840.50 Recovery/5–2847

Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Acheson) to the Secretary of State 1

In further reference to your question this morning as to how we should present the economic problems of Europe which we discussed [Page 233] with you, an incident at luncheon in Les Biffle’s2 office indicates that we must begin to do so at once.

I lunched there with a dozen Senators, including Senator McMahon.3 During the course of the luncheon he said that he thought they should be all told about what the Administration had in mind or at least what the problem was from the Administration’s point of view. It was suggested that I might be asked to talk to the Policy Committee of the Democratic Minority in the Senate. Senator McMahon stated that for his part, if confronted with a fait accompli, he would refuse to go along and would vote against any credits or grants.

I assured them all that we were, as they were, in the stage of wrestling with the problem and that in the very near future, or as soon as it became a little clearer to us, we would want to talk it over with them. This means that we ought to begin to talk with Vandenberg4 almost at once, not about solutions but about the growing seriousness of the problem.

My suggestion, therefore, is that you begin your talks with him as soon as possible and that within the next two or three weeks you make a speech which would not undertake to lay down any solution but would state the problem and that the great immediate problem is not an ideological one, but a material one.5 This could be followed up by speeches by Cohen,6 Clayton, and me, still dealing with the problem rather than the solution. A little later on, a new phase might be reached after full discussion within the Government and on the Hill, when the President, you, and other cabinet officers might begin to outline solutions.

Dean Acheson
  1. Marginal notation: “GCM”.
  2. Leslie L. Biffle, staff director of the Minority Policy Committee, United States Senate.
  3. Brien McMahon, Senator from Connecticut.
  4. Arthur H. Vandenberg, Senator from Michigan.
  5. By May 20 a speech had been drafted by Joseph M. Jones, for delivery by the Secretary of State at an appropriate time and place. The draft entitled “Design for Reconstruction” was forwarded to Mr. Acheson by Mr. Jones in a memorandum of May 20 in which he said in part: “The attached draft speech was begun at the direction of the Secretary.… I believe the message came through you that the Secretary would like to ‘develop further’ the line taken by you in your Mississippi speech on May 8.…

    “In writing this draft, I have again worked closely with the economic officers and I believe this represents the line which they think should be projected now. It is certainly the one which I think it is highly important to take.…

    “Except for the first four pages which sound warnings similar to those of your speech in Mississippi, this speech is written primarily with a view to its effect abroad. The indications of suspicion and skepticism with which foreign people are beginning to view American aid are alarming and it would seem to be of first importance to spell out our design for reconstruction and to give a positive concept about which peoples of Europe especially can rally and upon which they can pin their hopes. The political and economic policy of the Department has led up to an expression of this sort and now seems the psychological time to launch it. We have a great deal to gain by convincing the world that we have something positive and attractive to offer, and not just anti-Communism.” (Jones Papers, Truman Library)

  6. Benjamin V. Cohen, Counselor of the Department of State.