890D.01/674: Telegram

The Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Beirut (Wadsworth) to the Secretary of State

51. Reference last paragraph my 48, January 26, 5 p.m.10

1. President Naccache11 said he wished to talk frankly with me regarding the situation created by the Fighting French National Committee communiqué of January 23. It was humiliating to him personally and to the nation.

He had learned that General Catroux before going to London had said “Elections must be held as I wish and the person I select will be President. Naccache opposes my wishes. He is agreeable and disinterested but he will have to retire.”

He was consequently seriously considering resigning before the General’s return. Against this however was the argument that by so doing he would but serve French designs, while by waiting and if necessary resigning as a protest he might best further his country’s aspirations for independence. He hoped that the United States, while not intervening directly in the internal affairs of the country, would make its great voice heard to defend the principle of independence and respect for a nation which had done nothing to merit such humiliation.

He believed it to be his right and duty to announce that elections would be held. Whatever the “preeminent” rights of France, the projected interference was unjustified either by military necessity or the country’s needs. It was clearly designed to assure election of a parliament and a president predisposed to approve a Franco-Lebanese treaty of alliance.

The French contention was that despite the declaration of independence the mandate survives and that they as the representatives of France properly exercise it. He held that de facto it ceased to exist as of the date of independence and that Fighting France should limit its role to watching over Lebanese administration of its own affairs without direct intervention in its constitutional problems.

The French argued that non-recognition by most foreign states justified in itself a continuing exercise of the mandatory power; to which he replied that one may not plead the acts of others as justification for avoiding the consequences of one’s own act.

It really should, he concluded, be recognized that Free French policy seemed designed rather to maintain the prestige and overseas patrimony of France than to facilitate achievement of the country’s independence.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Alfred Naccache, head of the Lebanese Government.