Secretary Of State James Byrnes’ Cautious Optimism For 1946 — Past…

Secretary of State Byrnes — glimmer of hope — fingers crossed.

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Secretary of State James F. Byrnes — Address on Return from Moscow Conference — December 30, 1945 — Gordon Skene Sound Collection

Secretary of State James Byrnes, returning from the Foreign Ministers Conference in Moscow was upbeat, and more optimistic than the London Conference, which ended pessimistically in September. Calling for a conference this soon after the London conference ran risks of another impasse. But Secretary Byrnes felt it was necessary to call for a conference in December in order to work out those differences which derailed the previous conference.

The risk paid off, as many of the points disagreed over in London were now agreed on in Moscow. The issue at hand was the procedure of drawing up the European Peace treaty, which the U.S. and Britain felt should be participated in by all nations which took an active part in the war. Moscow felt that only the three major nations; Britain, the U.S. and Russia, who signed the original armistice, should be allowed to participate in the peace treaty. It was over that point that the London talks bogged down.

But Byrnes felt those talks were useful, as the end result of the Moscow Conference was an agreement was that all states which took an active part in the war be allowed to participate in the peace. And that the agreement was to recognize the responsible role of the larger (Big 3) powers in the making of that peace. The agreement was, that the terms of peace in the first instance should be drawn by the principle powers who signed the armistice. That as soon as the terms were drawn up, they would be submitted to a Peace Conference called by The U.S., Soviet Union, Great Britain, France and China, who constituted the Council of Foreign Ministers and who were the permanent members of the UN Security Council. All those states which actively waged war with substantial military force against the European Axis powers, would be invited to participate in the Conference. The Peace Conference was to be called not later than May 1, 1946.

The Peace Conference was to consider the terms drafted by the permanent members of the Council and make recommendations for their own version of the Peace Treaty. Those recommendations, along with the original Peace Treaty terms would be prepared in a revised text to be voted on by all states actively engaged in War.

It was a compromise, but one which was finally agreed to and at least one major hurdle was addressed.

That, and several other points were the kinds of issues brought up during this conference, and give some idea how diplomacy is a complicated game of strategy and compromise.

To hear the whole address given by Secretary of State James F. Byrnes from December 30, 1945, click on the play button and prepare for a history lesson in Cold War politics. Instructive, informative and illuminating.

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Originally published at pastdaily.com on December 31, 2015.