The Consul General at Beirut (Engert) to the Secretary of State
[Received 3:48 p.m.]
443. My 441, November 7.57 General Catroux sent for me last night and showed me the text of the proposed proclamation which I had already been shown by the British (see my 435, October 31). He then let me read revised text which he had prepared after consultation with the British but which he said still contained certain clauses or phrases to which the British objected. The whole question had now been referred to London to be threshed out between De Gaulle and Eden.58
Catroux said the British were unreasonable in their attitude and obviously tried to reduce or even hoped to eliminate French influence in the Levant States. That he could not permit, nor would he yield to some of the veiled threats General Spears had uttered. I laughed and said he talked just like De Gaulle and I was therefore obliged to tell him exactly what I had said to the latter. I then repeated the substance of my remarks to De Gaulle when I last saw him in Beirut as reported in the second half of my telegram 323, August 5, 11 p.m.59 I added that during the past 3 months I had had ample opportunities of watching Anglo-Free French relations and was more than ever convinced that the problem was psychological rather than political. So long as the Free French suspected the British of intriguing and of wishing to harm French interests it would be difficult to bring about the whole-hearted cooperation which the security of Syria demanded. Moreover, everything that could be interpreted as an indication that the Free French did not trust their British allies was encouraging the pro-Axis sympathizers among the natives and was facilitating Nazi [Page 799] propaganda. The American Government and people had complete confidence in the good faith of the British Government in its epic struggle for the preservation of civilization and I ventured to hope that the Free French would give proof of similar confidence by not hampering the British war effort with insistence on relatively minor matters.
Catroux replied he personally quite agreed that the British were not as unscrupulous as some people thought but he had found it difficult to convince De Gaulle of it.
Repeated to London.