Italian Desk files, lot 58 D 357, “Italy V”

No. 222
Memorandum by Richard R. Baxter of the Office of the General Counsel in the Department of Defense1


  • Conference between Secretary Anderson and Ambassador Luce Regarding Military Facilities Agreement in Italy.

On 9 July, I was among those attending a conference between Secretary Anderson and Mrs. Luce with regard to the Military Facilities Agreement with Italy. Mr. Rogers of the Department of State and Colonel Anderson and Mr. Leffingwell were also present.

Mrs. Luce said that she had spoken with the President this morning and had discussed the negotiations in Italy with him. She reported that he was opposed to bringing that sort of pressure on Italy which had led to the breakdown of similar negotiations with Norway.

Mrs. Luce went on to say that the process of negotiating on a purportedly urgent basis over a period of 17 months had become humiliating. She therefore proposed that, in light of Mr. Scelba’s assurance that the Facilities Agreement would be signed within 24 hours after the solution of the Trieste problem, all speed be made in finishing negotiations on outstanding matters of detail. She believed it politic to inform the Italians that we could not assure that funds would be available for the implementation of the base program unless they presented a text suitable to them by a stipulated date—say, 31 July. She believed that this would test their seriousness of purpose about actually concluding an agreement. If this proposal elicited no response, we should then lay before the Italians [Page 474] an acceptable text, leave it with them, and allow them to examine it at their leisure. Aside from an occasional friendly inquiry, we should make no further attempt to press the matter.

Mr. Anderson believed that this procedure was acceptable, provided agreement on a text for the agreement was coupled with the solution of the Trieste problem. Mrs. Luce said she would have no objection to this, as long as it was not indicated to the public that the price of Trieste had been Italy’s giving in on the facilities issue. Mr. Anderson placed considerable emphasis on the necessity of arriving at satisfactory arrangements about status of forces prior to the coming into effect of the NATO Status of Forces Agreement and said such understandings should certainly be a part of the facilities package. Mr. Rogers said that he believed that the final outstanding issues on matters of detail could be ironed out in relatively short order, and I gave an affirmative answer to Mr. Anderson’s question whether the lawyers could “stay right with” the working out of the final text. Mrs. Luce anticipated that once Italy had taken the plunge on the Facilities Agreement, it would have considerably less difficulty with the ratification of the NATO Status of Forces Agreement.

Mr. Anderson was of the view that if the Facilities Agreement were not to be concluded at the same time as the solution of the Trieste problem, we should remove our forces from Italy. Mrs. Luce, Mr. Rogers, and Colonel Anderson expressed doubt that such drastic action should be taken. Mrs. Luce said it would be far more effective to pull out forces gradually and without announcement and that such action would speedily become known and a matter of concern to the Italian Government. Mr. Anderson directed that the Joint Chiefs of Staff be queried about how long negotiations might be prolonged if prompt agreement on the text of the agreement were to prove impossible of achievement and what action should be taken with regard to our forces in Italy if continued negotiations were determined to be unfruitful. Mrs. Luce expressed concern about the Clement case during the course of the conversation and said that it “set her teeth on edge”. [Clement was an American officer involved in a hit and run accident in Italy. He had been tried by the Italians and given a one year’s suspended sentence. Mrs. Luce had previously expressed the view that he should be court-martialed to avoid adverse Italian reaction, but General Arnold had declined to take such action. The case is now the subject of negotiations between the Departments of State and Defense.]2

Mrs. Luce said she hoped that persons evacuated from Trieste through Leghorn would be properly briefed and would not be guilty [Page 475] of any disorder that might prejudice our relations with the Italians. Colonel Anderson assured her that proper discipline would be maintained.

Richard R. Baxter
Assistant Counsel (ISA)
  1. This memorandum was sent to Charles E. Rogers of EUR/RA as an attachment to a brief covering memorandum of July 14 from Baxter. Rogers’ own description of the July 9 conference with Ambassador Luce and Under Secretary of Defense Anderson is contained in his memorandum of July 30 to John Wesley Jones. (EUR/RA files, lot 58 D 357, “Italy V”)
  2. Brackets in the source text.