Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Villard)

Mr. Guérin35 said that he was very much disturbed at the serious deterioration of the military position in Egypt and its inevitable repercussions in French North Africa. He said that this could not fail to have an effect on the spirits of the officers and the population of the French territories at the eastern end of the Mediterranean. I asked him whether he had any suggestions as to what might be done to counteract the bad news.

Mr. Guérin offered the following suggestions in reply:

Substantially increase shipments to North Africa under the terms of the economic accord, thereby giving evidence of our determination not to abandon that area and to maintain our interest therein.
Increase our propaganda effort by radio and by the written and spoken word as much as feasible, offering facts and figures of the growing American air power and our rapidly rising production of offensive weapons.
Extend the economic plan to French West Africa on the same basis of shipments and control officers, thereby giving renewed hope to the French and proof of our desire to assist them in resisting collaborationist pressure.

Mr. Guérin said that in his opinion the United States should make every effort to preserve the foothold which we had acquired in French North Africa until it might be possible to send military forces to that area. Mr. Guérin believed that it is all the more important to keep our hold, by means of our economic assistance, now that the eastern Mediterranean situation looked so dark. He said that the success of our economic plan so far was obvious, even though it was on the negative side; namely, that to date the Vichy Government had given no bases to the Axis and had not surrendered the French fleet.

  1. Paul Guérin, representative of the French Moroccan Railways, temporarily in the United States, attached to the French Embassy.