Volume #22 - 336.|
NATIONS UNIES ET AUTRES ORGANISATIONS INTERNATIONALES
ONZIÈME SESSION DE L'ASSEMBLÉE GÉNÉRALE, NEW YORK, 12 NOVEMBRE 1956 AU 8 MARS 1957
Note du sous-secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures|
pour le secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures
le 22 mars 1956|
POLITICAL CONSULTATION IN NATO - ALGERIA AND CYPRUS|
1. It has been suggested that the North Atlantic Council should discuss the Cyprus dispute and the Algerian question; and that if member states are not prepared to discuss these problems which involve the vital interests of certain members and of the alliance as a whole, there is not much point in pursuing political consultation in NATO. As you know, there has been a general reticence in NATO to tackle questions involving dependent territories. However, there is some evidence that the administering powers may not be content much longer to leave these urgent problems outside the field of political consultation. It, therefore, seems an appropriate time to take stock of our attitude toward political consultation in NATO and how our interests would be effected by a discussion of Cyprus and Algeria.
2. The purposes of political consultation in NATO are, generally speaking, to reinforce and consolidate the unity, effectiveness and prestige of the alliance and, where possible, to concert action on common problems in order "to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area." The question is: would these purposes be served by considering in the North Atlantic Council the international problems and difficulties which certain member states are encountering in their dependent territories? To answer this question, it is necessary to consider the significance and implications of such specific problems as Cyprus, Algeria and Goa, and it at once becomes apparent that no precise criteria could be established for determining what political problems should be the subject of consultation in NATO. Consequently it is necessary to examine each particular problem on its merits and to ascertain how far consideration of it in NATO would serve the main aim of political consultation - the strengthening of the alliance.
3. An analysis of this context of the two immediate problems of Cyprus and Algeria may serve not only to illustrate the difficulty of delineating definitive criteria for political consultation but also as a preliminary exercise in assessing the boundaries beyond which NATO should not seek to exert political influence.
4. Attached to this memorandum are two papers which present a few ideas on the subject of Algeria, and the question of Cyprus.38 With regard to Algeria I had come to the tentative conclusion that NATO should not discuss Algeria in order simply to note the nature of the situation, but should only take up the question if it were believed that there was something that NATO as a whole could do. Specifically, we should not take the lead in pressing for consultation in Algeria unless we were prepared to present some ideas on the subject and to back them up. And this might in the long run mean economic and military involvement by Canada in North Africa.
5. At the same time NATO is to all intents seized with the problem because of the French attempt to secure a declaration of NATO support for their policies. And the French have agreed to include Algeria as part of the item "Review of the Current International Situation" at the next ministerial meeting. I do not think that this kind of semi-consultation on a matter which NATO can hardly ignore will help towards a solution of the problem, but we may have to accept it as a pis-aller.
Note du chef de la Direction européenne
Memorandum by Head, European Division
NATO AND THE QUESTION OF ALGERIA
The attitude of the French Government toward NATO political consultation in Algeria is not clear. Mr. Wilgress has pointed out that the French are very sensitive to outside interference on this question because of the large French population in the territory and the contention that it is part of metropolitan France. Nevertheless, there have been suggestions in the National Defence Committee of the French Assembly that the nation's NATO role should be redefined to take into account the strategic importance of North Africa and the contribution France is making by maintaining law and order there. Recently, when the French Representative explained to a secret session of the Council the reasons for further substantial withdrawals to Algeria of French troops which had been committed to NATO, he emphasized that events in Algeria are closely related to developments in the Middle East and that, coinciding with the lessening of East-West tension and the reorientation of Soviet tactics, the French action would not seriously imperil European security. There has been no disposition on the part of the other NATO members to have a full-dress discussion on Algeria, but the Supreme Allied Commander Europe has recently stressed the desirability of discussing the grave situation which arises out of both the strategic importance of Algeria and the extent to which the situation there is sapping the strength of NATO defences in Europe.
2. What would be the probable outcome of political consultation on this problem? At this stage in the development of NATO, the outward solidarity and internal unity of the alliance are very important and unless there are other overriding considerations it is not desirable to introduce problems which would tend to weaken or divide NATO. A thorough airing of the Algerian question would give France an opportunity fully to explain her position and her policies, and it might ameliorate some of the frustration which France must feel at having to handle alone and outside NATO a situation so vital to her national interests and the stability of the North Atlantic area. The United Kingdom and other members that administer dependent territories might share this French satisfaction to some extent. On the other hand, Norway, one of the most outspoken advocates of close political consultation in NATO, has made quite clear that it is strongly opposed to NATO becoming involved in any way in the Algerian problem, and there are other members that have had misgivings about French North African policy (e.g. United States, Denmark, etc.). There is also a real danger that a discussion on Algeria might lead to recriminations against France which would only exacerbate the situation.
3. The next question is whether political consultation on Algeria would increase the effectiveness of NATO. There are certainly strong arguments which can be advanced concerning the strategic significance of this territory, and action to remedy the military situation in Europe caused by the withdrawal of French troops can hardly be discussed realistically without reference to Algeria. Moreover, the loss of Algeria would be a severe blow to France and the French economy and would decrease the effectiveness of that country as a NATO member. It would also probably make the retention of U.S. bases in Morocco very difficult. It can also be argued that constructive French policies in North Africa have been, at least in part, a consequence of international pressure and that a little more applied indirectly through NATO might lead toward some solution to Algeria. Nevertheless, the latter is an extremely theoretical and tenuous contention, and it is difficult to see how political consultation on this question could contribute really substantially to the effectiveness of NATO as an organization for collective defence and the preservation of peace and security.
