Volume #17 - 241.|
SIXIEME SESSION DE L'ASSEMBLEE GENERALE A PARIS, PREMIERE PARTIE, 6 NOVEMBRE-21 DECEMBRE 1951
Le chef de la délégation à l'Assemblée générale des Nations Unies|
au secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures
TELEGRAM 125 |
le 3 novembre 1951|
ANALYSIS AND APPRAISAL OF ACTIVITIES AND ATMOSPHERE OF ASSEMBLY|
Reference: Your telegram No. 82 of November 27, 1951)
1. The United Nations General Assembly has met this year in a rather sober but not unrealistic mood. Some of the newspapermen, contrasting the atmosphere with the tense but expectant air which pervaded last year's Assembly during the most critical months of the Korean campaign, are inclined to draw cynical comparisons and depressing conclusions of futility: but I am not sure that this is sound.
2. In any case, it is much too early to try to forecast the value of this year's session. Meanwhile it is worth recalling that the mood of the Assembly is in effect a synthesis of the mood of sixty governments, not that of an organization: so that attempts to assess by the feel of an Assembly the real value of the United Nations, rather than the general psychological and political atmosphere of the international community, are apt to be misleading.
3. The most prominent feature of the session to date has, of course, been the offer of the United States, United Kingdom and French delegations to negotiate a disarmament agreement on certain stated principles. This offer has coincided with the Rome meeting of the North Atlantic Council; a point which Vyshinsky has naturally attempted to exploit for propaganda, and also a fact which has tended to make certain western delegates and newspapermen cynical regarding the sincerity of the west in general and of Washington in particular. This cynicism seems to be exaggerated, if not mistaken. In view of the danger of assuming that a conflict is inevitable, there is, I think, real value in the serious effort by the west to formulate and publicise the principles on which it will be prepared to "negotiate from strength", if the Soviet Government should ever wish to call the armaments race off.
4. While there was little expectation even before the disarmament debate began that the Soviet would agree at this stage to serious negotiations, nevertheless the western offer is a sincere one, and the principles involved have been formulated with sufficient care that the United States and other western governments would be prepared to live with the system, should it later be accepted by the Russians.
5. The course of the debate, thus far, has removed any illusions there may have been that the USSR would be prepared to negotiate now. It is, however, not inconceivable that as western rearmament momentum and relative strength increase, the Soviet Government may later seriously examine the possibilities for negotiation: and if that time comes, the western offers put on the record in the present debate may prove of substantive value.
6. In the meantime, the western disarmament initiative has, I think, already proved of real propaganda use, in tending to wrest the peace campaign initiative from the Russians and to reduce the widespread fears in Western Europe and elsewhere that the United States may become so inflexible as to make eventual war almost unavoidable. The echoes, in European socialist parties, to Bevan's criticisms of this summer, have been appreciable: and the present United States initiative should go some distance to counteract the resultant division in western opinion.
7. The tone of the debate, thus far, has re-enforced this propaganda value, most western statements being moderate and reasonably flexible as well as firm: while the Soviet statements have been stale and vituperative. Vyshinsky's original assertion in the Assembly that he stayed up all night laughing at the western disarmament offer, was a bad error - already picked up by poster cartoonists on the streets of Paris. While the Soviet delegation, apparently on instructions from Moscow, have tried to correct this first mistake, they are very much on the defensive in the propaganda battle, and their counter-attacks, on the old lines of 1947 to 1950, tend to fall flat.
8. The disarmament issue has now been referred to a sub-committee of the Big Four. This move was initiated by Pakistan and two other Moslem states, with wide small-nation support, as an appeal to the colossi to reach some compromise among themselves and thus to let the smaller nations live in peace, however, unless the Great Powers should reach agreement, which is most unlikely, the disarmament debate will be resumed in a week's time.
9. The aggressiveness of Arab nationalism has been an interesting feature of the first few weeks of this Assembly. There are a few recent signs, however, that this may become more moderate. A week ago, the Egyptian spokesman on disarmament virtually aligned his government completely with Cominform policy: This week, the Egyptian delegation has been backtracking energetically. It is uncertain how long the new Egyptian moderation will last, but it appears to have been motivated in part by notes of caution from other Arab delegations and in part by a belated recognition that the earlier extremism tended to consolidate the United States and other western support behind the United Kingdom. It is too early to assess what if any effect, on Arab League policy here, the recent coup d'etat in Syria will have.
