Volume #14 - 92.|
COMMISSION TEMPORAIRE DES NATIONS UNIES SUR LA CORÉE
Note du sous-secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures|
TOP SECRET AND PERSONAL||
le 11 janvier 1948|
MISSION TO WASHINGTON ON THE KOREAN COMMISSION JANUARY 1-6, 1948|
Note du sous-secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures
Memorandum by Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs
TOP SECRET AND PERSONAL [Ottawa], January 10, 1948
MISSION TO WASHINGTON ON THE KOREAN COMMISSION JANUARY 1-6, 1948
I left Ottawa on New Year's Day-thankful to escape the round of calls-with The Prime Minister's parting advice ringing in my ears, that I was to convince both the President and the Acting Secretary of State in Washington that this was an issue on which he would not yield and that, so far as he was concerned, no Canadian would serve on any Korean Commission. Mr. King felt that if this could be made clear, Mr. Truman and Mr. Lovett would, in some way, be able to help him out of his difficulties, though I never did see how this could he done, in view of the fact that the Commission was a United Nations and not a United States agency, and was already on the point of leaving for Korea. However, the main objective at the moment seemed to be to stall for time and to prolong the issue in the hope that feelings would calm down and the crisis could he averted. If Mr. King, as a result of this delay which could now he secured, did not change his mind, there was no doubt that there would he a major Cabinet shake-up, as Mr. St. Laurent and Mr. Ilsley were as determined as The Prime Minister not to give way.12
My journey got off to a very inauspicious start, as ] was 81/2 hours reaching New York, owing to a freight wreck north of Peekskill. So ] sat in a cold, foodless and drinkless train all day, instead of keeping my appointments at the State Department and the White House. I was to have seen Mr. Lovett at 3, at which hour I was still outside New York; Mr. Truman at 6, at which hour I was on the "Congressional Limited", which ] had just managed to catch by dashing across New York. I spent the evening at the Embassy, and went over the whole business with Hume Wrong, who was completely bewildered by all the excitement, and inclined to be somewhat amused at the idea of a Cabinet crisis over Korea. However, he was not amused at the seriousness of the picture as I unfolded it to him. He told me that I would be getting a pretty cold reception from Lovett, who was fed up with our attitude as stated to him by Ray Atherton, and somewhat alarmed at its isolationist implications.
The next morning, at 10, Hume and I went to the State Department. Fortunately, it was a Saturday morning, and there were no press men around. In any event, I had decided to throw them off the track as to the purpose of my trip to Washington, by telling them that I had come down to see the President of the United States about Korea. That would have been so fantastic that they would have assumed that I was joking, and that I was really talking about dollars or fuel oil. We found Lovett flanked by an impressive array of senior officials. He was inclined to be rather stiff and formal at first, but, when I asked him for a few minutes' delay while I sent for a Third Secretary from the Embassy so that the balance in strength on the two sides could be evened, he thawed out. Fortunately, also, I knew the other State Department officials there well, so that we could conduct our conversation on a very informal basis. I had a very difficult task to perform, because the point of view which they put forward and which is stated in the attached telegram,13 was an entirely understandable and reasonable one, and because they knew that I felt that way. Having put The Prime Minister's case as strongly as I could, I then went off duty and talked over with them possible ways and means of getting out of the difficulty. Lovett was particularly alarmed because our withdrawal from the Commission would be exploited, not only by the Russians, but by the isolationists in Congress. Therefore, all he really wanted was no public withdrawal to take place. He said he didn't care whether we sent a messenger boy to Korea, or whether he slipped away after a few meetings of the Commission, but that it was of vital importance that we make a formal nomination to the body. He also expressed some anxiety about the position we would be adopting on the Security Council if we were as worried about commitments as we seemed to he about the Korean one. In this connection, he wasn't any more anxious than I was. He also thought it was unnecessary for me to sec the President, as the press would ask me embarrassing questions and produce embarrassing speculations. However, I said I must see Mr. Truman, as I had been instructed to do so by The Prime Minister, and that, as for publicity, if they would merely issue a statement that I had been in Washington, having come from New York, where I was attending the Interim Committee of the Assembly and wished to take advantage of the occasion to pay my 1948 respects to Mr. Truman as a former Ambassador, that might satisfy everybody. He then telephoned the White House, and they agreed to do this. They went further - they smuggled me in by the back door, so that I avoided the press correspondents. Lovett came with me to see the President, and we had an amiable and somewhat aimless conversation. Mr. Truman was, of course, not familiar with all the details of the case, and he could hardly understand The Prime Minister's attitude, though I tried my best to explain it to him. He kept saying: "Surely Canada won't let us down"; "Surely we can count on Canada". When I pointed out to him that we did not like very much being pushed into a position at the head of the procession in a country so far away as Korea, where the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. could not themselves get along, he replied: "Don't worry, you won't get into any trouble over there, and if you do, we are behind you" If I had reported that conversation to Mr. King, which was, of course, merely a casual observation, our Prime Minister would have considered that his worst fears had been realized. Mr. Truman also didn't help his cause any by emphasizing that Canada was really the most respectable member of the Commission. That was exactly what worried Mr. King, who had kept repeating for days why should Canada be pushed on to a Commission with countries like El Salvador, the Philippines, etc.
