740.5/1–1851: Telegram

The Ambassador in Italy (Dunn) to the Secretary of State 1


3105. From MacArthur for Perkins. January 17 General Eisenhower met separately with Prime Minister Salazar, then Dr. Cunha, then with Defense Minister Santos Costa and Portuguese chiefs and finally with President Carmona.2 Following is résumé of conversations:

1. Salazar. After the usual exchange of amenities, General Eisenhower said the purpose of his trip was exploratory to see if there existed in Europe the same sense of urgency and desire for unity and common action to preserve peace as existed in the US. He was convinced that if all of the nations acted together war could be avoided and peace obtained. Salazar fully agreed with this and said he was certain war was not inevitable. General Eisenhower said to succeed in building adequate strength each country would have to strive to do a little more than the other and everyone should put in their brains, their heart, and their hands. Dr. Salazar said that he understood and agreed with what the General had said but that the General would not find this spirit in all European countries. In [Page 433] America, although there might be differences of a tactical and strategic nature among groups in the population, all were basically agreed on the broad outlines of NAT policy. In some other European countries this was not true and large sections of the population had lost confidence in the future of their country. Furthermore, there was a fundamental difference between the Latin countries of Europe on the one one hand and the so-called European Nordic countries and the US on the other. The population of the latter group had an innate sense of civic and moral discipline which permitted democracy to function well whereas there was no such restraint in the Latin countries of Europe where, in the absence of a government having real authority, it was difficult to draw a line between democracy and license.

Dr. Salazar then said every effort should be made to avoid war which if it occurred would leave neither victor nor vanquished, but would be universal catastrophe in which there would be little difference between victory and defeat. This could only be done by strength. General Eisenhower agreed and said there was only one thing worse than war and that would be to have a war and lose it. Salazar said this was true as it would mean living forever in a yoke of slavery. General Eisenhower said that he expressed this even better than he could himself.

Eisenhower then said that in his trip through Europe he was seeking concrete evidence to take back to the American people that the European countries were giving their defense effort first priority and that they understood the need for speedy action and sacrifices to achieve the collective security. This was particularly important as there were elements in the US which believed Europe was not making a real effort and therefore they favored keeping the great strength we are now developing in the US. He as a soldier could not agree with this latter viewpoint and felt the majority of the American people might not agree with it either. Nonetheless it pointed to the necessity for the Europeans making a maximum effort.

The discussion then turned to US efforts to assist in stabilizing European economies through the Marshall Plan as a means of creating economic stability which is a prerequisite for social and political stability and reduction of Communist influence. While paying tribute to success of Marshall Plan in economic stabilization field, Salazar said he believed we had oversimplified the problem since Americans appeared to believe Communism developed only in an atmosphere of great hardship. This was an illusion. While Communism thrived on misery it also developed where there were no great physical hardships and in classes where there was no economic cause for it. This accounts in part for the disappointment Americans seemed to feel in noting a relatively small decrease of Communists strength in some [Page 434] European countries, despite the success of the Marshall Plan in restoring economies of the European countries and bringing about a better living standard.

This led to a discussion on Portugal’s low cost workers housing projects which are springing up all about Lisbon. Salazar explained that the object is to have workers own their dwellings and that they are so financed that at the conclusion of 20 years of small monthly payments the worker becomes the owner. Funds from the social security fund are used to finance these projects so the money works twice for the workers. The meeting concluded with Salazar again wishing Eisenhower success.

