740.00119 Council/6–1748: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Caffery) to the Secretary of State

secret   niact

3203. Until I can see Schuman, Bidault and other leading members of the government and have a very frank talk with them about the Assembly’s [Page 336] vote last night on the London German agreement,1 I do not feel in a position to make authoritative comment on the implications of the order of the day which was voted last night. As a very preliminary comment, however, I should like to point out that in view of the very great public and parliamentary opposition to the London German recommendations the government came through the ordeal about as well as could be hoped for from our point of view. The resolution finally passed is, in my opinion, less restrictive than the original motion of the French Foreign Affairs Committee. It will be noted also that the reference to a veto (Deptel 2063, June 11) was dropped and that the resolution, while it contains a number of admonitions, contains no reservation sufficiently specific to prevent implementation of the London recommendations.

The vitally important thing, as I see it, given the present political situation within France itself and western Europe, is that the door was not slammed on the German question last night. If the Assembly had rejected the agreement outright, it is difficult to see how this government, or any government which might succeed it, would be able to go as-far as the present government has gone. Moreover a rejection of the London agreement such as to place US under the necessity of proceeding alone would have separated France from the other Brussels pact signatories and from ourselves on the vital German issue and would have almost inevitably caused widespread and most unfortunate consequences insofar as the whole idea of western unity is concerned.

By the foregoing I do not wish to give the impression that I believe that last night’s vote is, by any means, entirely satisfactory from our point of view, for this is not the case. Everything, of course, depends on the spirit on which the negotiations implementing the London agreement are carried out. In the hands of De Gaulle or the Communists the Assembly’s reservations would unquestionably be used to hamstring on every conceivable occasion. The present government in the face of a very serious internal political situation has shown real courage in trying to reach a compromise agreement with US on Germany which will permit the vitally important German problem to be dealt with in a realistic fashion. If it continues to show the same spirit in facing up to the German problem there is no reason to believe a priori that the six powers which signed the London agreement cannot proceed to its implementation. I must add, however, that the French Government’s task will, of course, be more difficult as a result of the [Page 337] motion voted last night and there is little doubt that the Communists, Gaullists and ardent nationalists of the Right will endeavor to use the terms of the order of the day to shackle the government’s liberty of action in implementing the agreement. In view of the general unpopularity of the London agreement such pressure would unquestionably tend to make the government more cautious. I hope to see Schuman and Bidault (who are still “resting”) about this within the coming 24 hours after which I will be in a position to add to the foregoing very preliminary commentaries.

  1. In his telegram 3190, June 17, from Paris, not printed, Ambassador Caffery reported that the French National Assembly that morning had approved an “order of the day” agreeing to the London Conference recommendations on Germany (740.00119 Council/6–1748). Caffery subsequently reported that the final Assembly vote was 300 for and 286 against the “order of the day”. The MRP and the Socialists voted solidly for the London agreements while the Communists and Gaullists voted against.