740A.5/1–1152: Telegram

No. 710
The Ambassador in France (Bruce) to the Department of State1


4134. From MacArthur. Irish FonMin Aiken asked me to see him yesterday.2 He again raised question of Ireland purchasing arms in US along same line as Embtel 1377 Aug 31 Rptd Dublin 1 London 354.3

I told him frankly that at present time when equipment is in such short supply I did not see how anyone cld be too sympathetic to Ireland’s desire when latter not only wished to make no contribution to collective security of West but even seemed apprehensive lest indirectly it might give impression it supported concept of collective West defense. Recent Irish rejection of MSA agreement seemed to be case in point.

Speaking [in] confidence Aiken said that unlike Switz and Sweden Ireland had no firm-rooted tradition of neutrality. Its present status of neutrality was a tactic designed to achieve unification of Ireland. Irish Govt had conviction that by refusing to join in any collective arrangement with UK until Ireland was reunited it cld soonest achieve unification. Any agreement into which it entered with UK wld take heat off latter and wld be construed as tacit acceptance of permanent division of Ireland. He said Irish people were firmly united behind this policy. If Irish Govt really wanted to join NATO he believed they cld successfully push it thru the Parl but result wld divide Ireland and wld therefore be an error since there wld be no wholehearted belief in or support for NATO.

I told Aiken he knew much more about problem of Ireland than did I but that I did not agree that Irish policy re collective defense was entirely logical. It seemed to me Ireland’s very existence was threatened and yet Irish seemed to think reunification of Ireland was more important than freedom and survival of its people. This seemed not unlike Mosadeq attitude.4 Aiken said I shld bear in mind circumstances under which he and his colleagues in govt had grown up and entered politics. He said it was perfectly true that Irish unification came ahead of any other problem.

[Page 1552]

Despite our lack of agreement meeting was cordial and Aiken’s sincerity appears very genuine.

  1. Repeated to London as 1095 and Dublin as 6.
  2. Aiken was in Paris for a meeting of the OEEC.
  3. For text, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. iv, Part 1, p. 527.
  4. Reference here is to Prime Minister Mohammad Mosadeq’s attitude toward the British presence in Iran.