740.00119 (Potsdam)/5–2446

No. 222
Briefing Book Paper

top secret



1) Role in United Nations Councils

Since liberation, France has made great strides towards resuming her former position of influence in world councils. Our policy of treating her on the basis of her potential power rather than on that of her present strength has been justified and should continue. It is believed that her usefulness to us and her contribution to the construction of a peaceful future world will be increased by her full participation in world affairs on a basis of parity with the Great Powers, and it is recommended that her desire for such participation be met where possible by anticipation rather than tardy or reluctant compliance.

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(1) Role in United Nations Councils

The recognition of the French provisional government by the major powers last October,2 and the Dumbarton Oaks proposal that she should in due course have a permanent seat on the Security Council,3 were the first steps in the return of France to her former position of influence in world Councils. They were followed by the inclusion of France as a permanent member of the European Advisory Commission.4 At Yalta, her importance in the post hostilities phase in Europe was recognized by inviting her participation as a full partner in the control machinery for Germany (including a separate zone of occupation), [Page 252] her sponsorship of the United Nations Conference and her association with the Big Three in consultations on the problems of liberated or former Axis dominated European States. No specific mention of France was made with respect to the procedure for reorganizing the Polish and Yugoslav governments, nor was she specifically designated to sit on the Reparations Commission or attend the meetings of Foreign Ministers.5

While, for reasons both complex and obscure, France declined the invitation to sponsor the San Francisco Conference,6 she quickly took her place, largely through the efforts of the American delegation, at the Sponsors’ table when questions of high conference policy were under discussion. The Conference has voted her the permanent seat on the Security Council which was envisaged at Dumbarton Oaks.

Since the liberation of France and our recognition of the de Gaulle government, it has been our policy to make every effort to assist France, morally as well as physically, to regain her strength and her influence, not only with the view towards increasing the French contribution to the war effort but also with a view towards enabling the French to assume larger responsibilities in connection with the maintenance of peace. A corollary to this policy, in recognition of the fact that the French provisional government (and to a somewhat lesser extent the French people) are unduly preoccupied with questions of national prestige, has been to treat France in all respects on the basis of her potential power and influence rather than on the basis of her present strength. In spite of unfortunate incidents, such as those of the Levant and Northwestern Italy, in which an unwise reaching out for prestige has resulted in French humiliation and the lowering of the very prestige which France sought, it is believed that the wisdom of our policy has been justified and that it should continue. The example of the San Francisco Conference, where the inclusion of France in the discussions of the Sponsors not only prevented her from siding with the lesser powers but permitted her to contribute to the success of the Conference by her international experience and her influence over the lesser States, should not be forgotten. It is believed that her somewhat intransigent attitude on questions of reparations and restitution springs largely from her exclusion, at Soviet insistence, from the Reparations Commission. It would appear desirable for us to continue to press for her inclusion in this Commission, provided that larger issues are not prejudiced thereby.

In conclusion, it is believed that France’s usefulness to us and her contribution to the construction of a peaceful future world will be increased by her full participation in world affairs. Her almost [Page 253] pathological craving for prestige can be turned to good account by anticipation of rather than tardy compliance with her wish for fuller participation. It is believed that the responsibilities which such participation implies will, at least in the immediate future, act as a curb on her impulsive and petulant instincts.

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  1. For the other sections of this paper, see document No. 402.
  2. With respect to recognition by the United States, see Department of State Bulletin, vol. xi, p. 491.
  3. See ibid., pp. 369–370.
  4. Following an invitation extended by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union on November 11, 1944. See ibid., p. 583.
  5. See vol. ii, document No. 1416.
  6. See Department of State Bulletin, vol. xii, pp. 394–395.