Dumbarton Oaks Amendments


By BURTON K. WHEELER, Senator from Montana

Delivered in the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., March 1, 1945

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. XI, pp. 405-407.

FELLOW Americans, in the more than 2 weeks that have elapsed since the declaration of the Crimea Conference was flashed across the world, it has become perfectly clear that this echo of some of the mysteries that were recited within the secret chambers of a Yalta palace has not stampeded the American people into an unconditional surrender to the results.

In spite of the fact that the press and the radio have barraged the Nation with hysterical hallelujahs of praise, inspired by our playboys and poets in the State Department, it now appears that Mr. and Mrs. America have become so apprehensive as a result of past promises—unfulfilled—that they are now looking over the performances on the international stage with a "you"have-to-show-me" look in their eyes. The American people now know such grave decisions are in the making—both openly and secretly—that what we as a people have got to get straight, and quickly, is what future policies are still possible that will be to America's highest interest and to the hopes of humanity in the years ahead.

This growing uneasiness over the international situation which is reflected in the rapidly growing volume of my mail is only intensified by the violent contradiction in the Crimea report between the lyric splendor of the beautiful and noblewords in which it is couched and the ugly impudence of its decisions.

Let us recall for just a moment what was actually decided at Yalta. There was the cynical partition of Poland and what in fact amounts to the recognition of the Moscow-spawned Lublin Government. There was the betrayal of Yugoslavia—and we can only guess at what has happened to Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia—when we read in the New York Times dispatch of February 25 that only 3 days ago "large groups of armed Communists attempted to overthrow the Rumanian Government and install a Rumanian Soviet." Free elections were promised—but what is a free election without free speech, free press, a free radio—just a mockery—and even these elections obtain only where in the judgment of the Big Three conditions require. There was the determination to partition, dismember, de-industrialize, and enslave the German nation, all in the sweet name of peace. There was final agreement to permit any member of the Big Three to veto action against its own aggression. We are told there was agreement on the principle of trusteeship to be applied to over 600,000,000 colonial peoples. However, in lieu of any specific solution to the war-breeding problem of the British, French, and Dutch imperialism, it simply means that we are going to turn over the subject peoples of Africa, India, and Asia to their old masters. It has been further revealed that at Yalta an agreement was reached which, in effect, established a three-power—I should say one-power—control of the Old World in which we are supposed to be committed to enforcing, policing, and guaranteeing jointly with Russia and Britain the post-war settlements in Europe—whatever they may be. All of which provides a shocking violation of the principles of the Atlantic Charter. There are those who believe that the only solution of Europe's troubles is to turn them over to Russia. If that is the object, then we should do it with our eyes open.

Surely we need no more facts now to trace the old pattern of power politics around the world all shined up in new paraphernalia. Surely, we need no more proof than these decisions of the Yalta Conference to conclude that the principle of brute force has now become the criterion of what is right and the basis of all future action in international affairs. For these Yalta decisions are the incredible proofs that the Big Three have agreed to impose their collective will not only on the nations of Europe, but on the nations of Africa and Asia.

Despite attempts to suppress news of the resentment these decisions aroused in Europe, we now know that our own apprehensions are widely shared abroad. For instance, Raymond Daniell, the head of the New York Times' London Bureau, said in his first report on British reaction: "Whatever satisfaction there is tonight or tomorrow in the continued agreement of the major powers will be dissipated in the coming weeks." Concerning the reactions of the small nations of Europe, Mr. Daniell went on to say, "What it all amounts to, in the view of the several small governments in London is that the big powers have usurped sovereignty over all Europe and have accepted jointly the responsibility of running it, at least until they fall out among themselves." The reaction in France is clearly revealed in General de Gaulle's lamentable snub of President Roosevelt and in a United Press dispatch that "the French press displayed a distinct coolness toward the Big Three decisions." In Italy the reaction was much the same. The United Press stated that "Italian Government quarters were disappointed," and the same source went on to say that "authoritative Vatican quarters expressed anxiety lest the seeds of a future war were sown at Yalta." The premier of the Polish government-in-exile bitterly denounced the Polish decision saying, "The method adopted in the case of Poland was a contradiction of the elementaryprinciples binding the Allies, and constitutes a violation of the letter and spirit of the Atlantic Charter and the rightof every nation to defend its own interest."

