No. 857
The Ambassador in Spain (MacVeagh) to William B. Dunham of the Office of Western European Affairs


Dear Mr. Dunham: I realize that it is some time since I have written you about our negotiations, but there have been a good many telegrams back and forth on this subject, so that factually you must have felt pretty well informed. As to my impressions, these can hardly yet justify a forecast, but I append some of them for what they may be worth in their present state.

At the moment, the Spanish have in their hands the sum total of our proposals. In the talks leading up to this point it has become plain that they have not understood, or perhaps have not wished to understand, the very limited nature of what we are authorized to negotiate. On the military side, they have constantly brought up questions of strategy and “integration with Western Europe” which are not within Kissner’s province, and on the economic side, I have reason to suspect they have been listening more to their Embassy and its lobby in Washington than to Train, perhaps figuring that they may eventually wangle more out of us than he is competent to discuss. Doubtless, our policy of leading up only gradually to a consideration of the full documents left the door open to this kind of thing, but we felt we might encounter serious delay in getting started at all if we thrust forward such a formidable array of proposals at the outset, while the method adopted has permitted talks of some sort to begin promptly and has enabled us to perceive some of the attitudes we may have to face. Thus, it seems that there is a [Page 1853] strong feeling on the part of the Spaniards that the quid pro quo which we offer for the use of their bases is inadequate, at least militarily. I cannot tell how far they will want to press this, but they apparently conceive that we should give them some assurance of cooperative integration in the general picture of Western defense if they undertake to cooperate with us in the manner expected. In this connection, as I pointed out in my last letter,1 they have shown themselves intensely aware that giving us the use of their fields would entail immediate belligerency on their part once a war broke out in which we were involved, and the many questions which Vigon tends to ask which are specifically unrelated to the content of our proposed agreements would appear to find their basis in a fundamental uneasiness of the General Staff as to Spain’s exposed position should she sign anything so limited. See in this connection the paragraphs under “A” in the interesting report furnished by Santos Costa to our Embassy in Lisbon and forwarded in its despatch No. 826 of May 22.2 (As to the speculations under “B” in that report, these do not seem to me so important, since Spain’s entry into NATO is hardly practical politics at present, and the idea of a tripartite pact with Portugal has, so far as I know, little if any support on the top level in any of the three countries concerned.)

On the economic side, Spanish uneasiness does not appear so great and it would seem that difficulties should not be inseparable once the military problem is ironed out. Of course there will be some counterproposals, and there probably will be a few things we want which the Spaniards will definitely not agree to. Some people may think that we could then get tough and in effect turn these negotiations into an exercise in force majeure, but this would hardly be in keeping with our over-all policy or likely to succeed with these people if it were. Nothing could be plainer to us here than that these negotiations must be conducted as a joint enterprise on an entirely friendly and cooperative basis if they are to succeed, and that we must be careful not to let seep into our talks any of that spirit of dislike and hostility toward the Spanish Government which occasionally appears in our communications from Washington or Paris. Meanwhile a hundred million dollars still seems a small sum to our friends, but their fears that this might not be made available in 1953 have been allayed and they have hopes of the additional twenty-five about which so much has been [Page 1854] said,3 while some good progress has been made toward clearing up the Eximbank loan matter4 which bothered them so much at first.

Regarding the time so far consumed in these negotiations, I must say I cannot feel that this has been excessive, in view of the complexities of the present proposals which it took us ourselves so many months to evolve. Of course there are and will be delays in getting both replies from the Spaniards and instructions from Washington. When these occur I do my best, as in the case of the Azores, to quiet our anxious negotiators, and I must add that they have responded well. Naturally we shall work to keep things moving here, but a certain amount of understanding is necessary in these matters, and the Spanish are not only well aware of our vulnerability as regards taking “time-out” for consideration but are also very quick to resent pressures which they feel unjustly applied. Much could be lost by a show of impatience at this time, and this I endeavor to keep in mind.

More later, as things develop.

As ever, yours,

Lincoln MacVeagh
  1. Reference is to Ambassador MacVeagh’s letter of May 23, in which he discussed the Spanish reaction to the U.S. military requirements presented by Kissner on Apr. 16. (611.52/5–2352)
  2. Despatch 826 reported the impressions acquired by the Portuguese as to Spanish concerns in the negotiations with the United States. (753.5/5–2252)
  3. The Mutual Security Act of 1952, P.L. 82–400 (66 Stat. 141), June 20, 1952, extended the availability of the $100 million appropriated in the 1951 Appropriations Act until the end of fiscal year 1953 and added $25 million to it for “economic, technical, and military assistance to Spain in accordance with the provisions of this Act.”
  4. In a letter of May 10 to Deputy Special Representative in Europe for Economic Affairs Porter, Deputy Director for Mutual Security Kenney indicated that the Export-Import Bank had agreed to send representatives to Madrid in order to “expedite future action” on disposing of the balance of the loan of $62.5 million voted by Congress for aid to Spain in 1950. (Spanish Desk files, lot 58 D 344, “Negotiations: U.S.–Spanish, Apr.–June 1952”) At that time $9.8 million remained unexpended. For documentation concerning the origin and expenditure of this loan, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iii, pp. 1549 ff. and ibid, 1951, vol. iv, Part 1, pp. 840 ff.