S/S–NSC Files: Lot 63 D 351: NSC 72 Series

A Report to the National Security Council by the Secretary of State1

top secret

NSC 72/1

Views of the Department of State on United States Policy Toward Spain

As expressed in NSC 72,2 the JCS: (1) “in light of the worsening world situation and the likelihood that the NAT countries could not, now or during the next several years, defend France and the Low Countries successfully in event of Soviet attack, consider it of paramount importance that the United States and its allies take proper steps to assure that Spain will be an ally in event of war”; (2) “strongly recommend that the Department of State take action without delay to assure to the United States and its allies military accessibility to and military cooperation with Spain either bilaterally or through the acceptance of that nation as a signatory to the NAT or Western Union Treaty”; and (3) “feel strongly that some way must be found to overcome the political objections of the United Kingdom and France to improvement of their relations with Spain …”3

The JCS position is apparently based on the premise that “the NAT countries could not, now or during the next several years, defend France and the Low Countries successfully in event of Soviet attack”, NAT planning, however, is based on the agreed concept that major hostilities are not a probability before 1954, although the possibility cannot be entirely excluded. Moreover, it has also been agreed in the strategic guidance for North Atlantic Regional Planning that “special emphasis must be placed on the defense of Europe since its loss might well be fatal to the defense of the North Atlantic territories as a whole”. The strategic concept is, therefore, based on defense of the North Atlantic Treaty area as far to the north and east as possible.

The NAT is the basis of U.S. policy in Western Europe. The overriding purpose of the NAT is to prevent a war. Thus, in considering problems such as possible admission to membership in NAT of Spain or any other country, we must give great weight to the political effect that such a proposal would have, at this time, on Western European support of measures necessary for the successful achievement of any NAT goals and on the efficacy of U.S. leadership which is essential to [Page 1571] the success of the NAT. Our major national policy in “Western Europe is designed to prevent war by strengthening and developing the NAT nations, politically, economically and militarily, to resist the menace of Communist aggression. We and the Western Europeans have agreed upon this joint policy. Its success depends upon the closest possible cooperation between all the participants and upon collective determination to achieve progressively greater ability to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area. A purely negative anti-Communist policy could not possibly command the popular support, or stimulate morale to the same extent, as a positive program of mutual cooperation to support and strengthen the western democracies. The participation of Spain is opposed by many important elements in Western Europe and by some in the U.S. as being contrary to this stated objective. Politically, Spain is considered by many important elements to be alien to the underlying purposes of this policy. Any action by the U.S. to bring about the participation of Spain would cause dissension and controversy among our allies, thus weakening rather than strengthening the collective effort, and would seriously impair our position of leadership by casting doubt on our statements that American policy in Western Europe is designed to strengthen the collective effort to safeguard and strengthen democracy. Furthermore, our action would be construed as proof of our belief in the imminence of war and as a sign that we are preparing to build up Spain for the purpose of establishing the real line of defense on the Pyrenees, thus abandoning the Western European nations whose security our policy is designed to strengthen. As recently as June 6 the Spanish Foreign Minister told our Chargé that Spain would not accept an invitation to join the NAT since it did not believe France could be held against the USSR; and that we should assist Spain and Portugal directly to defend the Iberian Peninsula. These views are undoubtedly known to Western European officials as well, and a unilaterial move by the U.S. along the lines suggested by the JCS would confirm existing fears in Western Europe that we intend to abandon them. The resulting reaction in Western Europe would undermine their will to resist, with serious consequences for our whole effort to provide for the security of Western Europe and the North Atlantic area.

It is consequently the Department’s opinion that no bilateral or other steps should be undertaken with respect to Spain which are likely to jeopardize U.S. leadership in Western Europe or the basic principles on which the North Atlantic Treaty is founded. Any steps which are taken should be in accordance with the spirit and purposes of the North Atlantic Treaty after full consultation with and agreement by all the participants.

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The Department is fully aware of the desirability of developing relations with Spain which will permit closer military cooperation. In the Department’s opinion, however, the political considerations outlined above make the program suggested by the JCS politically impracticable at this time. The Department would nevertheless favor further study of this problem between the Departments of State and Defense in order that the dimensions of the problems involved may be assessed. The Department requires more exact advice about the program the JCS desire to carry out in Spain and, in addition, precise and detailed information indicating what requirements would be involved in “military accessibility to and military cooperation with Spain”. The Department of State believes that such information and further study and discussion at the staff and consultant level of the problems involved is necessary before NSC 72 can profitably be discussed by the Council.4

  1. Attached to the source text were a cover sheet and a note by Lay, stating that this paper was being circulated for the information of the National Security Council, neither printed. (S/S–NSC Files: Lot 63 D 351: NSC 72 Series)
  2. Regarding NSC 72, see Bradley’s memorandum of May 3 and footnote 3 thereto, p. 1560.
  3. Omission indicated in the source text.
  4. At its 60th meeting on July 6 the National Security Council discussed NSC 72 and 72/1 and deferred further action until the next meeting of the Council. No further Council action was taken in 1950, but officers in the State Department’s Bureau of European Affairs continued to explore the possibility of future Spanish inclusion in the Western defense establishment. See memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs to the Secretary of State, November 25, p. 1577.