68. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France1

3307. 1. We are also much concerned at mounting evidence anti-American feeling France over North African situation in general and Algerian problem in particular as set forth your recent telegrams.

2. At same time Department mindful of difficulties in appearing give France “blank check” for whatever course of action she may decide to undertake. Specifically, U.S. Government cannot put itself in position of underwriting in advance course of “restoring law and order” in Algeria which might well take form of long and sanguinary military campaign involving operations against civilian Moslem population.

3. Under circumstances Department considers no matter what we attempt to do in way of restoring climate of confidence and sympathy, U.S. unable go this direction as far as French would like without seriously impairing our relations with Arab world and African-Asian peoples and thereby ultimately mobilizing forces against West which would increase rather than diminish tension which it is our aim to lessen.

4. We agree that some corrective action to allay French doubts and suspicions concerning U.S. policy is highly desirable. Having considered various alternatives including suggestion Embtel 40602 of statement by President during press conference, Department considers most effective immediate course of action is for Ambassador to make one or more speeches as suggested Embtel 39923 in course of which points would be made which would reaffirm basic U.S. policy supporting continuation French presence North Africa and sympathy for French efforts achieve solution providing for relationship of interdependence on basis of mutual cooperation and confidence between France and peoples North Africa.

5. Since situation Tunisia and Morocco essentially different from that Algeria and represents far more advanced state on road toward independence, Ambassador’s remarks on Algeria would presumably be largely of general nature and designed to create in French opinion sentiment that U.S. fully cognizant of complexity and delicacy [Page 237] problems which France now facing and sympathetic to her efforts work out equitable solution acceptable to both parties. Any implication U.S. considers Tunisian and Moroccan formulas as answer to Algerian problem would obviously be strongly resented.

6. Due recognition should be given to those aspects French policy past and present which represent progress in political, social and economic fields and which have resulted in the establishment of bonds between French and Moslem peoples which we hope will be preserved and indeed strengthened in future. Record of U.S. support of France’s position in U.N. and of U.S. acceptance of fact that Algeria internal problem should be stressed.

7. Unless you believe it would be counterproductive it would seem opportune stress U.S. has no desire see France evicted from North Africa in order take her place and that on contrary we support strongly her efforts overcome her difficulties there and reach mutually acceptable solution which will ensure peaceful and prosperous future North Africa.

8. Department hopes that such pronouncements with proper publicity will do much assuage French resentment and diminish feeling that U.S. indifferent if not hostile to present French problems and struggle in North Africa.4

9. Obviously Department leaves to your discretion how and when foregoing views can be best expressed in order meet situation. However in view repercussions your statements may have in other parts of world including U.S., would appreciate having your views and reactions to foregoing and summary of remarks you would propose make together with any other suggestions you may have.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751S.00/3–856. Secret; Limit Distribution.
  2. Supra.
  3. Dated March 2, telegram 3992 reported that French suspicions could only be allayed by repeated public expressions of sympathy, for past U.S. silence threatened a serious breach of confidence. The Ambassador feared negative repercussions on NATO and Western defense. (Department of State, Central Files, 751S.00/3–256)
  4. At the 279th meeting of the National Security Council “on March 8, “the President commented that it would appear that the French were trying to make the United States the scapegoat for their difficulties.” (Memorandum of discussion by Gleason; Eisenhower Library, Whitman File)