The Chargé in Spain (Culbertson) to the Acting Secretary of State 1


No. 262

Sir: I have the honor to request for my guidance and information clarification of our policy toward Spain.

The recent public enunciations of American policy toward Spain leave it quite clear that there has been no material deviation from our basic interest of integrating Spain politically, economically and militarily into the grouping of Western nations. It is not clear to me, however, whether the Secretary’s statements on May 4 and May 112 have laid down political and economic conditions precedent which must be fulfilled before there will be any further modification in our attitude toward and treatment of Spain. If that be the case, who is to determine the point at which adequate fulfillment has been reached? Will the test be satisfaction for United States sentiments or will it be that of France and/or Great Britain?

If we are to require strict compliance with the various points brought out in the May 11 statement, we should recognize right now that such compliance will not be forthcoming in the foreseeable future. The conditions do not fit Spanish character or history. Also, if we are to await a time when the political groupings presently in control in France and England will accept Spain and our position is to be dependent on that acceptance, we have a long time to wait. The emotional aspect of French and British political attitude toward Spain and the Spanish question is much more pronounced than that of the United States. The British-French economic attitude, including ECA, is not however emotional. It is very realistic. They are not going to divide the ECA melon with Spain but they are going to do all they can to expand their fields of sale to Spain, obtain outlets for their own growing overproduction made possible by reason of ECA help. These activities do not apparently arouse the non-Communist sentiment in Europe which seems to be of such concern when the Spanish question comes up in the United Nations.

It was, as I understand it, out of deference to that reported non-Communist sentiment that we at the last moment modified our position [Page 746] with regard to the vote on the return of ambassadors to Madrid. According to the press, that change of position brought forth criticism of the Department’s Spanish policy from outstanding Congressional leaders. It is my guess that it was because of this criticism that the Secretary made his May 11 statement, a statement which, if I may be permitted to say so, looks like a very hastily drawn document into which many draftsmen inserted their ideas.

The Spanish question, so far as the United Nations General Assembly is concerned, is a dead issue until the next meeting of the Assembly. I presume that the Department will allow the question to rest in status quo. However, September is not a great length of time away. Are we, in the face of the views of Senators Connally, Vandenberg and others as well as the editorial position of the Washington Post and other prominent newspapers, going to maintain our position of abstention on the question of the return of, ambassadors to Madrid? It is my view that we should return, to our original position and stick with it.

As reported in Embassy despatch no. 2613 of today’s date, the Foreign Office has made representations with regard to the Secretary’s May 4 Statement on Spain’s chances for credits from the Export-Import Bank. It had been my anticipation that the Bank would determine the question of credit risk and not the Department, except in so far as the Department is represented on the Bank Board.

Respectfully yours,

Paul T. Culbertson
  1. Secretary Acheson was in Paris attending the Sixth Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers; for documentation on the United States participation in the deliberations of the Council, see volume iii , chapter vi.
  2. On May 4 at a press conference Secretary Acheson had said that the Department of State had no political objections to an Export-Import Bank loan to Spain and was not standing in the way of Spanish negotiations with the bank, but that he regarded Spain as a poor risk as long as it did not adjust its balance of payments and make other financial reforms. Regarding the Secretary’s statement on May 11, see editorial note, p. 743.
  3. Not printed; in its note verbale No. 410 of May 19, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed “its most vehement protest” against the Secretary’s remarks which represented “an unfriendly opinion with respect to Spanish internal organization and do not accord with the facts in denying the capacity of the Spanish economy to pay interest and amortization on whatever firm commitment it may acquire.…”

    In its reply on May 23, Embassy Madrid expressed its regret that the Ministry found any sense of questioning of the “… integrity of the Spanish Government in respect of her financial and other commitments. It is with certainty that no such implication was intended.” (825:51/5–2349)