Mr. George F. Kennan of the Policy Planning Staff to the Secretary of State and the Under Secretary of State

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At the suggestion of Mr. Armour, the Policy Planning Staff has looked into the question of our current policy toward Spain. I attach a Staff paper on the subject.

You will note that the paper brings out the following points:

While the Staff does not feel that it should make suggestions concerning current operations, nevertheless it has serious doubts as to [Page 1092] the results to be expected from the Department’s efforts to eliminate the Franco regime by bringing international pressures to bear.
The Staff believes that in the National interest the time has come for a modification of our policy toward Spain with a view to early normalization of U.S.-Spanish relations, both political and economic.
This will involve some modification in the instructions under which our U.N. delegation is now operating.

I recommend that if you approve this paper, it be transmitted, in confidence, to Mr. Armour for his guidance.1

George F. Kennan
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U.S. Policy Toward Spain

The Policy Planning Staff has studied the question of our relations with Spain, which are unsatisfactory not only from the political point of view but from the viewpoint of our military planners. On the one hand, we have hoped to bring about the replacement of the totalitarian regime of General Franco by withholding from his government the benefits of international political and economic relationships. On the other, we are confronted with the fact that General Franco remains firmly in power and that his regime has actually been strengthened by demonstrations of international hostility.

At present, our relations with Spain are governed in part by the United Nations Resolution of December 12, 1946, recommending that member states withdraw their Chiefs of Mission from Madrid and that Franco Spain be excluded from organizations connected with the U.N. For example, the U.S. recently took an active part in the expulsion of Spain from ICAO, and in various other ways we have affirmed our opposition to the Franco government on ideological grounds. In the economic sphere we are withholding all forms of Government assistance; Government credits have been refused, sales of surplus Government property to Spanish buyers have been prohibited, and [Page 1093] Government purchases in Spain cut to a minimum. This official policy has had the effect of discouraging private U.S. credits and trade and has contributed to the increasingly serious economic situation in Spain.

The Policy Planning Staff agrees that it would be highly desirable to bring about the replacement of Franco by a regime fully representative of the Spanish people, if it were possible to do so without violent internal or external repercussions. It would be desirable if a plebiscite could be held and some form of coalition government established which would restore to the Spanish people the freedom and rights of which they have been deprived by the totalitarian police methods of the present government. Unfortunately, there is no evidence of effective opposition to Franco, either within or without Spain, which could bring about an orderly change in government.

By adroit maneuvering, occasional concessions, and relentless police persecution, the Franco government has forestalled action by its opponents. There is no indication that the Army, on which the strength of the regime rests, is disposed to withdraw its support. Spokesmen for the old Republican, Socialist and Monarchist parties have been unable so far to compromise their differences or to agree on any program of joint action. Except for the Communists, the opposition parties are divided and disorganized; a concrete political ideal or a leader able to capture popular imagination is lacking.

The Department last Spring initiated conversations with the British with the object of agreeing upon a joint plan of action to eliminate Franco and to replace his regime with one based on democratic lines. The approach contemplated was an objective explanation to Franco of the views of the United States and British Governments, emphasizing the gains which would accrue to Spain from a change in regime. Our explanation was, in addition, to be directed to high ranking Generals, members of the opposition, and to all interested Spaniards, upon whom we would urge the necessity of change. It was contemplated for us to point out that the nature and timing of the change was entirely up to the Spaniards themselves, thus avoiding grounds for Spanish resentment against foreign intervention.

The British have indicated that they do not consider this plan workable, on the ground that: (1) Franco’s interest in maintaining his own power would lead him to refuse, under any conditions, voluntarily to step down, and (2) leaks regarding the suggested action would undoubtedly occur, with resulting embarrassment and difficulties. The Department plans to raise the question again with the British at the conclusion of the present General Assembly of the U.N. At the same time, consideration may be given to a suggestion that the Vatican might be persuaded to take an active part in bringing about the retirement [Page 1094] of Franco, a possibility which is actually being explored by members of the Spanish opposition.

