840.50 Recovery/1–248: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom ( Gallman ) to the Secretary of State


16. 1. We think recent major political and economic developments in the UK and Europe may make it desirable for the 16 Marshall Plan [Page 353] countries to take further action now with respect to the European Recovery Program. These developments include

Formation of Cominform and Communist open declaration of war on Marshall Plan and European reconstruction;
Epochal split in French CGT, defeat of Communist strike in Italy, and open attack by UK Communist Party on Labor Government;
Break-down in CFM meeting on Germany; and
Depression, apathy and uncertainty in Europe this winter owing to economic stringencies and political tensions.

2. The next few months are critical if we are to retain the initiative and keep the Communists on the defensive. This may not be easy in the face of possible protracted congressional debate on European Recovery Program. However, bold concerted action in this interim period by the 16 Marshall Plan countries might serve to catch the imagination of the people of Europe and America; assist in solidifying the gains now being made against the Communists; strengthen Socialist and center groups, and reduce the still dangerous possibilities of political polarization between the extreme Right and Left.

3. The President’s message to Congress on European Recovery Program1 had a uniformly favorable reception here from all important quarters. On the other hand, the British Government has been severely criticized by Left-Moderate and Moderate opinion for its failure to call another conference of Marshall Plan countries in order to consider as a matter of urgency ways and means of instituting self-help programs envisaged in Marshall Plan, and to devise the European side of the European Recovery Program organization.

The Economist recently charged that “instead of dealing with a responsible European organization, the Americans may find themselves struggling with a rabble of queue-breaking clients”. It is fully appreciated here that Marshall aid is only supplementary of Europe’s own efforts, and there is a fear that precious time is being lost on this side of the Atlantic in activating Europe’s role. One of the psychological consequences of inaction in Europe is that it lends support to Communist propaganda that the Marshall Plan is purely an American venture. There is thus domestic pressure on the British Government to take vigorous steps with European governments in initiating further joint self-help discussion preliminary to actual receipt of aid from America.

4. We believe that Bevin might well take the leadership in reconvening [Page 354] CEEC and in setting up the organization contemplated in paragraph 113 of CEEC report re joint European organization.

5. Pending congressional action on European Recovery Program, European organization might concentrate its attention on elaborating and reviewing the essential self-help measures of each government. It seems from here that such action would have favorable political results within European countries, and would be favorably received in the US. It would also dispel the notion that the CEEC countries are interested primarily in how much aid they can obtain from US rather than in what they can do to help themselves.

6. Please instruct if Department believes Foreign Office should be approached on above lines to ascertain reaction.

7. Depcirtel December 31, 11 a. m. received after foregoing drafted, report follows but would appreciate early instructions as relevant interviews will provide opportunity to present suggestion of UK initiative Paragraph 4.

  1. For the text of this special message, see: Public Papers of the Presidents: Harry S. Truman: 1947 (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1963) pp. 515–529.