173. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Schlesinger) to the Representative to the United Nations (Stevenson)0

I raised the Tunisian question with the President this morning. He said that he saw it as a simple practical matter and hoped that the members of the Delegation would be relatively matter-of-fact and hard-boiled in explaining the reasons for the American position.1 He thinks that U.S. representatives should say something along the following lines:

“Everyone forgets how shaky De Gaulle’s position is. A group of generals revolted against him a few weeks back; and the mishandling of the Tunisian affair might well precipitate another and more effective military revolt leading conceivably to his overthrow and to the replacement [Page 261] of his government by a regime of ultras. With all his defects, De Gaulle represents the only hope of gaining a solution in Algeria. Our sympathy continues to be with the nations throwing off the bond of colonialism; but the cause of anti-colonialism will not be helped by the overthrow of De Gaulle; and this seems to us a possible and even likely consequence of too aggressive American support for the Tunisian position.”

The President said that he hopes no one will be in the slightest degree apologetic about the American line.

He agrees that what will matter in Paris is not what we say but what we do, and therefore will be happy to have you show as much sympathy as possible for the anti-colonial position within the framework of the abstention policy.

  1. Source: Princeton University Library, Stevenson Papers, Embassy Files, Tunisia. No classification marking.
  2. On August 21, a special session of the U.N. General Assembly convened to consider “the grave situation in Tunisia obtaining since July 19, 1961.”