Volume #16 - 279.|
CINQUIÈME SESSION DE L'ASSEMBLÉE GÉNÉRALE, PREMIÈRE PARTIE
Le secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures|
SECRET AND PERSONAL ||
le 15 août 1950|
Dear Dean [Acheson],
I think that you know how much Norman [Robertson] and I appreciated the talk we had with you a short time ago about Korea and other matters38 It was good of you to give us so much time when you were harassed with so many pressing matters.
In the light of recent developments I have been thinking over what we said that night about Formosa and the Chinese Communists, and I should like to put before you some of the apprehensions which I still have over this question. I do so in a personal letter, because it is easier to "get things off one's chest" this way. It will also be easier for you in reply (if you care to reply) to tell me I am off the beam and to stop bothering you!
It has, of course, been explained that the United States' action in regard to Formosa was taken with a view to preventing the extension of the Korean conflict; you put that case to us very impressively at our recent meeting. There appears to be a real danger, however, (or so it seems to me), that, instead of having hostilities confined to Korea where support - of one kind or another - for the action taken by the United Nations has been forthcoming from virtually all non-Communist members, the area of conflict may, in fact, be widened to include China. What is worse, it may be widened in such a way as to involve the United Nations, yet not command the same measure of support from its members.
I wonder whether the possibility of an early attack on Formosa has not been increased by the preventive military measures being taken by the National Government of China against Communist concentrations along the mainland invasion coast, while Formosa itself is "neutralized"; as well as by statements reported to have been made by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, following General MacArthur's recent visit, concerning United States-Chinese "military cooperation" and "the joint defence of Formosa". That visit, incidentally, was made by one who is a United Nations as well as a United States Commander. Who is suffering from schizophrenia?
Military conflict between the forces of the United States and Communist China, which could hardly be restricted to the Straits of Formosa, would be a disaster from which only the Soviet Union would profit. Such a conflict would create grave difficulties for members of the United Nations, and at the time they are becoming more keenly aware, as a result of the Korean aggression, of the menace of Soviet imperialism and of the use by this imperialism of Communist parties abroad. I am aware that the United States Government has assumed on its own the responsibility for the defence of Formosa. Nevertheless, the involvement of other friendly nations is, in reality, implicit in this action. If United States warships, for example, were to become engaged against Communist Chinese vessels, or if it were considered necessary, during the course of operations, for United States aircraft to bomb Chinese bases on the mainland, the sure result would be a charge of aggression in the Security Council brought against the United States by the Soviet Union. This would confuse the issues of Korea and Formosa, as a consequence of which some nations would be under considerable embarrassment as to how to state their positions in public. The threat of Chinese Communist retaliation against territories such as Hong Kong and Indo-China would be always present; and, to judge from attitudes previously taken, the cooperation between Asian and non-Asian members of the United Nations might be seriously - even disastrously - affected. If these things were to happen, then a disruptive element would be introduced at the very time when an encouraging measure of unity has been achieved in the decision to repel aggression in Korea.
It seems to me that of the other unfortunate results of an armed clash between the United States and Communist China over Formosa, the most important are these: the draining of resources which are now urgently needed elsewhere; a lessening of the possibility of the latent tensions which exist between Communist China and Soviet imperialism becoming active; increasing danger of the involvement of Communist China in the Korean conflict.
If a collision with Communist China over Formosa is threatening, what can be done to avoid it? Clarifying statements such as that which President Truman made on July 19th are very helpful.39 In the present circumstances, however, I doubt whether the President's statement went far enough to give the Chinese Communists any face-saving way out of an early attack upon Formosa, to which they have been publicly committed for a long time; or to remove completely the fears of other countries that Korea and Formosa are part of a single American policy.
Might there not be some advantage in an early consultation among the principally interested Western powers, in an effort to reach agreement on ways of reducing friction between themselves and Communist China; or at the least, on tactics which would make it clear who would be to blame for the resulting fire? Consideration should first be given, I believe, to possible ways of dissuading the Chinese Communists from attacking Formosa during the Korean operations. Perhaps a move in this direction might be taken by some public assurance that the military strength of the National Government forces will not be increased by outside aid during this period beyond the minimum strictly required for defence of the island, and that the mainland Chinese will have an appropriate voice in the peaceful determination of the future status of Formosa.
You may reply that the only effective way to prevent an attack on Formosa is to convince the Chinese Communists that if they do attack they will be defeated and destroyed. Is it not pretty certain, however, that an attack - whether doomed or not - is exactly what Moscow, and the extremists in Peking, want, and are we not playing into their hands if we give them any unnecessary excuse for it? Maybe I'm wrong in this, but I'm right surely in thinking that the political results of armed conflict between the United States and Communist China would be disastrous.
There is, of course, another aspect to this problem, namely, Chinese representation on the Security Council. It is too bad that at this moment Chiang's delegate should be representing China there. That, of course, also plays into the hands of the Soviet. If, as I believe, the Soviet leaders would welcome the involvement of the United States in war with China, if this, in fact, is one of the present major aims of Soviet policy, then the Soviet Government, while posing as Peking's champion, may really wish to keep Communist China away from the Security Council in order, not only to isolate China from anything in the nature of normal relations with the Western world, but also to be able to present the United States to the Asians as the villain of the piece. In this case, the seating of Communist China in the Security Council night contribute to the upsetting of Soviet calculations. You will probably reply that it might contribute also to the upsetting of Mr. Acheson!
I realize, of course, that in attempting to formulate any policy designed to bring about an easing of relations with Communist China, all of us would have difficulty with some sections of our public opinion and that, in this respect (to put it mildly), there is a special problem in the United States. If, however, we could come to some general agreement on a course of action in this regard, it would be easier for us to meet public opinion. May I commend to your attention in this connection - if you have not already seen it - the leading article in the current Economist, "Mr. Malik's Manoeuvres".
If I venture to write you so frankly and at such length on this subject, it is only because of my worry over the danger of the present Chinese situation weakening, and indeed even breaking, the unity which we should show against Soviet Communism. That worry has been increased by the new confidence and assertiveness of Chiang Kai-shek and his people, resulting, at least in part, from General MacArthur's visit, as well as by the strident efforts of the Luce-Hearst-McCormick axis to bring about open, armed conflict between the United States and Communist China. In that conflict, a great many of the United Nations would do their very best to stand aloof. That division, I'm afraid, would then reflect itself in fields other than China. There could hardly be anything worse than this. Possibly, once again, our enemies will save us from it!
38Voir le document 62./See Document 62.
39Voir/See Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman 1950, Washington: