The Cabinet Secretaries' Notebooks (CAB 195/8)

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Meeting of Council of Foreign Ministers

Meeting of Council of Foreign Ministers

K.Y. 

Any conclns wd. have to go wider than Germany.  Wd have to cover disarmament more generally……

A.B. 

Pacification is first condn for disarmament. Can't hope for genl. disarmament in a world afraid. If therefore genl. disarmt is put to this C.F.M., it invites breakdown.

K.Y. 

You must ask:  what is cause of their fright.  And if it is armaments, it's not illogical to start with that.

A. 

To put it first is to begin at the wrong end. You will get bogged down in it for months.

T.W. 

But cd. we discuss demiln of G. w'out reference to disarmament.
At least the 2 things shd. go together.

H.M. 

Is this philosophy v. relevant?  And is 1931 a helpful analogy?
Things were v. difft. then.
"Pacification."  Who is to pacify whom?
I want C.F.M. to succeed. Don't pack agenda with a lot of hopeless stuff.
Demilitn of G. cd. go on Agenda: but we wdn't discuss it w'out refce to genl. armament sitn.

P.M. 

Annex B. para. 2. is in fact a pretty realistic list.

H.G. 

Para. 15 of Annex A is powerful statement.
On that basis I'm sceptical of disarmament pact – for difft. reasons.
Awkward re-actions here.  Unlimited opporties for twisting by R.
Gt. danger of R. making specious offer & we shd. look suspicious in rejectg. it.
Subject to that I favour Annex B. para. 2.
Danger of agreement wh. jeopardises our interests.  I'm inclined to think best hope of peace is thro' a stalemate rather than agreement.

H.W. 

Para. 15 is cynical approach.
Suggests tht. we don't want a settlement.  "False feeling of relief" wh. wd. follow an agreement.
But if public think we're not trying they won't support our defence p'mme.
Attitude of French.  Surprised by Parodi W'ton 317 of 31/1.  Shd. have thght. mass of French wd. feel differently.
Memo. suggests mil. occupn will end almost at once. Surely it will go on for years, even if agreemt. reached – before Treaty finally concluded.
Ques: are we to urge G. re-armament as card to play in attempt for general détente. Or are we going for it for its own sake.
J. Shd. we breakdown on agenda or after confce.
To preserve moral leadership, we must choose the second.
Corollary:  don't stand too firm on agenda lest you lose conference.

A.B. 

That goes too far. Remember our original reply on Prague communiqué. We can't have agenda narrowed down to that.
Subject to that, I don't dissent from genl. attitude of J.
I'm in gt. diffy.  Distrust U.S. over this as much as over Korea.
They are dragging us along on basis tht. 3rd War is inevitable.
I do not accept Annexes A & B.  Para. 15:  cynical & defeatist.
Assumes tht. R. wd. only use agreemt. as basis to exploit G. further. This is based on assumptn tht. R. is determined to have war. A 3rd war wd. end "B. civilisation as we know it"(!).
If we can get agreemt. with R. on anything, it wd. be big step fwd.
If G. is re-armed, war will be on us at once.  V. naïve to assume tht. re-armed G. will support us.
Unificn & demilitn of G:  if we cd. get it, we shd. go for it.

H.McN. 

If G. is unified, you can't assume it will remain disarmed.
Moral bankruptcy of this memo.

H.D. 

Don't believe E.B. wd. have passed this memo.
He wdn't have courted b'down on agenda.
He never liked G. re-armament:  was reluctant to accept it even in principle. Believe he wd. have tried to trade it, in a C.F.M., for some solid advantage.  R. fears re-armamt. of G.
He wd. have tried hard at C.F.M. to get success.
Thght. we were in favour of unified Germany.
We can't accept view tht. unified G. wd. be a prey to Commn.
W. Germany doesn't tolerate Commn:  don't believe E. Germany wd. tolerate it if elections were free.
Try for agreed agenda.  Reject philosophy of Annex A.
Chuck out some items fr. 2 of Annex B. e.g. Para. 2(a).
Don't discuss genl. disarmament.

H.M. 

This = change of policy.

K.Y. 

Cab. of 14/12.  E.B. not prepared to attend……
Suggd now we shd. be elastic on agenda. Are we to agree, if necessary, to meet on G. alone? Hope we shall at least stand to our insistence on more than Germany.

P.M. 

I wd. say:  ready to discuss Germany in context of genl. situation – e. & west.

J.G. 

Don't decide at W'ton what our attitude is to be before R. reply recd.

C.E. 

Don't decide to-day – before we see R. reply.

K.Y. 

But surely wise to exchange views with the other 2 – some idea what we wd. adopt as agenda.
Then we must give our repves some instructions.

P.M. 

Give O.F. b'ground of our attitude.
We can't accept U.S. view of inevitable war.
U.S. may look at G. re-armamt. on basis of inevitable war.
We must approach, not with unreasong. optimism, but with some hope.
Don't believe Stalin wants war.  Our aim must be to get change in internal system behind Iron Curtain wh. will make for peace.
Use G. re-armament as card to swop in return for a settlemt.

H.G. 

Agree with that.
We want CFM. to succeed.
Can't discuss G. alone. Then what else? Genl. disarmamt. (if not first): Austria. What else?
Cd. F.O. run thro' points of disagreemt. with R. & select the least troublesome. Try & get somethg. small agreed first.
Too much wool.

A.V.A. 

Is para. 15 – tho' prs. a bit starkly stated – not wholly justified by facts from 1945 onwards.
R. has bn. consistent & clear for years. Gobbling them up one by one. Sitn to-day is v. diff. fr. 1945.
 I want negotn. But on realistic basis.

P.M. 

Believe that over-estimates R. part in Ch. adventure. Due rather to Ch. nationalism – wh. may not always be cats-paw of Moscow.

A.B. 

Pact of non-aggression incldg. Yugoslavia.  Helpful to suggest that.

H.McN. 

Who is trying to get a breakdown on agenda now?

K.Y. 

Send telegram:
  i) genl. views of Cabinet, as gloss on Annexes.
  ii) we reject agenda confined to G.
  iii) other items: for discn.  Cab. not to be commd until they see Sov. reply.
On tentative list in Annex B. Cab. don't want genl. disarmament taken first:  too dangerous.
Discuss other subjects with others & report to Cab.
Diff. to think of specific non-controversial items to add.

H.M. 

G. re-armament.
V. diff. to accept view tht. G. will remain disarmed indefinitely.
As it stands, unfair to have w.G. unarmed while e.G. is armed.
Czecho.  Healthiest Parly democracy in Europe.  Yet R. coup.
Where wd. we stand if same happened to G.
V doubtful about arguments now used v. re-armamt. of G.

H.D. 

Content to leave G. re-armament on basis tht. it is played v. long.
But if CFM. offers chance for a deal, we shd. be ready to trade it.

Taken from C.M. 11(51) - Meeting held on 1 February 1951.