740.5/1–1651: Telegram

The Ambassador in Portugal (MacVeagh) to the Secretary of State 1

secret

263. Pass Defense. From MacArthur for Perkins. General Eisenhower saw Shinwell yesterday and Bevin and Attlee today and impressed eloquently on all of them necessity for translating plans into action now.2 Following is résumé of views expressed by these 3 Cabinet Ministers who spent considerable time in reminiscing:

1. Shinwell who was energetic in setting forth his ideas expressed view that staffs engaged in plans for building up defensive strength of west are too slow and cautious. Shinwell has been pressing UK Government to move faster and said he, had taken lead in getting UK Government to up its sights in terms of a greater defense effort.

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He favors and will continue to urge larger military budget. He alluded to the political difficulties of NAT countries in making greater defense effort and said “it is not important whether governments stand or fall but whether nations stand or fall”. He believes it most important that British have four divisions in West or in the integrated force as soon as possible this year. He expressed great admiration for Field Marshal Montgomery and expressed hope that appropriate place be found for him in military structure.

2. Bevin who had barely recovered from flu looked very badly. He and General Eisenhower are old friends and Bevin spent much time in personal reminiscences. He was quite insistent that if he could be of help at any time General Eisenhower should come directly to him. Speaking of German rearmament, he said the Big Three should let this question simmer for awhile and avoid talking about it or pressing this particular issue since in his opinion a firm political basis is the prerequisite for German rearmament. (Both Shinwell and Attlee expressed similar view.)

3. Attlee also reminisced at length. He seemed quite optimistic about making progress in the defense field and determined to move ahead.

4. General Eisenhower lunched today with these three Cabinet Ministers and with exception of Shinwell’s apparent greater sense of urgency he detected no differences in their position. [MacArthur.]

MacVeagh
  1. This telegram was repeated to London for Gifford and Spofford and to Paris for Schuyler.
  2. General Eisenhower and his party visited London, January 14–16; on the afternoon of January 16 he flew to Lisbon.