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

18776. Subject: President Pompidou’s Pessimistic Mood.

Summary: Several journalists who meet regularly with President Pompidou have recently remarked to Embassy officers on different occasions, [Page 177] but in almost identical terms, that President’s current mood is one of deep pessimism. Pompidou reportedly is brooding over monetary crisis, disarray of Western camp and French impotence to change situation. He is said to portray Western Europe as on the brink of rapid and possibly brutal slide towards what he characterizes as “Finlandization.” End summary.
According to our sources, Pompidou sees dollar crisis as generally debilitating for West. In addition to problems dollar weakness creates in trade area, he believes it will generate intense US Congressional pressures to reduce US forces in Europe. This, plus widespread belief in European circles that US and USSR have reached bilateral agreement which precludes resort to nuclear weapons in European conflict, create grave doubts about US willingness to defend Western Europe.
Rather than strengthening European unity, Pompidou believes situation is creating “every-man-for-himself psychology” among European nations. Thus, he perceives real danger that FRG might adopt a more neutral role in exchange for some progress towards reunification. He believes Soviet Union is well aware of Western vulnerability and has every intention of exploiting it, according to our sources.
Particularly frustrating to Pompidou is that he sees no easy solution and believes that GOF has little control over events. France certainly intends to maintain its own defense posture and Pompidou reportedly just approved entire defense budget for the coming year, but the President is said to be keenly aware of French inability to do much to guarantee European security.
Comment: After June 6 Council of Ministers’ meeting, government spokesmen said Pompidou regarded current monetary situation and international problems as extremely serious and would discuss them in major public television address this fall. We have also heard that President instructed Jobert to take cautious approach during recent Helsinki meetings,2 to “wake people up to West’s insecurity.” Thus, we are inclined to believe that Pompidou is not overdrawing his concern about monetary crisis for tactical purposes but is seriously worried about monetary disarray and its possible effects on European security—especially in accelerating moves toward US force reductions.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files. Confidential; Exdis. Repeated to Bonn, Brussels, Copenhagen, Dublin, London, Luxembourg, Moscow, Rome, The Hague, USNATO, USEC Brussels, and the Consulates in Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Martinique, Nice, and Strasbourg.
  2. Ministers from 34 nations met in Helsinki to discuss the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe from July 3 to 7.