No. 834

740.5/1–1751: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom 1

top secret

3470. For Spofford from Perkins. Fol (re Depto 419 Jan 17)2 provided for ur background guidance at mtg Deputies Jan 22:

1. Fol is gen estimate of situation at this time which susceptible to rapid changes and varied interpretations:

Tito regime has steadily altho cautiously improved its relations with Western Govts. This trend represents mainly attempt at self-preservation rather than any basic change in pol philosophy, and reflects appreciation of principal Yugo Commie leaders that even if they cld heal breach with USSR they wld not continue to hold power. There is no prospect of Tito’s return to graces of Kremlin. All available evidence indicates that break is final and irrevocable.
In order widen its support among Yugo people, overwhelming majority of whom are opposed to Communism, Tito regime has inaugurated number of ostensibly liberal changes in pol and econ system. These changes, however, have not changed basic structure of regime, which remains an anti-democratic dictatorial and repressive Commie regime dependent on its police power for continued existence.
Tito regime has given every sign that it will continue to resist Sov pol, psychological and econ pressures, and will fight if Yugo is attacked. There is no solid evidence of Sov success in winning support among Yugos or in breaking Tito’s grip on YCP and apparatus of Yugo Govt.
USSR’s objective in Yugo is elimination of Tito Govt and its replacement by regime subservient to Moscow. Sov policy for the time being seems to call for continuation of econ, pol, psychological, and subversive pressures short of open mil action either by Sov satellites or by USSR. But, if present rate of improvement in combat effectiveness of satellite armies continues, use of these forces to initiate invasion of Yugo will become serious possibility.
Against satellite attack Yugo armed forces wld be able put up strong defensive fight which if prolonged wld require outside logistical support. They alone cld not withstand for long serious Sov attack.
Extensive drought of 1950 materially reduced Yugo agricultural production and contributed to an already unsound econ situation which constitutes chronic strain on Tito regime. Further outside aid will probably be required, even if Yugos scale down overly ambitious [Page 1694] industrial investment program, in order enable Yugo econ reach point where it can sustain itself.
USSR will spare no effort to exploit this situation by increasing efforts of its agents in espionage, subversion, sabotage, fomentation of labor unrest, and possibly by attempted assassination of Yugo leaders.
Yugo security police probably will be able to maintain internal control even if econ crisis deepens; while impossible make firm estimate of longer-term effects drought under these circumstances, probability is that Tito’s regime can survive period of present econ crisis, although in weakened condition.
However, a softening of Yugo defensive capabilities and will-to-resist will possibly result from econ troubles and might be a factor in bringing on direct military attack. This factor alone, however, will not be decisive in Sov strategy, which will be dictated mainly by Sov estimate of world balance of power and of western reaction to attack on Yugo.
If Tito shld obtain substantial additional aid from west, his position both as party and national leader wld remain comparatively secure.

2. US policy on Yugo has as its basic objective sustain ability Yugo continue resistance to USSR, for these reasons:

Sov success in destroying and supplanting Tito regime wld have tremendous psychological impact on Europe, wld cause renewal and intensification threats to internal and external security Greece and Italy, and wld represent additional blow to influence and morale of UN.
Yugo is vital link in defense of eastern Mediterranean and Near and Middle East. To Sov bloc it is of strategic importance as approach for attacks into Greece and Italy and is important integral part of area which Sovs wld have to dominate to control eastern Mediterranean, Black Sea and Adriatic.
Tito heresy represents rift in internatl Commie movement challenging Kremlin control of world communism as instrument Sov imperialism. While not now possible measure full potentialities “Titoism” as ideological factor weakening Sov power and influence thruout world, in any case Sov success in liquidating Tito wld have profound influence on elements in Sov orbit resisting absolute Kremlin control under inspiration Tito’s example.

3. US Govt assistance to Yugo has been primarily econ. It has consisted of (a) relaxed policy on export licensing which has enabled Tito to import from the US certain 1–A and 1–B items needed to meet shortages and keep Yugo economy afloat;4 (b) favorable [Page 1695] attitude toward small IBRD timber equipment loan to Yugo and Yugo’s $9 million in drawings from IMF; (c) direct credits through Eximbank of $55 million; (d) approval of $35 million loan to Yugo by Ger Fed Republic; (e) consultations with other western Govts to encourage them make favorable trading and credit arrangements for Yugo; (f) $69.4 million grant aid in form foodstuffs to help meet crisis brought on by 1950 drought. In addition US private relief organizations are providing foodstuffs from Govt surplus stocks of market value of over $15 million.

4. In pol field US has endeavored encourage process reorientation Yugo pol relations with non-Commie world and where possible facilitate solution differences between Yugo and its western neighbors in particular Greece as regards resumption normal dip and trade relations and Italy as regards question of FTT. US supported Yugo candidacy for representative on SC to assure it forum in which to demonstrate independence of and resistance to USSR and satellites.

5. US has given continuing attention to military implications of Yugo break with Cominform. Apparently definitive character of break, size and combat potential of Yugo armed forces and obvious strategic considerations make clear Yugo has become important factor in maintenance internatl peace and security in Eur. Conclusion was reached by US more than year ago that US shld look with favor on Yugo purchase of arms in US and other western countries in case Yugo Govt shld make specific requests.5

US believes NATO countries will recognize advantage to western defense of insuring that Yugo is denied to USSR and agree that for this purpose all efforts consonant with major objectives of European defense shld be made to enable Tito to maintain strength of his armed forces and resist aggression if attacked. Situation might arise in which NATO countries will have to face question whether group interests might require provision arms to Yugo in emergency or otherwise take account of Yugo situation in overall planning for Eur defense.

[Page 1696]

In view weakening influence which Yugo econ situation has on Yugo ability resist aggression and despite overextended Yugo payments position US believes NATO countries shld individually take steps within their capabilities to extend to Yugo essential econ assistance particularly by facilitating Yugo imports necessary raw materials. [Perkins.]6

  1. Drafted by Gannett and Huston and cleared by Higgs, DRS, RA, WE, and S/ISA.
  2. Telegram Depto 419 expressed the need for an intelligence estimate and general policy statement on Yugoslavia in advance of a discussion of Yugoslavia scheduled for the Council Deputies’ meeting of January 22. (740.5/1–1751)
  3. A marginal handwritten notation in the source text indicates that no paragraph “j” was included in this message; “k” should have read “j”, but no correction was made before the message was transmitted to London.
  4. For documentation on the relaxed policy on export licensing based on the policy directives contained in NSC 18/4 of November 17, 1949, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. v, pp. 854 ff. Concerning the origin and definition of the 1–A and 1–B lists, see ibid., pp. 61 ff. NSC 18/4 is printed ibid., 1950, vol. iv, p. 1341.
  5. The source text indicates that the following additional language was included in this section as originally drafted but was subsequently deleted and not included in the text as approved and transmitted:

    “and if Yugo position as regards military supplies is clearly deteriorating; (b) it wld be in interest of US to provide Tito, if Yugo is attacked, with military aid in consonance with other US commitments and requirements existing at that time.

    “Yugo Govt has made no approach to US for military aid and none has been offered. Since Tito has publicly indicated, however, that he will have to turn to West for arms if attacked, we have been considering means whereby we can obtain info re Yugo military establishment and verify its requirements in case of attack. Planning to meet Yugo needs will be extremely difficult unless such info is forthcoming.”

  6. At the meeting on January 22, the Council Deputies stated that Yugoslavia’s defection from the Cominform was of the utmost importance and stressed the need to maintain the break and render economic assistance. (Telegram Depto 446 from London January 23, 740.5/1–2351)