Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Spying, Diplomacy and the Chicago Convention

The ongoing controversy over the public revelation that the United States security agencies have been spying on foreign leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, provides an excellent excuse to share the following excerpt from Jordan A. Schwarz's fine biography of Adolf Berle the president of the 1944 Chicago Conference that produced the Convention on International Civil Aviation. According to Schwarz, compromise between the British and American delegations to Chicago was made more difficult by British awareness that the Americans were intercepting communications between London and the British delegation. From page 250 of Liberal: Adolf A. Berle and the Vision of an American Era:

Yet Beaverbrook knew that London wanted to give Swinton new instructions for compromise, but what he could not say was that London dared not send them because it knew that the Americans were intercepting their messages to Swinton and tapping the telephones. Years later Masefield would recall that "We got totally confused. We had to cover up and reverse ourselves." Beaverbrook did not give Swinton new instructions or advise him of Roosevelt's interest in the Canadian compromise, "Nor could he be told with the Americans listening." London still hoped to bargain around the Canadian compromise and did not want to reveal its flexibility to the Americans. Even Swinton had a hint of the American spying; he later told Beaverbrook that, although he did not show Berle any telegrams from London, "he thought that Mr. Berle was well aware of them. The subject was not pursued any further."

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