The Pentagon Papers
Document 43, Telegram from Secretary of State Dulles to Geneva on Status of Conference Issues, 6 May 1954, p 500-01
May 6, 1954
Secretary held hour and half briefing of 25 leading members Congress yesterday. Generally friendly, constructive atmosphere, no direct criticism, although considerable discussion on future plans and weakness of British and French.
Secretary described set-up of Conference and briefly went over Korean developments. Explained difficulty with Allies on all-Korean elections and trouble finding someone to speak up in defense of U.S. against Communist vilification. Congressmen showed interest in this and asked about positions our various Allies.
Turning to Indochina, Secretary traced developments in our thinking and plans since inception massive aid program last fall. Three prerequisites demanded from French had then seemed to be met: understanding A.S. become independent, effective program for rapid training of natives, aggressive military plan. Prerequisites would lead to our desired objectives. Navarre Plan still sound, but French will for offensive action and even ability govern themselves disintegrated. Following development united action concept and as French military situation deteriorated, we began think of U.S. military intervention. In April 3 meeting with Congressmen agreed objectives of earlier prerequisites must be met to increased degree and other interested nations must join in before such intervention could be authorized. Secretary described London-Paris trip and Eden's reneging on communique. Some adverse Congressional comment on latter and Secretary said thought Nehru had pressured British.
Secretary described two informal French requests for U.S. air intervention
on April 4 and 22 and his replies thereto. Described French mood of extreme
urgency and British Cabinet confirmation of reversal of agreement in communique of April 13. British terrified by H-bomb, pressured by Nehru, contrasted their giving up India with French call for help to keep Indochina, and gave higher rating to risk of Chinese intervention and global war if West intervened. Secretary read from memo of conversation in which he had chastised Eden for British stand. Number adverse Congressional comments on British position, especially Judd.
Secretary said had reached three conclusions. U.S. should not intervene militarily until and unless prerequisites agreed on at April 4 meeting were fulfilled. Conditions must exist for successful conclusion of war and such was not now case. Participation other allies academic since French had not fulfilled prerequisites. Considerable opposition to internationalization of war in France anyway. This was Administration position on intervention. No Congressional comments on this.
Secondly, U.S. must push rapidly for development of SEA community, probably without Vietnam but hopefully with Laos and Cambodia. British might come in and they might want Burma and India too. We were agreeable to Burma. This community might offer fair chance quote insulate unquote rest SEA against possible loss of Vietnam.
Third conclusion was we should not write off British and French in spite of their weakness in Asia. Lack of 100 per cent cooperation one of welcome disadvantages of democratic system.
DULTE 51 then received and Secretary read pertinent parts. Considerable discussion ensued on Eden's idea of quote five white powers unquote consultation and conclusions 2 and 3 above. Judd strongly against Eden quote plan unquote, wanted Asians in even without U.K. and France. Knowland agreed on importance of Asians, as did several others. Knowland said we should have commitments from U.K., Australia, New Zealand and others to help us if needed in Korea or Japan, et cetera, if we were to have collective security pact with them for SEA, which he personally favored. Secretary said Burma, Thailand, Philippines plus A.S. would help and that he told Eden he wanted Formosa in if British brought in India. McCormack and Smith supported Secretary on conclusion three and several others did too.
Secretary described effect of Indochina developments on French government and EDC. Russell paid fine tribute to Secretary for briefings and cooperation with Congress and others expressed appreciation.
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