2. Cunha: Expressed his pleasure at seeing General Eisenhower in Portugal both as commander of integrated NAT force and as great victor of World War II he felt sure the General would find, in Portugal, an understanding of the situation and a willingness to make every effort to achieve common defense. The situation in Portugal is different from that in other European NAT countries because the internal situation is one of stability. General Eisenhower then spoke of the purpose of his trip, as an exploratory one in which he was seeking concrete evidence to take back to the US that there was, in Europe, an understanding of the gravity of the dangers and willingness to give security first priority. General Eisenhower explained nature of his trip and explained US is taking unprecedented steps in peacetime to build up defensive strength. US is fully determined to achieve strength but there is a question of where this strength should be deployed. He said there existed in US certain opinion which favored making North America a citadel where we would keep military strength now developing. The common task of all is to convince American people by acts that European nations are making every effort to take measures required by situation. In few minutes, when we would see the Defense Minister, he was going to ask for concrete fact, that would make this task easier for him. Cunha said he was sure General Eisenhower would obtain this evidence from his subsequent talking with the Defense Minister and urged him to speak to him with complete frankness.

Cunha then said that for some strange reason the North Atlantic Treaty Organization regarded Portugal as an island and Spain an ocean which separated Portugal from Europe. Portugal was not an island and Spain was not an ocean; both were directly attached to Europe. He felt it urgent that some solution be arrived at for the common defense of the Iberian Peninsula within the framework of the North Atlantic Treaty. General Eisenhower said that he recognized there was a problem. Question however seemed a political problem which he hoped the statesmen would be able to work out. As far as [Page 435] he was concerned, he would like to see all free nations throughout the world line up in defense of Christian civilization. If this could be done, he was sure the Soviets would start no war. The Foreign Minister agreed with this feeling and said last September he had mentioned to Secretary Acheson in New York that even if the present time were not propitious for the inclusion of Spain on the Atlantic Treaty perhaps some preliminary conversation could be undertaken with the Spaniards regarding defense of Iberian Peninsula for such conversations would be useful since if a suitable moment arrived when Spain could be included in NAT, this could then be done speedily without lengthy preliminary conversations. General Eisenhower replied he was not familiar with Cunha’s conversations with Secretary Acheson and that this seemed to be a matter which had been pursued through diplomatic channels.3

3. Santos Costa and Portuguese Chiefs of Staff: This conversation consisted of an outline of Portuguese military program by Santos Costa with discussion of certain specific points. General Eisenhower explained purpose his trip and problems he faces and urged maximum effort in building up effective forces in being et cetera. (Details of this talk being prepared by military side of Eisenhower staff.) Santos Costa did stress importance of receiving military assistance and military end items from US. General Eisenhower subsequently lunched with Cunha and Santos Costa and it was obvious he had made deep impression on latter.

4. Carmona: After the usual exchange of amenities, President Carmona said how happy he was to receive General Eisenhower in Portugal. He himself, as an old military man, who never lost contact with the military, could assure General Eisenhower he could count on the Portuguese soldier who, during the peninsula wars, under guidance of a foreign general, the Duke of Wellington, had proved his worth. Wellington, he said, had counted on the Portuguese to degree on which he could not count on the Spaniards. Marshal Carmona wished General Eisenhower every success in his mission and was sure that he could bring it to successful conclusion. General Eisenhower said that he knew that Wellington in his subsequent campaign in Belgium had often wished to have with him some of his old Portuguese comrades-in-arms. General expressed appreciation for the very warm welcome he had been given in Portugal, and was [Page 436] impressed by what he had heard from the Minister of Defense, the Foreign Minister, and the chiefs of the Portuguese military establishment. The President concluded by repeating his warm wishes for General Eisenhower’s complete success. [MacArthur.]

  1. This telegram was repeated to Paris for General Schuyler and to Lisbon.
  2. Regarding General Eisenhower’s visit to Lisbon, January 16–17, see telegram 269, supra.
  3. Telegram 580, January 19, from Madrid, reported that Army, Navy, and Air Attachés in Madrid had received instructions to proceed to Paris to confer with General Eisenhower on January 22 to discuss the possibility of Spanish membership in NATO and to brief the General on the “Spanish situation.” The Attachés were to avoid any discussion of political considerations. (740.5/1–1951) No record of that discussion has been found in the files of the Department of State. For additional documentation on the attitude of the United States regarding the participation by Spain in NATO, see volume iv .