The Cabinet Secretaries' Notebooks (CAB 195/8)

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Korea

Korea

E.B. 

Tels. show posn up to last night.
Diffies increased (Indo-China) because Fr. Govt. have fallen.
Schuman merely hoping no precipitate action will be taken.
Ever since last F. Affairs debate, I have bn. anxious.  Am now v. worried re a move in Berlin.  Have alerted intelligence services.  These have bn. at fault in F/East.  Austria also a danger spot. Cab. shd. be aware of this risk in Europe. Acheson has drawn attention to this.
Later telegram from W'ton is more encouraging.
Cab. were concerned tht. Govts contributg. to U.N. in Korea werebeing consulted on policy.  I obtd satisfy. assurances on this from U.S. Govt.
Concerned re U.S. C.O.S. reaction to latest developmts.  Might carry us beyond U.N. policy.
 Was therefore in close touch with U.S. y'day. Read latest telegram: fr. W'ton. Tel. 2776 assurances re-affirmed. U.S. will continue to consult with U.K. & intend to handle situation thro' U.N. & not unilaterally. Purposes:  resist aggression:  localise hostilities, wind up Korea quickly w'out commitment long-term of U.N.
Forces.
U.S. have taken line in Sec. Council tht. these organised Ch. armies = act of open aggression. I agree. But how do we fight it?
If we get into M'Churia we'll never get out.  If there has to be a fight better have it in Korea - l/c are easier, apart fr. politics.
Believe U.S. share this view. Fear pressure to bomb their l/c. - esp. as Ch. based enemy bombers are workg. over Korea.  But avoid doctrine of hot pursuit.
Situation serious - but not out of hand.
MacA's communiqués were ill-advised:  but we can't stop him.
All we can ask is assurance of consultn on policy:  & this we have.  We can't expect consultn betwn. all Govts on mil. tactics & moves.

P.M. 

MacA's H.Q. has bn. over optimistic. This check may make him over-emphasise strength of Ch. attack. His strategy was wrong - advanced beyond neck and let S. Koreans hold vital centre. Bad mistake.  Watch his identificns of Ch. Divns.
V. talkative.  We must keep cool.
Most fatal thing to get bogged down in K. Important only as symbol of U.N. resistce to aggression:  not important per se.
Must not get large nos. pinned down there.
M.S. might have consulted us before Austin spoke.

E.B. 

One ugly developmt. in U.S. - "dragging our feet", Munich mentality etc.
Must find means of challenging & countering this. But mustn't be rash over it.

T.W. 

What happened over our views re stopping at neck.

E.B. 

That view was put to us, but they were not in agreement. And MacA.'s offensive cd. not in any event be stopped.

H.D. 

Disregard of U.K. views is serious.

E.Sh. 

Party anxiety flows fr. present sitn in Korea, not 4 Power mtg.
We are drifting to a crisis.
Serious because v. dangerous posn in Europe if we get committd in F/E.  For apart fr. U.K. forces, no W. Europn strength.
All v. well to blame MacA. - and at some points he is at fault -
But on de-militarised zone plan, U.S. Govt. were v. unreceptive.
Why? The American C.O.S. were not prepared to interfere with MacA.
How then can there be any consultn with other U.N. Govts.
This is being handled as U.S. affair - & U.S. Govt. allow MacA. to run things as he wishes.
Implicns of Austin's statemt. re aggression. If we bomb beyond M'churian frontier R. aircraft will come in:  & that = major war.
If U.N. resoln re aggression is carried, we must back U.N. resistce of Ch. offensive.  If 200.000 Ch. there already, good soldiers & well equipped, we shall have to put many more troops in.  Shan't be able to decline.  Thus weaken posn in Europe & M/East.
On Korea, we decided to back U.N. assumg. 38th parallel.  But need to get N. Korean surrender.  Wd. be same re China.  MacA. will insist on bombing M'churia.  That means major war.

H.McN. 

Resoln doesn't mention "aggression" by Chinese.

E.Sh. 

