Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs ( Perkins ) to the Secretary of State 1
I understand that you are seeing Sir Oliver Franks this week prior to his return to London and that you intend to discuss with him the present difficulties in Anglo-American relations and the potential sources of difficulties in the immediate future. We have worked up a comprehensive list of such items but it is clear that a great many of the individual cases are either relatively unimportant and are being handled in the normal course of business at the working level, or are not expected to raise acute problems in the near future.
For your use at the present time, I am attaching lists covering two types of problems: Tab A—those which are important and which require urgent solution, and Tab B—those which are important but which do not require urgent action although they may flare up at any time. The problems are stated in very summary fashion but can, of course, be expanded if you wish. Even though it might be desirable to postpone the resolution of difficult issues until after the British elections on February 23, the matters in the first category cannot wait. I recommend, therefore, that you describe these to Sir Oliver and point out the reasons (given in Tab A) why we will have to continue to press on these points. You may wish also to run over the second category problems briefly and to indicate that while we are trying to keep these matters quiescent in the next few weeks, they may flare up and our hand may be forced. On our part, we can try to minimize frictions between us in the immediate future.
There are some difficulties on the British side which they can and should attempt to handle. It is clear that they are obsessed by the feeling that they must cut their overseas and defense expenses, sterling as well as dollar expenses, so as to save every possible penny. This causes them, in our opinion, to put undue weight on the financial aspects of their foreign problems. They should try to accept the assurances which you gave Sir Oliver some weeks ago that we are conscious of their fiscal problem, that we are evidencing our concern through the very large financial assistance which we are giving them and that we will not ask them to extend themselves beyond what seems reasonable.
There have been a number of instances recently in which the British have taken very firm and, to us, unreasonable positions with the statement [Page 1611] that such positions represent Cabinet decisions which cannot be changed. Such an approach toward the mutual working out of problems leads to difficulty. We have been told by the British as well as our own people that there is currently in the United Kingdom a feeling that we are trying to push them around and there is reaction against us for that reason. These waves come periodically and this one will be intensified by the election campaign and the self-hypnosis which election speeches glorifying the Labor Government will cause. It seems to me fair that we should ask that responsible Government officials try to take a longer range view point and to discount as much as possible the election fever.
I should also suggest that you mention to Sir Oliver that it might be desirable, after the election, to have a fairly full review of all outstanding issues, first at the working level and then, to the extent necessary, at higher levels so that the points of friction, actual and potential, may be eliminated as far as possible.
- At the top of the source text was the handwritten notation: “I took up only Tab A as amended by my note thereon. D[ean] A[cheson]” Regarding Secretary Acheson’s conversation with Ambassador Franks, see memorandum of conversation, infra.↩
- Next to this paragraph in the source text was the handwritten notation “I did not mention this. D[ean] A[cheson].”↩