751.00/9–1154: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Dillon) to the Department of State 1


1056. With Parliament adjourned and many deputies away from Paris it is difficult at this juncture to make estimate of political scene in general and of possibility Assembly approving as yet indefinite EDC alternative in particular.

Embassy concurs with Deptel 896, September 92 that, whether we like it or not, Mendes is man we will have to deal with on German rearmament issue, on assumption that some alternative plan will be formulated within near future, and believes it unrealistic to hope for resuscitating EDC in substantially old form. Parliament is adjourned until November 3 and no hurdles, apart from German rearmament issue, appear on horizon before appropriations debates in late November and December. Moreover, even though Mendes’ majority is incoherent and his stock declined owing to equivocal position on EDC, he still enjoys considerable credit and cannot be easily brought down. Whether or not his majority, especially socialists, will stick with him will probably depend largely on implementation of his economic and social program.

On issue of German defense contribution, parliamentary situation as we see it at present is as follows: (It is assumed that new formula would be package deal again entailing both German sovereignty and rearmament.) Opposition to any foreseeable solution, in addition to that of Communists, will be of three kinds: (1) opposition to German rearmament as such, (2) opposition to Mendes, and (3) opposition to any solution which does not encourage European concept. Different groups are motivated by different combinations of the three. Socialist Party is still in throes of internal dissension. Guy Mollet had hoped quickly to oust main culprits—Moch, Daniel Mayer, LeJeune, et cetera—and get remaining anti-EDC deputies to eat humble pie, but is running into serious difficulties. Under circumstances, socialist elements would be strongly inclined to restore party [Page 1178] unity on basis of policy that would have wide support—namely, opposition to German rearmament in absence of supra-national political authority.

MRP are now licking their wounds—leaders such as Tietgen, Bidault and Maurice Schumann all have deepest distrust of Mendes and are threatening to vote against anything he presents. Maurice Schumann is now writing articles warning against revival of German Wehrmacht. They are of course party most devoted to European idea.

Radicals, like UDSR, are split both on Mendes and on German defense contribution. Herriot and Daladier followers can be expected to vote against any plan for German rearmament, and other elements such as Martinaud-Deplat would tend to vote against anything Mendes proposes. Overseas independents would probably go along with Mendes.

Most independents, Peasants and ARS are strongly opposed to Mendes and are prepared to use any issue to bring him down. Majority of Social Republicans would probably accept some formula, if it contains safeguards against unrestricted German rearmament.

Assuming his sincerity, which is as yet by no means sure, it is obvious that Mendes is going to have difficult time getting Assembly to approve any alternative plan. Those elements who are opposed to any form of German rearmament without supranational controlling organization and without other guarantees contained in EDC would have to be convinced of merits of new scheme and those who are violently hostile to Mendes would have to be persuaded to put aside suspicions and animosity in view of gravity of international juncture. On this basis possible that independents, peasants, ARS and majority of radicals might be induced to come around. Most difficult to convince will be MRP whose support is necessary and who therefore largely hold key to situation. Any degree of socialist support seems highly questionable.
One requirement for success is that not only must Mendes press for rapid Assembly decision but must also give plan his full support including putting question of confidence on issue. Doubtful that possible advantages of his not making it question of confidence, namely to get support from elements hostile to himself, would offset obvious disadvantages. Important therefore that Mendes be given as much role as possible in negotiations for formulating new proposal. Mendes should not be excluded from any international meetings on issue, especially any to which Adenauer invited, as such would only give him easy way out. Mendes should be obliged to take full responsibility for contributing towards formulating feasible plan and for getting Assembly approval as logical sequence to his role on EDC.
  1. Repeated to London and Bonn.
  2. Not printed; it stated that regardless of one’s opinion of Mendès-France his strength in the French Assembly did not appear to be greatly diminished and was greater than any other potential premier. While it was recognized that Bidault and Adenauer desired to force Mendès-France out of office, the Department of State believed that working for his downfall seemed destined to destroy the main chance for an early solution to the problem of German rearmament which would involve French cooperation. (751.00/9–754)