Memorandum by the Acting Coordinator for Aid to Greece and Turkey (Wilds) to the Under Secretary of State (Lovett)

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In concluding that additional financial assistance should be rendered to Turkey under Public Law 75, the following are principal factors which have been considered:

The situation in Turkey today is not essentially different than it was at the time of enactment of Public Law 75. The program of modernization and strengthening the Turkish army cannot be completed with funds which have thus far been made available, although progress in this direction has been to the extent anticipated. Turkey’s position vis-à-vis Russia remains dangerous. Continued American support of Turkey is essential to bolster the confidence of the people and to discourage Russian aggression.

The Survey Mission which was sent to Turkey concluded in its report of July 15, 19471 that the aid to be furnished under the present [Page 35] program would be totally inadequate to assure that Turkish armed forces would be able, in case of an attack by Russia, to hold out until outside assistance could arrive. The Mission further found that the continuous economic burden of maintaining the army had resulted in curtailment of essential government services, reduction in current economic productivity and diminished potentiality for capital development necessary to raise the standard of living of the Turkish peasant and workman; and that if this situation prevailed for a further extended period it would have serious adverse effects upon Turkish capacity for resistance to armed aggression or infiltration of Communist ideas.

The Mission found that the determination, at that time so strong in Turkey, to resist Soviet aggression is directly in proportion to the ability the Turks feel they have to resist a Soviet armed threat, and that while the Turks would fight blindly and beyond all reason they are aware that Turkey with her present forces, unsupported by allies, could not defend herself for any appreciable time against an all-out Russian invasion.

It is evident that should direct American support of Turkey be discontinued at this time, the result would be an uncertainty and fear in Turkey leading to Communist pressures which our program in the first instance was designed to prevent. Future American support of Turkey could take the form of (a) a firm, public commitment to the Turks that their national integrity would be guaranteed by the United States, or (b) additional financial aid to maintain the strength of the Turkish fighting forces and the morale of the Turkish people so long as direct Russian aggression appears likely in the absence thereof. The obvious advantage of the latter is that our commitment would remain limited and flexible, and probably at the present time would be more acceptable to the Congress and the public. A failure to propose further aid to Turkey would be especially pointed because of the fact that we will be presenting a request for further substantial assistance to Greece both under the European Recovery Program and Public Law 75.

Another important factor is that in developing plans for the European Recovery Program it has been assumed that Turkey would be a contributor rather than a recipient of aid. This has been based upon the assumption that the Turkish economy would not be burdened by heavy military expenditures which would render impossible a favorable balance of international payments. In the absence of relief from this military burden the Turkish economy would not be in a position to contribute to the European Recovery Program; on the contrary [Page 36] Turkey would in all probability require extensive aid under that program.2

  1. Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. v, p. 233.
  2. Note, presumably by Mr. Wilds: “This discussed with Mr. Lovett 24 January. He accepted it as the basis for discussion with [Senator] Vandenberg and other Congressional leaders. Alternative (b) is the Department position subject to whatever modification might appear feasible after the foregoing discussion.” The Department notified Ambassador Wilson at Ankara on January 22 that the “consensus here appears focused on further program of $100 million along broad outlines present program with possibly increased allocation to air force portion.” (telegram 33, identified also as Patsu 55, 867.00/1–2248)