Lisbon Embassy files, lot 59 F 53, “Dunham Correspondence, 1950–1952”

No. 804
William B. Dunham of the Office of Western European Affairs to the Ambassador in Portugal (Cannon)

top secret

Dear Cavendish : Thank you very much for your letter of July 261 which was most helpful to us as a supplement to your telegram 39 of July 23.2 As you may have imagined from the delay in getting out our reply,3 we have had a very difficult time with this problem. However, I think that the process of getting out an answer has demonstrated clearly to those concerned in Washington that the difficulties involved are deeper and more general than just the jet aircraft program itself.

As you will have seen from our reply, the basic questions involved will come up for consideration at the time of the NATO annual review next month. In this connection the Embassy’s memorandum which Johnny Carrigan sent me with his letter of July 254 and MSA/W’s ideas on Portugal as I know them indicate that we are all thinking along the same lines. By this I mean that there appears to be general agreement that we must review and coordinate Portuguese commitments to NATO, the program which they undertake to carry out to fulfill these commitments and such aid as the U.S. is able to give Portugal to assist them in their own efforts. Also I think it is generally agreed that the correct manner for approaching the Portuguese on these matters is not bilaterally, on a U.S.–Portuguese basis, but rather through the appropriate NATO organizations and the OEEC. The NATO annual review seems to me to be an ideal form, in this connection.

With regard specifically to our telegram,5 I hope that you will find it completely self-explanatory. As we indicated the five squadron jet program is still on the books and will continue to be unless of course the NATO annual review should bring some revision. The planes can be delivered providing the Portuguese meet the multilaterally established and agreed standards for this exceedingly scarce type of equipment. However, as we indicated, we are not in a position to provide defense support assistance (i.e. economic assistance). [Page 1729] While we realize this is not the answer which might be desired, it is the only possible answer in present circumstances.

Although the telegram may not adequately reflect it, I am afraid, all concerned here realize fully that our regard for acting according to certain multi-lateral standards must be tempered by our very important unilateral interests in the Azores. We have not lost sight of this consideration and I feel confident that it will be uppermost in the minds of the U.S. group who work on the NATO annual review. However, I do not think you can over-emphasize this consideration in such further advice and guidance as you may give us on this subject. Any further thoughts you may like to send me informally on this matter would be most welcome.

Best wishes,

  1. Document 802.
  2. Document 801.
  3. Reference is to telegram 76 to Lisbon, Aug. 14, supra .
  4. The letter has not been found in Department of State files; a copy of the memorandum, dated July 22, is in Lisbon Embassy files, lot 59 F 53, “Portuguese Air Force Program, 1950–1952”.
  5. Reference is to telegram 76 to Lisbon, Aug. 14, supra .