851.61311/9–1747: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Caffery) to the Secretary of State
top secret
us urgent

4021. Deptel 3496, September 16. I fully appreciate force of the considerations which make the Department reluctant, following the unfortunate leak in Newsweek, to have the initial statement on Soviet wheat delivered by a US Government official.

I have given careful thought to the Department’s alternative suggestion and my personal conclusion is that in spite of the Newsweek story the best method of accomplishing our aim is to ignore it and proceed with the original plan. In brief, this conclusion is based on the following considerations:

The French press today is almost exclusively a party press and practically all prominent journalists are first and foremost party men. Even if we could persuade a newspaper or an individual Frenchman of sufficient influence for our purpose to lend his name to such a statement, it is by no means certain that other papers would pick up and develop the story.
On the other hand, a statement of this kind coming from an important official of the US Government would carry much more weight here and the task of getting a wider range of French political leaders and writers to comment on it would be greatly facilitated.
Newsweek has a circulation in France of 7,000 and in Europe as a whole of 50,000. It is possible that Weintal’s story will receive little publicity here. In my opinion the effect of the Newsweek story in France (and I take it that our main objective is to influence French public opinion) should not be important.
I believe that the facts contained in our statement would be sufficiently arresting to outweigh any charges that we were indulging in a political maneuver.