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regard to the application of article 3 to India but also the request of the Burmese Prime Minister to come on here to discuss Burma's future policy were responsible for the statement. I had luncheon with Amery and Minister U Saw last week. U Saw asked if he might call on the President on his way home. I hope this may be possible. He rather naively suggested that he felt it proper for the Prime Minister of a democracy to call on the head of the greatest democracy. U Saw had just left the King and described his interview, which lasted some 20 minutes, with him. He said that he had promised to support the British war effort. He made one brief official call on Eden,20 his contact during his stay here has been
, through Amery. I found through Cadogan 21 that he himself initiated his visit here. He had planned to discuss the future status of Burma and to inquire as to the effect of article 3 on this question.
Two of the morning papers, the Daily Express and the News Chronicle, carry articles stating his disappointment in the results of his visit. The following direct quotation appears in the Daily Express:
"I have not been able to get an assurance about self-government to take back to Burma now that my visit here is ended.
I know the Government and the British public are very busy at the moment with the war; I only want a definite assurance that Burma will be placed on the same level as the other members of the Empire.
The British Government has given an assurance to India and Burma that they will give those countries self-government one day, but when that day will come is another question.”
A further quotation taken from the News Chronicle follows:
“My only request was that before they free the countries under Hitler they should free the countries within the British Empire,” he said.
“I was anxious to find out from Mr. Churchill how the Atlantic Charter affected the future of Burma.
Burma has been unconditionally co-operating with Britain in her war effort, and yet when I come to Britain I cannot be taken into the confidence of the War Cabinet in the same way as the Dominion Premiers, because Burma has not Dominion status.
I came here to deliver a message of goodwill from my people, but I do think it is the duty of the leaders of this country to see that each and every part of the Empire taking its share of the war effort is contented.
I cannot foresee what the attitude of my people will be when I explain the response of the British Government to my request.”
This morning I again brought up this subject together with U Saw's press comments with Mr. Eden. The latter called up Mr. Amery and got his permission to give me the text of a letter sent to the Burmese Prime Minister with the understanding that it be treated as secret and confidential. The text reads as follows:
20 Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
* Sir Alexander Cadogan, British Permanent Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
"Your visit to this country has provided an opportunity for you to state your views as to the method of approach to the constitutional problem in Burma which will arise for discussion after the war, and for me to make clear, as I hope I have succeeded in doing, the sincerity of the intentions of His Majesty's Government on this subject. I feel that the opportunity thus afforded for an exchange of information and ideas has been of great benefit is desired in the midst of the life and death struggle in which this country and Burma, and indeed the whole cause of free government in the world, are involved, it is not possible, as I the past few days realize, either to enter upon the detailed examination of and discussion required for the solution of these important problems or to anticipate of conclusions which must themselves be affected by that examination and by the situation at the end of the war.22
The general aim of the policy of His Majesty's Government has, however, been made clear in a number of declarations in recent years, the last of which was that made by Sir Archibald Cochrane 23 to the Burma Legislature on 26 August 19 in the course of which he stated that His Majesty's Government will continue to use their best endeavors to promote the attainment of Dominion status as being the objective of Burma's constitutional progress and that immediately the war is brought to a victorious end they will be willing to discuss the problems to be solved in Burma.
It is the intention of His Majesty's Government that this discussion, to be conducted in collaboration with representatives of Burma, should cover all questions relevant to the methods by which the attainment of this declared aim can be facilitated and expedited, with a view to removing to the fullest extent that may be found practicable such limitations as stand in the way of the assumption by the people of Burma of complete self-government within the British Commonwealth.
I may add that His Majesty's Government consider that conclusions reached on the questions to be discussed should be based on the merits of those questions themselves as affecting Burma and her relations with His Majesty's Government, and will not allow them to be prejudiced in any way by the position in regard to the solution of similar problems elsewhere. ["]
WINANT 845.01/120 Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs
[WASHINGTON,] November 7, 1941. Reference is made to Ambassador Winant's telegram no. 5253 of November 4, midnight, concerning Prime Minister Churchill's in
This sentence is apparently garbled. » Governor of Burma.
Addressed to the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle), the Under Secretary of State (Welles), and the Secretary of State.
terpretation of Article 3 of the "Roosevelt-Churchill Atlantic Declaration.” It may be recalled that Mr. Churchill informed the House of Commons on September 9, 1941 that this article, dealing with “the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live”, is applicable only to European nations under Nazi occupation and does not relate to "the development of constitutional government in India, Burma or such parts of the Empire”, which may be regarded as a separate problem to be handled in accordance with previous declarations in regard thereto.
It was Article 3 of the Declaration which prompted the Premier of Burma to visit London in order to ascertain the applicability of this article to Burma and discuss the future of Burma with British officials. Upon being informed of the inapplicability of Article 3 to Burma and of the unwillingness of the British Government to enter into detailed discussions of the future status of Burma at the present time, the Premier of Burma expressed his keen disappointment and is quoted in the press as stating "I cannot foresee what the attitude of my people will be when I explain the response of the British Government to my request.”
