851.00/3–448: Telegram

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

top secret

1159. Bidault was grateful and in complete agreement with Deptel 663, March 2. He said again he is gravely concerned about the April 18 elections in Italy because if the Communists enter the Italian Government the French Government will be placed in a vulnerable and very dangerous position. (See my immediately following telegram).1

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However, he insists (Deptel 680 March 3)2 that at this juncture the French Government is prepared to handle any attempt at aggression on the part of French Communists; and the Ministry of Interior is on the lookout for anything in the nature of a fifth column aggression on the Czechoslovak model. “We do not want to shoot, but we will certainly shoot if necessary. If the Communists start something, and we are well aware that they have arms and are organized in a paramilitary way, armed forces will be prepared to take care of them.” (He is a little over-confident perhaps.)

“But that would not be the case,” he added, “if they are supported by Soviet troops from beyond our frontiers. After what has happened in Czechoslovakia and what is happening in Finland we are alarmed. From everything we have been able to find out, Russian thinking now is about like this:

“If we do not take over western Europe in the relatively near future, the Americans may wake up and then we shall be up against it. Of course, there is a little risk that the Americans may wake up sooner than we think and knock us out with some of their famous atomic bombs. However, we believe that the Americans are still ‘des naifs’ and will wait too long.”

Bidault concluded: “I know that this may sound extravagant but we are sitting here under the guns and your people are on the other side of the ocean.”

Sent Department as 1159, repeated London as 146, and Rome as 96.

Caffery
  1. Telegram 1167, March 4, 8 p. m., not printed; it reported that Bidault felt that it was important for France, the United Kingdom, and the United States to support the Italian Government on the question of the former Italian colonies. (865.00/3–448)
  2. The same telegram was sent as No. 313 to the Embassy in Belgium, p. 35.