President Roosevelt to the Ambassador in France (Leahy)27
Dear Bill: I have given careful consideration to the thoughts expressed in your letter of February 20, particularly as regards your feeling that it would be detrimental to our policy to fail to carry out the expressed intention to recall you for consultation.
I am fully sympathetic and understand the position in which this has placed you. On the other hand, the timing of such a step has now become of paramount military importance. In fact, the joint staff missions have very definitely urged that we postpone as long as possible any evidence of change in our relations with France and they consider that to hold the fort as far as you are concerned is as important a military task as any other in these days. Consequently, we decided to go ahead and to obtain from the Marshal’s Government the utmost assurances possible which would preserve our fundamental objectives. Not only is our presence in France and North Africa the last bridgehead to Europe but it likewise helps to hold the Iberian Peninsula in line.
The military developments of the next few weeks will be of such vital importance that, in the interests of the United Nations, we cannot afford to risk any possibility that an abrupt action on our part would lose ground anywhere. The impending Mediterranean drive will be one of the most important of the war and it must be checked by all means possible until the time when the full weight of our rapidly developing production can be felt in the war effort.
I have also taken note of your statements regarding Madagascar and shall refer them to the war council.
I want you to realize that I am fully aware of the problems with which you are confronted but must consider that you are in a vital strategic position. In these critical days we count not only on your presence there as Ambassador but upon your own military knowledge and experience to give us, in so far as possible, estimates of the French position from this point of view.
Should the time come, however, when the conditions of our relations with the Marshal’s Government are more stable and your return for consultation would not be made an issue either here or in France, I shall telegraph you to proceed to Washington “for consultation.”
With kindest regards to you both,
Very sincerely yours,
- Copy obtained from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N. Y. Copy of the original letter was furnished the Library by Admiral Leahy.↩