840.20/3–1049: Telegram

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

top secret

us urgent

1004. Harriman1 and I discussed MAP with Schuman2 at his request and disposed satisfactorily of certain questions as discussed in immediately following telegram.3 Schuman stated that in view cantonal elections to be held here on March 20 and 27 (runoffs on later date) French Government would prefer make no official public announcement that it was joining other Western Union countries in requesting arms until after March 27.

Schuman stated that position French Government in this respect did not in any way indicate hesitancy or doubt on part French Government or great majority of Frenchmen. He said, however, that some of his cabinet colleagues (he means Socialists) are worried that official announcement re MAP request might in heat of election campaign and in view particularly of Communist peace offensive cause loss of [Page 635] certain number votes which government parties should retain. He said arms request might produce temporarily in these limited circles a sort of war psychosis or panic which would have undesirable effect.

Schuman said that his position was addressed only at official announcement and that he felt it desirable rather than otherwise for public opinion to be prepared for Military Assistance Program through leaks and gossip which have already arisen and which may be expected arise following London conversations March 144 and so forth. He understands that we wish formal French Government request and attendant publicity to come prior to President’s formal presentation of MAP to Congress, and he does not wish make announcement until after March 27.

Harriman and I expressed belief that French Government’s position would be fully understood and appreciated in Washington. Please confirm.5

Sent Department 1004, repeated London 198 (eyes only Douglas), Brussels 48 (eyes only Kirk), The Hague 19 (eyes only Baruch).

Caffery
  1. W. Averell Harriman, the United States Special Representative in Europe under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1948.
  2. Robert Schuman, French Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  3. Telegram 1005, March 10, 9 p. m., not printed; it dealt largely with financial aspects of the Military Assistance Program, and it also quoted Schuman as saying that common defense presupposed full use of French facilities by France’s allies in case of war or threat of war. ‘We will not wait to invite you to our territory until the Russians are at the Pyrenees.” (840.20/3–1049)
  4. For a report of the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Western Union countries, March 14, see telegram 970 from London, March 15, p. 224.
  5. In telegram 795 to Paris, March 11, 7 p. m., not printed, the Department of State agreed to adjust the timetable so as not to require a public announcement before March 27 (840.20/3–1049).