248. Memorandum From C. Douglas Dillon to the Secretary of State1


  • Deterioration of the Political Situation in France
It is apparent that during the last week, as a result of developments in the Suez crisis, there has been a marked deterioration of the political situation in France.
Daridan showed me an Eyes Only telegram from Mollet to Pineau describing the discussion on Suez in the Council of Ministers meeting on Wednesday.2 This telegram has been seen so far only by Pineau, Daridan, and myself. The telegram, which was written before your speech Wednesday afternoon, stated that the Council of Ministers were greatly concerned by the lack of progress of the Suez negotiations. They expressed particular concern about the lack of support from “our American friends”. They also felt that the British resolve was weakening, and expressed the fear that the situation seemed to be becoming entangled in interminable negotiations for which no good issue was in sight. They said that if that proved to be the case, the French Government would shortly have to make a public statement clearly placing the responsibility for the present situation, i.e., blaming the U.S. and Great Britain.
The increasing unsettlement in Parliamentary circles over Suez is indicated by the action of the Directing Committee of the Moderate Party (Conservatives, Pinay’s party). This committee met and adopted a motion demanding debate on Suez immediately on the reconvening of Parliament on October 2nd. They also attacked the Government for failing to carry out the mandate of the Parliament, given prior to adjournment, to maintain its firm position.
I feel that your Wednesday afternoon speech will do much to help. Daridan said that Pineau was very appreciative of your important role at this Conference. Nevertheless, if things go bad, the French will be looking for a scapegoat, and a portion of the blame will inevitably be thrown on the U.S.
In my return to Paris I intend to try to see Mollet early next week to give him the personal flavor of happenings this week in London from the U.S. point of view, in an attempt to mitigate any public criticism of the U.S. by him. I also feel that from the point of [Page 552] view of our relations with the French a personal letter from the President to Mollet would be very helpful at this stage. The letter could reaffirm the determination of the U.S. not to allow Nasser to get away with his attempt to obtain sole control of Suez. The letter would not have to be for publication, as, for the moment, I think it is less important to directly impress public opinion in France than to avoid or mitigate, as far as possible, any attack on U.S. policies on the Suez crisis by Mollet on behalf of the French Government.
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers. Secret; Personal and Private. A marginal notation by Bernau on the source text reads: “Sec Saw”.
  2. September 19.