110.15 MC/5–1950: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in France


2305. Christian Science Monitor, May 16, contains Volney Hurd1 article reporting Letourneau criticism McGhee’s Oklahoma City speech May 8 re US interests in Africa.2

Far from reiterating “a current Amer fashion for independence for everyone everywhere”, speech was designed clarify US position by circumscribing this popular concept of our approach to Africa with limitations which we recognize as necessary. Thus self-govt and independence are not advocated indiscriminately but under proper conditions and timing.

Moreover, far from presaging “US bid to move into Fr area” of Africa, speech emphasizes US (1) not in a position exercise direct responsibility in Africa; (2) desires cooperate with administering powers wherever possible; (3) does not desire to extend its world responsibilities; [Page 1544] (4) recognizes value long African experience of Metropolitan powers and our lack of it; (5) recognizes difficulty of task and need for long-term planning; and (6) disclaims any desire displace colonial powers.

Inur discretion discuss with appropriate Fr auths and advise whether Fr Govt’s reaction is same as Letourneau’s.3

Air mailing exact text speech.

  1. Volney D. Hurd, chief of the Paris News Bureau of the Christian Science Monitor.
  2. Regarding Assistant Secretary of State McGhee’s speech of May 8 under reference here, see the editorial note, p. 1540. The circumstances of French Minister for Overseas France Jean Lefourneau’s comments thereon are described in telegram 2730, June 7, from Paris, infra.
  3. Assistant Secretary of State McGhee took up the Letourneau “criticism” with French Ambassador Henri Bonnet during a call by the latter at the Department of State on a separate matter on May 25. McGhee explained that he had endeavored to be very moderate in his May 8 speech on Africa, and he hoped that Minister Letourneau had not misinterpreted the speech (memorandum of conversation by Jerome It. Lavallee of the Office of African and Near Eastern Affairs, May 25: 745K.00/5–2550).