501.BC Spain/4–1349: Telegram

The United States Representative at the United Nations (Austin) to the Secretary of State


Delga 28. Personal for the Secretary. The following is summary of views on Spain at delegation meeting today which members of delegation have asked that I communicate to the Department. Discussion based on position set forth SD/A/C.1/2131 and explanation made by Department officers.

Mrs. Roosevelt feared sharp, criticism from influential anti-Communist groups in this country which would feel Department bowing to views of military and special interest groups. Proposed policy would be considered round-about way of recognizing Franco, pointing toward concrete assistance for Spain, if not under ERP, through private channels. Public opinion accepts more lenient policy toward Germany and Italy, since Hitler and Mussolini no longer in power, but Franco remains and Spanish government has not changed in slightest since [Page 738] 1946 GA resolution. Internationally, Mrs. Roosevelt thought position would cauge difficulty for Western European governments, giving strong arguments to Communist opposition which would utilize any modification of anti-Franco resolution for its own ends. Mrs. Roosevelt stated Santa Cruz2 of Chile had told her his government not anxious to lift Spanish bans but would follow US lead and that many Latin American states in similar position. Mrs. Roosevelt recognized it was perhaps too late to change the decision, but she felt we should go into it with our eyes open and Department must expect damaging criticism.

Mr. Dulles said he wanted no misunderstanding as to his position. He fully agreed with Mrs. Roosevelt. If for military and security reasons, it was felt necessary to change our attitude, towards Spain, there was nothing the delegation could do but acquiesce. He thought, however, that US position would be much sounder if strongly opposed to all forms of totalitarianism Fascist as well as Communist. He felt it would be unfortunate to appear to ally ourselves with Fascist totalitarianism for the sake of military expediency, particularly at this juncture in view recent signing Atlantic Pact.3

Jessup4 stated that having examined the papers on our Spanish policy in Department, he did not agree that military considerations were the predominant factor in the Department’s recommendations. He thought that one strong point which should not be overlooked was that the 1946 resolution had not accomplished its purpose but had strengthened rather than weakened Franco.

Cohen5 also fully agreed with Mrs. Roosevelt that the US moral position in Western Europe would be weakened by any change in our attitude toward Spain. He argued that the US could not avoid responsibility for change in Franco policy in eyes of Western Europe, whose opinions had not been given sufficient attention. He thought Spaak’s views especially entitled to more weight than the routine mechanical answers which had been obtained from some Western European foreign offices. Others would necessarily conclude that we were taking the lead in this policy, especially in view of indications that LA opinion was divided. US position in Spain would not be improved by having an ambassador there unless we were interested more in influencing Franco than the Spanish people. The ground, moreover, had not been prepared for full understanding of the US position. Cohen considered that it was perhaps too late for the delegation to [Page 739] helpfully advise the Department on this policy. He thought that the lesson to he learned was the desirability of more advance discussion between Department and delegation in working out positions on major political questions.

At one point, I asked the delegation whether it would have any objection to my informing the Department that it was their, feeling that we might support the repeal of the specialized agencies provision of the resolution apart from repeal of the chiefs of mission proposal. There was no objection.

Delegation is aware of difficulties surrounding Department’s decision in this matter and does not wish, unnecessarily to complicate the problem at this stage. However, the feelings expressed above represent strong convictions. I agreed that they should be communicated to the Department, for its further consideration.

Mr. Canham6 was, not present during the discussion. I would deeply appreciate your advice on this matter.7

  1. Not printed; it recommended that U.S. policy should be as follows: 1. Attempt to play down discussion of the Spanish question in the General Assembly and take no initiative on Spain. 2. Indicate, if asked by other delegations, that the United States was prepared to discuss Spain if it was on the agenda. 3. Support any move by Poland to withdraw Spain from the agenda, but also support inclusion on the agenda of any subsequent item on Spain. 4. Subject to item one the United States should vote for resolutions that permitted Spain to join specialized agencies if their effectiveness would be enhanced thereby and that permitted member states to exchange ambassadors with Spain. 5. The United States should emphasize that this position did not indicate a change in its attitude toward the Franco Government. 6. The United States should not vote for a stronger anti-Franco resolution or for total repeal of the 1946 resolution. (501.BB/4–149)
  2. Hernán Santa Cruz, Chilean Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
  3. For documentation on the signing of the North Atlantic Pact, April 4, 1949 at Washington, see pp. 270 ff.
  4. Dr. Philip C. Jessup, United States Ambassador at Large.
  5. Benjamin V. Cohen, Member of the United States Delegation to the General Assembly.
  6. Erwin B. Canham, Alternate Member of the United States Delegation to the General Assembly.
  7. In Delga 33, April 15, from New York, not printed, Austin transmitted the text of a memorandum by Dulles, dated April 13, which elaborated on his views. (501.BC Spain/4–1549)