The Counselor of Embassy in Belgium ( Sprouse ) to the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs ( Merchant )


Dear Livie : With the failure of the Brussels Conference on EDC and the unfavorable vote in the French National Assembly, there has been some criticism here of the role played by Spaak. Some of it has emanated from within his own party. As you know, the Socialist Party here is not united on foreign policy and the principal opposition to EDC came from Socialist quarters.

We have discussed this criticism briefly in our despatch 189 of September 11 (which you may wish to have brought to your attention) but hesitated to make too much of it in a telegram lest the wrong impression be created in Washington. As we emphasized in our despatch the recent criticisms are not in themselves too significant. What is [Page 1147] important, however, is that there is a sizeable number of leading Socialists who do not see eye to eye with Spaak. Some of these are close to the top in the party hierarchy. This opposition is a factor which Spaak must consider in taking public positions on important foreign policy questions. It could possibly give him some trouble in the future.

Spaak’s presentation of his case yesterday before the Chamber Foreign Affairs Commission was, in our opinion, designed chiefly to meet this criticism and to make clear to the Belgians that Belgium had not willy-nilly and without justification lined up with any group of countries against France. He also must have been considerably irritated with Mendes-France over the latter’s apparently blatant misrepresentations of what had happened at Brussels.

I am writing you all this informally as, needless to say, we do not like to spread any impression or criticism about Spaak which might get to his ears through contacts at Paris, and thus render our position impossible. This description of the situation is not intended as a criticism of Spaak but as an explanation of why he has been giving so much publicity to actions taken by him during and after the Brussels Conference. I am sure that we here all feel that he has performed magnificently and has held the line extremely well in the face of great difficulties.

He was most appreciative of the Secretary’s letter,2 particularly coming as it did when his role was subject to some criticism here. His presentation before the Commission seems to have mollified the Commission at least, if we are to believe opposition newspaper reports.

With all good wishes.

Sincerely yours,

  1. Not printed; it reported on the criticism that Spaak was receiving from within his own Socialist Party. (755.00/9–154)
  2. Dated Aug. 31, p. 1119.