We do not need to wait for any more crumbs of information to fall from another diplomatic love feast for us to see clearly what these Yalta decisions and reactions mean to us as a people. In the case of Poland it means that for the first time we are a party to a betrayal of one of our allies, and yet Mr. Dean Acheson, Assistant Secretary of State, has recently remarked that, "for the immediate future, the decision on the Polish question was a great achievement," yet this decision is almost identical with the treacherous Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement of 1939 which both England and America so bitterly denounced and over which Britain eventually went to war.

But what concerns me most is that our formal recognition of such an immoral outrage can only contribute further to the bankruptcy of our moral and political credit in Europe and throughout the world. For instance, in Rumania, we have given Russia authority to act directly in our behalf. In Bulgaria our representative on the Allied Commission is an unwilling but helpless stooge of Russian policies which—according to eyewitness accounts—are liquidating, deporting, or terrorizing the helpless population, regardless of whether they were friends or enemies of the Axis Powers. It must have been to just such a predicament as this that Mr. Stettinius referred when he is reported to have said, "We are virtually the prisoners of our allies."

The British Government has just published a White Paper on the Situation in Greece from which I quote: "Ever since the Germans left, the small but well-armed Communist Party has been practicing a reign of terror all over the country. Men, women and children were murdered here in large numbers and thousands of hostages were taken. * * * Red terror soon leads to white terror." When we realize that at Yalta the decisions that were reached were the result of an abject appeasement of Stalin, we can better picture the grim nature of the struggle that is already going on between Russia and Britain in every country in Europe, toward which we will never be permitted to remain neutral. Furthermore, we now see the Nazi officials and the Nazi press using the Yalta decisions to try to stiffen German resistance, just as they used the Morgenthau proposals, at the cost of thousands of American lives. Even now, we are told by the press that Goebbels and company are engaged in telling the German people, "We told you so. It is far better that we died on the battlefields." While I am sure we all agree with the laudable decision of the Big Three to stand united "to destroy German militarism and nazi-ism" such a declaration becomes nothing but a costly psychological blunder when the Big Three continue to refuse the offer of a democratic and decent alternative to those Germans who are ready and willing to risk their lives to destroy the Hitler tyranny.

These are just some of the decisions we are now being urged to underwrite by accepting the present Dumbarton Oaks proposals. I am now and I have been at all times in favor of a genuinely democratic and international world organization to keep the peace and to prevent future wars. But the agreement at Yalta by the Big Three that their decisions will not even be permitted discussion at the United Nations Conference in San Francisco, compels me to warn the American people that the Dumbarton Oaks proposals— as they now stand—represent nothing more than an international straitjacket—the blueprint of which was drawn up behind the scenes at Moscow, Teheran, and Yalta.

Whatever happens we must never be a party to the enslavement of free peoples by a dictatorship which Mr. Churchill has said, in speaking of Communism, "rots the soul of a nation," and which President Roosevelt has declared to be a "dictatorship as absolute as any in the world." I am sure the American people will never commit themselves to suppress, by force of arms, and with the blood of our youth, every future rebellion against such a tyranny.

I am further convinced there are still certain steps the American people can take to arrest and alter the present fatal trends in international affairs. First, if we are to have a genuine spirit of international collaboration there could be no simpler way to obtain it than for our allies immediately to accord our diplomatic, military, and press representatives the same courtesies and privileges we accord to theirs.

Secondly, a United Nations political council should immediately be set up in Europe to include representatives of the peoples whose destinies are now directly involved, with power not merely to talk but to act in the interest of humanity. I know of no other alternative to the domination of Europe by Russia.

Third, this council must be guided and implemented by policies that are directed towards the establishment of a United States of Europe. Again I see no other alternative to a Europe divided against itself and a return to its ancient power politics—this time with England and Russia pitted against each other in a struggle that cannot help but result in another bloody conflict—in which American boys will again be called to give up their lives.In conclusion, we must throw the full weight of our influence behind a demand that the principles of the Atlantic Charter be incorporated into any future plans for world organization. We must make certain that at least our American representatives at the coming United Nations conference insist upon the alteration and amendment of the present Dumbarton Oaks proposals to bring about the changes that are imperative, if this world is not to be run on the basis of brute force in the hands of a few. If we do not want to see our American way of life and the ideals for which we have fought dragged down into the muck and mire of the Old World's ancient evils and hatreds, and if we do not want our boys to have fought and suffered and died in vain, we must act now in the name of humanity.