852.00/5–147: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Douglas ) to the Secretary of State

top secret

2547. Personal for the Secretary and Under Secretary Acheson. Deptel 1531, April 7; Embtel 2314, April 19; Embtel 2399,1 April 24; Deptel 1818, April 25.

[Page 1075]

Sargent informed me this afternoon that he had communicated with Bevin2 while he was in Berlin and after his arrival here had discussed with him the tentative proposals in regard to Spain. Bevin concluded and the Foreign Office concurred that the matter was too dangerous to take up now.

The reasons for this conclusion are as follows:

The Spanish economic situation is improving. The generals of the Army are solid in their support of Franco. The general attitude in Spain is that the present regime, such as it is, is preferable to the risk of a civil war. Accordingly the chance of succeeding along the lines proposed is now considered to be slim if there is any chance at all.
Tentative proposals whether successful, which is considered to be most unlikely, or unsucessful, which is considered to be almost a certainty, would if followed be characterized as unilateral voluntary intervention in the internal affairs of another country which had not sought the intervention and would therefore constitute a precedent which to our disadvantage might justify similar intervention by the Soviets in the internal affairs of other countries.
The proposals as followed might give rise to a complaint that might be made by some other nation, perhaps Argentina, before the United Nations that we had violated if not the letter at least the spirit of the Charter.

For all of these reasons, Bevin had concluded that the matter was now too hazardous to broach. Sargent indicated that they had come to this conclusion regretfully but that the facts made it, they thought, inescapable.

He discussed the reasons for the action taken by the Assembly recommending the withdrawal of Chiefs of Mission and reposing in the Security Council the authority to consider further steps if the situation in Spain warranted it. This action he felt had been taken because the Polish representative and others had done such effective advance lobbying that there was no alternative on our part to the acceptance of the recommended action of the subcommittee of the Assembly.

He therefore threw out the suggestion for whatever we considered it to be worth, that we and the British now commence quietly to solicit the support of appropriate members of the Assembly of the United Nations against any further action by it in regard to Spain, thereby preventing any recommendation which would be unpalatable to us both. He spoke of this suggestion as defensive lobbying.

Would appreciate your advice as to whether the matter should be pressed further with the Foreign Office here.

  1. Telegram 2399, not printed.
  2. Ernest Bevin, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.