740.5/2–1652: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the President 1

[Dear Mr. President:] One of the matters which we find in discussions which we have had with Eden alone and with Eden and Schuman together2 is the intense worry of French over the possibility that the Germans having begun their rearming might secede from European Defense Community and shake themselves loose from association with and control by Western Europe. This had already become apparent in the messages which Schuman sent to me before I left Washington.3 This has now reached the point where French Govt has included in proposed compromise draft resolution on EDC a recommendation from the Parliament to the Govt “to ask British and US Govts to guarantee the undertakings made with respect to EDC against breach or violation of treaty by one member nation, this guarantee being realized (realisee) by maintenance of sufficient US and British troops on the European Continent as long as it appears necessary”. These troops would be in effect the so-called guarantee. This question of a “guarantee” was discussed by Schuman with Eden and me. Eden has some sort of Cabinet approval for a “guarantee”, the exact form of which is not decided but which in his words will put Great Britain against anyone who breaks out of the ring.

I said to them that the President had under consideration the possibility of stating in his message to the Congress transmitting contractual [Page 79] agreements with Germany that this whole arrangement was premised upon Germany’s joining in and loyally adhering to the EDC and should that supposition prove unfounded, it would be a matter of greatest concern to the US. They were interested in the possibility of our going further. I said to them that I believed the President would feel in the political situation existing in the US at this time that he must stay within policies which already had strong and expressed Congressional approval. Fortunately, there were such policies. In the ECA and MSA legislation and separate resolutions of the House and Senate, Congress has gone on record many times in insisting that American policy support in the most emphatic way the integration of Europe. Certainly the EDC represented that policy. Also Congressional resolutions, particularly those relating to troops for Europe, had approved the maintenance of our forces in Europe as long as those might be necessary for the security of the West. The latter was along the lines of what had been suggested to the French Parliament as a guarantee of the integrity of the EDC. Therefore, we must keep our action along lines of this sort.

In our discussion with Schuman and Eden, one or the other of them suggested we must relate these two matters. That is, our interest in integration and the presence of our troops in Europe. Today we further discussed this with Eden and everyone agreed this was most unwise. I said I understood that Adenauer would take a most adverse attitude toward any position which appeared to be directed solely against Germany. Therefore, whatever was done must be general in scope. It also came out clearly that the problem was not merely a German problem, but might result equally from Communist developments in Italy or De Gaullist developments in France and that, therefore, the lines must clearly be general. It must be made clear that our troops are not in Europe to police the obligations of friends but to prevent aggression from without. Any suggestion to the contrary would be most disadvantageous.

Eden believes that some statement along the guarantee lines should be made prior to or at Lisbon. We have expressed grave doubts about that. We have felt that any statement on behalf of the US should be made by you either at the signing of the EDC treaty or the submission of the contractual relations to Congress or both and should not be put out here. It should be done only after you have had a chance to lay a foundation with the Congressional leaders showing that what you had done was well within the line already laid down by Congress. We might, however, make a statement at the end of the quadripartite meetings in London which would not carry any connotation of guarantees, but would underline the basic character of EDC as fundamental to the contractual agreements and our future relations with NATO.

[Page 80]

It is possible that it might be desirable for the British, if they wished, to make a separate statement on this subject of guarantees in the near future. This could be made before the US made any statement. In thinking about this possibility, we ought to have in mind that one of the great criticisms in the US of British is their aloofness to the EDC and to continental European arrangements generally. Here might be an opportunity where the British could take the initiative and disarm a great deal of criticism. As I have said, I am not clear what Mr. Eden has in mind, but if it is constructive as I believe it to be, their making an announcement before we did ought to be an act which would be gladly accepted in the US and on the continent. Therefore we should not oppose a statement by the UK just because it preceded whatever action the US might take.

Since this was dictated we have had word from Paris that Mr. Schuman in the French Parliament has made statements which to say the least put the rosiest light upon our exploratory talks. We have not wished to make his task harder by engaging in a battle of statements, but have tried to guide the press into the line that our talks were exploratory within the limits of existing and expressed Congressional policy.4

  1. This message was transmitted as niact telegram Actel 2, Feb. 16, 9 p.m., from London, with the instructions that it be delivered as soon as possible to the President. A copy was also to be furnished to the Acting Secretary.
  2. The reference is to Acheson’s meetings with Eden on Feb. 13, 14, and 16, and his meeting with Eden and Schuman on Feb. 14; for the records of these meetings, see pp. 38, 39, 45, and 40, respectively.
  3. For Schuman’s message of Jan. 29 to Acheson, see p. 7.
  4. Telegram Actel 3, Feb. 18, from London, reads as follows:

    “For ur info Secy has recvd from Pres through Air channels reply dtd Feb 18 to Actel 2 which reads: ‘Your blank seems to be right approach. Fr Govt seems to have reached conclusion which can make Lisbon conf success, keep Brit and Fr on objective as ur msg shows you are doing.’” (740.5/2–1852)