and there is no evidence that the North Korean régime has further direct aggressive designs.
(b) Differences between Canada and the Republic of Korea (ROK) as to the principles upon which the unification of Korea should be based became evident during the Geneva Conference and since that time certain ROK authorities have on occasion misrepresented Canadian views.139 Thus in November this country and the United Kingdom were falsely accused of seeking to promote in the General Assembly a compromise election plan for unifying Korea which would involve an international commission, on which communist states would be represented, to supervise elections throughout Korea. A demonstration against this alleged plan of some 20,000 Koreans was organized in Seoul. According to radio reports the Korean Foreign Minister has since explained to the National Assembly that he was able to prevent the plan from being put forward through his activities in New York. In these circumstances it is doubtful that the ROK Government attaches the same importance to the continued presence of Canadian troops as it did, say, during the period immediately following the armistice.
(c) The United States has not informed us of its future military plans relating to Korea. We do know, however, that the United States is building up ROK military strength and that it intends to reduce its forces to one division next spring. The concern of the United States with the Korean problem goes beyond the concern of Canada which is that of a responsible member of the United Nations. Korea represents but part of the pattern of United States defence interests in the Western Pacific. Basic to these interests is the concept of mobility. However, the continued stationing of our troops in Korea would seem to impede our defence mobility. Recently the ROK and the United States ratified a mutual defence treaty, which was signed as long ago as August 8, 1953. Under the treaty the United States has the right to bases in Korea and the treaty should form the basis of future United States continues to have troops in Korea should not unduly inhibit us from taking our forces out.
(d) The continued presence of our troops in Korea inhibits us to a considerable extent from expressing views in the United Nations and elsewhere concerning the Korean problem may be solved. Such presence tends to put a premium on our conforming with the United States-ROK views in the matter.
11. Do other Commonwealth countries wish to withdraw their troops?
12. It may be that New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Australia will wish to retain present forces in Korea for eventual employment of some of them as a strategic reserve in the Southeast Asia area. There seems no reason why Canada should agree to leave troops indefinitely to support this objective, since the territory most likely to form the eventual base in Malaya, and a speedy transfer of troops there should pose no insuperable obstacles. Although Canada is not a member of the Southeast Asia Defence Organization, we are making an important contribution to peace and security in the treaty area through our membership on the three International Supervisory Commissions in Indochina - a contribution which has made for a relatively large drain on our officer strength.
13. Should the other Commonwealth countries concerned strongly wish to keep troops in Korea, then the question arises of whether we should unilaterally cut back the strength of our ground forces. Since this would involve a delicate matter of Commonwealth relations, it would require further reflection. Perhaps our leaving of an ambulance unit might meet the requirements of the situation.
14. If the Commonwealth countries concerned favour a troop withdrawal to what extent should the United States be pressed to concur in this view?
15. Perhaps the United States, wanting at least token United Nations military representation to remain in Korea, will wish such representation to come from Commonwealth countries. In addition to advancing such United Nations considerations as that it is yet too early for Commonwealth troops to withdraw, the United States may argue that the implementation of this action while its own forces remain will create domestic political problem. The United States having borne the brunt of the fighting in Korea and still having by far the greatest number of foreign troops there, deserves to have its views given careful consideration. Nevertheless, since a good case can be made out that continued stationing of United States troops in Korea is partly dependent on United States interests lying outside the United Nations frame of reference, the Commonwealth might pursue a rather firm line in Washington. If, however, discussions there should indicate the desirability of our maintaining some troops rather than, or in addition to, naval representation in Korea along with the other Commonwealth powers concerned, then there would seem to be political merit in the suggestion of the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff that only our Field Ambulance Unit should be left.