4. There is also the question of the prestige of NATO. As you know, there have been a few insinuations (particularly from Egypt and India) that NATO is supporting the French campaign of military repression in Algeria and that, at the very least, members of NATO are condoning the despatch of French forces and equipment to be used in the suppression of nationalism in North Africa. Although steps have been taken to refute these inferences before they gained credibility, the suspicions have lingered and have been maintained to some extent by Portuguese suggestions to the effect that NATO support would be forthcoming in Goa and that NATO should form the nucleus of a crusade to preserve the political status quo in Europe and Africa. To the Asian-African nations, Algeria is a clear cut question of colonialism. It was a major international issue at the last session of the United Nations General Assembly. Whatever the outcome of political consultation on this subject in NATO, therefore, it is likely that the prestige of the alliance would suffer severely in Asian-African eyes from being characterized as an organization active in the perpetuation of colonialism. Although we should not cringe before the big stick of anti-colonialism, I wonder whether we should wilfully expose NATO, at this time, to the full fury of fanatical nationalism and racism. Even though the talks are in theory secret, I presume it would be difficult to keep at least some mention of them from becoming public.
5. If NATO were to discuss the situation in Algeria without the principal powers having well in advance some clear idea of what they expected to gain from it, and with the express approval of France, there is a danger of a number of countries criticizing the French, and the latter then asking for explicit support, perhaps material as well as moral, in their campaign to pacify the country. Though the French up to now have been frank in stating that they thought Algeria was purely a French problem, and all they wanted from their allies was political support, they might, in the light of general NATO concern over the effect of Algeria on the European sector of NATO, seriously ask for our assistance. The suggestion might also be made that the North American members should make up the gaps in Allied Command Europe.
6. I should, therefore, like to suggest that we delay any move to discuss French North Africa in the Council (except possibly in the manner the French have suggested, as part of the item "Review of the Current International Situation"), until we can thoroughly explore some ways by which the problem of French North Africa can become a matter openly recognized as a concern of the whole alliance.
7. I for one find it very difficult to think of anything very concrete which NATO could do, certainly not with regard to Algeria alone since the French are very insistent on the special position of Algeria as a part of metropolitan France, and are suspicious of the ambitions of other powers in this area. We would, therefore, have to talk of French North Africa as a whole. The French may think they can give independence to Morocco and autonomy to Tunisia without moving in the same direction in Algeria, but this seems to be highly unlikely.
8. The problem essentially is that French North Africa is vital to the position of France as a great power. At present it can only be maintained by a military and economic effort, which over a long period will be impossible for France to maintain except by abdicating her position in Europe. Therefore France must either have outside help, or make a compromise in Algeria comparable to those made in Tunisia and Morocco.
9. The continued strength and prestige of France are equally vital to NATO, as are the bases, man-power and resources of French North Africa. It is, therefore, as essential to NATO as it is to France that a solution be found quickly, one which will at the same time preserve French strength, and the co-operation of the North Africans.
10. The French having come a very long way in the last year in Morocco and Tunisia should not, in my opinion, be pushed too hard by NATO to make compromises in Algeria. They will reach the decision that this is necessary in due course by themselves. However, if it is felt that NATO must intervene, then we have the alternatives of either helping the French morally and materially to suppress the revolt and to maintain their position in French North Africa, or of putting pressure on the French to give autonomy to the Algerians and at the same time of assisting both the North Africans and the French to adjust economically and politically to the new situation.
11. I imagine we would be disinclined to consider the first alternative, particularly when the French themselves cannot make up their minds what kind of a régime they want to give to Algeria. As far as the second is concerned, could the NATO powers not tell the French now that they recognize the importance of French North Africa for the alliance as a whole, that they commend the French for the measures they have already taken, and that they would be prepared to assist the whole area in the event that the Algerians agreed to work out with the French a plan for the gradual acquisition of self-government? This could take the form of economic assistance, and I think we ought to recognize that economic aid is possibly more essential to retain this vital area than it is in, say, Burma. Politically, we could try to persuade the French to move with the times in Algeria, at the same time counselling the North Africans to accept a compromise formula. We could agree to support Morocco as a candidate for membership in the United Nations, and possibly consider some form of eventual association with NATO. I think a programme along these general lines might help the French, and at the same time be acceptable to the North Africans by showing them that they were dealing with the alliance as a whole and not just the French, particularly if an imaginative economic scheme was also dangled before them.
12. We ought in theory at the same time to tell the French that NATO could not give them any material support if they were not prepared to compromise in Algeria, but this would be pretty difficult to do. We have to remember the serious internal problems of the French in having to deal not only with the Arabs but also with their own nationals in Algeria. All this ought to be explored pretty carefully with the interested countries.
13. To conclude, I do not think that political consultation on Algeria without a definite programme would serve to strengthen NATO. However, if the present situation, where more than 200,000 French troops are attempting to contain about 15,000 rebel guerrillas, should change in such a way that a real threat to NATO security arose - if, for example, Egyptian support of the rebel cause became active intervention - military necessity might outweigh the political objections.