740.00119 E.W. 1939/8–745: Telegram

Mr. Alexander C. Kirk, Political Adviser to the Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater, to the Secretary of State

3230. For the Acting Secretary. Re Deptel 691, July 2518 and our 3185 of Aug. 3, midnight, and our 3139 [3138], July 31, midnight. We now have reason to believe that SAC will reply to British Chiefs of Staff on question of Italian peace treaty more or less in following sense:

He will state that he feels a very considerable risk will be run of achieving none of the Allied aims toward Italy if it is attempted to reconcile objectives mentioned first paragraph our 3185. He will [Page 1018] point out that Italy is now a bankrupt and occupied country whose economy is practically destitute with very little armament potential. He will state that for nearly 12 years she has been ravaged by a war campaign and can have few illusions left as to wisdom of aggression. He will add that in his opinion it is urgently necessary for British and American Govts to avert a crisis in Italian affairs which will otherwise be inevitable in the course of the next few months if we are to attain the objectives of establishing Italy as a prosperous European nation friendly to us. He will state that this will involve assisting Italy as a matter of urgency, to rehabilitate her essential industries before unrest gives way to anarchy.

SAC will add that Italy has been led to believe terms to be imposed at peace treaty will reflect manner in which she has worked her passage since armistice. In SAC’s opinion Italy has done her best and contributed material assistance in the war against Germany and therefore has some right to expect leniency. Imposing unacceptable terms on Italy will nullify present Allied efforts at rehabilitation and inevitably precipitate anarchist conditions which would ultimately reduce Italy to level of a Balkan state under Russian influence. (See second paragraph our 3185.)

SAC will also mention his apprehensions over apparent alteration of phrasing of military clauses in draft peace treaty to give Russia in Italy equal rights with US and UK and his assumption that this is contemplated in exchange for similar rights for US and UK in peace treaties with southern European states. SAC feels effect in Italy will be more unfortunate.

On subject of military objectives SAC will recommend that Italian armed forces be restricted in size in view of Italian economic capacity to maintain them: That they must be large enough to maintain internal security and defend frontiers, particularly Yugoslav frontier; that Italian armed forces not be strong enough to offer Italy any prospect of attacking neighbor states or threatening interests of Allied Powers. SAC’s military recommendations are based on assumption political clauses of treaty will require Italy to cede territories overseas. Should Italy be allowed to retain control of any of her overseas territories her armed force requirements would be increased.

In addition SAC will disapprove any suggestion that treaty permit stationing of US, UK, USSR and French troops in Italy as such a step would defeat object of preventing Italy falling under Soviet influence. To avoid working clauses to give USA and UK alone right to station troops in Italy SAC will recommend that interim arrangements as required for period British and US forces remain in Italy be made subject of separate civil and military affairs agreement between US and UK on one hand and Italy on the other.

  1. Not printed.