740.0011 Pacific War/3531

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle) to the Under Secretary of State (Stettinius)

Mr. Stettinius: In connection with the application of the French Committee of National Liberation for membership on the Pacific War Council, it is of interest that the representative of the Committee yesterday presented us with a request that we do not permit the Chinese to take part in operations against the Japanese troops which are presently occupying Indo-China. The Committee observed that if British and American troops accomplished the reconquest this would be quite all right; but the French, and particularly those in Indo-China, considered the Chinese as their hereditary enemies (erbfeinde); if they took part in the liberation of Indo-China, probably they would claim new territory.

The French would push this view in the Pacific War Council. This would probably be supported by the British and the Dutch. This would present us, for all practical purposes, with the task of reconquering Indo-China almost single-handed (since the British interest stops with Burma) for the sole purpose of returning Indo-China to France. France is unlikely to be able to maintain herself in control of, or protect, that province for a good while; so that we should have the added job of policing and protecting it against the Chinese as well as the Japanese in the interest of the French Colonial Empire.

It strikes me that this fact should be called to the attention of the President and also of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.4 I think we should [Page 885] answer the French Committee that their representation will receive consideration, but that military factors must predominate in the decision.

Frankly, I doubt if we could defend before the Congress a very considerable expenditure of American lives for the sole purpose of keeping Indo-China in French, as against Chinese or Indo-Chinese, hands.…

A[dolf] A. B[erle], Jr.
  1. On October 29 Mr. Stettinius replied to Mr. Berle: “I agree with you that the matter of French representation on the Pacific War Council and also their request that the Chinese be asked not to conduct military operations within Indo-China should be referred both to the President and to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”