83. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State1

3238. NATO. When I asked General De Gaulle if his thinking on NATO had remained the same as he had expressed to the Secretary and me last December,3 particularly in regard to timing, De Gaulle answered that his views had not changed; that he believed it would be necessary in 1969 to reexamine the North Atlantic Treaty. He said that he was in favor of an alliance with the US, with Great Britain and with Germany (he did not mention other NATO members), but whether in the same form as the present treaty he could not be sure at this time. He said for example he would have to “look at” the question of a council as he was not quite sure what a council would do. He then stated very clearly and definitely that any form of integration would have to go when the time came to review the treaty. He said that in France there would be no longer any troops or military installations not under French command, but that of course if Germany wished to have American and British troops this was their right. He mentioned that for other reasons France would probably wish to maintain some forces in Germany. He emphasized however again that all forces and installations on the territory of France would be under French command and French command alone, with the clear implication that there would no longer be any foreign troops on French soil. He said these changes in the NATO structure would not certainly be made this year and in any event, while not committing himself to any specific time except before 1969, that other allies including the US would be given plenty of warning and time to consider the French suggestions.

I asked the General, since he had fought in two world wars, if he did not think that the allies, particularly in World War I, had not suffered a great deal from the absence of unity of command. He said possibly, but pointed out that in World War I the British and subsequently American troops had fought in France but, as he put it, had been under French law, i.e., that France had been in control of all actions on her soil. He said there would be no objection to various plans drawn up by headquarters to be put into effect when hostilities start, assigning one sector or another to different commanders, but he said that integration would be finished.

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I told him my impression of the NATO set up was that most staff planning was for future contingencies, and he waved this aside and said no, and under US control.

Comment: While De Gaulle said nothing particularly new he was much more explicit in regard to the total elimination of any integrated structure in France. I had never heard him before state so flatly that all foreign military installations would leave the soil of France or else be under total French control.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, DEF 4 NATO. Secret; Exdis. Repeated to Bonn and London.
  2. Beginning in May 1965, the dates and transmission times of all incoming Department of State telegrams were in six-figure date-time-groups. The “Z” refers to Greenwich mean time.
  3. See Document 64.
  4. Before discussing NATO, Bohlen and De Gaulle talked briefly about the differences between the United States and France on the future of Europe. President De Gaulle said that they were really not a matter of principle but of time. (Telegram 6237 from Bonn; Department of State, Central Files, POL 32–4 GER)