10. Similarly, in the Assembly's Trusteeship Committee, an earlier tendency among some of the Middle-East and Latin American delegations (but significantly not India or other Asian delegations) to intervene critically and excessively in the colonial affairs of the leading Western European nations, has abruptly given way to a sudden, and perhaps temporary, moderation. This change appears to have been precipitated by a French delegation walk-out from the Fourth Committee (when certain delegations insisted on discussing Morocco, which was not on the agenda), and by instructions to the United Kingdom and certain other delegations to withdraw from the committee if certain anti-colonial resolutions were passed. These western instructions leaked, and as a result of this threat the extreme anti-colonial resolutions were withdrawn. It is very fortunate that no general West-European walk-out took place, as it would have created the worst possible impression in the United States and among non-European peoples - it would have been too reminiscent of the Soviet walkout of 1950, which not only won world-wide disapproval, but, as Korea showed, became a notorious flop. Naturally, the Canadian delegation did what it could to discourage a western walk-out on trusteeship questions and to induce some moderation among the critics.
11. One tendency at this session has been the increasing propensity of the United Kingdom, the United States and the French delegations to consult among themselves in an effort to reach full agreement prior to any discussions with other delegations. Through our own efforts we usually manage to keep in the picture better than other delegations which are often not fully briefed until the final stages of Big Three plans: but we are less frequently consulted than in previous years. The Big Three concert on a wide number of issues is more marked than at previous session: and probably results in part from habits contracted among the Standing Group members in NATO. The fact that three important agenda items - disarmament, collective measures and German elections - are of particular interest to these three powers - is, of course, another factor re-enforcing this tendency to Big Three exclusiveness.
12. The efforts by under-developed countries - led by Chile and India - to develop grandiose schemes for international economic assistance to backward regions - are a feature of this as of all recent sessions. In some ways the pressure at present is more extreme than hitherto. India is spear-heading a move to link international financial assistance to disarmament by proposing the creation of an international development fund into which a proportion of the savings from reduced defense expenditures are to be funnelled. These tendencies will take careful watching. Fortunately many of the under-developed countries are cautious about the more extreme demands. Naturally, this caution springs not from lack of appetite but from a more restrained and realistic tactical sense. Our delegation is of course attempting to encourage this realism by emphasizing that further commitments are quite impracticable at the present time.
13. There are a number of important special programmes which depend on voluntary contributions by member states: notably Korean reconstruction, Palestine refugees, and the expanded programme for technical assistance. The total requirements are now about four hundred million dollars for the next financial period. Hitherto many governments have given vigorous voting support to these programmes but have not made any contributions. A serious move has therefore been launched by the United States and United Kingdom delegations with our support to try to correct this, by developing the "negotiating committee" technique first used last year. We hope that this may bring wider and more equitably shared contributions.
14. An interesting situation is developing in the Fifth (Budget) Committee. The United States representative is a Republican Congressman from Ohio, a strong Taft supporter. The officials on the United States delegation are disturbed at his obvious tendency to take his policy guidance not from the State Department but from the feelings of his fellow-Republicans in Congress. He recently returned from a brief visit to the Council of Europe at Strasbourg with his obduracy apparently reenforced by his meetings with other Congressmen there. His present intention is to inform the Assembly that the United States will not pay more than 33 1/3 percent of next year's United Nations budget, whatever its assessed proportion: he considers the figure of 36 percent, recommended by the Contributions Committee too high. Our delegation, in common with most western delegations, and most members of the United States delegation, are determined to continue the present trend of increasing the Soviet assessment and decreasing that of the United States (and consequently that of Canada, in view of the maximum per capita principle which we have managed to get accepted). But there is some concern that a unilateral United States decision to go faster in this direction than the Contributions Committee has recommended or the Assembly will vote, by refusing to pay its full assessment, could create serious confusion and throw the whole question of contributions into the uncertainties of log-rolling with the wealthier countries in a small minority.
15. In minor political fields, some progress has been made. The United Nations Balkan Commission has been wound up after representations from Greece that its task of discouraging border incidents from the Communist states has been successfully accomplished. The last three days in the ad hoc Committee have been devoted to a Yugoslav complaint relating to its Cominform neighbours; this debate, while time-consuming, has probably served to improve morale inside Yugoslavia, which got fifty votes for its resolution with only the Soviet bloc opposing.
16. On issues which divide the Communists from the rest of us, the tone of the Assembly has been reasonably mild, with the exception of Soviet speeches which while vituperative give the impression of having fallen flat. Soviet propaganda seems to be losing its old touch.
17. Thus far at least there has been virtually no interest shown at this Assembly in Far Eastern issues.