Winston Churchill's Last Campaign: Britain and the Cold War, 1951-5

By John W. Young | Go to book overview

II
CRISIS, JUNE-AUGUST 1954.

THE WASHINGTON TALKS

WHEN Churchill and Eden flew out of Heathrow for Washington on 24 June, they had differing aims and were unhappy with one another. The Foreign Secretary, tired by his recent exertions and inconvenienced by the visit, was as anxious as ever to succeed to the premiership. Churchill was terrified that the growing feud between Eden and Dulles would damage the special relationship. Certainly, the Prime Minister had never liked the American, and agreed with Eden that the US should be prepared to talk to its enemies even to the extent of accepting a Far Eastern Locarno. None the less, the Prime Minister had no desire to upset Eisenhower over East Asian issues and wanted above all to persuade him of the advantages of a meeting with Malenkov. The difficulty, Churchill argued was 'how far we ought to go in restraining ( America) from taking risks we cannot share' and he pressed Eden strongly, en route to North America on the need to work closely with Washington.1 The Prime Minister was supported in these efforts by Roger Makins, who wrote to Eden that Dulles was 'an awkward old buster' but 'for all his clumsiness . . . is a sincere believer in Anglo-American understanding . . .'. The Ambassador believed however that American cautiousness towards Britain was because of Churchill: all US administrations were 'terrified of the Prime Minister's visits and take protective actions (like squids or skunks) in advance . . .'.2 American evidence shows that Makins's argument was not really justified. Although Dulles was determined that there would be no agreements with the devious Churchill 'unless they are specifically labelled as agreements', the President was keen, after the unhappy experience of the Bermuda communiqué, to have open, informal talks. 'What we really want to do', he explained to Dulles about the British visit, 'is

____________________
1
Lord Moran, Winston Churchill: The Struggle for Survival ( 1966), diary of 4 and 27 May, 15 and 24 June.
2
FO 800/842 (18 and 21 June).

-266-

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