While the Policy Planning Staff does not feel that it should make suggestions concerning current operations, it nevertheless has serious doubts as to the results to be expected from such a course. The Staff remains unconvinced that the leaders of the present regime in Spain would accept the proposal or that a sufficiently cohesive opposition exists to take over the government successfully. Even if the plan should be accepted with the consequent retirement of Franco, there would seem to be a strong probability of an ensuing political struggle leading only to internal chaos and resultant advantage to the Communists with all its ominous implications.

However, in the unlikely event that one or more of the contending opposition groups should eventually gather sufficient strength to be in a position to take over the functions of government, and in the event that our political support is sought by one of these groups, we should decline. On the other hand, we should be prepared to make available our good offices, in the event they are requested by two or more of the opposition parties, for the purpose of bringing these parties together.

The Staff believes that, in the National interest, the time has come for a modification of our policy toward Spain. The net result of our present policy has been: (1) to strengthen the Franco regime; (2) to impede the economic recovery of Spain; and (3) to operate against the maintenance of a friendly atmosphere in Spain in the event of international conflict.1

It is the recommendation of the Policy Planning Staff that instead of openly opposing the Franco regime, we should work from now on toward a normalization of U.S.-Spanish relations, both political and economic. Insofar as possible this should be done in such a way as not to strengthen the Franco regime. While no public announcement should be made of our views, we should have in mind the objective of restoring our relations to a normal basis, irrespective of wartime ideological considerations or the character of the regime in power.

The Staff feels that the principal step now open to the United States is a relaxation,2 on our own initiative and entirely aside from our U.N. position, of our restrictive economic policy with regard to Spain. Steps should be taken whereby the various controls we have imposed are quietly dropped, so that normal trade may be resumed between the two countries. Elimination of official restrictive measures as such would naturally be followed in a short time by the opening up of [Page 1095] private trade and the possibility of financial assistance in the rehabilitation of the Spanish economy. Thus, instead of contributing to the rapid deterioration of the economic situation, as we are doing at present, we would provide the opportunity for Spain to develop its resources and play a normal part in the revival of world commerce and industry.

Before any economic measures can be taken, the question of Spain is expected to come up in the United Nations. Spain is on the agenda of the Political Committee and we may be called upon to take a position in respect to one aspect or another of the problem. The Staff is of the opinion that at the present session of the General Assembly, this Government should do everything possible to minimize discussion of the Spanish question. We should endeavor to discourage any action, whether under the Resolution of December 12, 1946, or in the form of a new resolution. In particular, we should refrain from any mention of our previous support of the action of the United Nations in condemning the Franco regime. The Department’s position paper on this subject states that we should reaffirm such support. This, the Staff believes, should not be done.3

In the event that a resolution is introduced seeking to impose economic sanctions, break diplomatic relations, or otherwise strengthen last year’s resolution, we should oppose the proposal. On the other hand, if a resolution should be introduced recommending that the provisions of the December 12, 1946, resolution now be rescinded, we could either vote in its favor or abstain. The Staff is inclined to the opinion that, in line with its recommendation for a change in our policy toward Spain, we should support such a resolution,4 stating that the measures opposing Franco have not proved efficacious and that their continuation does not appear warranted by circumstances.

  1. The memorandum, which had been initialled “L[ovett]” by the Under Secretary, and the annex were returned by the Secretary to Mr. Kennan with the notation: “Approved as indicated G C Marshall.” A filing notation on the copy retained by the Policy Planning Staff indicated that the paper was approved by the Secretary of State on October 24 (Lot 62D1, Box 2529).
  2. Marginal note referring to this paragraph and the next two, in Marshall’s handwriting: “OK GCM.”
  3. In the margin Marshall wrote “Yes” with reference to the words “is a relaxation”.
  4. In the margin Marshall wrote “I agree GCM” with reference to the words “should not be done”.
  5. In the margin Marshall wrote “I agree GCM” with reference to the words “should support such a resolution”.