41. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)0


  • Algeria at the Point of Decision—Is There Anything We can Do?

With genuine Franco-FLN talks at last in the offing,1 we are at a critical stage which may offer the last real chance of a relatively “peaceful” Algerian solution. It is arguable whether or not we would help or hinder this by US action at this point. But clearly here is an urgent policy issue which ought to be on our list.

DeGaulle is obviously seeking to disengage from Algeria, but if the FLN pushes him too hard he may be unable to do so (a tragedy for him as well as us). Hence it is now up to the FLN to meet him halfway, and any influence we may have should be used for this purpose.

At a minimum, shouldn’t State explore post-haste whether to use all available means of direct and indirect influence to persuade the FLN to respond constructively when DeGaulle lays his cards on the table? [1 line [Page 57] of source text not declassified] We could point out that now is the time when the FLN leaders must choose between the likelihood of expanded conflict in Algeria, which would inevitably convert it into an East-West issue, and a peaceful transition which in the long run will probably give them all they want.

The big hitch is that such efforts might be counter-productive. DeGaulle might be upset by our meddling, regardless of whether it were in his interest. As for the FLN, they might respond to our overtures by seeking compensatory commitments from Washington which would, in turn, embroil us with the French. But before letting the opportunity pass by inaction, let’s at least make it a conscious choice.

Bob Komer
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Algeria. Secret. Also sent to Rostow.
  2. On February 21, the PAG announced that the two sides had agreed to talks. On March 30, the French Government and the PAG issued communiques announcing their decision to open talks in Evian, France, on April 7.