Volume #26 - 27.|
UNITED NATIONS AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
ISSUES BEFORE THE FOURTEENTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 15 TO DECEMBER 13, 1959 SUBDIVISION
Secretary of State for External Affairs|
to Ambassador in France
SECRET. FOR CANADIAN EYES ONLY. OPIMMEDIATE.
November 26th, 1959|
Reference: Your Tels 489,? 498,? 613,? 649,? 650,? 690? of May 19, May 22, June 24, Jul 7, Jul 18; our Tels S-285? Jul 9 and S-305? Jul 21.
Repeat London, Bonn, Washington, Permis New York, NATO Paris (Opimmediate), Cairo (Priority) (Information).
In our opinion the Algerian problem has to be dealt with on two levels in preparing for the probable debate on this question in the forthcoming UN General Assembly.
2. On the one hand we have to weigh certain practical considerations, including the legal nature of the case, the balance between our friendship for France and for the Afro-Asian countries supporting the rebels, and the contribution which any UN decision might make to a settlement of the war.
3. On the other hand, there is the broader issue of France's relations with Canada and with other members of the Western Alliance. We agree with you that the USA seems to relate the Algerian problem very closely to the difficulties which the French are creating within the framework of Western defence arrangements. This was evident again in Herter's remarks during his recent Ottawa conversations. Although there is clear evidence, however, that de Gaulle's decision to withdraw the French Mediterranean fleet from NATO command in time of war was motivated, in timing at least, by the USA abstention in the last General Assembly vote on Algeria, we think it is also clear that Algeria is not repeat not the only burr under the French saddle. De Gaulle has not given up his idea of a Western triumvirate and he still smarts from his "atomic isolation," and particularly from the USA refusal to provide a nuclear reactor for a French submarine, even though the UK had obtained one. It seems to us that all these factors are more closely related to de Gaulle's desire to reestablish France's grandeur than to other countries attitudes towards Algeria.
4. With this in mind, therefore, we think that for the time being we should try as much as possible to deal with the Algerian question in the UN as one problem and France's relations with her allies as another, of which Algeria is merely one of several facets.
5. It is impossible to predict at this stage whether definite progress towards a settlement of the Algerian war will have been made by the time the question is debated in the UN, but for the purpose of developing a Canadian policy we think that we should assume that the situation in a few months' time will not repeat not have changed significantly in these circumstances, although we continue to think that French actions during the past year have been such as to make it easier for us to oppose a resolution hostile to France in the UN, we are not repeat not convinced at the moment that we should do much more than simply vote against such a motion. In any event, we concur in your recommendation that Canada should not repeat not try to play a leading role at the General Assembly either in the debate or in the corridors.
6. We agree with you that in a sense at least France is less likely than ever to be swayed by a UN resolution. We think, however, that it could be argued that concern voiced outside of France about the situation in Algeria can, if properly expressed, bolster the case of those forces in both France and Algeria which are pressing for a liberal solution. There is always the possibility, of course, that "outside interference" would have the opposite effect, but we doubt if moderate and reasoned concern should.
7. The FLN has failed to increase significantly its international recognition and there may well be less sympathy among African and Asian countries for the FLN's tactics, although no less for the principle of independence for which they are fighting. However this may be, we do not repeat not think, there is evidence at this stage to suggest that the public positions of these countries will change to any great extent. It seems very probable that until the FLN itself agrees to negotiate for limited objectives, countries which have supported it in the past will not repeat not withdraw their support whatever their inner misgivings might be. We think it safe to assume that few, if any of the African and Asian countries have any illusions about French tenacity or the ability of France's Western friends to bring effective pressure to bear on France in connection with the Algerian problem, much as they may urge action in this direction. Their public positions in all probability are determined not repeat not by a misunderstanding of the situation but rather by political necessity.
8. We are not repeat not happy with the situation as it exists since we face embarrassment every time the question arises in the UN in trying to justify our support of France, but we do not repeat not see much point in complaining to the French about their policy unless we have a clear idea of what we think they should do to solve the problem. Struggles for national self-determination do attract sympathy and we doubt whether any of France's friends would argue that Algeria nationalists (whether or not repeat not they belong to the FLN) should be repressed. On the other hand, France also deserves sympathy. A viable solution probably lies somewhere between the stand adopted by the ultras and that of the FLN extremists and we think that there is evidence to indicate that de Gaulle is working towards that solution. We hope that the moderates within the FLN, other Algerian nationalists and countries such as Tunisia and Morocco are also working in the right direction.
9. Herter's discussion with Adenauer in May48 would seem to indicate that the State Depart-ment is in the process of reexamining its conscience, but we do not repeat not understand his statement that the USA cannot repeat not go on supporting the French stand since we have assumed that the USA absentation at the last Assembly marked the end of USA support of France if not repeat not actually the beginning of opposition to the French position. We shall probably be discussing the question with the State Department if only to find out what the USA has in mind as a solution to the Algerian problem, and whether George Allen's recent avowal of USA support for France was a reflection of a change in USA policy.
10. If France's friends could come up with a possible solution, we think that Adenauer would probably be in a good position to raise the question with de Gaulle, both because the French view the Germans with somewhat less irritation than they do the "Anglo-Saxon countries" and also because de Gaulle has taken a public position on the specifically German question of the Oder-Neisse boundary line. Adenauer, however, is not repeat not only unwilling to attempt to reason with the French about Algeria, but he is actively canvassing other members of the Western Alliance including Canada seeking to line up a solid pro-French front in the General Assembly. This is no repeat no doubt a further effort on his part to strengthen the present Franco-German relationship which he was spent so much of his life in establishing. In any case we doubt that Germany could make any more acceptable suggestions to France with regard to her Algerian policy than Canada or France's other friends unless the French adopt a more moderate attitude towards the discussion of Algeria with their friends and allies.
11. This is one course of action which we consider the French might well weigh at this stage - an exercise in the field of public relations which would complement the development of their Algerian policy. A reasoned, moderate exposition of the French position and accom-plishments in Algeria would, we think, make it easier for France's friends to support her. We agree with what you said to Langlais along this line, and we think that it would be worthwhile when you call on him at the Quai to develop this argument further against the background of this telegram.
12. Moreover, we think that this same attitude would be valuable not repeat not only in private discussions between France and her friends, but also in the wider forum of the UN. This would mean, of course, abandoning the rigid line of the past, but such a statement, even if prefaced by a reiteration of the French claim that the problem is purely an internal one, might well have a salutary effect in clearing the air. Most of all, it would provide a rallying point in the General Assembly for France's friends and a pretext for any waverers who might not repeat not be wholeheartedly behind a pro-FLN resolution.
13. Although the French refused to participate in last year's UN debate on Algeria they did state their position on the question as a matter of grace at both the Eleventh and Twelfth Sessions of the General Assembly, and it would be a relatively minor concession on their part, therefore, to do so again. The difficulty is, of course, that it presupposes the adoption of the more moderate attitude which I mentioned above, and it is only in the content of a free and frank discussion of the Algerian problem that such a modification of tactical policy could be suggested to de Gaulle. For the time being, therefore, we must content ourselves with pointing out to the French that we have supported them in every UN vote on the Algerian question. We have proven our friendship and such instances as appearances by Algerian rebels on the CBC are of very minor importance against this background. We should not repeat not be treated as though our policy is unfriendly to France when our record is so clearly one of support for the French position. Only, however, if France is willing to take us into her confidence can we be expected to support her so wholeheartedly in the future, let alone contemplate attempting to justify her position to other less friendly countries.
48Voir télégramme 498, Paris à Ottawa, 22 mai 1959,? MAE/7839-40.