319. Letter From the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Irwin) to the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (Bohlen)1

Dear Mr. Bohlen: As you are aware, there is great interest and concern among the members of NATO with regard to the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly debates on the Algerian question.

From a military point of view, the Department of Defense is especially interested in the development of the U.S. position prior to these discussions which will not alienate the French or cause any further disruption of France’s relationship with NATO. Although we recognize the wording of the proposed resolution might be such as to make it impossible for us to vote with the French on the Algerian question, the Department of Defense believes it important to consult with the French at all stages of these discussions and support France where possible. Any other approach to this problem will complicate our working relationships with senior French military officials and could conceivably have a serious adverse affect on our military posture in Europe, e.g., the possible loss of main lines of communication with U.S. forces in Germany. The danger also exists that UNGA resolutions could be so worded as to cause some or all of the French Community to vote against France and thereby further increase the confusion and instability in Africa.

Because of Defense interest, we would very much appreciate being kept advised with respect to the current development of the U.S. position in the United Nations regarding the Algerian situation and in participating in this work when appropriate.

Representatives from this office are prepared to discuss the matter in further detail with the Department of State as soon as it may be convenient.2


John N. Irwin3
  1. Source: Department of State, PPS Files: Lot 67 D 548, Algeria. Secret.
  2. Secretary of Defense Gates requested in a November 29 letter to Herter that Bohlen brief him and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the U.S. position on U.N. discussion of Algeria. Gates enclosed a November 25 memorandum, JCSM–535–60, on the military implications of the Algerian problem. (Ibid., Central Files, 320/11–2960) Bohlen gave the briefing at the December 9 State–Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting. A memorandum of this discussion is ibid.,PPS Files: Lot 67 D 548, State–JCS Meetings.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.