Truman Papers

No. 465
Memorandum by the Joint Strategic Survey Committee of the Joint Chiefs of Staff1
top secret

When Should We Agree To Making the Peace Treaty With Italy and What Terms Should Be Agreeable to the United States?

The Joint Strategic Survey Committee is in agreement with a statement of the Acting Secretary of State,2 that it is to the advantage of this government “to assist and encourage the conversion of Italy into a stable, peaceful and constructive element among the nations of Europe.” Consequently, “some constructive steps should be taken to move away from the present anomalous situation of onerous and obsolete surrender terms which are no longer pertinent to the situation today.” However, it appears that the Department of State is now considering the matter of permanent settlement of Italian frontiers in Europe and Africa. This Committee wishes to point out that such negotiations concerning frontiers should be approached with great caution and initiated only with a clear understanding of the political-military considerations involved. There is little in recent events or problems in Europe and the Mediterranean area to justify the assumption that negotiations concerning Italian frontiers can be carried through without strong reactions and possibly bitter disagreement among our Allies. Such conditions, at best, would not help in the war against Japan, and might, in fact, prejudice our efforts by keeping in Europe larger United States forces than now intended.

  1. This memorandum was prepared in response to a request from Leahy (document No. 155) for recommendations which would be “useful to the President in preparing himself for the [Berlin] conference”. It was forwarded to Leahy by the Secretary of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on June 26, together with other reports, under cover of a memorandum which stated explicitly: “These reports represent the views of the committees only and have not been approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” Leahy subsequently passed it to Truman.
  2. Not printed. Cf. a statement by Grew released to the press on May 31, 1945, printed in Department of State Bulletin, vol. xii, p. 1006.