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126. National Security Study Memorandum 551

TO

  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Secretary of the Treasury
  • The Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • The Director of Central Intelligence

SUBJECT

  • United States Policy Toward Post-de Gaulle France

The President has directed that a review of options available in our policy toward France be prepared for the consideration of the National Security Council. This review should be guided by the following questions:

1. What developments may take place with regard to France during the next three to four months which will require positive United States reaction? In each case, what will be the alternative courses open to the President, and what will be their comparative advantages and disadvantages?

2. In which areas, if any, ought the United States to initiate action in order to influence the development of events concerning France? What will be the comparative advantages and disadvantages of taking action or doing nothing? What will be the range of options as to timing?

This review should be accompanied by an analysis covering the following points:

1. The anticipated structure of parties, probable candidates, and most likely outcome of the forthcoming French general election;

2. The possibility of public disorders and breakdown of civil administration in France;

3. The possibility of pressure on the French franc; chances for devaluation; the impact of devaluation on other countries and the international monetary system; and the role to be played by the United States in this process;

4. The probable course of development of French NATO policy;

5. The probable changes, if any, in French attitude toward European unity and British entry into the Common Market;

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6. The impact on our bilateral relations with France, including the areas of military cooperation and possible sharing of nuclear weapons technology information;

7. Other factors pertinent to NSC consideration.

This study should be performed by the NSC Interdepartmental Group for Europe. Additional members from agencies and departments not normally represented on the NSCIG/EUR may be added for the purpose of this study at the discretion of the Chairman. The completed study should be presented to the NSC Review Group no later than Monday, May 12, 1969.

Because of the urgency of this study, the completion date for the requirements outlined in NSSM 47 of April 21, 1969,2 is extended to August 1, 1969.

Pending consideration by the National Security Council on United States policy toward France at the conclusion of this study, the President has directed that no department or agency of the Executive Branch shall make any public or private statement, or enter into any commitment, which would have the effect of circumscribing the President’s freedom of choice among available policy options.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–151, National Security Study Memoranda, NSSM 55. Secret; Nodis.
  2. Document 123.