CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 152: File—SFM Meeting Minutes

United States Delegation Minutes, First Meeting of the Foreign Ministers, New York, Waldorf Astoria, September 12, 1950, 3 p. m.


SFM Min–1


Mr. Acheson (US)

M. Schuman (Fr)

Mr. Bevin (UK)

Also Present

US France UK
Philip C. Jessup Henri Bonnet Sir Oliver Franks
George W. Perkins M. François-Poncet Sir Ivone Kirkpatriek
Charles S. Spofford Hervé Alphand Sir Leslie Rowan
John J. McCloy M. de Margerie Sir Pierson Dixon



European Defense


Mr. Acheson called the meeting to order at 3:20 p. m. by extending official welcome to Mr. Bevin and Mr. Schuman and by expressing on behalf of the other ministers the sadness that they all felt at the death of General Smuts on the eve of these discussions.

He said he wanted to take up very briefly some procedural questions, and the Ministers thereupon agreed that there would be no verbatim minutes of the meetings, that translation would be employed whenever convenient to the Ministers, and that at the end of each meeting the Ministers would agree on what could be mentioned to the press, but that no formal communiqué would be issued until the end of the meetings.

Mr. Acheson also referred to the draft agenda (Int. Doc. No. 11), and this was agreed to. Mr. Acheson stated that the question of economic assistance to Yugoslavia had been added primarily as a result of recent reports of drought conditions in that country, with the view that the Ministers might wish to exchange comments on this question.

The meeting thereupon adjourned at 3:25 into a private meeting of the three Ministers and their secretaries.2

The private meeting adjourned at 4:50 p. m.

[Page 1192]

European Defense

Mr. Acheson reopened the meeting at 5:15, by stating that what had taken place so far during the day had largely been in the form of an exchange of views on the part of the three representatives on the question of European defense forces and that he felt the most useful way to proceed would be for him to summarize these discussions.

The discussions had revolved around views which had developed within the US Government concerning the defense of Western Europe, initiated largely in response to memoranda submitted by the British and French governments during recent months which had raised broad questions in this regard. The United States was now prepared to join with Europe as a partner in the defense of Western Europe, and the questions raised with reference to this could be summarized under the following headings:

The US would join in creating forces in Europe adequate for the defense of Europe contingent only on the condition that these forces would be so planned and created that they would be able to meet the task. The US would put into Western Europe at the earliest date substantial forces to become a part of the total new defense establishment. It was not possible to set a specific date or number pending the end of hostilities in Korea; while the end of the Korean hostilities was not a condition to our action, the successful outcome of that engagement would contribute to the speed of our activities. Mr. Schuman and Mr. Bevin had both expressed their gratification over this US position. Mr. Bevin had pointed out in connection with these new forces that it was important to be careful about terminology; we should think not of a European Army but rather of forces for freedom located in Europe.
The creation of this new force would require unity of staff and unity of command. These are problems which require direction from the Foreign Ministers or from NATO. An international staff, with a chief of staff having certain defined powers, should be created at the very beginning. Inherent in this arrangement was the command authority, and when the forces have been created and are operating a supreme commander should be appointed with agreed powers. Exact questions of the composition, size, and organization of these forces were military matters to be worked out by the military authorities.
Another broad question had to do with supply matters dealing with this force, and the US view included the possibility of reorganizing the Military Production and Supply Board of NATO into a body meeting on a continuous basis with supervisory powers over production, allocation, etc. Mr. Bevin had stressed in particular the importance of moving forward as rapidly as possible with increased military production.
The next main question to be considered dealt with finance, and on this US thinking was not so far advanced as it was on other questions. Mr. Bevin had stressed the close connection between finance and supply. It had been agreed that a sub-committee consisting of [Page 1193] Mr. Nitze, Mr. Alphand, and Ambassador Franks would meet to explore further questions in the financial category.

Mr. Acheson said that some of the immediate issues to be considered included the following:

To agree on high priority production goals, including the role of the US;
To agree on immediate (1951) production goals for European countries, including in particular the roles of France and the UK;
To work out long term goals. On this question Mr. Schuman was eager to begin discussions as soon as possible along the lines of the proposals made earlier by France,3 although his Government was willing to consider any proposals which might-be made;
To work immediately toward the identification of the issues in order to be clear by the end of the month, when the Ministers might be leaving New York, on an exact program which they could refer back to their governments.

