CFM files, lot M–88, box 159, documents OTT D–1a-D–10

Memorandum by the Deputy Director of the Office of European Regional Affairs (Parsons) to the Ambassador at Large (Jessup)

Subject: Coordination and Control of NAT Council Meetings

1. The September 15 NAT Council Meeting in Ottawa will be the first at which three Ministers from each country may be present as members. In the case of the US, the Defense Minister (General Marshall) is not committed to attend nor will we know for some time if he will do so. On the other hand, we may possibly have two “Finance Ministers” as Mr. Snyder thus far has said only that he would not object to Mr. Foster (or his representative) attending. Problem number one is, therefore, the composition of our top level representation.

2. Problem number two arises from the recent reorganization of the NATO structure. Prior to the reorganization, the Secretary of State represented us in the Council, the Secretary of Defense represented us in the Defense Committee and Ambassador Katz represented us in the Defense, Finance and Economic Committee (but other countries were usually represented by Ministers). Although the revised Terms of Reference of the Council,1 as now organized, states that “the members … shall represent their respective governments”, there is much in the background of this problem to lead members, perhaps most particularly US members, to think, albeit subconsciously, as representatives of their Departments rather than of the government as a whole. In my opinion, the problem of effective coordination of the US delegation may be more than usually difficult and yet, as the September meeting is the first of the now triple-headed Council, it is essential that precedents for sound coordination and control be set.

Under these circumstances consideration should be given to establishment of such principles as the following (which are routine at other international conferences):

The Secretary of State is the senior delegate of the United States.
The Secretary of State (through his immediate assistants) also has coordinating responsibility. As a corollary to this, our position on the various agenda items must be. as at any other conference. US. not Departmental, position.
The State Department should be responsible for organizing and servicing the delegation. In fact, as well as in name, we must have one, not three, delegations.
Communications to and from Ottawa, most especially instructions to our representatives, should go through one channel, namely, State (although Secretary Marshall, if present, and Mr. Foster will certainly be in communication with their Departments, at least informally).

In persuading the other Departments as to the need for making our delegation an effective unit along the foregoing lines, our arguments are fortified by:

Mr. Lawton’s (Budget Director) statement to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, cleared with President, which included among other pertinent passages:
“The Secretary of State is the senior representative of this government on all NAT Council meetings”,
“Ambassador Spofford sits as chairman of the NAT Council of Deputies … represents the President and receives his instructions through the Secretary of State”.
The chairman of the International Security Affairs Committee is the State Department member, Mr. Cabot.

3. The third problem is procedural and we may wish to consult on it through the Deputies in London, with other countries, especially Canada, the host country this September. In essence, it includes the following questions:

Will each category of Ministers meet with their opposite member separately?
Will the Council meet only in plenary sessions with all three Ministers attending together? Or
Will there be a combination of (a) and (b)?

One possible solution might be to have each group of Ministers meet on agenda items in which they have the predominant interest. If this were done, it would have to be decided as to whether their decisions were decisions of the Council, or whether plenary sessions should then consider them. However, this method is open to objection as unduly cumbersome and fails to recognize that in many NATO matters political, military and economic aspects are so intertwined that more than one Minister from those countries might well insist on being present when the issue was thrashed out.

Perhaps the most practical solution is to have a meeting of the full Committee only to deal with the entire agenda but leave to each country the decision as to whether one or all of its participating Ministers should be present for any given item. Additionally, if any set of Ministers, such as the Finance Ministers, wishes to meet apart informally, they could do so but their meeting would not be a meeting of the Council.

  1. For documentation concerning the reorganization of the NATO, which included revised Terms of Reference, see pp. 1 ff.