Lisbon Embassy files, lot 59 F 53, “Portuguese Air Force Program, 1950–1952”

No. 802
The Ambassador in Portugal (Cannon) to William B. Dunham of the Office of Western European Affairs

top secret

Dear Bill : I suppose you gathered from our telegram No. 39 of July 231 that it is the deeper and more general aspect of the matter which disturbs me. Our country team would be able to work out a way to handle the proposed cut in the Portuguese jet program if we knew quite where we stand on general policy. It is for this that we need your help.

The trouble seems to go back to the very beginning: a general survey of requirements and expectations for the Portuguese program, originally on the optimistic side, perhaps, somehow got increased rather than scaled down, and the situation has been permitted to drift, with it becoming more and more apparent that what Portugal is prepared to spend on defense, in money, manpower and leadership, falls far short of what military forces she has been requested, and has committed herself to maintain.

When I say the situation has drifed I do not mean that the problem was not recognized. The messages cited in our telegram2 showed it up a year ago; there have been exchanges enough with the Portuguese on the matter; and all the elements of the problem are on record in Washington. The trouble seems to be that no one on high level back home seems to have had it brought into focus for a review of what we are really prepared to do in order to obtain from Portugal the performance we expect.

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In practical terms, it is the money gap, and our reexamination should start with that. But “policy” at once comes up, because someone must decide (if a lot of countries are whining for more money), how valuable Portugal is to us, and how important are the broader elements in these relations—the Azores, Cape Verde, uranium, etc.—beyond the practical calculations of the Portuguese contribution to the immediate NATO build-up. … Do you think you can manage to have the problem looked at from that viewpoint?3

  1. Supra .
  2. See footnote 4, supra .
  3. The source text is unsigned.