52. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France0

2432. As Algerian problem enters into crucial phase, consider it necessary that posts directly concerned with this problem understand fully [Page 74] principles and motivations of US policy in order prevent divergent approaches.

Algerian independence is inevitable. We believe (as does De Gaulle) that normalization of relations between France and North Africa possible only if Algerians conduct their own affairs. As far as US concerned, continuation of Algerian war constitutes a major obstacle to conduct effective US policy in North Africa, and also has adverse effects on our relations with France. Perspective of Algerian independence makes it desirable improve relationship with PAG and proceed with planning our relationship with new Algerian state, particularly in view of likelihood that independent Algeria will exercise predominant influence in North Africa and on newly independent states bordering on Sahara.
Manner in which Algeria will acquire independence not yet clear. If independence comes about without agreement with France, future of Algeria and future relationship between US and Algeria would be heavily mortgaged from outset. There would be danger of chaotic conditions in France and in Algeria which could render France useless as ally and Algeria highly susceptible to Soviet bloc influence. Even if chaotic conditions do not ensue there is further danger that US support for Algeria (or Algerian rump state after pro-French elements have been regrouped in certain enclaves) could alienate France from alliance. Principal objective of US policy must be to prevent such situation from arising. As long as there exists reasonable chance, negotiated agreement between France and future Algerian leadership is therefore of overriding importance. Any proposed inducements to FLN must therefore continuously be examined in light whether they help or hinder negotiated settlement. This examination can only be made by Department based on reports received from posts abroad.
As to tactics, Department considers following principles are in accord with above objectives:
Pure prestige gestures toward FLN are in general undesirable and should be discontinued except on instruction because they do not contribute to negotiated settlement and may actually strengthen elements opposing negotiations in France as well as among FLN. However, if we have something important to say to FLN (or they to us) we will decide to raise level of normal contacts with FLN. In any case, while it logical view PAG as likely future government, we should avoid appearing to have recognized it as such prematurely.
Regular non-publicized contacts with FLN should be maintained and intensified. Department planning at appropriate moment assign medium-level officer to Embassy Tunis with specific mission maintain contact with FLN. This move has been complicated by unfortunate leak on appointment “emissary” to FLN. Other means improve our [Page 75] intelligence of FLN and our ability make substantive points to it under study. Non-government institutions may, for instance, be helpful.
Meanwhile, in regular contacts with FLN we should bring home to them dangers we see in delaying negotiations on assumption De Gaulle successor regime would be willing or able pursue De Gaulle’s policy of broad concessions. We should suggest to PAG in convincing terms that if relations between Algeria and France are normal we will be able to do more for Algeria than if relations are hostile.
In general, believe general character of discussions with FLN should look increasingly toward future of Algeria, Algeria’s needs and our desire help meet these needs. We hope by this approach (a) obtain better knowledge of FLN post-independence plans, on which FLN leadership has been silent; (b) discreetly and tactfully make FLN aware of problems involved in running complex state in full process of modernization (problem of which at least part of FLN leadership appears to be unmindful); and (c) convince FLN that negotiated solution is in Algerian self-interest in terms future prospects economic aid and development.

Department would welcome comments from addressee posts.1

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751S.00/11-2861. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Brown, Tyler, and Imhof; cleared by Tasca, Witman, Tyler, and Johnson; and approved by Ball. Also sent to Tunis, Algiers, and Rabat, and pouched to USUN, Cairo and Geneva.
  2. In telegram 2360 from Paris, October 31, Gavin characterized the guidelines in telegram 2432 as most encouraging and constructive, but recommended that the Department temporarily defer assigning an officer to the Embassy in Tunis with the specific mission of maintaining contact with the PAG, pending efforts to renew negotiations. Gavin strongly supported the path described in numbered paragraph 3 of this telegram, but warned against nurturing FLN illusions about the degree of future U.S. economic assistance. (Ibid., 751S.00/10-3161)