740.5/3–1853: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Italy 1


3773. Reference: Rome Embtel 4062.2 Request that following be brought attention De Gasperi:

US Government greatly concerned over reported decision Italian Government not to seek Lower House action on EDC before elections. We realize that Italian Government faces serious problems in connection with forthcoming elections and Communist efforts to block EDC. We also feel, however, that Italian Government must weigh these factors against effects of Italian Government’s action outside of Italy. Italy up to now has been a leader in the effort to bring about ratification. After Germany, Italy was the first to submit the Treaty to parliament. Italy moved steadily ahead in getting approval of Treaty by Special Commission in Lower House on March 5. Italy has cooperated wholeheartedly in efforts to persuade other countries to move ahead, De Gasperi playing a particularly helpful role at Rome in helping bring French and Germans together.3
These actions have earned for Italy a position of leadership and respect in Europe, and US public and Congressional opinion has also admired Italy’s role.
All this would be lost overnight if Italian Government fails to move ahead with ratification. Instead of being in forefront, Italy would slip to rear. Instead of being leader, Italy would probably be last to ratify.
Italian action would be particularly bad at this moment because it would contrast so sharply with favorable action by German Bundestag.
EDC opponents in France would seize upon Italian action at this time as ready-made excuse for further delays.
Italian estimates that ratification cannot be accomplished until late summer or even September cause particular concern because this means that contractuals, as well as EDC Treaty, could not go into effect until fall. Keenest observers German political scene forecast [Page 778] serious difficulties for Adenauer coalition if contractuals not fully in effect by time German election. If ratification delays result in SPD victory, effective implementation of EDC might either be postponed indefinitely or never take place at all, owing to SPD’s strong anti-EDC position.
If there appears no possibility that Italian Government can alter its decision, US hopes that following can be done by Italian Government to help save situation:
Introduce bill in Senate now and push for its earliest possible action by Italian Senate.
Hold full foreign affairs debate in Lower House before dissolution on resolution giving full endorsement to EDC Treaty. This can be done without danger of Communists filibuster and would prepare favorable climate for prompt Senate action.
At earliest possible moment after election extraordinary session of Lower House to ratify EDC Treaty.
Avoid any public announcement that the Italian Government has decided to postpone Lower House consideration at this time. Public announcement would be particularly comforting to EDC opponents in France.

  1. Drafted by Fessenden, cleared by Knight, Kidd (paragraph 6 only), and Bonbright. Sent also to Paris, repeated to The Hague, Brussels, London, Luxembourg, and Bonn.
  2. Supra.
  3. Reference is presumably to the meeting of the six Foreign Ministers at Rome reported in telegrams Coled 4 and 1, from Paris, Feb. 26 and 27, pp. 740 and 741.