EUR Files

The Assistant Secretary of War (McCloy) to the Secretary of State



Memorandum for the Secretary of State:

The Shipping Situation and the Law Mission

Harry Hopkins, who is completely familiar with the genesis and the accomplishments of the Law Mission, is going to be at the conference, and so is Justice Byrnes, who knows something about it.

There is, therefore, no need to go into it in any detail here. The statement of the need for a civilian rehabilitation program for Europe and particularly for France and Belgium, was made by Mr. Law very forcibly and M. Monnet succeeded him with another appeal.

There are grave political dangers in a large unemployed population, which is also hungry and ill-clothed, and these dangers may affect the military situation as well. All this the armed services realize but they take this position, and I do not see how it can be successfully attacked:

While there is a critical need for ships in order to carry out existing operations approved by the Heads of State you must not allocate to a new series of separate national import programs ships which could otherwise be used for the support of those operations.
Allocations can be made on a quarter to quarter basis unless there is a new intervening military necessity in a quantity which will produce a measurable amount of rehabilitation shipments for Europe, which is in addition to the very substantial civilian supplies and industrial rehabilitation items of the military program.
Before any ships are allocated to a separate national import program above those which the services and WSA agree can be allocated on a quarterly basis, the shipping people must permit the Chiefs of Staff to assert their need and show their capacity to use the additional ships for the military operations.

The overall shipping survey has shown a substantial deficit of ships for military purposes. The war is in a critical stage where if it can be shortened by as much as a month the boon to civilian populations will be immeasurably greater than any intervening allocations of ships can induce. The point is that there can not be set up any fixed programs such as the Russian protocols for European or other relief areas while ships are short items and the war is at its present pitch. Do it on a spot basis in consultation with the military and naval authorities in spite of the inconveniences this may cause in long range planning and the chances are greatly in favor of there being a substantial number of ships in addition to the military-civilian programs.

[Page 424]

The only alternative is to cut out some approved operations and that would not be palatable to the people of this country or desirable from the point of view of the intended beneficiaries.

I believe this matter will be brought up at the conference—probably on a high level—but I believe that no satisfactory solution can be reached which does not recognize the above principles.

I attach a copy of the Hopkins-Law paper.2

J. J. Mc [Cloy ]
  1. For another excerpt from this memorandum, see ante, p. 201.
  2. Ante, pp. 420422.