851.00/9–2349: Telegram

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

top secret

3961. For personal attention of Secretary and Under Secretary. We learned last night that Wapler, Counselor of French Embassy, had arrived from Washington in morning with report Bonnet’s last conversation [Page 664] with Secretary of State.1 Conversation with him confirmed our feeling that while currency and coal aspects of German question are of utmost economic and political importance to France, full force of Queuille’s agitation as reported mytel 3947, September 22, sprang from broader considerations contained in Bonnet’s report which in substance announced to Queuille “historic policy decision” of US Government involving special economic relationship with UK and Commonwealth, independently of such relationship as might henceforth exist between US and continent. As interpreted by Bonnet, this meant complete break with principles of OEEC, Western Union and Council of Europe, leaving France alone on continent with Germans According to Bonnet’s report, he asked Secretary of State where France stood in American eyes and Secretary of State replied “US would facilitate French leadership on continent”, to which Bonnet replies with rhetorical question in his report: “What guarantee have we that US will not in future transfer its backing for continental leadership from France to Germany?”

We gather that overtone of Bonnet’s report is that continent has been sacrificed in favor of England, that in American eyes there was choice between US support for England and US support for continent and former won out, and that if it is US intention to support both equally, French have not been told so.

Against this background it is not astonishing Queuille spoke with so much vehemence on German mark rate and coal price question. Latter is of course old bone of contention but immediate French reflex to “being left alone on continent with Germans”, with latter’s demographic and industrial superiority to France, is that France—and indeed the continent—should not at the very outset of a possible new relationship with Germany be saddled with an exchange rate which would place the Germans in an even more favorable position.

I am unable of course to judge accuracy of Bonnet’s report, and I urgently request you to inform me to what degree a major shift in US policy has taken place. If Bonnet is substantially inaccurate we should act immediately to correct the impression he has created. Perhaps I could be helpful in that regard. If Bonnet is right, the revolutionary implications have caught French flatfooted and without any psychological preparation.

Queuille’s remarks to me speak for themselves. With careful preparation of public opinion, idea of British desolidarization from continent might in time be sold to French public if they were sure of four things: [Page 665]

US special economic relationship with UK does not put latter in favored position regarding continent.
British desolidarization from continent is economic only and does not extend to military or strategic concepts; and US has not abandoned idea of defense of continent in favor of retiring to bases in England and Spain in event war with Russia.
US interest in continental European political and economic organization continues as active as ever.
On continent itself Germany will not be American pet in economic matters to detriment of France and other western neighbors.

As to position Queuille, Schuman and entire government, I need not reiterate precarious internal political situation in which they would have found themselves this autumn even if Washington financial talks had had more favorable outcome for France. Queuille’s present fear is—and a very well-grounded one in my opinion—that if his opponents from Communists to Gaullists and Right can make out that at Washington Schuman and Petsche failed to defend France’s position relative to England and Germany, his government will fall.

I have described effect on Queuille of Bonnet’s report. I anticipate that similar reactions will spread rapidly through French press and public opinion, which are increasingly uneasy. I therefore recommend that you take immediate steps to dispel impression here and elsewhere in Western Europe that Anglo-Saxon bloc has been formed or, if it has been, that in US eyes continental interests are now considered of secondary importance. It must be remembered that Germany is considered here as US ward and that fear of her resurgence, while somewhat attenuated in recent months, is basically latent and remains one of the most powerful political factors in France.

From this distance, an authoritative public statement aimed at covering four points which I have enumerated above and perhaps drafted in consultation with Schuman in New York would appear to be the most efficacious means of dealing with this problem.

Sent Department 3961; repeated Frankfurt 63 for McCloy, London 651 for Holmes.

  1. For additional details on the conversation in question, see telegram 1188, September 26, from New York, p. 338.