Executive Secretariat Files

Report by the National Security Council 2

top secret

NSC 1/1

The Position of the United States With Respect to Italy

the problem

1. To assess and appraise the position of the United States with respect to Italy, taking into consideration the security interests of the United States in the Mediterranean and Near East areas.


[Here follow five paragraphs similar in substance to the sections entitled “Facts Bearing on the Problem” and “Discussion” in the memorandum by the Policy Planning Staff, Department of State, September 24, 1947, printed in Foreign Relations, 1947, volume III, pp. 976981.]


7. The United States has security interests of primary importance in Italy and the measures to implement our current policies to safeguard those interests should be strengthened without delay.

8. The United States should:

Give full support to the present Italian Government and to equally satisfactory successive governments by means of measures such as the following: [Page 725]
Shipment of wheat and other essential commodities under the pending interim program of aid to Europe, in order to maintain the current bread ration.
Additional dollar credits.
Further assistance to the Italian armed forces in the form of technical advice to increase their capacity to deal with threats to Italian internal security and territorial integrity.
Gift to the Italian Government of the sunken ships off the Italian coast, now under control of the US Maritime Commission, in order to furnish a valuable supply of scrap material.
Directive to Foreign Liquidation Commission to transfer, “in the national interests”, to the Italian armed forces under the Taff-del Vecchio agreement certain non-combat equipment essential to the proper function of the Italian armed forces.
Extend economic aid to Italy by means of favorable US foreign trade policies.
Press for the relaxation of unduly onerous terms in the Italian Peace Treaty, and meanwhile interpret these terms liberally.
Continue to support acceptance of Italy as a member of UN.
Actively combat Communist propaganda in Italy by an effective US information program and by all other practicable means. …
Vigorously seek through diplomatic channels to bring about a more favorable attitude toward Italy on the part of the British and French Governments and to enlist their active support of our aims.
Draw any violations of the Peace Treaty to the immediate attention of the UN, and support Italy before the UN in the event that Yugoslavia attempts to seize Italian border territory.
Urgently adopt and effectively implement a long-range program for the rehabilitation of Europe.

9. The Italian situation should be discussed during the planned conversations with the British, in order to keep them informed of our policies and to seek their support of our plans.

10. In the event that the situation in Italy develops in such a way that it becomes impossible for the Italian Government to carry out terms of the Italian Peace Treaty, the United States should take the position that a treaty is a contract binding upon all parties thereto, and that unless all parties are in a position to carry out the contract the treaty ceases to be binding upon any of the signatories. The United States then should announce that it must reconsider its position with respect to the terms of the Italian Peace Treaty in the light of the new situation.

11. The United States should not use US armed force in a civil conflict of an internal nature in Italy.

12. In the event that a Communist-dominated Government is set up in all or part of Italy by civil war or illegal means, the United States should continue to recognize the legal government and actively assist it. Such Communist aggression in Italy should immediately be [Page 726] countered by steps to extend the strategic disposition of United States armed forces in Italy and other parts of the Mediterranean area. A specific plan should include the following measures:

The Italian Government should inform the Ambassadors of the US, UK, France and the USSR in Rome (with the request that they notify the other signatories of the Italian Peace Treaty) that it is no longer able to maintain effective authority throughout Italy and that it consequently cannot accept responsibility for the execution of the terms of the Peace Treaty.
The United States should immediately and publicly express concern over the fact that disorder has broken out in Italy so soon after the entry into effect of the Peace Treaty and should notify the Italian Government and the UN that, in the light of the new situation, the United States must reconsider its position with respect to the terms of the Treaty.
The Italian Government should inform the US Government that in view of its inability to carry out the terms of the Peace Treaty it will take action within the limits of its ability to cooperate with the US under the changed situation. The US should then inform the Italian Government that it will require additional military facilities for the time being. Upon agreement with the Italian Government, the US should utilize selected naval and air bases in Italy. In order to accomplish preparations for such use of Italian air bases, steps should be taken at an appropriate time to have the Italian Government make available such facilities to the US for training flights of US air units.
The United States should announce the suspension of aid to Communist-dominated areas of Italy under the US relief program, at the same time making it clear that this aid will be continued for areas under the jurisdiction of the Italian Government.
If Communists seize control of all or part of Italy prior to December 15, 1947, the US should suspend withdrawal of its troops from Italy pending a consideration of the status of the Peace Treaty and of the US military situation at that time.

13. In the event that the elections in March 1948 should result in the establishment of a Communist Government in Italy, reconsideration of US policy with respect to Italy would be necessary. With that end in view, the present report should be revised not less than 45 days before the elections in the light of the political situation existing at that time.3

  1. A transmittal note by Sidney W. Souers, Executive Secretary of the National Security Council, to the members of the Council (the President; the Secretaries of State, Defense, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force; and the Chairman of the National Security Resources Board) indicated that the report would be submitted to the President by the Secretary of State, with a notation that the section entitled “Conclusions” constituted an expression of the Council’s advice to the President.
  2. A memorandum of November 14 by Sidney W. Souers, executive secretary of the National Security Council, not printed, transmitted the report to the Secretary of State with the notation that the section entitled “Conclusions”, (i.e., paragraphs 7–13). constituted an expression of the Council’s advise to the President. The memorandum bears the handwritten notation: “ack’d—Report fwd to President 11/18/47 SE W[alter] C. P[owling] SMW”. (865.00/11–1447)

    A memorandum for the executive secretary of the National Security Council, drafted November 18, signed November 20 by Under Secretary of State Lovett, not printed, records: “I have today submitted to the President for his approval the Report by the National Security Council on ‘The Position of the United States with Respect to Italy’ (NSC 1/1).” (865.00/11–1447)

    NSC 1/1 was approved by the President on November 24.