740.5/1–1752: Telegram

The Ambassador in Belgium (Murphy) to the Department of State 1

secret

986. New Belgian Prime Minister Van Houtte spoke to me frankly today about Belgian attitude re European Defense Community. In referring again to current discount of possibility of war on part of Belgian public and Parliament he said that abstention of UK is dominant factor in Belgian thinking. Belgians accustomed to rely on Great Britain for protection coupled with knowledge that behind UK is US. Their absence from EDC deprives that organization of security factor. Belgians, he said do not trust either France or Germany (he referred to incident period Franco-Prussian war when Napoleon III was ready to agree with Bismarck for territorial division of Belgium). Confident that Pleven plan represents French notion of dominating situation but in end it will be Germany who will dominate leaving small countries like Belgium exposed and helpless. He distrusts political superstructure [Page 587]of Pleven plan and does not understand why under present circumstances interntl mil force under auspices of NATO with Germany accepted as member of NATO shld not be adequate and acceptable to France. Convinced Belgian Parliament backed by public opinion, would not accept surrender sovereignty inherent in Pleven plan.

I referred to Secretary’s conversation with Belgian Amb2 and to US concern over delay in arriving at European community action stressing US view of urgency. Van Houtte expressed confidence our objectives identical with Belgium but is unimpressed with efficacy of Pleven formula. He shrugged his shoulders in response to my suggestion that advantage be taken of “historic moment” mentioned by McCloy when France and Germany together with Italy seem prepared to agree on EDC. His skepticism, he said, is founded on distrust of both France and Germany for different reasons. He prefers to look to UK and US within framework of an Atlantic community.

His expressed views as well as Van Zeeland’s do not harmonize with optimism of De Staercke mentioned in London’s 820.3

Murphy
  1. Repeated for information to Paris, London, and Bonn.
  2. See telegram 1023, Jan. 11, to Brussels, p. 582.
  3. Not printed; in it Ambassador Spofford reported on a conversation with De Staercke who expressed optimism at the prospects of reaching an early and generally satisfactory agreement on a European Defense Community—possibly within 2 weeks. (740.5/1–1652)