223 Kevin to McIntyre

Letter (extract) NEW DELHI, 15 July 1949


Principal features of the situation have been:-

(1) The poor calibre of the Burmese Government, including their worthy enough but weak Premier (Thakin Nu)-an Oxford Group type, which will intrigue you.

(2) An incurable optimism peculiar to the Burmese. This frequently verges on the unreal, e.g. trips abroad by leaders during crises.

(3) The disinclination of the British to throw money down the drain. They are prepared to give a certain amount of financial aid but they want to see security for it. Neither the Indians nor the Pakistanis are in a position to assist substantially. There is likewise reluctance in all these quarters to push in any more than token military assistance, this being confined to a relatively small quantity of lighter arms.

(4) The lack of any real purpose or design about the Indo-Anglo- Pakistan-Ceylon approach to the problem. This is only partly due to the touchiness of the Burmese who tend to overdo the prestige angle. The countries in question have in my opinion been in a position to speak to the Burmese Government much more plainly than they have done, and a more positive and robust attempt to bring them together with the Karens might have shown results.

(5) It is not always easy to get a clear picture of the opposition elements, but it does seem true that the Karens are integrated, purposeful and capably led.

Your letter mentions British Commonwealth talks. Apart from the Delhi Conference [1] there have been no talks as such, although an Ambassadors' Committee has been set up at Rangoon to deal with the question of financial and military aid. The Committee has made one or two lukewarm attempts at mediation but they have been extremely lukewarm.

1 See Document 216.

[AA: A1838/2, 443/9/1/2, i]