Beyond this, Mr. Acheson said the defense of Europe led naturally to the question of the role of Germany. Any really valid plan for the defense of Western Europe had to be one which encompassed the maintenance of the western position in Germany, and therefore the defense of Western Europe should be established as far east as possible. This created various difficulties. One idea advanced had concerned the incorporation of German units into the new European force, integrated into the forces but dependent upon ordnance supplies from sources external to Germany. This question had led to a searching discussion by Bevin and Schuman on what our objectives were, how we should handle the Germans, avoid bargaining, etc. It was Mr. Bevin’s view that the High Commissioners should meet to review the question and its effect upon Germany. He personally favored going ahead with the strengthening of the German police, since that was a matter raised by the Germans and not a request we were making of them. Mr. Schuman had pointed out that whatever was done about German militarism must be done as part of the discussions of the whole German question. Mr. Bevin said that we should keep in mind the long range task of bringing Germany into the community of Europe permanently and not just temporarily.

Mr. Acheson said that in listening to the discussion he had come to the conclusion that it would be helpful to separate the further discussions under separate but related points:

First of all the Ministers should agree on the wisest way of dealing with the German problem.
They should next consider the question of how to handle their associates in Europe on this question.
In the light of this they should determine how we are going to develop and handle the public attitude.

He then asked the Ministers how they wished to proceed.

Mr. Bevin said he would like to get down to actual studies right away. The question of finance had already been referred to a working group and he would like to see the other questions referred to practical working parties.

Mr. Schuman said that he was quite happy to have work started immediately on the financial question. He felt, however, that the high priority production program must be studied urgently, and the French Government insisted that the financing of the first orders under this program must be settled immediately. He said these questions were now in the hands of the deputies and he did not wish them to be taken away.4 He would, however, like to have another question unofficially taken up by the Deputies concerning the supply, financing, and prices of raw materials. The French faced a particularly difficult problem in this regard which was not only leading to inflation but was contributing substantially to an increase in defense costs.

Mr. Schuman agreed with Mr. Bevin that Germany was not strictly a European problem but was of interest to the North Atlantic community. Germany could not be expected to contribute to European defense to the same extent as an NAT country since it is not a signatory of the Pact. However, he agreed with Mr. Bevin that it was unreasonable for Germany to request help without contributing to the defense of Europe. After five years in Germany the Allied forces should no longer be responsible for the maintenance of internal order and consequently he agreed that the German police force should be increased, without however affording the Germans the possibility of using their power against France. He emphasized that Germany should not be permitted to rebuild a professional army from the police force nucleus and therefore it should neither be too centralized nor too numerous. He was willing to modify the ceiling figure of 10,000 which the French had previously mentioned.

Mr. Schuman was favorably disposed toward consultation with Benelux providing the discussions would be entirely confidential. It would not be advisable to take the other NAT countries into confidence at this time due to the likelihood of leakage.

[Page 1195]

In considering the creation of a German defense force and its participation in the defense of Europe, Mr. Schuman felt that German public opinion could not be neglected, as Mr. Bevin had shown. It would be desirable to have the judgment of the High Commissioners as to German thinking on the subject of German participation in European defense.

Mr. Acheson suggested that it might be worth going back a little since the Ministers had begun by discussing the need for reaching agreement on the question of European defense and transmitting their common view to the NAT Council. The first question is the composition of forces. The second is their distribution. In order to move ahead it might be useful for the NAT Deputies to produce a draft resolution for the Council. The resolution should instruct the Defense Ministers to report about the Medium Term Plan5 and should advise them as to what is specifically desired in the program for European defense; namely, composition and distribution of forces.

Mr. Bevin said that while he understood that the Medium Term Plan is designed to provide for the needs of 1954, he was concerned about the possibility of being in trouble before that time. The problem should be looked at realistically in terms of what we might have to face. There should be clarification of such questions as the number of U.S. troops to be placed in Europe and in England, the number of other forces available for immediate use, and also the production necessary to equip these troops. There should be synchronization of the number of troops and the production of the military equipment they will need.

Mr. Schuman pointed out that the first action in the North Atlantic Council meetings scheduled for Friday and Saturday will be consideration of the report of the Deputies.6 The three powers assembled will certainly agree to this report. Before reaching a conclusion about the composition and distribution of armed forces, however, the opinion of the Standing Group should be sought. It is easy for the United States, United Kingdom and France to agree with the conclusion of the Standing Group but will it be more difficult for the other members of the Council who are not represented on the Standing Group.

[Page 1196]

Mr. Acheson replied that the comments of Mr. Bevin and Mr. Schuman were very pertinent. The comments of the Standing Group regarding the number of troops to be raised by July 1951 is expected to reach the Meeting tomorrow or at least before final adjournment.

