No. 298
Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Merchant) to the Secretary of State1
top secret

Further to the brief discussion in your car yesterday with you and Mr. Murphy on the question of the deployment of the U.S. forces coming out of Trieste, I would like to reiterate my opinion that the withdrawal of any U.S. forces from Europe prior to completion of ratification by France of the London agreements will run the serious risk of being used by French opponents to rearmament in a fashion adverse to our interests. I think it will provide ammunition for those who claim that our only interest in rearming Germany is to permit the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from the continent and that the British won’t stay very long after we leave.

There is a problem which Ambassador Luce has emphasized in keeping these forces very long in Leghorn. This fact, coupled with the fact that it will be several months at best before French ratification is completed would argue for using Leghorn as a purely temporary staging point and moving on as rapidly as possible elsewhere in Europe. I still recommend that they be added to our forces in Austria.

  1. Merchant routed this memorandum to the Secretary through Murphy, who typed in the following remarks at the bottom of the source text: “This of course is a matter of opinion. Mine is that withdrawal of these U.S. troops will have either no effect on French parliamentary attitude toward the London agreement or it might even stimulate support for it. There is no evidence of French public interest in the disposition of these troops. They do not seem to be connected in French opinion with the U.S. forces now in Germany and Austria.” Merchant also sent a copy of the memorandum to Jones.