740.5/8–3054: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in France 1


757. For Ambassador from Secretary. Following is text of proposed statement which I propose to issue tomorrow Aug 31 twelve noon EDST. This has been approved in highest quarters subject to observations you may make and which reach me by ten a m EDST tomorrow

Verbatim text.

The French rejection of the European Defense Community is a grave event.2 France thus turns away from her own historic proposal to merge the military potential of continental European nations into a single European army and thus basically to change the present European system which has regularly produced wars, the last two of which became world wars.
If there is any one area of the world where sovereignty over armament needs to be subordinated, it is Western Continental Europe. [Page 1115] That was the lofty purpose of the EDC Treaty. It grappled with these basic and stubborn facts:
There cannot be an effective defense of Continental Europe without a substantial military contribution from the Germans; yet German rearmament could be dangerous if it occurs in a national form and under a nationalistic German General Staff;
Germany cannot be indefinitely neutralized or otherwise discriminated against in terms of her sovereignty, including the inherent right of self-defense. Any limitations on German sovereignty, to be permanently acceptable, must be international in character, shared by others:
The prevention of war as between neighboring nations which have a long record of fighting cannot be dependably achieved merely by national promises or threats but only by merging certain functions of government into federal institutions.
The French rejection of EDC; without the provision of any alternative means of dealing with the basic ills of Europe, compels the US to reappraise its foreign policies and to adjust them to the resultant situation. The need for such a review can scarcely be questioned since the North Atlantic Council has itself twice declared, with unanimity, that the consummation of EDC was of paramount importance to the European defense it planned. Furthermore, such review is required by conditions which the Congress attached last year and this year to authorizations and appropriations for military contributions to Europe.
Four of the six prospective members of EDC had ratified the treaty—Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. A fifth, Italy, seemed on the point of ratifying. The UK and the US had made far-reaching commitments of association. But now France, after three years of negotiation and discussion, has rejected the Treaty. The rejection was accomplished by votes which came from Communist deputies, who wished Europe divided so that Soviet Russia might extend its rule, and from those whose national patriotism blinded them to the fact that not even a nation as great as France can independently be safe in the fire-trap created by rival European armies.

US post-war policy had assumed that, given US aid and support, Western Europe would at long last develop a unity which would make it immune from war as between its members and defensible against aggression from without.

That assumption had seemed justified. The imperative need for unity was recognized by the leading statesmen of all the free nations of Europe. Such unity was, indeed, the premise upon which vast US aid was extended and accepted.

As said in 1950 by the then President of France, “Europe must unite herself if she wishes to recover and live, and if she does not want American assistance to be a gesture without future.”

The United States, for its part, joined the North Atlantic Treaty defensive alliance with the Western European countries and assisted these countries to recover from the weakening of World War II. Both on the economic and military side we made massive contributions. The US stationed 5 US Divisions in Europe in an effort to implement the European desire for a “forward strategy”. We furthermore made our [Page 1116] leading military figures available to assume high positions in the military organization designed to defend Western Europe.

During the same period the nations of Europe did, in fact, take significant steps toward unity. They associated themselves cooperatively in many ways, and in 1952 created the European Coal and Steel Community3 which, in a limited but important area, merged sovereignty and subordinated nationalism. In May 1952 there was signed the Treaty to create the European Defense Community.4
The US will, of course, remain faithful to the letter and spirit of the North Atlantic Treaty. It should, however, be recalled that that Treaty was made by the US in the conviction that it was the mutual pledges of aid to any victim of aggression that would most powerfully deter aggression.
The US owes it to the Federal Republic of Germany to do quickly all that lies within our power to restore full sovereignty to that Republic and to enable it, by reasonable re-armament, to contribute to international peace and security. The present Treaty to restore German sovereignty is, by its terms, contingent upon the coming in force of EDC. Failure to realize that result, through no fault of Germany’s, must not be allowed to serve as an excuse for penalizing Germany. The West German Republic should resume its place as a free and equal member of the family of nations. That was the purport of the Resolution which the US Senate adopted unanimously last July.5
The US should stand ready to consider sympathetically the plight of the many in Western Europe who are left in grave peril and anxiety. There are, in Europe, men of vision and realism and of action. In this fact lies our greatest hope and that is a hope which the US must not dim by any ill-considered action of its own. It is a tragedy that France has seemingly reverted to a pattern of narrow nationalism which the other members of NATO believe to be contrary to the best interests of them all, including France. That tragedy would be compounded if the US were thereby led to conclude that it too must turn to a course of narrow nationalism. It is a matter of elementary prudence that the United States should change its own arrangements to take account of the new situation now created. We are fortunately so situated that we do not need completely to identify our destiny with policies that seem to us to be self-defeating. But it still remains true that we cannot, in isolation, find safety ourselves.

End verbatim text.

Note to London—You may show this to the Foreign Office indicating that textual changes may still be made.

Note to Paris—Please also transmit David Bruce’s views.6

  1. Repeated for action to London for the Ambassador and to Bonn for Conant.
  2. For documentation concerning the French rejection of the treaty establishing a European Defense Community, see pp. 871 ff.
  3. Documentation concerning the European Coal and Steel Community is presented in volume vi .
  4. For documentation concerning efforts leading up to the signing of the treaty in Paris in May 1952, see pp. 571 ff.
  5. For the text of Senate Resolution 295 approved on July 30, see the Department of State Bulletin, Aug. 23, 1954, p. 284.
  6. For Bruce’s views on Dulles’ draft, see telegram Coled 32 from Paris, Aug. 31, p. 1118.