The Ambassador in Turkey (Wilson) to the Under Secretary of State (Acheson)

top secret

Dear Dean: I received yesterday your top secret letter of November 8, 1946, regarding policy in the matter of providing arms and military supplies to Turkey.

I am in full accord with the reasoning which led to the decision taken. In fact, my thinking has been along the same lines and I expressed similar views to the Secretary when I saw him in Paris early last October. Great Britain is a treaty ally of Turkey and has been supplying arms to Turkey in the past, and it would be normal for Britain to continue doing so. It would in general be prudent for us to channel any military supplies we may furnish to Turkey through the British, unless there should be special circumstances making it desirable to furnish supplies directly.

Certain points occur to me in this matter:

I am in the dark as to specific requests for military supplies made of the United States by Turkey, with the exception of the Turk Navy’s requests for reconditioning the Yavuz and a number of cruisers and destroyers, and for the completion of a Navy Yard. It would be helpful to me to be informed of any other requests made of our Government to furnish other military matériel to Turkey. It would also be helpful to know whether we in fact are going to furnish such matériel, or part thereof, through the British.
In my telegram 1180, November 10, I spoke of the advisability of study and coordination in the matter of Turkey’s requests for assistance in strengthening her national defenses. For example, the relative value to Turkey of incurring the expense of reconditioning the Yavuz, as compared with the purchase of, say, new airplanes or tanks, or motorized equipment, etc., might be considered at General Staff levels in the United States and Britain, and friendly advice given [Page 921] the Turks. Presumably whatever Turkey will get in the way of military supplies will cost them something, and this something will reduce by that much whatever financial assistance Turkey might look for from the United States and Britain as regards economic development of the country. Projects for economic development, such as improvement of communications and transport, of course have a direct military value as well. In other words, we could be helpful to the Turks by indicating in friendly fashion how they can best spend the limited funds to be placed at their disposal to strengthen the country’s military defenses.
Your letter states that the Secretary has informed Mr. Bevin that we would in particular endeavor to assist in strengthening Turkey’s economic position. It would be helpful to me to know exactly what we have in mind in this regard. The Department’s 784, November 29,55 in reply to suggestions from the Embassy that the Export-Import Bank credit of twenty-five million dollars be increased by an additional amount for economic development, informed us that it was very uncertain whether additional credits could be provided. However, the Department’s 750, November 13,56 had stated that in connection with the active consideration being given in Washington to Turkey’s economic development and problems of national defense, the Embassy’s current appraisal of the condition of Turkey’s economy was urgently needed. We sent a long telegram in reply, 1208, November 23, and a detailed report will go forward by air mail shortly.57 Specifically, what I am wondering is, now that the decision has been taken to strengthen Turkey’s economic position, just how are we going to do it if a further Export-Import Bank loan is out of the question? Is Turkey’s only chance for help now to turn to the new International Bank, or have we some other way of being of direct assistance to Turkey?

I will undertake, as you request, to see that, at a later date when appropriate occasion presents itself, the Turks understand that we are not in a position to furnish them arms and military equipment directly and why we believe it would be preferable for them to make such requests to the British. Before doing so, however, I should like to be in a position to say that I understand they will in fact get the arms, etc., (or part thereof) which they requested of us, from the British; and also that they will in fact get some positive form of support from us for Turkey’s economic position. Otherwise, I fear that the Turks may become discouraged at our attitude, and inclined to feel that our support of their independence is limited to statements of general principle.

With best regards,

Edwin C. Wilson
  1. Not printed; it asked the Ambassador to suggest to Turkey the “taking up of matter of financing of essential projects with Int Bank”. (807.51/11–846)
  2. See footnote 50, p. 918.
  3. See footnote 54, p. 920.