235. Editorial Note

Following a discussion on another topic on September 2, President de Gaulle asked Ambassador Gavin to deliver the following personal message to President Kennedy:

“I understand full well, better than anyone else, the weight and scope of President Kennedy’s responsibilities. He is the head of the state which in the West is the most powerful. Therefore everything depends more or less on him. This gives him a tremendous burden of responsibility. I am aware of the weight of this burden and it is with great sympathy and friendship that I follow and witness his efforts. If the state of affairs turns from bad to worse we will enter a catastrophe. If such a catastrophe occurs, France will enter it together with the United States, in any case. I say this on behalf of France, and I can vouch for France. If there is to be no catastrophe, it will have been important for the free world to have shown firmness.” (Telegram 1200 from Paris, September 2; Department of State, Central Files, 611.51/9–261)