I hinted to Mr. Truman that he might telephone to Mr. King and talk the whole matter over, but he seemed disinclined to do this. He did, however, agree to Mr. Lovett's suggestion, that Mr. Truman would send Mr. King a personal letter, explaining his views and urging that Canada should remain on the Commission.
I was only with the President 15 or 20 minutes, and we ended on a friendly note, far removed from Korea and more concerned with Margaret's [Truman] voice.
We then went back to the State Department, and Lovett's officials began to draft a letter to The Prime Minister from the President. I must confess that Hume and I gave them some hints as to how this could most effectively be done. Lovett is a first-class person and handled our discussions with great ability.
Later in the afternoon, at the Embassy, Jack Hickerson arrived with the completed draft of the President's letter, which he went over with us. I took advantage of the opportunity to urge him, once again, to try through Lovet t to persuade the President to telephone Mr. King, but he seemed to think that this would not be done, He practically admitted that, as Mr. Truman didn't know very much about this business, they were afraid that Mr. King might overwhelm him on the telephone.
I left that evening for New York and spent the next morning, Sunday, drafting and sending the attached telegrams to Ottawa. Mr. King got his message al 3 o'clock in the afternoon and, as soon as he had finished his afternoon siesta, he phoned me at the Biltmore. We talked for more than half an hour - or rather he talked and I listened. He didn't think much of the Stale Department arguments, and said that he was more determined than ever to follow the course he had laid down. He seemed disappointed that the President had not been able to help him more, and asked me if I had told Mr. Truman that the Cabinet might split up on this issue? I said that I had not; that I did not think it was proper for a Canadian official to emphasize our political difficulties to the President of the United States. I added that I might have been able to say more if I had been having an informal chat with the President, but that, with Mr. Lovett present at a formal appointment, I could rtot really go further than I had. Mr. King agreed. This was a depressing telephone conversation, and made me more worried than ever about the outcome of this whole business.
Sunday afternoon I also had a talk with Trygve Lie's Executive Assistant, Andrew Cordier, to enquire what the plans were for the Korean Commission. I found that they had already left for Korea. That simplified matters in one sense, because it made impossible a meeting of the Commission at Lake Success, at which they could discuss whether, in the face of Russian opposition, they should go to Korea at all. I indicated to Cordier, and also to Trygve Lie himself, the next day, that we were having certain difficulties regarding the Canadian appointment, but that we hoped in their press statements from Lake Success they would make no reference to these difficulties or indeed to the fact that a Canadian appointment to the Commission had not been made. They promised to co-operate in this matter. I told Mr. King that I had not given any indication to Trygve Lie that the difficulties in question were political ones and, after some discussion, he agreed that this was the best course.
On Monday I attended the Interim Committee of the Assembly, a dull business, and let Korea lie. I also was busy with preparation for our first meeting of the Security Council the following day, when Canada would take her seat. The fact that the subject on the agenda was the dispute between India and Pakistan, made it likely that it would be a hot scat. I had a word with The Prime Minister about this dispute, and he emphasized that we should take no part at all, if it could be avoided. Certainly we were not to act on any Security Council Commission investigating the matter. Sir Alexander Cadogan,14 on the other hand, thought that Canada should play a leading part in this business, and he hoped that we would do so. I told him that that would be impossible, because, in the first place, we were just joining the Security Council and wished to keep modestly in the background for a time, and that, secondly, in a dispute between two Dominions, it would he inappropriate for a third Dominion to intervene.
