The Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Perkins) to the Secretary of State


Subject: Policy toward Spain in the General Assembly.


U.S. policy toward Spain is based upon recognition of the following facts: (1) Franco’s position internally is strong, and he enjoys the support of many who, although they would prefer another form of government or another Chief of State, fear that chaos and civil strife [Page 757] would follow any move to overthrow his regime. (2) At present there is no alternative regime in sight which could replace the present government in an orderly fashion since the opposition elements are weak and divided and those which are centered outside Spain have lost touch with former supporters within Spain to such an extent that they no longer exercise effective leadership. (3) Spain is an integral part of Western Europe which should not be indefinitely isolated from the coordinated political, economic and military programs of that area.

Accordingly, the primary U.S. objective in Spain has been, since the end of 1947, the integration of Spain into the Western European community of nations through the progressive normalization of Spanish relations with those countries and with the U.S. It has been recognized, however, that realization of this objective will be difficult without some evolutionary political and economic changes within Spain.

Past Policy toward Spain in the U.S.

The U.N. Resolution of December 12, 1946 has not resulted in the desired, effect of forcing Franco from power. On the contrary there are many indications that it has strengthened Franco’s internal position by allowing him to appeal to traditional Spanish pride and resentment against external interference. It has also risked damaging the prestige of the UN, since eleven member nations have violated the Resolution by returning Ambassadors or Ministers to Madrid. Furthermore that portion of the Resolution recommending withdrawal of Ambassadors is a departure from established American practice that the accrediting of an Ambassador does not signify approval of a government and is of course inconsistent with our maintenance of Ambassadors or Ministers beyond the Iron Curtain.


The Spanish issue has not as yet been placed on the agenda of the General Assembly for the forthcoming session and it now seems doubtful that the subject will come up for discussion. While no complete canvass of sentiment on the Spanish question has been made recently, the Brazilians, who strongly supported Spain in the last GA session, have indicated that they do not intend to bring the matter up at the coming session. The British and French on the working level have also indicated that their Governments hope that the question will not come up for discussion. Although it is recognized that the December 12, 1946 Resolution was a mistake, in view of all the circumstances it would not be in our interests to raise the Spanish issue at the forthcoming meeting of the General Assembly. However, should it be [Page 758] brought up by some other country we could support a resolution on Spain:

which, while reaffirming the undemocratic character of the present Spanish Government, would permit the return of Ambassadors and Ministers to Madrid on the basis that their withdrawal has led to widespread confusion of public opinion and has disregarded the principle that the exchange of Ambassadors with a government does not imply any judgment on the domestic policy of that government;
which would leave it up to the specialized agencies of UN to decide whether or not they would remove the bar to Spanish membership in such agencies.

Such action would have the advantage of eliminating recurring discussions of the two operative parts of the 1946 Resolution (the withdrawal of Ambassadors and the bar to Spanish membership in specialized agencies of the UN) which have in the past provided propaganda benefits to the Soviet group and have also prevented normalization of relations with Spain.1

  1. This memorandum was prepared at the request of the Division of British Commonwealth Affairs in connection with Foreign Secretary Bevin’s visit to the United States for the NATO ministerial meetings in Washington and the Fourth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. The initial draft was prepared by Dunham for MacArthur who forwarded copies to Achilles and Perkins on August 24. Copies of the draft and related documents are in file 852.00/8–2449.