That will come. Tentative suggn:  shd. we make it clear now tht. we shall resist. Ch. offensive in Korea:  but shall w'draw to a line: or preferably tht. we will not go beyond M'churian border on land or air.  Say it to U.S. - not publicly.
No hostile intentions v. Chinese.  Make that clear.
U.S. have led us astray over this because not prepared to keep MacA. in control.
No other country is helping us.
If our casualties increase, we shd. have diff. case to answer.
Told C.O.S. months ago we might have to fight alone. They thght. me silly. Not sure now I wasn't right.

E.B. 

This doesn't go beyond what Acheson has said in latest telegram.

J.G. 

We shall be asked to-day wtr. we have a voice in MacA.'s counsels
As we have troops. Is there a B. repve strong enough to hold his own with MacA.?

E.Sh. 

No.

P.M. 

How cd. we have influence over C-in-C. - on basis of our brigade.
All we have to do is to get assurances re policy fr. U.S. Govt.

H.D. 

We shd. however emphasise our views v. sharply to U.S.

E.B. 

I warned you - in a lr. from London Clinic.

H.G. 

Can't put blame on U.S. We agreed we must go beyond 38th in spite of warning fr. India. We have known for weeks we were takg. this risk. Thght. Ch. were bluffing - now know they
weren't.
How cd. we fail to support U.N. resoln re Ch. aggression?
In last resort, we shd. have to follow U.S. lead.
If we w'drew support for U.S. strategy in Korea, they wd. be the quicker to w'draw their assistce in Europe - w'out which we shdn't have a chance v. R.
Worried (not at mil. sitn for now proposed to w'draw to waist) but at long-term solution. How do we end this?
Ch. cd. hold us indefinitely. Negotn will be inevitable at some stage.  Isn't it time to have heart-to-heart with Acheson on long-term problem.  Are U.S. never to recognise Ch. Govt. -
is there to be no settlement with them ever?

A.B. 

I see it rather as part of R. problem.
If Ch. movemt. in K. was prompted by R., it will be followed by a move in Europe.
I don't believe that.  Not a part of wider R. strategy. I think Ch. are merely frightened at MacA.'s intentions.
If we go back to waist, the war will (or may) die away.
U.S. Govt. are as ham handed as MacA.  Para 4 of 3195 (we were never consulted) if resoln carried, MacA. wd. have his right to bomb M'churia.
We must get tough with U.S. Shall be told tht. we haven't influence with U.S. correspondg. to our place in U.N. I therefore propose
                      |  tht. on R. offer to talk, E.B. shd. take a bolder line & say we are
                    x|  ready to go in on comprehensive agenda.  We must snatch
                      |  diplomatic initiative from R.

E.B. 

That is precisely what I am trying to do.

A. 

Delay decn on U.N. resoln condemng. Ch. aggression.
Get tough with the U.S.
Say we can't be led by nose by MacA.

E.B. 

Are you prepared to break with U.S.?  And forfeit their support in Europe?

C.E. 

We aren't ready for war in Europe, qua C. Def.  Yet Fr. (Indo-Ch.) U.S. (Korea) & U.K. (Malaya) commd heavily, at R. instance, yet w'out R. involved
Can we tell Party our line of limitg. our commitments in Korea? That we have consistently tried to avoid being committed.

A.B. 

Party know that's our view. What they doubt is wtr. we can influence U.S. sufficiently to agree with our view. Also, they want an effective response to R. invitn to a mtg.

J.G. 

Also, distrust of MacA.

E.B. 

What can I do about that? U.N. voted him Commander.
Am I to ask them to dismiss him? Will Cab. ask me to do that.

P.M. 

After his outstanding success in fighting back fr. his bridgehead.

J.G. 

Trouble is: he's not merely a soldier. If there is crisis, U.S. shd. know tht. U.K. opinion wdn't be solid if U.N. Forces commanded by a politician & a re-actionary one.

E.Sh. 

U.S. wdn't re-call MacA. at U.K. request.

H.McN. 

Line with Party must be tht. R.'s main objective is to divide U.S. & U.K. We can't differ from them publicly.
Ques. really is: shall we tell U.S. at once (privately) tht. they must not amend U.N. resoln. Stand on existg. 6-Power resoln.

Taken from C.M. 78(50) - Meeting held on 29 November 1950.