867.24/1–1747: Telegram

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

top secret

38. For Henderson. Re letter from Acheson to me November 81 suggesting I advise Turks USA reluctant furnish military equipment and they should submit requests to British. In my reply December 72 I said thought it undesirable do this until we are in position inform Turks they will in fact obtain at least part their military requests from British, and also that USA will give some positive economic support in way of additional credits. Otherwise I felt our completely negative attitude would discourage Turks leading them to feel our support of Turkey’s independence is mere matter of words.

I have accordingly said nothing to Turks on this point pending further word from Department. Meanwhile Colonel Roberts3 has just returned to Ankara and will be obliged in next day or so to call on General Staff and answer inquiries re action in Washington on list items Turks desire. Under circumstances I have requested him reply to effect that he had put matter in mill, done what he could, and now it is on knees of gods, adding that with end of hostilities various problems of course have arisen re general question of furnishing military equipment. I have requested him do this because I continue feel would be most unwise turn Turks down flatly on this without being able indicate to them US able and willing give them at least some support either through military equipment or additional credit for economic purposes. It seems to me essential in our own interests not permit [Page 8] deterioration Turk morale which might well ensue if they come to feel we have diplomatic policy only on paper without willingness or ability to implement it.4

If Department on full consideration still desires that statement originally proposed be made to Turks re our inability furnish equipment and that they should turn to British this can be of course done later and made to appear as result of further examination problem. In this connection, however, I venture to urge reconsideration our policy in this matter of supplying military equipment. In fact more I think about this more I have come to feel that if we are able furnish material to British for passing to Turks then it would be sounder policy frankly supply such equipment direct to Turkey. Morale aspect which is important as regards Turkey would be better served thereby and I am inclined to believe such policy would in fact produce more satisfactory results so far as USSR, is concerned. I regret decision not send official mission (Deptel 15, January 10). I think Turks may have reservations re idea economic survey by private firm. They consider themselves fairly well advanced in economic experience and thinking certainly as compared with neighbors and may judge proposal bit infra dig. However, I think would in fact prove helpful if they hire such firm to prepare their case for credits and I shall find opportunity soon to mention idea as my personal suggestion.5

  1. Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. vii, p. 916.
  2. Ibid., p. 920.
  3. Frank N. Roberts, Military Attaché in Turkey.
  4. In telegram 27, January 20, the Department approved Ankara’s line of action regarding Colonel Roberts and advised that thought was being given to the Ambassador’s recommendation that arms policy toward Turkey be reconsidered (868.24/1–2047).
  5. In telegram 49, January 21, noon, from Ankara, Ambassador Wilson reported that he had made a “personal suggestion” along these lines to Mr. Erkin who replied that such assistance was not needed by Turkey (867.50A/1–2147).