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

By John W. Young | Go to book overview

7
PROPOSING A SUMMIT, MAY-JUNE 1953

PLANNING THE PROPOSAL

IN early May 1953 Pierson Dixon, the FO Deputy Under-Secretary, was having lunch with Churchill when the latter again said that, although he ideally wanted a three-power, Anglo-American-Soviet, Summit, he was ready--as he had warned Eisenhower--to visit Moscow alone. Dixon ran through all the long-standing arguments against such a journey. The Soviets could not be trusted and would use it to divide the West; to secure success, Churchill might be led into making unwise concessions; public hopes would be raised, so that failure would breed deep disillusionment. Better to continue the build-up of Western strength. Yet the Prime Minister refused to be put off. The opposition of the FO and Cabinet, the German and French governments, and even of Eisenhower did not deter him, though he still ideally wanted the President's blessing. To this end, two days later, Churchill wrote to Washington and revealed that a month before there had been some thought of sending Eden to Moscow. Now, with the Foreign Secretary ill, it fell on the Prime Minister to make the journey. He wanted to write to Molotov offering to 'renew our wartime relation and . . . meet Monsieur Malenkov . . .'. Churchill would make plain to the Soviets that he did not hope to resolve any concrete problems, only to create a situation of 'friendly acquaintance and goodwill instead of impersonal diplomacy and propaganda'.1 This aim, of course, even if it sounded vague, was very much in line with Churchill's personal style of diplomacy and his belief that face-to-face meetings could themselves effect a meaningful improvement in the international atmosphere. Only after sending the message, did Churchill reveal its contents to the two leading figures in the FO, Minister of State Selwyn Lloyd and Permanent Under-Secretary (PUS) Strang. If the US were unwilling to break the Cold War deadlock, he told them, then he

____________________
1
Public Record Office (PRO), FO 800/821 (3 May); P. Boyle, The Churchill-Eisenhower Correspondence, 1953-5 ( Chapel Hill, NC, 1990), 48.

-156-

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