Mr. Acheson re-emphasized his view as to the desirability of a draft resolution by the Deputies whose conclusion would be that the report of the Standing Group should be considered acceptable as the Medium Term Plan and the agreed common goal for 1954. The Resolution might also recommend that the Governments accept the Medium Term Plan as the common goal. The Standing Group would then be free to consider other questions and the Ministers might consider what questions they should like to put before the Standing Group. They might be asked, for example, to report about the forces which should be created prior to July 1952. At any rate, the first objective is to set the goal. Then we can plan how the goal is to be achieved.

Mr. Bevin reiterated his concern about what may happen prior to the fulfillment of the Medium Term Plan in 1954 and stressed the necessity for linking troop and equipment increases. He understood that the question of sending increased United States troops to Europe was conditioned by the Korean war.

Mr. Acheson made it clear that the question of putting troops in Europe did not depend on the Korean war, but the Korean war would affect only the speed with which troops could be sent to Europe. The United States has decided to increase the number of troops in Europe and will get on with the job urgently. Of course it would be easier without the Korean problem.

Mr. Acheson asked whether the Deputies might now consider the question of drafting a resolution about advance acceptance of the Medium Term Plan.

Mr. Schuman said that it was very important to have a Council decision regarding the immediate priority program.

In reply to a remark by Mr. Bevin that there would almost certainly be leakage that defense plans were being drawn for 1954 and that he felt such a decision would be difficult to defend, Mr. Acheson reiterated his views regarding advance acceptance of the Medium Term Plan. He recalled that the Council had approved a version of the Medium Term Plan in May but had asked the Standing Group to do more work on it as it was not good enough.7 The Standing Group [Page 1197] is expected to bring in a report in October. It would be desirable for the Deputies to draft a resolution for the Council instructing the Defense Ministers to report a Medium Term Plan acceptable as a common goal and as a base for planning. This suggestion was agreed to.

Mr. Acheson suggested that the Defense Ministers might also be instructed to direct the Standing Group to report about the forces to be raised by July 1951 and perhaps also the forces to be raised by July 1952. The Deputies might consider a resolution for the Council recommending that the governments adopt the Standing Group report on the Medium Term Plan, the 1951 goals, and perhaps the 1952 objectives. These suggestions were being submitted for the consideration of the Ministers. It was also suggested that the Deputies consider drafting a resolution providing for a combined staff and recommendations as to its functions.

Mr. Bevin agreed with the last suggestion. He stated that in his opinion the question of numbers of troops, equipment, and joint command should all be considered together.

Mr. Acheson suggested that the Deputies draw up a resolution which would set up a revised Military Production and Supply Board.

Mr. Bevin requested that this question be deferred until the following day since he expected to receive further information from his government.

Mr. Acheson agreed. He suggested that the High Commissioners meet tonight and report tomorrow to the Ministers about the probable reaction of the German people to participation of German armed forces in European defense. Mr. Bevin mentioned that they might also consider the role of Germany in the defense of Western Europe. These suggestions were accepted.

Mr. Schuman suggested that the Deputies study the question of raw materials which the French Government had raised previously.

Although Mr. Acheson agreed, Mr. Bevin asked that the matter be deferred for a day or two since his government was studying problems related to rubber, tin, wool, etc., and he expected further information. This matter was accordingly deferred.

At Mr. Acheson’s suggestion it was agreed that the press should be informed that the day’s discussion was related to European problems, that there had been an exchange of views, and that subcommittees had been appointed which would report subsequently to the Ministers.

It was agreed the next meeting would be at 10:30 a. m., Wednesday, September 13th. The meeting adjourned forthwith at 6:54 p. m.

  1. Not printed, but see Document 1 (Revised), p. 1189, and footnote 1 thereto.
  2. For the minutes of the private meeting referred to here, see infra.
  3. Presumably another reference to the French memorandum of August 17, see p. 220.
  4. For documentation on NATO Council Deputies’ consideration of the high priority production program and related questions, see pp. 285 ff.
  5. For documentation on the NATO Medium Term Plan, see pp. 85 ff.
  6. For documentation on the North Atlantic Council meetings, September 15–16, see pp. 305 ff. Among the documents prepared in the Department of State for the Foreign Ministers’ meeting was SFM D–3a, September 11, not printed, “Summary of French Proposals With Respect to NATO and US Position Upon Them,” containing material on the French memorandum of August 17 and United States financial aid to the European defense effort. (CFM Files: Lot M–88: Box 152: SFM Documents) For further documentation on these subjects, see pp. 1 ff.
  7. Regarding the North Atlantic Council’s consideration of the Medium Term Plan at its fourth session in London, May 15–18, see p. 100.