43. Memorandum From Director of Central Intelligence Dulles to President Kennedy 0
- The Situation in France and Algeria1
Ever since the settlers revolt in Algiers in January 1960, the Agency has received, analyzed and published numerous reports of French military and rightist plotting against De Gaulle’s government and his Algerian policies. For example, on 26 January the CIB carried reports and analyses of sagging morale and disaffection in the Army and Air Force—in the latter particularly with reference to General Challe’s resignation from his NATO command in protest over De Gaulle’s intention to negotiate with the Algerian rebels. It now appears that the military officers involved, who had initially decided to exclude political leaders from their plans, suddenly moved up their timetable when their plot leaked to the Algiers Delegate General’s office last week.
In Algeria, insurgent leaders remain in control of most of the territory though it seems clear that large elements of the military there, as in France itself, have not fully declared themselves. There is yet no indication, however, that more loyal or passive elements would challenge the Legion and paratroopers in battle.
In France, the government actions on the night of 23-24 April2 appear to have reduced the prospects of successful invasion of France by the insurgent leaders—if indeed they actually intended such an invasion. These measures also seem to have stirred up the French popular will to resist—particularly among younger groups. The call up of military reservists continues. Other emergency measures are being relaxed, however—tanks and armored cars are being withdrawn from the city, roadblocks and airport barricades removed and commercial flights resumed at Paris airports.
De Gaulle is unlikely to give any ground to the demands of the revolutionary military junta. Over the next few days he will probably solicit [Page 60] acknowledgements of positive loyalty to him both by the general public and by prominent political leaders in an effort to discourage disaffections by now hesitant military officers. The junta leaders for their part will be probing for support in units of metropolitan France and Germany; in the face of strong backing De Gaulle is likely to receive, we do not believe they will gain many additional adhesions.
If the military leaders in Algeria feel the success of their revolt threatened by isolation and by the blockade imposed by De Gaulle on April 22—which we believe will be effective—they may in the next day or so attempt an invasion of France proper, hoping to spark as yet uncommitted military elements on the continent to their cause. However, as time passes without decisive action in metropolitan France, the insurgent leaders are more likely to turn on the FLN rebel bases in Tunisia in a desperate attempt to commit France to an enlargement of the war.
I attach excerpts from the most significant intelligence reports that have come in during the last 24 hours.
- Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Algeria. No classification marking. Attached to the source text but not printed are three attachments entitled: “French Army Dispositions,” “Military Air Transport Available,” and “Excerpts as stated.”↩
- On April 22, French military officers in Algeria seized Algiers and began an armed revolt against De Gaulle’s Algerian policy. The French Cabinet decreed a state of emergency.↩
- On April 23, President De Gaulle announced that he had assumed special emergency powers under Article 16 of the French Constitution, and the French Government undertook intensive emergency preparations to block a possible invasion of metropolitan France by rebel parachute troops.↩
- Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.↩