207. Memorandum of a Conversation, Madrid, December 20, 19571


  • Conversation With General FRANCO


  • General Francisco Franco
  • Sr. Fernando Castiella, Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Count Motrico, Spanish Ambassador to the United States
  • Secretary Dulles
  • Ambassador John Lodge
  • C. Burke Elbrick, Assistant Secretary

Following an exchange of amenities, the Secretary referred to the Heads of Government meeting which had just concluded its sessions in Paris.2 He said that it had been an important and constructive meeting; that it had been designed to maintain and strengthen the unity of the West in the face of the steadily increasing military power of the Soviet Union. The workers in the Soviet Union labor for the primary purpose of building a stronger military base. In the Western countries two thirds of the gross national product are returned to the people in the production of capital and consumer goods for their benefit. In the Soviet Union only 40 to 45 per cent of the national product is so used. Meanwhile, the Soviet capital plant and military power grow. Work and study in the Soviet Union is being forced into technical and scientific channels. The Russians are very good in this field and we should not underestimate their intellectual ability and [Page 592] their achievements. Admittedly, they have profited greatly from German experience and advances in rocketry, but they have great natural talents also.

The Soviets have taken risks in devoting themselves to rocketry at this stage but the risk is not as great as it would be for the U.S. since they know that we would not attack them. They therefore considered it possible to jump the long-range bomber stage and concentrate on missiles. We had planned to be in an advanced stage of missile development by 1960; meanwhile, we rely on the long-range bomber. Our retaliatory power is superior to that of the Soviet Union, and the balance of power is clearly with the United States at present.

Europe, said the Secretary, is not in a good position. It can be heavily damaged by intermediate weapons from the Soviet Union—a danger which will persist unless Europe has intermediate missiles of its own. [18½ lines of source text not declassified]

[1 paragraph (13½ lines of source text) not declassified]

[17½ lines of source text not declassified] The most significant aspect of the Paris meeting had been the fact that the European NATO members had signified their willingness to play their part. We know that Spain has also signified their willingness to play its part in the defense of the West and it was for this reason that the Secretary had thought it important to visit Madrid before returning to the United States.

The actions of the Heads of Government meeting require technical decisions regarding the integration and modernization of forces and the pooling of talent and scientific resources. The Secretary thought that Spain should also participate in this and he referred to the fact that the Council had decided to encourage liaison between NATO and other organizations and countries of the free world, although this had not been mentioned specifically in the final communiqué. The danger, after all, is world wide and all of us can be affected by events in other parts of the world. The Secretary mentioned the Middle East and North Africa as examples. He did not think the time had come to merge all the free world’s collective defense organizations but he felt that closer contact between them was essential. A merging of the organizations would, he feared, only serve to set up a rival organization to the United Nations and he thought it better to continue with regional groupings provided it were possible to achieve a greater sense of understanding between the groups.

The Secretary said that he and the President had expressed the conviction that the struggle with the Soviet bloc can be won through developments which will require the Soviet rulers to change their tactics. There are grave weaknesses within the Soviet bloc as witnessed by certain recent events in the satellite countries where the people have evidenced their desire to regain the way of life to which [Page 593] they were accustomed before being subjected to Soviet domination. There are also ample signs of differences within the Soviet Union itself. The Secretary felt that recent political changes in the Soviet Union reflect not merely a power struggle but a difference of opinion as to how the Communist system should operate. Economically, the Soviet Union is not in a good condition on the whole and this was made evident by the recent action cancelling the latest Five Year Plan. He felt that the Soviets could not go on indefinitely taking away the fruits of the labor of the Soviet masses. Recent attempts to decentralize industry will also result in the decentralization of power. If we can prevent the Soviet Union from enjoying external successes, the Soviet rulers will be forced either to review their internal policies or be overthrown. A despotism of this kind must emphasize external dangers in order to get the people to accept greater sacrifices. At the Twentieth Party Congress Khrushchev had indulged in a vilification of Stalin; people may well ask why this had not been done sooner. The fact was that from 1945 to 1950 the Soviet Union was gaining such successes that a change would have been impracticable. The Russians are governed by international Communism and not by a national government. When the Soviet rulers decide to limit their activities to improving the national welfare and abandon their worldwide ambitions we will be able to do business with them.

General FRANCO said that he agreed 100 per cent with the Secretary as to the strategic outlook. The West must remain strong and unified and it must maintain the deterrent to war and the necessary reprisal if war should break out. He agreed that the possession of long range bombers would still be decisive for some time but he thought that this period of grace might pass rapidly with the development of ballistic missiles. It is generally recognized that the United States has absolute superiority in the air; the Russians have proved, however, that they have the capability of launching guided missiles and they may use them one day. The world should be grateful for the efforts of the United States in Western defense. He thought that the pooling of resources was an excellent idea and the only thing that might stop the Russian threat of aggression. He thought that liaison between regional organizations might be difficult for some countries. It might mean war for all countries, for example, if Pakistan were attacked. This is a fact, however, and the Soviets know it and, he thought, would never resort to open aggression of that kind.

The Secretary said that we should not concentrate all of our attention on the military aspects of defense. He pointed out that political and economic aggression are also important and mentioned particularly operations such as those in the Middle East, Laos and even in the [Page 594] Americas where Guatemala was being subjected to this type of offensive. This is an important aspect of the situation and is more difficult to combat than military aggression. [8 lines of source text not declassified]

General FRANCO agreed that the Soviet Union had worked for forty years to build great military power and, with the help of the Germans in the field of science and research, they had realized their ambitions. As for developments within the Soviet Union he had very little information but he was inclined to agree with the Secretary’s estimate. The people had lived for forty years under the police terror of the Cheka. He felt that while Stalin had been successful in war his power had not been as strong as that of Khrushchev who relies upon the strength of the party to support him rather than on police terror. The youth of the Soviet Union are more free and therefore more rebellious and they are establishing more contacts with the outside world. Unfortunately, Western propaganda inside the Soviet Union is lacking. He thought we should take the line that the West would never launch an attack against the Soviet Union and that the only danger to the Soviet people would come from the Soviet Government itself. He agreed that the satellites are a soft spot in the Soviet armor. The people there want to regain their national freedom and their former way of life.

