Editorial: The Big Three agree (12-7-43)

The Pittsburgh Press (December 7, 1943)

Editorial: The Big Three agree

The three-power declarations from the Tehran Conference come as a kind of anticlimax. That is unfortunate. Certainly, the fact of a successful meeting of the Big Three is in many ways the most important event since the United States entered the war, for upon such unity of the major allies depend military victory and a durable peace. It should be easy for all of us to understand that on this of all days, the second anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

One reason for the feeling of disappointment after reading the Tehran texts is that the publicity buildup was so long and so extreme that no conference communiqué, however significant, could have been other than an anticlimax. The meeting had been talked about for months. Since the Moscow Conference of foreign ministers, it had been a certainty.

Then the enemy, by clever espionage and guessing, made the premature announcements which took away any remaining element of surprise. Allied mishandling and delay in the official announcements didn’t help. Finally, the very success of the Cairo Conference, with its sensational declaration of the planned dismemberment of the Japanese Empire, tended to overshadow the Tehran meeting which followed.

All those reactions are understandable. But they are superficial. What matters is that Marshal Stalin, Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt have been able to make far-reaching commitments for victory, which no other persons on earth could make and which Stalin would not make except face to face.

That means, in political terms: An agreement to “work together in the war and in the peace that will follow,” a reaffirmation of the “principles of the Atlantic Charter” and of the rights of small countries in “the world family of democratic nations,” and specific sovereignty assurances to Iran, where British and Russian interests have been in conflict.

The chief purpose of Tehran was to hammer out a joint strategy and close liaison. The Big Three announce:

We have reached complete agreement as to the scope and timing of operations which will be undertaken from the east, west and south.

If this understanding is maintained, they do not exaggerate in boasting that this “guarantees that victory will be ours.”