Record of the Daily Meeting of the Under Secretary of State


Present: Webb, Under Secretary, Chairman
Rusk, UNA, Deputy Chairman
Allen, P
Bohlen, C
Butterworth, FE
Gross, U/CFA (Legal Adviser)
Hickerson, EUR
Hulten, A (for Mr. Peurifoy)
Kennan, S/P
Saltzman, O
Satterthwaite, NEA
Thorp, E

Proposed Sale of Aircraft Engines to Spain

3.1 Action: The decision on the sale of aircraft engines to Spain is postponed until after the April UN Assembly Session.2

4. Discussion: Mr. Rusk presented the problem and outlined the UN considerations which argue against the sale at this time. He anticipated, however, that the attitude on Spain at the UN in April would be more relaxed and that it might be possible to make such sale thereafter without the adverse reactions now expected. Our efforts thus far have been to prevent the Spanish question from being injected into the East-West issue.

5. Mr. Hickerson said that EUR had no objection to a temporary postponement on the sale of the engines to Spain. However, he wished to make the point that the NME attaches great strategic significance to Spain and that after the Assembly he would like to go ahead with the sale. Mr. Gross wished to make sure that the decision now is not simply to postpone sale until after the Assembly, at which time sale would be consummated, but he would like to speak to the question after the Assembly. The Under Secretary assured him that there would be such an opportunity.

6. Mr. Allen said that he was concerned about our relations with authoritarian regimes generally. He has felt that in the last war we made a mistake by condemning on the one hand an authoritarian [Page 726] regime and on the other hand by throwing ourselves completely in with another authoritarian regime. It seems to him that a set of criteria must be established which will enable us to deal with individual countries. He suggested the following criteria:

Is the country aggressive at the moment?
Is the country becoming more totalitarian (for example, in his opinion Turkey is becoming less totalitarian)?
Does it submit to control of some imperialistic power?
What is the country’s attitude toward the U.S.?
What UN considerations are applicable to our relations with the country?

If the question today were “Shall these engines be made available to Tito?” (if he were as friendly to us as is Franco) in his personal opinion, Mr. Allen said it would be desirable to sell the engines.

7. Mr. Allen went on to caution with regard to two matters:

We must not be unduly influenced by the pressure of the NME to decide with whom we shall be friendly on strictly strategic considerations.
We must not be unduly influenced by the pressure of public opinion. (In this connection the decision either way in regard to the engines would be subject to attack by fairly powerful groups—the Catholics here and abroad, or the leftist elements.)

8. Mr. Thorp suggested that Mr. Allen’s list should have a sixth criterion, namely, an evaluation of the reaction in other countries to our acts with regard to authoritarian countries. He cited that last week we addressed a note to the British asking that they protest to India the latter’s proposed rehabilitation of lend-lease air equipment. The sale of the engines to Spain would hardly elicit a friendly reaction from the Indians in such a circumstance. He also asked what would be the reaction in Sweden in the face of our attitude on military assistance thus far.

9. The Under Secretary raised the question of whether it would not be possible to establish basic criteria whereby each of these problems in turn could be answered. Mr. Kennan responded that while he thought that Mr. Allen’s criteria were very useful, we were here facing a very profound and complicated question and that we should go easy in jumping to conclusions regarding democracies and dictatorships. He said that such criteria had been applicable in the past. However, he stated, and others agreed, that the proposed sale of engines to Spain was out of the ordinary. He agreed that a decision on this sale should be postponed until after the Assembly.

10. Mr. Bohlen agreed with Mr. Kennan’s remarks regarding dictatorships and democracies. He considered Mr. Allen’s formula too simple. The argument that this sale should not be made because we [Page 727] want to support the UN, he said, is not the proper criteria for application on Spain. He said General Marshall believed, and Mr. Bohlen agreed with the General, that the criteria should be: what is the effect on Europe. We should not have a U.S. policy on Spain separate from, or which would operate against, the attitude and desires of Western Europe. He made reference to the President’s first point on support of the UN3 and suggested that it is not a policy but a matter of public relations.

  1. Numbered paragraphs 1 and 2 dealt with the procedure for disseminating policy decisions.
  2. The question of the sale of aircraft engines to Spain had been raised at the Under Secretary’s meeting on February 7. Considerations pro and con were raised and the question was held over to the next meeting for resolution. Record of the Under Secretary’s meeting, not printed, 852.24/2–849.
  3. Under reference here is the first point of the United States program for peace and freedom enunciated by President Truman in his Inaugural Address on January 20, 1949, under which the United States would continue to support unfalteringly the United Nations and related agencies and would continue “… to search for ways to strengthen their authority and increase their effectiveness.” For the full text of the President’s address, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Harry S. Truman, 1949, pp. 112 ff.