740.5/5–1551

The Embassy in the United Kingdom to the British Foreign Office 1

top secret

Aide-Mémoire

1. The United States Government has for some time had under continuing study the desirability of strengthening the security commitments between the western powers and Greece and Turkey. Such action is considered essential in the light of both political and military considerations.

2. Political factors include the desire of Greece and Turkey to become full parties to the North Atlantic Treaty, their dissatisfaction with their present limited form of association with it, the importance of ensuring their belligerency on the side of the West from the outset of any hostilities between the USSR and the West, the feeling in Greece and Turkey that neither their existing treaty ties with the UK and France nor the so-called “Truman Doctrine” are sufficient to deter Soviet aggression against them, and the importance of preventing in Greece and Turkey the development of public support for a policy of neutrality.

3. From the military point of view it is essential to secure the southern flank of the NAT forces, to control the Mediterranean Sea and to secure air and sea communications throughout that area. Conversely, it is important to ensure that the USSR is not afforded a protected flank for its possible operations against Europe and/or the Middle East as would be the case if Turkey remained neutral. In addition, the [Page 521]entrance of Greece and Turkey on the side of the Western Powers at the outset of a general war would (a) force upon the Soviet a significantly large diversion of effort, (b) contribute to and facilitate the defense of the Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East and (c) provide a major contribution of strength to the Western Powers.

4. One way of accomplishing the objective of strengthening the security commitments to Turkey and Greece would be by the conclusion of a “Mediterranean Treaty” with terms similar to those of the NAT. There are, however, serious objections to the conclusion of such a treaty: (a) It would establish a new military organization which would overlap with the NATO, duplicating and complicating many of the military functions of the latter; (b) It would not achieve the basic objectives of insuring collective action against aggression on the part of all of the nations of Western Europe; (c) It would involve competition for military forces and material between the two separate treaty organizations whereas under a single pact, such as the NAT, the military forces and materials available to the pact nations are allocated among those nations by common agreement; (d) It would require the establishment of additional military commands, channels of command and communications which would be unwieldy and would seriously complicate military operations and planning; (e) It would open the possibility of having to include various other countries in the Mediterranean area such as Syria, Israel, Egypt, etc. Such a possibility involves obvious and serious difficulties and complications.

5. Another means of strengthening the security commitments to Greece and Turkey would be to invite these countries to adhere to the NAT. This course has obvious advantages: (a) It would be the quickest and easiest way of bringing these countries into the overall defense picture, an advantage of great importance in the light of the present world situation; (b) It is the preference of Greece and Turkey themselves and would, therefore, increase their cooperativeness and facilitate their participation in military planning for the area; (c) It would insure their immediate belligerency in the event of war and thus greatly facilitate Western military operations; and (d) Greece and Turkey are already associated with NATO for planning purposes.

6. There are, of course, objections to Greece and Turkey adhering to the NAT: (a) The conception of the North Atlantic community of countries with common cultural, religious, social and economic heritage and future does not readily lend itself to the thought of Greco-Turkish participation; (b) Most parties to the NAT would probably be reluctant to see a broadening of their security commitments, the immediate benefits of which they may not perceive; (c) There would be obvious complications resulting from an enlarged membership.

7. In the light of the above it is the view of the United States Government that the disadvantages of a Mediterranean pact outweigh its [Page 522]advantages and that the advantages of Greek and Turkish adherence to the NAT outweigh its disadvantages. The United States Government, therefore, favors the adherence of Greece and Turkey to the NAT.

8. The United States Government believes that the relationship of Greece and Turkey to the NAT should be discussed by the North Atlantic Council Deputies at a very early date. It hopes that the British Government will share its views that their adherence to the Treaty will be the best solution and would welcome an early indication of its views. A similar approach is being made to the French Government.

9. Despite the recent unauthorized publicity on this subject, the United States Government hopes that any public indication that it is currently under intergovernmental discussion can be avoided.2

  1. Copy transmitted to the Department of State in despatch 5518, May 15, from London.
  2. The Department of State, in telegram Todep 435 to London (6179 to Paris) dated May 17, suggested minor changes in the wording of the aide-mémoire delivered to the French and British on May 15, which would make the text acceptable for presentation by Spofford in the meeting of the Council Deputies on May 21. (740.5/5–1651) The following day, telegram 7043 from Paris informed the Department that the French Cabinet had met on the subject of the aide-mémoire and decided that France could take no position on the matter until after the forthcoming elections. The Embassy believed that in the meantime the French Foreign Office would probably suggest a study and recommendations on military aspects of the problem by the Standing Group of the NATO Military Committee and would object to discussion of the subject in the Council Deputies prior to formation of a new government. (740.5/5–1851)

    Telegram 439 to London (6222 to Paris) dated May 19 stated that after consideration of telegram 7043 from Paris, and in the absence of further information on British thinking, it was believed advisable for Spofford to proceed with his presentation of the U.S. position at the Council Deputies meeting on May 21. (740.5/5–1851)