851.02/2334: Telegram

The Consul General at Algiers (Wiley) to the Secretary of State

1145. For the Secretary and Under Secretary from Murphy. As reported by General Eisenhower to the War Department the deliberations of the French Committee of National Liberation terminated last evening in a decree approved by Generals Giraud and de Gaulle regarding the conduct of the war. The full text of this decree was telegraphed to the War Department last evening (see W–3293 to Agwar, June 22, 1943).70

The Committee retains the authority to direct French war effort and to dispose of all of land, naval and air forces.

The duty of effecting a unification of the French military forces, matters of organization and equipment, are confined to a Permanent Military Committee.

The Permanent Military Committee is composed Generals Giraud and de Gaulle and their Chiefs of Staff for land, air and naval forces with a Permanent Secretariat.

Article 5 of the decree defines the authority of the Commanders-in-Chief in their respective zones of command. These duties include the direction and control of military units with a view to their employment either in inter-Allied operations or for the defense and security of the particular territories. The commanding generals control the division and employment of French forces in their zones of command and the distribution of armaments attributed to them by the Committee.

The Commanders-in-Chief participate, under article 7, with the Inter-Allied High Command in the planning of operations which concern operations under their command.

Separate decrees approved by the Committee appoint General Giraud [Commanding General] of all French land, air and naval forces in North and West Africa, and General de Gaulle as Commander-in-Chief of similar forces in all other overseas territories.

Massigli requested Macmillan and myself to call last evening at which time he handed us copies of the text of the decree. He said that it had been decided by the Committee that no formal reply would be made to the letters addressed by the CinC to Generals de Gaulle and Giraud confirming General Eisenhower’s conversation with them [Page 164] on June 19. Massigli said that several members of the Committee felt that a formal reply should be made but that the majority believed that it would be more tactful to communicate the Committee’s action to Macmillan and myself in the regular channel.

Both Macmillan and I believe that the Committee’s present action complies with the President’s directive to General Eisenhower relating to the control of French forces in this vital theater, that the result provides as satisfactory a temporary solution as we could hope to obtain under existing circumstances and that it should be accepted as such. For the present it ends the current tension and if loyally put into effect will permit the maintenance of order and tranquility in this area at a time when these are primary considerations.

Monnet desired to communicate the text of the decree to the press immediately last evening. At my instance he deferred release until 7 o’clock this morning.

Before indicating approval General Eisenhower will await the President’s reaction and will also require assurances from Generals Giraud and de Gaulle that the present decree represents compliance with the terms of his communication to them.

We feel that while this result may be satisfactory for the present the necessity of having a dual organization nevertheless demonstrates that real unity has not yet been created on a basis of collective and democratic action or mutual confidence. In fact it seems somewhat ridiculous that there should have to be two Commanders-in-Chief when the total of de Gaulle’s army does not exceed a maximum of 15,000. We should have no illusions over the continuing determination of General de Gaulle to dominate the situation. A review of his actions during the past 2 weeks show[s] that his technique of reaching his objective through threats remains unchanged, that he has been able to frighten members of the Committee including Monnet to the point either of accepting his wishes or of producing compromise solutions which do not always give promise of lasting stability.

In other words the compromise postpones for a critical moment in military operations the real test of control, whether it is to be exercised by de Gaulle or by the Committee under its collective judgment. It is to be hoped that the latter tendency will be strengthened as this group settles down to work.

It should also be remembered that during these past weeks and months General Giraud has not been a tower of political strength in his honest and simple desire to prosecute the war. He discounts the value of the political side and is prone to make concessions in the hope of arriving at French unity. The de Gaulle group have repeatedly taken advantage of this susceptibility.

Giraud informed me this morning that the present temporary solution is far from ideal but that he consented to approve it for the [Page 165] purpose of promoting French unity. He stated that he is prepared to inform General Eisenhower that the present formula meets the requirements of command for North and West Africa stated by Eisenhower to Giraud and de Gaulle on June 19.

The de Gaulle group continues to strike the note in their propaganda effort that Giraud in effect has been a “pushover” for the Allies and that the time has arrived for a greater assertion of the French position. Once the questions of French internal organization have been regulated by the Committee we may expect a drive for the revision of our present agreements with the French African authorities. We detect in our daily negotiations with the French in economic matters an increasing tendency to make the Allies pay.

Repeated to London. [Murphy.]

  1. Not found in Department files.