740.00119 Control (Italy)/12–1247: Telegram

The Secretary of State in London to the Acting Secretary of State

top secret

Martel 71. From Marshall to Lovett. Preconference material for 9:30 a. m. (Washington time) conference between Secretary and Mr. Lovett:

Reference Telmar 70, December 11, regarding statement on Italian situation. It is the consensus of opinion in delegation here that the statement in its present form would be highly inadvisable. Its references to internal political factions as a basis for US action would confirm the Communist assertions generally and particularly in France that we intend to intervene in the internal affairs of European nations. [Page 749] Further, the opinion here is that we have not immediately available in Europe the means effectively to carry out the implications of the statement and therefore we would be in position of placing too much dependence on the effect of words rather than on the immediate positive action required. There must be no question of an empty threat with its dangerous consequences. The much larger question is whether this is the moment and the conditions under which we lay down in effect the gauge of battle.

The statement apparently stems from the message of Dunn in Rome 281, December 5, giving De Gasperi’s suggestion for such a procedure.1 I call attention to the fact that in this particular message of Dunn’s De Gasperi’s preliminary statement regarding the adverse effect of an American mission appears inconsistent with his final suggestion regarding the advisability of an American public statement implying the direct threat of military intervention.2

  1. Not printed.
  2. The statement released to the press by the White House on December 13 read as follows:

    “Although the United States is withdrawing its troops from Italy in fulfilment of its obligations under the treaty of peace, this country continues its interest in the preservation of a free and independent Italy. If, in the course of events, it becomes apparent that the freedom and independence of Italy upon which the peace settlement is based are being threatened directly or indirectly, the United States, as a signatory of the peace treaty and as a member of the United Nations, will be obliged to consider what measures would be appropriate for the maintenance of peace and security.” (Department of State Bulletin, December 21, 1947, p. 1221.)