The Pentagon Papers Part V-B1 reveals a series of secret documents written during World War II regarding French demands the US supported French territories after the war.
President Roosevelt did not want France to reclaim IndoChina but had to capitulate to de Gaulle’s demands in Europe against Soviet Russia. Today its amusing de Gaulle threatened France would fall under communist influence after the war.
After both Roosevelt and Truman administrations, President Eisenhower found himself lending support to another French request regarding their colonial empire in IndoChina when France asked the United States to drop 3 atomic bombs at Dien Bien Phu on the tenth day of the month long siege.
Its surprising to see Eisenhower actually kept this request on the table, indicating his serious support for dropping multiple atomic bombs on a single battlefield. Only until the British ambassador objected to the outcome of such an action did Eisenhower refuse. Was the US destined to be drawn to Vietnam only to support the France’s desire to restart it’s aging empire?
United States Position With Respect to French Territory After the War
During the past three years there have been a number of public pronouncements, as well as unpublished statements, by the President, the Secretary of State, and other high ranking officials of this Government regarding the future of French territory after the war, The most important of these pronouncements and statements are set forth below,
1. In a statement issued on August 2, 1941, concerning the agreement entered into between the French and Japanese Governments regarding French Indochina, the Secretary of State said:
“This Government, mindful of its traditional friendship for France, has deeply sympathized with the desire of the French people to maintain their territories and to preserve them intact. In Its relations with the French Government at Vichy and with the local French authorities in French territories, the United States will be governed by the manifest effectiveness with which those authorities endeavor to protect these territories from domination and control by those powers which are seeking to extend their rule by force and conquest, or by the threat thereof.”
(Department of State Press Release No. 374)
2. In a letter to Marshal Petain in December 1941, President Roosevelt stated that so long as “French sovereign control remains in reality purely French” the American Government has no desire to see existing French sovereignty over French North Africa or any of the French colonies “pass to the control of any other nation”.
3. A State Department press release of March 2, 1942 (No, 85) relative to the situation in New Caledonia, included the following words:
“The policy of the Government of the United States as regards France and French territory has been based upon the maintenance of the integrity of France and of the French empire and of the eventual restoration of the complete independence of all French territories.”
The above statement was qualified by the following words;
“In its relations with the local French authorities in French territories the United States has been and “will continue to be governed by the manifest effectiveness with which those authorities endeavor to protect their territories from domination and control by the common enemy.”.
4. In a note of April 13, 1942, to the French Ambassador at Washington, relative to the establishing of an American consular establishment at Brazzaville, the Acting Secretary of State said;
“The Government of the United States recognizes the sovereign jurisdiction of the people of France over the territory of France and over French possessions overseas. The Government of the United States fervently hopes that it may see the reestablishment of the independence of France and of the integrity of French territory.”
5. At his press conference on May 21, 1942, in reply to an inquiry as to whether the United States considered itself bound to the restoration of the whole French Empire after the war, the Secretary of State said that this question had not arisen.
6. In an unpublished letter of November 2,1942, to General Giraud, the President’s Personal Representative, Mr. Murphy, wrote:
“It is thoroughly understood that French sovereignty will be reestablished as soon as possible throughout all the territory, metropolitan and colonial, over which flew the French flag in 1939.”
7. The landing of American forces in North Africa on November 8, 1942 was the occasion for a number of assurances to the French people regarding motives. Among them were the following:
In his message to Marshal Petnin the President said:?I need not tell you that the ultimate and greater aim is the liberation of France and its empire from the Axis yoke.”
The President’s message to Admiral Esteva, Resident General at Tunis, concluded with these words:
“I know that I may count on your understanding of American friendship for France and American determination to liberate the French empire from the domination of its oppressors.”
In his broadcast to the French people on November 8th the President said: ?We assure you that once the menace of Germany and Italy is removed from you, we shall quit your territory at once.”
8. The preamble of the unpublished Clark-Darlan Agreement of November 22, 1942 contains the following words:
“It has been agreed by all French elements concerned and United States military authorities that French forces will aid and support the forces of the United States and their allies to expel from the soil of Africa the common enemy, to liberate France and restore integrelly the French Empire.”
Clearly the US paid lip service to the French desires to reestablish control in IndoChina. The Pentagon Papers reveal a very intriguing relationship between the Allies while meeting at the Tehran Conference now reveals how Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt were dividing up the world.