Memorandum by the Adviser on Political Relations (Murray) to the Secretary of State 16

Mr. Secretary: You will recall that when Mr. Eden was in Washington he was accompanied by Mr. Strang, Deputy Under Secretary of [Page 1066] the British Foreign Office. In accordance with your instructions, I discussed with him several matters concerning American-British relations in the Near East, one of which referred to Turkey. I said that some British officials seemed to be under the impression that the Casablanca understandings reached between the President and Mr. Churchill involved a limitation on the independence of action by the United States in the political and economic as well as the military spheres as regards Turkey. I said that this impression was contrary to our own, and that I would be glad to receive confirmation that the British Government agreed with our interpretation that the American Government’s independence of action towards Turkey in the political and economic spheres had not been circumscribed in any way at Casablanca.

Mr. Michael Wright, of the British Embassy staff, has recently informed us that Mr. Strang, after his return to London, had “looked up the Casablanca agreement” and, in order that the position might be perfectly clear, had asked Mr. Wright to inform us that the President had given the Prime Minister primary responsibility for “playing the cards” with Turkey. If this is true, the phrase is capable of very wide interpretation.

I may say, incidentally, that although the “Casablanca agreement” appears to be available to the British Foreign Office, our efforts some weeks ago to obtain a copy from Admiral Leahy17 brought the response, as you may recall, that no copy was available for us. Consequently, we have had no opportunity to confirm the British version.

However, I feel confident that the President, in the military agreements reached at Casablanca, had no intention of limiting our independence of action in the political or economic spheres as regards Turkey. Certainly we have not been informed of any such limitation and may presume, I should think, that none was agreed to.

In view of the continuing British assumption to the contrary, the attached note to Lord Halifax18 seems called for. A clear statement will be of assistance to all concerned.

I may add that should any question of a limitation on our freedom of action in favor of Great Britain arise regarding Turkey, I do not believe that it would be in the interests of the United States or of the United Nations’ cause for us to concede. Even the military concession regarding Turkey made at Casablanca, while doubtless reached for valid considerations, has nevertheless caused very great consternation on the part of Turkish officials who are not allowed to handle direct with us their own requests for American Lend-Lease supplies.

Wallace Murray
  1. This memorandum, accompanied by the draft of a letter from the Secretary to Lord Halifax, the British Ambassador, was transmitted to President Roosevelt on July 7; the letter was approved by the President on July 10, and dispatched to the British Embassy the same day; see infra.
  2. Adm. William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy.
  3. Infra.