740.5/1–1151: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Netherlands ( Chapin ) to the Secretary of State 1

secret

1006. From MacArthur. Following résumé Spaak’s conversation General Eisenhower:2

Spaak began by saying Eisenhower statement Paris3 hit exactly right note and produced excellent effect Belgium. He agreed with Eisenhower NAT countries had capability building adequate defense strength but stressed to galvanize them into necessary action and obtain wide popular support, task must be presented in light new approach to problem.4 Explained with exception UK, all countries West Europe have in recent years seen their armies quickly crushed in war. Their armies have never been victorious although their countries have sided with victors. Actually Europeans have no confidence their national military establishments and hence our present effort should present objective not as rebuilding individual French, Belgian, German or Italian defense establishments but as new concept of united and fully integrated defense force for preservation West community. It important Europeans look forward and not backward at distant memories of glorious military past. Then stressed US participation essential as is US military leadership. Only US General could hold Europeans together and be accepted as acting with reasonable impartiality because of traditional and long-standing rivalries, prejudices, et cetera. He reiterated belief problem building adequate defense strength is manageable and that General Eisenhower would succeed. Said Europeans have no confidence in committee or subcommittees such as exist NAT and Brussels Pact being able take any effective action. This great effort must be centered in great leader. European will look to and follow leader who personifies task but will not do this for a committee. Spaak concluded that General Eisenhower such a leader and he would give him his wholehearted support.

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General Eisenhower expressed thought human spirit also very important and that appropriate and timely references great past achievements could serve to assist restoring morale and desire and courage to face up to the job. Spaak agreed but said something new and additional must be offered as concept for reasons set forth above.

Turning to Korea, Spaak said he understood Americans were worried over Europeans’ attitude. Europe, he said, felt same sort isolationism towards Korea that US felt towards Europe 1914. Korea remote to Europeans. They could not understand getting involved Far East or being asked assist there when Europe totally undefended. They felt they and US should concentrate on building up European defense strength and not pour our limited military resources into bottomless pit Far East.5

Spaak disturbed by effect Hoover and Taft speeches6 on US public. Said Hoover implied US aid Europe been failure. This totally untrue. Marshall Plan succeeded beyond imagination and had in fact made possible our new effort build up defense strength. [MacArthur.]

Chapin
  1. This telegram was repeated to Brussels for Murphy.
  2. A somewhat briefer report on Eisenhower’s conversation with Spaak was reported in telegram 1153, January 12, from Brussels, which indicated that Spaak called at the American Embassy residence in Brussels on January 9 and had an informal conversation with Eisenhower for about 1 hour (740.5/1–1251).
  3. Regarding the statement under reference here, see footnote 2, p. 403.
  4. Telegram 1153, January 12, from Brussels (see footnote 2, above), reported that Spaak assured Eisenhower that Belgium would cheerfully bear its share of the European defense burden once it was galvanized into action and clearly understood what was expected of it. Spaak criticized the current Belgian Government as being weak and ineffective with special reference to the current Defense Minister. Spaak explained for that reason and because of defects in the proposed Belgian military legislation, the Belgian Socialist Party had been unwilling to vote in favor of the defense program. That did not mean that the Socialists did not support the defense effort. The telegram concluded: “General Eisenhower made some tactful and pointed references to attitude of Belgian Socialists regarding defense measures with apparently good effect.”
  5. For documentation on the diplomacy of the war in Korea, see volume vii .
  6. The reference here is to the speeches on December 20, 1950, by former President Hoover and on January 5, 1951, by Senator Taft opposing American troop commitments to Europe. Regarding these speeches, see the editorial note, p. 14.