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145 Note by McIntyre

, [CANBERRA, April[1] 1948]

It is difficult to determine what are the objectives of our present policy in Korea. The language of telegrams Nos. 131[2] and 141[3] conveying our latest instructions to Jackson is ambiguous, and contains such a mixture of broad generalisation and apparently unrelated particularisation, that it is hard to see what we are aiming at.

One interpretation would seem to show our policy somewhat in the following light:-

We do not think there should be any elections in Southern Korea, at least until we are satisfied that they will be free and democratic. Even though they may be committed to holding early elections, the Americans should postpone them until they can satisfy us that there will be no constraint or intimidation.

However, if the Americans are determined to hold elections, we want to be in on them. On no account must the Commission withdraw from the country in order to dissociate itself from what takes place.

We are convinced that the elections are going to be a caricature of democracy. We think that the best thing would be for the Commission to force Hodge in advance into the position of having to declare the result null and void. (This is the strict interpretation of the second sentence of telegram 141.)
If this cannot be done, and since we are convinced that the elections are going to be undemocratic, we think the Commission should concentrate on preparing a report which will tell the General Assembly how badly the Americans have run the election.

In the meantime, we are doubtful whether the Commission should accept responsibility for observing the elections. The Commission's plan to send observer teams into the field to take a sampling of the voting conditions is inadequate; perhaps, since because of its small membership and staff, the Commission obviously cannot hope to police more than a small part of the voting, it should not accept responsibility for doing any observing at all. (Besides, reports from the field might cut across our determination that the elections are going to be bad, and as a result embarrass us when the time comes to accuse the Americans of conducting undemocratic elections.)
There may be other interpretations, but this is an obvious one. If it bears any resemblance to what we have in mind, where is it supposed to be getting us? It does not seem to be getting anywhere towards the original purpose for which the United Nations set the Commission up.

[1] The document itself is undated but references indicate that it was written in April 1948.

[2] Document 144.

[3] Dispatched 12 April 1948. It considered UNTCOK's duties and responsibilities in respect to the elections. The first two sentences read: 'We have noted ... proposed power of the Military Governor in consultation with National Election Committee to declare any election null and void. We feel that Commission should stipulate conditions which would lead to the exercise of this power.'

[AA : A1838, 3123/4/5, II]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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