To prevent disappointment, Winston Churchill's visit to the U.S. was cautiously billed. In fact, the four-day talks made more progress than the principals or the public had expected.
The mood of the conferences was businesslike but relaxed, often livened by dry Churchillian wit. At one point, Churchill's old military adviser, Lord Ismay, trying to break the Anglo-American deadlock over a new standardized rifle, suggested: "Isn't there some bastard Anglo-American type of fitting that could be adapted?" Churchill twinkled: "Oh, Lord Ismay, I must ask you to guard your language. I am an Anglo-American type, you know."*
Churchill lived and worked in a large bedroom at the British embassy (he insisted on having a second bed installed, explaining that he often got too warm at night and liked to change to a fresh one). After hearing Truman's State of the Union speech, Churchill took the train to New York, spent a quiet day and a half receiving visitors (including the Duke of Windsor) at his old friend Bernard Baruch's apartment on East 66th Street. Then he went on to Canada, leaving Anthony Eden behind in Washington for more talks with Dean Acheson.
The communiqué issued by the White House contained some notable points of agreement. As a gesture to British public opinion, the U.S. promised not to use its British air bases "in an emergency" without Britain's consent. The President and the Prime Minister promised "full support" to the European defense community, declared a "complete identity of aims" between the U.S. and Britain in the Middle East.
On the Far East, they agreed that "the overriding need to counter the Communist threat . . . transcends such divergencies as there are in our policy towards China." The British made this specific by reluctantly promising to drop their opposition to a Japanese peace treaty with Nationalist China.
Before the week was out, in a speech at Columbia University, Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden went still further in defining a new and stronger British line in the Far East (see INTERNATIONAL). This week Eden's boss will return to Washington to wind up his visit with a major speech of his own before a joint session of Congress.
* The conferences reached no agreement on the rifle or on whether the North Atlantic naval commander should be American or British.