204. Letter From the Ambassador in Spain (Lodge) to the Under Secretary of State (Herter)1

Dear Chris: I am taking advantage of Homer Byington’s return to the United States to ask him to deliver this letter to you in person in order that he might have an opportunity to discuss with you for a few moments the question of Spain’s entry into NATO.

As, of course, you know, not only the President and the Secretary of State, but the Congress, by resolution, have expressed themselves as favoring Spain’s entry into NATO. To date, however, the State Department has thought it wiser not to press this matter in the light of the opposition of certain NATO nations. Moreover, there is, as perhaps you know, a body of military opinion both in the Pentagon and in Spain which prefers the Washington–Madrid arrangement. I believe, however, that there are overriding reasons both political and military which should make Spain’s membership transcend the importance of the objections raised by a few of the smaller powers:


Spain’s manpower not only could be very helpful but is actually needed in order to build up a ground force adequate to protect our Western European friends from invasion while our atomic capability is brought into action. General Norstad last spring did not hesitate to stress the inadequacy of NATO’s ground forces in Europe and the problems caused by (a) France’s military commitments in North Africa; (b) Britain’s new defense posture involving reduction of her ground forces in Europe; (c) the uncertainty connected with Germany’s ability to fulfill her commitments for 12 NATO divisions; and (d) the reduction in the U.S. Army.

On the other hand, Spain’s manpower, according to our experts, is tough and brave, [2½ lines of source text not declassified]. The minimum for the defense of Western Europe, according to General Norstad, is 30 divisions. Only 18 have been committed and several of these are not available. Naturally Spanish manpower would need military equipment which Spain would be unable to provide.

Spain, an Atlantic nation, is dependably anti-Communist; a member of good standing of the United Nations and many other international organizations. I believe Spain’s membership in NATO would strengthen the anti-Communist posture of that organization. The argument that Spain should not belong because she is a dictatorship would of course apply equally to Portugal and can hardly be taken seriously. Moreover, Spain’s association with the other European [Page 584] nations through Spanish membership in NATO and the stationing of Spain’s forces outside the Spanish frontiers would be healthy for the political evolution of Spain.
There is strong support within NATO for Spain’s entry, which is favored by Turkey, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Germany, not objected to by England, France and Canada, and opposed principally by Norway and the other small nations that hardly make a sizable manpower contribution to the ground forces necessary, and now missing, for the defense of Western Europe.

[21½ lines of source text not declassified] I believe it to be in the best interests of the United States to create conditions under which it will be impossible for Spain to withdraw from the international relationships into which she has entered during the last few years.

I fully appreciate that this is a difficult problem and one about which the Norwegians in particular feel very strongly. I recognize that this is a question of domestic politics with the Norwegians, as it is for the other anti-Spanish nations. For us it is quite obviously a question of balancing the desirability of pressing for Spain’s membership in line with our national policy against causing resentment in Norway and a few other small countries. The main purpose of this letter is to suggest that this question be given a new, fresh, hard look.

[Here follows a personal reference.]

Sincerely yours,

John Davis Lodge3
  1. Source: Department of State, Madrid Embassy Files: Lot 64 F 64, 320, NATO 1956–1958. Secret; Official–Informal. Drafted by Lodge.
  2. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.