811.2365/12–547: Telegram

The Ambassador in Italy (Dunn) to the Secretary of State

top secret

3918. As a result of publication in Italian press of report by United Press that United States Government was considering favorably the sending of a military mission to Italy provided Italian Government made a request therefor, I received a message from Prime Minister, Mr. De Gasperi says that in present state of affairs here it would not be possible for the Italian Government to make a formal demand for military mission. In his opinion this would give to the enemies of the present government grounds for stating that they were alone the defenders of the independence of the country and of the dignity of its armed forces. Furthermore, the sending of a military mission here would be offset by fact that the neighbors in the East would increase their clandestine penetration. Mr. De Gasperi believes that the Italian forces well directed are sufficient to overcome the difficulties that come from within the country. He feels, however, that it is urgent that these forces should receive a strengthening of their arms and equipment. In this connection he is taking steps to have detailed information with regard to the state of armed forces conveyed to me.

On subject of departure of American forces from Italy about December 15, Mr. De Gasperi raises question as to whether the Russian forces are being withdrawn in accordance with corresponding treaties (probably referring to Bulgaria) and whether this would have any effect upon the withdrawal of American troops from Italy. He goes on to say that in any event the United States has a possibility of strengthening its troop contingent in Austria in order to fend off an attack which might be made from the East against Italy and that in addition to maintain a naval squadron in the Mediterranean we might also maintain a reserve of troops in some position in the Mediterranean from which, in case of need, they might quickly be sent into the peninsula. He emphasized above all the importance of strengthening the forces in Austria.

Mr. De Gasperi has been kept in bed for last few days by a sharp attack of rheumatism, but in the meantime has been maintaining communication with me through his confidential private secretary.1 In addition to having conversation with the military representative this afternoon I expect to see Prime Minister himself within a few days. He has told me that he wishes to speak to me about an idea that he has of the United States making a statement recalling the treaty of peace with Italy and the Charter of the United Nations and reminding the [Page 737] public of the proper right and duty of intervening whenever the territorial integrity of Italy might be in danger or the democratic anti-totalitarian form of government of the country might be threatened. He is giving further thought to this possible suggestion and wishes to talk to me more precisely about it as soon as he is able to see me.

Because of the political atmosphere here Mr. De Gasperi asks not to have his name mentioned in connection with any of above subjects.

  1. Paolo Canali.