Memorandum by the Secretary of State1
This very interesting report of Gene Rostow’s bears on the question I asked the other day—Where did we go wrong? What did we miscalculate or overlook?
As I look back on the situation the fault lay primarily with me in this way.
As we foresaw the talks, discussion of devaluation was a possibility but an improbability. It was left to the British. It seemed quite impossible that the British would tell us when and how much.
When to our great surprise they did just this and it turned out that action was imminent, we were told under restrictions which made [Page 848] impossible any discussion within the Department. We also were not told the moment, only the range, until the last, since the British had not decided.
Frankly, I did not grasp the significance of the amount of devaluation and the connection of it with our talks upon the Europeans. Probably I should have understood this and insisted that the French be brought in. I think that the British would have refused. Would any of you have foreseen the consequences?
How could the British have done otherwise than they did? Did they take advantage of us?
What do we learn from this?
- Addressed to Messrs. Kennan, Thorp, Rusk, and Webb.↩
- Rostow’s memorandum was transmitted as an attachment to a letter to Secretary Acheson, dated October 12, not printed, in which he wrote that the “… British devaluation looks in Europe almost like the Anglo-German Naval Treaty of 1935, or other episodes of a similar character, which have the capacity to shake confidence and alter policy in a fundamental way.” Rostow did not see how United States foreign policy could safely rest on any premise other than “… complete and intimate Anglo-French cooperation on every issue …” (841.51/10–1949)↩