67. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State1

4060. Eyes only for President, Hoover and Gruenther from Cabot Lodge. I believe that the President should now receive the following evaluation and recommendations. Dillon has read this wire and authorizes me to say that he is thinking along the same lines and is sending a message of his own.2


Because of our desire in past years not to offend either the colonial powers or the Afro-Asian powers, the United States is today in the position in which its policy receives the approval of neither. This is a chronic condition and calls for no quick action.
In France, however, a situation has arisen in which the United States is getting much more than the usual amount of adverse criticism. Many Frenchmen who are usually pro-American are beginning to believe that the United States is not sorry to see France in its present difficulty over Algeria and that American business is getting poised to take over Algeria. The human tendency to blame someone else for one’s own mistakes added to the skillful and persistent encouragement of these concepts by the Communists and the Arab bloc, have intensified this state of mind.
If one thing is certain for the future, it is that France at best is going to have a very rough time over Algeria and that the demand for scapegoats will grow rather than diminish. If Algeria is totally lost, it will probably precipitate a drastic political upheaval in France.
In any case we must in self-defense make a record for ourselves, providing a statement can be made which comforts France and at the same time does not offend the Arabs.
Jebb, UK Ambassador in Paris, made a pro-French statement yesterday along this line saying the UK would stand by France. This makes it all the more important for the United States not to get into a position of being unfavorably compared with the UK as regards our friendship for France.
The excellent statements on Morocco3 and Tunisia which the Department has issued will be compared in a derogatory manner with our silence on Algeria.
An apparently off-hand statement by the President at a press conference could do good and should not in any way open the door to further French demands. If, for example, there is a further demand for indirect logistic help or diplomatic intervention in Cairo, these should be the subject of a separate negotiation very much on a quid pro quo basis.


I therefore recommend that the President make the following statement at a press conference in response to this question:

“Has the President followed at all the recent developments in Algeria?”

In reply the President would say:

“I am surprised that anyone should even raise the question as to whether I am following the events in Algeria. The answer is of course that I am following them with close attention and with sympathy for the aspirations of the Moslem people for their advancement and progress; with sympathy for the large number of French settlers; and also for the French nation itself, our valued ally for so many years, to whom this whole question is desperately important. The program of restoring order, extending economic aid and then conducting an election as a result of which spokesmen will be chosen with whom new arrangements can be worked out seems constructive. The fact that in neighboring Tunisia and in neighboring Morocco there has been such a great and peaceful evolution in the very recent past gives one confidence for the future.”

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751S.00/3–756. Top Secret. Niact.
  2. Dillon urged in telegram 4062, March 7, sent eyes only to Dulles in Karachi, that “some expression of US solidarity with France in her present difficulties in Algeria has become vitally necessary if we desire maintain wholehearted French support for NATO and western objectives in general.” He recommended a high-level statement, preferably by the President, saying in substance “that French Government is trying work out liberal solution there and such efforts have full US support.” (Ibid.)
  3. Document 187.