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October 17, 1958

Press Release containing a Speech by Minister of External Affairs Frank Aiken and Draft Resolutions on Nuclear Disarmament

Aiken’s first step was a modest paragraph calling for the formation of a UN commission to recommend measures to the next session. However, global attentions were focused on nuclear tests and their health effects, so Aiken linked his initiative with the American-led seventeen-power resolution requesting all states to suspend testing voluntarily. Aiken proposed an amendment to that motion that included the notion of brokering an understanding between nuclear weapons powers and non-nuclear powers.  He submitted that the former voluntarily desist from supplying nuclear weapons to other countries, while non-nuclear powers reciprocated and volunteered not to develop such weapons during a test suspension. This proposed quid pro quo became a staple in the Irish resolutions subsequently and eventually be inscribed into the NPT.

Aiken’s speech invoked recognizable tropes such as a ‘geometric’ increase in nuclear powers, creating an urgent need to halt the spread. His speech was seminal in identifying themes he and international opinion would rehearse in future years. He conjured up fears about small states and revolutionary groups with a bomb acting as ‘the detonator for world-wide thermonuclear war’. Aiken was perceptive – he expected criticisms about institutionalized equality between states (nuclear “haves” and “have nots”), harms to alliances, the sufficiency of test bans, and the absence of monitoring. He sought to disprove the validity of such critiques, and these issues were worked through gradually, eventually leading to the finalization of the NPT ten years later.  

September 19, 1958

Address by Mr. Frank Aiken to the United Nations General Assembly Official, 23th Session, 751st Plenary Meeting

Aiken’s landmark address to the plenary of the UN General Assembly on 19 September 1958 launched his non-proliferation campaign. It is the first time he publicly identified stopping the spread of nuclear weapons as a concrete step in the collective interest to unblock the disarmament impasse, preventing a runaway arms race among the powers of the Earth. It was clearly framed as part of his wider campaign for global governance based on the rule of law rather than the threat of force. For Aiken, the challenge was stabilizing the arms race and generating trust to construct a world order based on justice and law – “to preserve a Pax Atomica while we build a Pax Mundi.” This speech was a critical departure. The widespread positive reception encouraged Aiken, persuading him to draft a formal resolution.

October 2, 1957

Memorandum by Frank Aiken [on an Interview with Scott McCleod and the Taoiseach]

Aiken made an immediate impression on his arrival in the Twelfth Session of the UN General Assembly in September 1957. He adopted an impartial posture of assessing each issue on its merits and campaigning to remodel international politics around self-determination, humanitarianism, and peace. His exhortation was that only the UN had the moral authority and political legitimacy to put forward global solutions. While he did not propose nuclear disarmament measures specifically, his intent was signaled by his recommendation for a mutual drawback of foreign forces (including their nuclear weapons) in central Europe and his endorsement of a proposal to discuss the representation of China in the United Nations. The Eisenhower administration was hostile to Aiken’s course as outlined in the U.S. ambassador’s audience with Taoiseach Eamon de Valera and Aiken in Dublin on 2 October. The record underlines the Irish concerns about accidental nuclear war due to the proximity of opposing U.S. and Soviet forces in central Europe.  

February 20, 1991

The Chancellor’s [Helmut Kohl's] Conversation with President Mitterrand at the Elysée on 15 February 1991

Kohl and Mitterrand examine the Soviet position in the Gulf War and the situation in the Baltics. 

December 15, 1980

Resolution on the Status and Mission of Combatting Enemy’s Ideological Sabotage Efforts During This New Period

This resolution on combatting “ideological sabotage” lumps Chinese ideological propaganda, Western propaganda operations, international human rights and humanitarian relief activities, and religious radio broadcasts and religious missionary activities all together with the spreading influence of Western culture and music in Vietnam as part of a vast, insidious effort by Vietnam’s enemies designed to corrupt Vietnam’s society and to weaken its “revolutionary” spirit in order to cause the overthrow or collapse of the Vietnamese Communist Party and government. 