As to the establishment of military bases he felt that there should be a multiplicity of them and he expressed interest in the possibility that such bases could be mobile. He thought this might be the best tactic to adopt.

The Secretary said that he did not want to give the impression that he felt that a popular revolution in Russia is probable. The people of Soviet Russia continue to be subservient to the State but, unless the Soviet Union gains further victories abroad, it will have to do more for the people at home. The intellectuals of the Soviet Union are demanding more at present and the rulers of the country must do more to meet this demand if they cannot continue to point to signal successes abroad. General FRANCO said he thought that this meant a very slow evolution and the Secretary said it might be 10 or 20 or even 50 years. Meanwhile, we must bend every effort to meet Soviet subversive thrusts throughout the world.

General FRANCO referred to the situation in Morocco. He said that such nationalism as exists there is a tribal nationalism and it is difficult, if not impossible, for the people of the country to think in terms of a Moroccan nation. He thought that the French had made a great mistake in exiling the Sultan to Madagascar since the Sultan is not only the temporal ruler but also the religious leader of the people. The nationalist Istiqlal Party had played on this fact to oppose the French and had won a great victory when the French returned the Sultan to Morocco. When Morocco gained its independence, the Istiqlal Army was dissolved but another outlaw army has been raised by the extreme [Page 595] leftist elements who have as their purpose the domination of the entire area of Tunisia, Morocco and the Sahara as far south as Senegal. They attacked the French in order to help the Algerian rebels, and have tried to create friction between Spain and France. They had asked for Spanish arms to fight the French and [2½ lines of source text not declassified]. He said that this course is suicidal for Morocco; the state should be built up for the welfare of the people and not for the purpose of embarking upon such adventures and he had so informed the Moroccans. FRANCO also told them that it would produce a very bad impression abroad.

He said that Moulay Hassan worked closely with the Moroccan Army of Liberation which, when pursued by the French in connection with the Algerian fighting, had taken refuge in the Spanish Sahara. The French had complained to the Spanish who had done what they could to control the situation but the Sahara, said General FRANCO, is like a sea and it is almost impossible to track down these elements in such an area. The Army of Liberation then began operations against Spanish territory with incidents along the Spanish frontier. The Spanish Government had without success asked the Sultan to intervene and control this Army of Liberation. FRANCO said that several Soviet fishing boats had been sighted off the Moroccan coast in the vicinity of Ifni and had been pursued by the Spanish Coast Guard. The fishing boats however were too fast for the Coast Guard vessels and escaped. FRANCO believed that the Soviet Union was using this method of supplying arms to the Army of Liberation which, he was convinced, is led and infiltrated by Communists. The absence of the Sultan in the United States offered an opportunity for the Army of Liberation to stage a show against Ifni. Spanish re-enforcements had been rushed in when the attack began.

The Secretary said that he had attached great importance to Spain’s understanding of the peoples of North Africa—an understanding which he had always considered to be greater than that of the French. He hoped that the Ifni incident would not end the good influence of Spain in Africa. General FRANCO said that Spain was trying very hard to maintain its traditional position. Unfortunately, the leader of the Istiqlal, by the name of Fawzi, would like to oust the Sultan of Morocco and take his place. This, said FRANCO, would have a terrible result because there would then be no leader to control the various elements of the population, which the Sultan can do as the supreme religious authority of the country. He said that the link between the Army of Liberation activity and the Soviet Union seemed very clear. The authority of the Moroccan Government is wavering due to a large extent to Soviet encouragement of seditious elements, and this presents a grave problem to Europe since Morocco is the “back door to Europe.”

[Page 596]

[1 paragraph (22 lines of source text) not declassified]

General FRANCO said that the second matter that he wished to raise concerned U.S. economic aid to Spain. He said that the Spanish Government is not satisfied with the aid program. He referred to the fact that Spain had not been included in the Marshall Plan which had been so helpful to the other European countries in reestablishing their economies. Spain, unfortunately, as a result now finds it impossible to compete with other countries because it has no modern industrial plant. He said that 70 per cent of the aid given to Spain is returned to the United States in local currency for administrative use and for the construction of U.S. bases. Only 30 per cent remains for investment in Spain. He understood that in other countries up to 90 per cent of the counterpart funds are returned for investment within the country and he felt that some adjustment of this situation is necessary in the case of Spain. He said that the Spanish Government estimates that Spain is in need of some $250 million aid, including PL 480 program. (It was later explained by Spanish Ambassador Motrico that the PL 480 program the Spanish Government has in mind would amount to some $150 million.) The Secretary said he would be glad to look into this problem when he returned to Washington.

The Spanish Foreign Minister handed to Ambassador Lodge just before the Secretary’s departure from the Embassy copies of memoranda3 which he said were dictated by General FRANCO in preparation for his meeting with the Secretary. These memoranda deal with the bases, Spain and NATO, economic aid and the Moroccan (Ifni) situation. An additional memo3 from the Minister of Commerce was handed to Ambassador Lodge by Minister Castiella listing the Spanish requests for economic aid.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 955. Secret. Drafted by Elbrick.
  2. Secretary Dulles was in Paris for the NATO Heads of Government meeting, December 16–18. On his way back to Washington, he stopped at Madrid on December 20 for this meeting with FRANCO.
  3. Not found in Department of State files.
  4. Not found in Department of State files.