No. 353

S/SNSC files, lot 63D351, NSC 72

Draft Report by the Secretary of State to the National Security Council 2

top secret
NSC 72/2

United States Policy Toward Spain

the problem

1. Changing conditions resulting from Soviet-inspired aggression and the consequent increasing danger of global war, require a reconsideration of U.S. policy toward Spain which will serve the immediate requirements of our national security.


2. The potential military value of Spain’s geographic position grows steadily in direct proportion to the deterioration of the international situation. It is necessary to incorporate Spain into the strategic planning for the Western European, Mediterranean and North Atlantic areas which are essential to our national security. [Page 774] This necessity is becoming urgent, as in the case of German participation in the Western European defense system.

3. Our ultimate objective should be to obtain Spanish participation in the MDAP and the NAT. Although this is still not practicable, for the reasons indicated in NSC 72/1, we should begin now to provide for the contribution Spain can make to the common defense in a manner consonant with our basic policy objectives in the NAT area.3

4. In the event of a Soviet attack on Western Europe, the Spanish Government, spurned for several years by the Western Nations, is entirely capable of attempting neutrality. The longer we delay before seeking Spanish cooperation, the more we encourage this neutrality sentiment, or at least encourage the Spaniards to place an exorbitantly high price on their cooperation. On the other hand, the sooner we decide that Spain shall play a role in the common defense of the Western European, Mediterranean and North Atlantic areas, the more time we will have to obtain the detailed information needed to determine what is required to make effective use of Spanish bases and manpower. At present, Spanish forces have no offensive capabilities and only the most limited defensive capabilities; in order to contribute militarily they would consequently require extensive re-equipping and training. The use of bases would also require action to overcome such serious handicaps as the inadequacy of Spanish air fields and their limited storage and repair facilities, the absence of radio and navigational equipment, inadequate and debilitated port facilities, railroads and highways and inadequate tele-communication facilities.

5. Thus, if we do not soon determine to exploit Spain’s strategic geographic position and to develop its military potentialities, manpower and resources, we may well lose the opportunity.

6. NSC 72, submitted by the Secretary of Defense, presents the desirability of close military relations with Spain, and preferably Spanish participation in the NAT; NSC 72/1, presented by the Secretary [Page 775] of State, outlines the political reasons which militate against such action at this time. Although there has been a noticeable change of attitude in Western Europe toward Spain, U.S. sponsorship at this time of Spanish membership in the NAT would be premature and would endanger our fundamental policy objectives in Western Europe. Nevertheless, there are many steps which can and should be taken now. We can demonstrate to our allies, and particularly to the British and French, that preparation of Spain for the part it can play militarily and strategically will be complementary to our joint defense plans for Western Europe and that Spain’s contribution can be made to the effective deterrent power of the West rather than to a line of defense behind the Pyrenees. The United States and to a lesser extent some of our allies, are now in a position to increase the military value of Spain in a manner which will contribute to the development of strength in the Western European, Mediterranean and North Atlantic areas.


7. The immediate objectives of United States policy toward Spain should be:

a. To develop the military potentialities of Spain’s strategic geographic position for the common defense of the NAT area. All action in this regard should be guided by the political considerations set forth in NSC 72/1.

b. To concentrate planning on the use of Spain for the common defense, not for the defense of the Iberian Peninsula. U.S. officials should emphasize in all discussions that the primary role envisaged for Spain is in support of the common policy of defending, not liberating Western Europe.

c. To approach the Spanish Government, when plans are completed, in order to acquire such facilities as bases for long-range bomber and fighter operations and behind-the-lines staging areas. We should similarly complete plans and approach the Spanish Government for bases for naval operations.

d. To permit the sale of military equipment to Spain. All action in this regard should be guided by the principle that the NAT countries have priority for our aid and for matériel under the NAT, MDAP, and ERP. We should release from the Defense Department through the CAA, either direct to the Spaniards or through the U.S. air lines operating in Spain, as much as possible of the air navigational aids and other electronic equipment which the Spanish Government requested last June during the renegotiation of the Civil Air Agreement.

e. The following should also be provided for in the field of military and naval cooperation:

completion of surveys concerning the military requirements and capabilities of Spain;
provision for mutual interchange of information;
consultation regarding Spanish defense plans;
technical advice in problems of Spanish military and naval production and supplies;
consultation and technical advice concerning the improvement of Spanish ports, roads, railroads, telecommunications and airfields.

f. Relations with Spanish officials, inherent in the foregoing recommendations, should be carried out through the Embassy in Madrid and the offices of the service Attaches without special missions or emissaries.

g. To assist the Spaniards to improve their relations with the NAT nations in order to obtain a cooperative attitude toward the objectives of the NAT.

h. This policy should be discussed with the British and French Governments for the purpose of informing them of our decision and, if possible, of agreeing on a common policy; if and when the latter is achieved, the NAT Council of Deputies should be informed and an effort made to establish a common NAT policy along these lines.

8. The ultimate objective of United States policy toward Spain should be:

a. To obtain Spanish participation in the NAT. While this is not politically practicable at this time, we should prepare the way for discussions with our NAT allies, particularly with the British and French, to achieve this objective.

b. To reach agreement within the NAT on Spanish participation, and thereafter to initiate discussions with the Spanish Government. Contribution of Spanish troops to the integrated Defense forces should be presented as a necessary step to Spanish admission to the NAT and as a basis for the establishment of military assistance under the MDAP.

  1. As early as January 5 a draft memorandum designed to reconcile the conflicting views of NSC 72 and 72/1 (see ibid., pp. 1560 and 1570, respectively), was circulating within the Department of State. It had been read by Paul Culbertson, former Counselor of Embassy in Madrid; Francis T. Williamson, Deputy Director of the Office of Western European Affairs; James Bonbright, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs; and George Perkins, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs. The draft was approved in substance by Deputy Under Secretary of State H. Freeman Matthews, and on January 15, 1951, Secretary Acheson transmitted the draft to James S. Lay, the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council, who circulated it as a report to the National Security Council and designated it as NSC 72/2. The source text was circulated with a cover sheet and a note of transmission by Lay.
  2. In despatch 788, January 11, the Chargé in Spain, John Wesley Jones, informed the Department of State that “a reliable source” had reported that General Franco had recently expressed the intention “to contribute Spanish armed forces in a combined general defense of Europe.” Franco reportedly declared that he was “prepared to contribute to a European army under the leadership of General Eisenhower a proportionate number of the troops that France and the U.K. would contribute to such an army … Spain’s contribution (up to 1,000,000 men) would, he added, depend upon United States willingness to arm and equip the Spanish expeditionary force. He also indicated that this contribution would be made only if General Eisenhower were the supreme European commander.” Chargé Jones passed this report to the Department “with some reserve” since the source “may have over-stated the substantive parts of the interview” in order to enhance his own importance or for the purpose of quickening American interest in some sort of early bilateral military arrangement with Spain. (752.55/1–1151)