The over-the-top rhetoric used in this resolution illustrates the widespread paranoia that infected the upper ranks of Vietnam’s Party and security apparatus during this period of the Cold War.  It was not until six years later, in December 1986, that the pressures of growing internal dissension (even within the Party), the country’s desperate economic situation, and reductions in Soviet military and economic to Vietnam resulted in the decision by the Communist Party’s 6th Party Congress to shift to a policy of reforms, called “Renovation” [Đổi Mới] reforms and to new Vietnamese efforts to normalize relations with China and the United States.

May 23, 1979

Cable from the Foreign Ministry, 'On Maintaining Consistent Lines in Propaganda on the Vietnam Issue'

Propaganda guidance for Chinese officials to rely upon when discussing the Sino-Vietnamese conflict with foreign nationals.

October 11, 1990

The Chancellor's [Helmut Kohl's] Meeting with the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Saud Al Faisal, on 11 October 1990, 14.00-15.00 hours

Kohl and Faisal discuss the situation in the Gulf, Germany's foreign policy and its financial assistance as well as Saddam Hussein's position in the Arab world.

December 3, 1956

Middle East (Situation): Debated in the Commons Chamber, Monday, 3 December 1956

In July 1956, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918-1970) nationalized the Suez Canal Company, surprising the world. The government of France, in whose capital of Paris the company was headquartered, and the British government, the company’s plurality shareholder, sought to reverse nationalization in court, but failed—even though they clad their case in the language not of imperial self-interest but, rather, of international public interest. The time in which such language was somewhat acceptable, even at home, was passing, and the Suez Crisis played a big part in this final act.

At the same time, the two governments early on after the canal nationalization decided to remove Nasser by force, for re-compensation was not their central concern. France believed Nasser was enabling the FLN, which in 1954 had started Algeria’s War for Independence, and Britain wanted some say in the canal, which had for decades been its worldwide empire’s “swing-door,” as a member of parliament, Anthony Eden (1897-1977), called it in 1929. In August 1956 France began discussing a joint operation with Israel, which wanted Nasser gone, too, and the Red Sea opened for Israel-bound ships. In early October the two were joined by Britain. On the 29th, Israel invaded the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. On the 30th, France and Britain gave Israel and Egypt a 12-hour ultimatum to cease hostilities, or they would intervene—and Anglo-French forces bombed Egyptian forces from the 31st and on November 5-6 occupied the canal’s northern tip. Although a power play, “Operation Musketeer,” like the court case, could not be an open imperial move anymore, then, and did not present itself to the world as such. No matter: especially in colonies and postcolonial countries, people were outraged.

More problematically for France and Britain, Washington was incredulous. This Middle Eastern affair triggered the worst crisis of the 1950s between America’s rising international empire and Europe’s descending empires, and indeed clarified and accelerated that descent. President Dwight Eisenhower (1890-1969) fumed that Prime Ministers Anthony Eden and Guy Mollet (1905-1977) had disregarded his administration’s opposition to military action. Worse, they had deceived him about their intentions. And worst, their attack on Egypt undermined the supreme US tenet: Soviet containment. The Americans were by association tainted by their NATO allies’ imperialist move while the Soviets looked good—on November 5 they offered Egypt troops and threatened to nuke London, Paris, and Tel Aviv—and that although they had just repressed an uprising in Hungary.

On the very day of the ultimatum, October 30, Eisenhower washed his hands of that move on live US television, and the US mission at the UN organized a cease-fire resolution vote in the Security Council. France and Britain vetoed it. Although sharing its European allies’ emotions about Nasser, the US administration withheld critical oil and monetary supplies from them to bring them to heel and withdraw from Egypt—after which, it promised, they would be warmly welcomed back. It ceased most bilateral communications and froze almost all everyday social interactions with its two allies, even cancelling a scheduled visit by Eden. And it badgered its allies at the UN, supporting an Afro-Asian resolution that on November 24 called Israel, Britain, and France to withdraw forthwith. On December 3, the British Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd took the floor in the House of Commons.

May 5, 1959

Radio Liberation Policy Position Statement: World Youth Festival

Radio Liberty outlines its intention to intensify youth outreach efforts during the World Youth Festival-- a festival which they argue is a communist propaganda event. 

1955

The Chronological Development of the American Committee as a Propaganda Instrument in Political Warfare

This unsigned AMCOMLIB memorandum traces through March 1955 the startup of AMCOMLIB publishing and radio operations and the evolving r ole envisaged for the Soviet emigration.

Pagination