It is to be expected that the attitude of the British Government, as expressed in Mr. Churchill's address to Parliament and by the nature of the reply to the inquiry of the Prime Minister of Burma, will have repercussions in India, which may be of a serious character and which may serve to impede further India's contribution to the war.
The Prime Minister of Burma has expressed a desire to call upon the President while passing through the United States on his return to Burma. In this connection, reference is made to Mr. Welles' memorandum of August 6, 1941 to the Secretary in which it was stated that "this Government is not warranted in suggesting officially to the British Government what the status of India should be, but were the President disposed to take the matter up I should imagine that he would wish to discuss it in a very personal and confidential way directly with Mr. Churchill.” In view of the fact that Mr. Churchill has now offered an interpretation of the RooseveltChurchill Declaration, and, in view of the possible forthcoming call of the Premier of Burma upon the President, it is considered that there may be greater justification than there has been heretofore of an effort on the part of this Government to assist in a solution of problems involved in the political status of India and Burma.
It is suggested, therefore, that it may not be inopportune at the present time to submit this matter to the President for his consideration, with possible reference to Mr. Winant's telegram no. 3365 of August 1, 11 p. m., recommending that a suggestion be made to the British Government to grant dominion status to India. As has been indicated by the Division of Near Eastern Affairs in memoranda
dated August 12, and October 16, 1941,24 the political situation in India appears to be deteriorating rapidly. It is considered inevitable that such a deterioration will prevent India from putting forth its best effort to help win the war. In view of the expressed views of the President regarding the policy of this Government in assisting Britain to defeat Hitler, it is believed that the President may wish to consider what steps may be taken to check the uncooperative movement in India in order that India may make a greater contribution to the prosecution of the war. Accordingly, the attached letter to the President 25 has been prepared for the signature of the Secretary.
Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Welles) to the
Secretary of State
[WASHINGTON,] November 15, 1941. THE SECRETARY: This suggested letter for you to send to the President raises, it seems to me, some very important considerations.
Naturally, if point three in the joint declaration of the Atlantic has any real meaning, it should be regarded as all-inclusive and consequently applicable to the peoples of India and of Burma.
But it seems to me that this Government, in regard to this problem, at least at the present moment, is facing a question of expediency. The British have been governing India in one form or another for well over a hundred years. The highest caliber organization of the entire British civil service is that which has been built up by the British Government over the years in the Indian service. From the information which Lord Halifax has personally given to me and I think it is generally conceded that he has probably been the most liberal viceroy that India has ever had—it is the consensus of opinion of the British civil servants most experienced in Indian affairs that any immediate change in the status of India would immediately create internal dissension in India on a very wide scale and in all probability would give rise to a situation with which the meager number of British now in India could not cope. In other words, the immediate granting of dominion status would create a situation in India exactly the opposite of that which Mr. Murray and those who join him in their recommendation to you forecast.
24 Neither printed.
Not printed; the draft letter reviewed the Indian situation and suggested that President Roosevelt might feel justified in taking this question up in a personal way with Mr. Churchill (740.0011 European War/16403).
Deeply as I sympathize with the objective which is sought in this proposed letter, I cannot believe that any officials in our own Government are sufficiently familiar with Indian affairs to make it possible for their judgment and recommendations to be put up against the judgment and recommendations of the competent British authorities themselves.
The status of India is an issue that has been used against the British Government by the extreme fringes of the Left Wing in this country, particularly during the time that the Communist Party was opposing Great Britain, and by the extreme groups among
the Irish in this country. I have never yet found that this issue meant very much to public opinion in general in the United States. For that reason it would not seem to me a matter which has immediate political significance so far as public opinion in the United States is concerned. I also have the strong feeling, in view of Mr. Churchill's well-known and frequently published attitude concerning the status of India, that he would inevitably feel, should this Government intervene even in the informal manner suggested, that the United States was taking advantage of Great Britain's present situation and her dependence upon this country in order to try to force Great Britain to take an immediate step which he personally has consistently opposed, and to which the overwhelming majority of the British authorities, civil and military, are likewise opposed.
For all of these reasons I recommend against the intervention of this Government at this time in the manner proposed unless we are convinced that some step of this character is imperatively required from the standpoint of our own national policy, and of our national defense. 26
740.0011 European War 1939/16960 : Telegram
The Secretary of State to the Commissioner in India (Wilson)
WASHINGTON, November 25, 1941–8 p. m. 16. The American press has given considerable prominence to a resolution adopted on or about November 18th by the Council of State recommending that the Viceroy convey to the British Government the discontent of that body over Prime Minister Churchill's statement to the House of Commons on September 9th to the effect that the Atlantic Charter is inapplicable to India. It is understood that this resolution
Attached to this memorandum is a note by Cecil W. Gray, assistant to the Secretary of State, for Mr. Murray which states: "The Secretary said he didn't care to send this out now; that, if you wished, you could take it up again with U[nder Secretary]."