On Tuesday, while I was attending our initiation into the Security Council, I was called away to talk to The Prime Minister again on the telephone. He had received the President's letter, which in fact had been delivered to nie at the Biltmore Hotel on Monday evening and which 1 had put on the teletype at once. The only impression it made on him was a bad one. He thought that Mr. Truman's arguments were very unimpressive, and his position remained unchanged. The crisis, therefore, remained unresolved. Mr. King said that I was to hurry back to Ottawa, as he wished to talk to me about the whole business. This sounded ominous. I left New York on Tuesday evening, and I spem a good deal of the time that night trying to analyze this queer business. There are several possible explanations for The Prime Minister's attitude:
(1) He has been so thoroughly frightened in London about the approach of war15 that his mind has fallen back into its accustomed pre-1939 pattern of isolation and suspicion of commitments. In this case, it is the United States, rather than the United Kingdom, which is the villain,. and trying to lure Canada into foreign adventures;
(2) He has manufactured this crisis in order to establish his supremacy over the two strong members of his Cabinet, Mr. St. Laurent and Mr. Ilsley, even at the risk of their resignation, which, in fact, he may he manoeuvring. This explanation becomes only intelligible if Mr. King has picked his own successor, and it is not to be Mr. St. Laurent; or has decided to continue in office himself;
(3) He may be merely attempting to re-establish a position in the Cabinet which has been slipping as the day comes for his retirement, though he does not intend to carry this attitude to a point where it really will break up the Government. I arrived back in Ottawa on Wednesday, and had barely reached my office when Mr. King telephoned. He read me his proposed reply to President Truman. It was stiff and uncompromising. It was quite clear that, if it were sent, either he or Mr. St. Laurent and Mr. Ilsley would resign. I suggested to him that he might wish to have this reply considered by the Cabinet before it went, but he felt that it was a personal reply to a personal letter, and did not require Cabinet consideration. I then mentioned to him that, if this reply laid down Government policy, it would require a telegram to the United Nations, stating that we would not take up our place on the Korean Commission; that this telegram would have to he made public, and the controversy within the Cabinet would he exposed. Mr. King said he was quite willing to take the responsibility for this, and that it was up to the Department of External Affairs to send the message. ] then said that, if The Secretary of State for External Affairs were to send the message, presumably he should have a look at the draft reply to Mr. Truman. Mr. King agreed to this, and said that the reply in question should be held up until Mr. St. Laurent had seen it. The letter was sent to me by hand, and I immediately took it over to Mr. St. Laurent. Mr. St. Laurent was quite calm about it, but quite firm. He said he had no objection to the telegram in question going to Trygve Lie, hut it would not go over his signature because he would not be Secretary of State for External Affairs. If Mr. King persisted in this course, there was nothing for him to do but resign. He had been head of the Delegation which accepted Canada's membership on the Korean Commission, and a refusal to confirm that was a repudiation of his action and that of Mr. Ilsley. They both, therefore, would of course resign, though he, Mr. St. Laurent, would do it as quietly and non-controversially as possible, so that it would not cause any trouble to anybody.
I asked Mr. St. Laurent, before he took any action, whether he wouldn't talk to The Prime Minister, as ] was certain that The Prime Minister had not really realized the position that he had reached. He was a little loath at first to take the initiative in this matter, but soon agreed to telephone Mr. King. He did so, and arranged to have dinner with Mr. King. This, I knew, would he the critical occasion which would resolve or precipitate the crisis.
We had some talk about the duty of a civil servam in a break-up of this kind. Mr. St. Laurent thought that it did not really concern me as an official. I said that I felt I should either resign or ask For an appointment abroad; that I really could not carry on in the Department when policies with which I did not agree were being laid down by The Prime Minister, against the wishes of The Secretary of State for External Affairs. Mr. St. Laurent said that he would come round to the house to see me after his dinner with The Prime Minister.
At ten o'clock the door bell rang, and I let him in. He was looking very happy, and I knew everything must have been worked out all right. What had happened was this. The Prime Minister and the Minister, in the mellow mood that a good dinner and a bright fire sometimes induces, had talked over the whole question and had agreed on a compromise, by which a Canadian member could he appointed to the Commission, though he would withdraw from its work if it became apparent that Russian co-operation was not forthcoming. In other words, our member was to have nothing to do with elections for South Korea only. This is not an unreasonable stipulation and one that can be defended. There is no doubt that the compromise represents a very definite withdrawal by The Prime Minister from his earlier position, and in that respect is a victory for Mr. St. Laurent. He has certainly established his position vis-à-vis The Prime Minister and, having established it, is now anxious to meet Mr. King as far as possible on the general question of caution and conservatism in regard to our United Nations commitments.
Mr. King phoned me the next morning to say that he was very satisfied with the way things had worked out, and that he was revising his letter to the President accordingly. The letter, as sent, is attached.t As it happens, this letter may do some good, as it will show the Americans that we are not going to be pushed around by them on Security Council matters. The more depressing implication of the business is that The Prime Minister is going to watch with suspicious attention every detail of our activity on that council, with the result that we may find ourselves filling too often the role of inglorious abstainers. However, it is only for a few months, as Mr. King seems to have made it clear in his talk with Mr. St. Laurent that he will persist in his determination to retire this summer.
With The Prime Minister's permission, I sent a telegram at once to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, appointing [G.S.] Patterson to the Commission, and drafted a telegram of instructions for him which The Prime Minister approved, and which brought this whole strange business to an end.
The aftermath will become apparent in our work on the Security Council. I am glad that it is McNaughton and not I who is to be responsible for representing Canada on that body for the next six months.
12Voir aussi le volume 13, tes documents 558-570, 572.
13Voir les documents 80, 81. See Documents 80, 81.
14Le repésentant du Royaume-Uni au Conseil de sécurité. Representative of United Kingdom to Security Council.
15Lon d'une visite à Londres en novembre 1947, King eut un briefing de Bevin sur la détérioration des retations Est-Ouest. Voir votume 13, document 569.