The Public Affairs Officer of the Embassy in France (Tyler) to the Secretary of State
Reference EDECC London telegram to Washington 373, repeated to Paris as 110.2 Tomap. The well known French journalist, Raymond Aron, whose Gaullist political opinions are sufficiently diluted to make him an acceptable contributor to the moderate morning paper “Le Figaro”, recently wrote an article entitled “The Continuity of American Policy” which appeared on January 25 and in which he used the following words: “… We are not being drawn by American diplomacy into a quarrel which does not concern us. We have, thanks to American diplomacy, the means of waging and of winning a battle on which depends the survival of France as an independent nation”.
These sentiments are rarely expressed in the French press and yet it is probable that they represent the opinion of the majority of the French people.
It may be said that the chief objective of Communist propaganda, which is frequently seconded by the chauvinism prevalent especially in intellectual elements, is to destroy this belief and to make the French people turn against the United States and against any French government whose policy is based on an understanding with America.
The Communist and fellow-travelling press, both in Paris and in the provinces, indeed throughout the territories comprising the French Union, are bent on the task of persuading the French that America is driving them toward military aggression against the Soviet Union [Page 1358] for her own selfish ends, in an attempt to dominate the world. Even if this propaganda does not succeed in producing positive political results, it hopes so to confuse French opinion and to raise so many doubts and false issues in the mind of the average man that the French people will be incapable of playing the role and of acquiring the sense of confidence and of purpose on which their effective participation in the community of free nations depends.
It may be supposed that the strategists of the Communist Party do not expect that their propaganda will generate the popular pressure required to overthrow the government or even to make it modify its policy with regard to its international commitments.
However, there is a secondary and extremely important goal which the Communists want to achieve by the maximum degree of propaganda and popular confusion. This goal, stated in its simplest terms, is that the U.S. should obtain the impression that France is an unreliable partner, and that she is too unstable to play her role as the mainstay of continental European defense. If the U.S. could only be convinced that France is a bad risk, and consequently modify its support of France, and its policy toward Western Europe, this would indeed represent a major propaganda success.
The violent scenes in Parliament, repeated strikes wherever possible, even if doomed to failure from the first, dramatic and pathetic incidents playing on the French dislike of the war in Indo-China and on their craving for peace, all these tricks have the double aim of reducing the confidence of the French people in their own government and in its policy, and of destroying the confidence of France’s allies in her capacity to shoulder her responsibilities.
It is important that we appreciate these long term goals of the Kominform, of which some of the French are themselves aware, and which must be brought home as widely and as deeply as possible to the French people.
Fortunately, however, the Communists are on very tricky ground, psychologically, in these attempts to turn the French people against the North Atlantic Treaty and the MDAP. Their propaganda can turn very fast and irrevocably against them in proportion as the eyes of the French people are opened as to what the Communist game really is.
The joint in the armor of Communist propaganda is the strong and instinctive national loyalty and patriotism of the French. A guiding principle of our efforts in the propaganda field should, it is submitted, be to make the French aware of the real goals of the Communists, rather than to tax our ingenuity in trying to keep up with and refute Communist propaganda and lies.
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The propaganda situation in France with regard to NAT and MDAP may therefore be summarized as follows:
- It may be assumed that a violent and persistent Communist-inspired propaganda campaign against NAT and MDAP will continue indefinitely in spite of apparent failure.
- The object of this campaign is two-fold:
- To poison and confuse French opinion on international issues and national defense, and
- In the words of the London Times of Monday, January 30, “To show France up as a nation upon which the West can place no reliance in the contest with the East”.
- The priority objective of joint propaganda consultation and activities by the French and ourselves is to open the eyes of the French people and especially labor to the true character and aims of the Communist Party.
- This can not be achieved by a direct American-sponsored publicity compaign, but by the exposure of Communist intentions through concerted French publicity efforts.
The purpose of the Consultative Information Policy Committee set up by the French and ourselves will be to consider what information measures should be taken, and the means whereby they should be executed.
- Not printed.↩