Memorandum by Mr. G. Hayden Raynor, Special Assistant to the Director of the Office of European Affairs (Hickerson)
Subject: Western European Reaction on Spain
This memorandum is written to summarize the general impressions obtained in talking with members of the Western European Delegations and other sources while in Paris,2 and to throw available light on the question as to whether there would be an adverse reaction on the part of the Governments or the non-communist trade unions in those countries to our supporting the repeal of the operative parts of the 1946 Resolution,3 and, if so, how serious such a reaction would be.
Various reactions were obtained from direct French sources, including the extreme view expressed by Schuman that this might cause the fall of his Government, and, on the same side, a very real emotional reaction on the part of Parodi4 to statements from people down the line in the Foreign Office that France itself might even vote for the repeal of the specialized agencies part of the Resolution. This matter was reviewed carefully with the leading political officers in the Embassy and discussed by Bonbright5 with the Ambassador.6 The consensus [Page 722] of the Paris Embassy feeling was that the French would understand an abstention on our part on the return of the chiefs of mission and a support by us of Spain’s participation in the specialized agencies of the UN. At the same time, the consensus of Embassy opinion was that it would be better for the question not to come up at the Paris session. While these views indicate that the Spanish question arouses much less active interest in the general French public than it did a few years previously, there is continued importance attached to it in the eyes of the French non-communist left, both in the political parties and the trade unions. This is occasioned because of the political reason that they can not place themselves in a position whereby the Communists could exploit the Franco issue against them. The feeling in the non-communist trade unions is especially strong on the question of Spanish participation in the ERP, and the danger is that this group would interpret the repeal of these portions of the resolution as a first step towards participation by Spain in the Marshall Plan. The consensus is that there is a stronger reaction in this regard with respect to the chiefs of mission provision than to the specialized, agencies. I judge that serious reaction in France could be avoided in the event that we pursue our position if in some way we could make it clear that this would have no bearing on our position with respect to Marshall Plan aid.
The feeling on the Franco question seems to remain fairly strong in Belgium, possibly somewhat less than in France but quite strong. As to the possible Belgian reaction to a course of action by the United States, the latest authoritative statement made by a member of the Belgian Delegation to us in Paris indicated that there should be, no serious reaction if the United States voted for the admission of Spain to the specialized agencies, and, as they put it, “while perhaps not ideal”, they did not think there would be any “dangerous consequences” should the United States abstain on the chiefs of mission provision. The implication is that they view with some degree of seriousness a vote by the United States on the repeal of the chiefs of mission provision. The Belgian apprehension is based on a desire to avoid supplying ammunition to a communist propaganda campaign directed toward the non-communist left.
During the early part of the Paris meeting, the Netherlands Delegation indicated that it favored repeal of both parts and would probably so vote, unless the other Brussels Powers placed strong pressure on [Page 723] them not to do it. After the Arce move in Committee 6 on the Statistical Convention,7 however, there was a strong reaction in the Netherlands, and after this we were informed that the best that could be expected from the Netherlands would be abstentions on both parts, with the implication of possibly a negative vote on the chiefs of mission provision.
The Luxembourg Delegation throughout indicated a feeling of considerable reserve on this question. While they might go along on the specialized agencies repeal, I am inclined to think an abstention would be more likely. An abstention would be possible on the chiefs of mission, but I think a negative vote on that case would be more likely.
I am using Norway as an example of the Scandinavian position, as the three countries would have probably followed a similar course. It should be recognized, however, that in the past there has been more interest in the question in Norway than in Sweden and Denmark. I discussed this on several occasions frankly and confidentially with Foreign Minister Lange. He confirmed that, at the meeting of the Scandinavian Foreign Ministers prior to the opening of the Assembly, it had been agreed, I believe on Icelandic initiative, to support the repeal of both provisions. However, there was a strong reaction in Norway on the Committee 6 Arce maneuver, and after that occurred Lange told me that they had originally misjudged sentiment on the Spanish question in Norway, i.e., feeling it had not diminished nearly to the extent his Government had thought. He indicated therefore that Norway would be opposed to the repeal of the chiefs of mission provision and would probably abstain on the specialized agencies.
Iceland, of course, would presumably support the repeal of both provisions. I would guess that Sweden and Denmark would take the same position as Norway.
The strong statement made by Bevin to the Secretary at the opening of the Assembly remained, as far as I could tell, the official U.K. [Page 724] position throughout.8 I saw no evidence of any change. While professional representatives of the Foreign Office did not speak on this subject as vehemently as Bevin did they loyally argued for his line throughout the meeting.
My conclusion is that a stronger feeling on this question continues to exist in western Europe than we had thought to be the case, or for that matter than the Government leaders themselves, except for the French, British and possibly the Belgians, had thought to be the case before Arce’s maneuver in Committee 6. This is based on a justifiable reluctance to see the Communists given gratuitously ammunition which would be used against the parties in power and the non-communist trade movements.
Nevertheless, in my opinion, if we pursue our preferred policy in a quiet way, without taking the initiative, recognizing that we will not be followed by these states, I would not anticipate dangerous consequences. The communists, however, would, in all likelihood, make some capital out of it. The question is whether we can afford even a minor propaganda success for the communists in those countries at this time. Incidentally, I think there was a change of position on the part of the Dominions on this question during the Paris meeting. For instance, we had expected Canada to favor the specialized agencies repeal, also Australia. At the end of the meeting I was not at all sure about this. I think probably on the chiefs of mission repeal that from the old Dominions there would be only one favorable vote—South Africa, and possibly negative votes from all of the others. While there might be three favorable votes on the specialized agencies (South Africa, Canada and Australia), I think it likely even in this case that one or possibly two of those votes might turn out to be abstentions. New Zealand might vote against both or possibly abstain on the specialized agencies.
- For documentation relating to the Spanish question before the first part of the third session of the United Nations at Paris, see Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. iii, pp. 1053 ff.↩
- For documentation relating to the United Nations resolution on Spain, December 12, 1946, which recommended the debarring of the Franco government in Spain from membership in international agencies established by or related to the United Nations and which recommended the recall from Madrid of the ambassadors and ministers of member states, see Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. v, pp. 1023–1090, passim. ↩
- Alexandre Parodi, French representative at the United Nations.↩
- James C. H. Bonbright, United States Counselor of Embassy in France.↩
- Jefferson Caffery.↩
- Under reference here was a series of parliamentary maneuvers in Committee 6 of the General Assembly, October 30–November 4, 1948, through which it apparently became possible for Spain to accede to the 1928 International Convention on economic statistics, despite the recommendations of the 1946 resolution. Regarding the action of Dr. José Arce, Argentine representative to the United Nations, in Committee 6, see United Nations, Official Records of the Third Session of the General Assembly, Part I, 6th Committee, 1948, pp. 260 ff.↩
- For documentation on the British position on the Spanish question at the third session of the General Assembly, see Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. iii, pp. 1053 ff.↩