740.5/1–751: Telegram

The United States Deputy Representative on the North Atlantic Coxincil (Spofford) to the Secretary of State


3780. For Perkins from Spofford. Reference Todep 1891 and Deptel 2864.2 Following is my view re Canadian proposal:3

1. I believe basic structure contemplated by Canadian paper is unquestionably sound, i.e., one policy-making body representing governments and meeting periodically, one “governmental” body sitting permanently to insure that its policies are both effectively implemented and kept up-to-date in light of events, with detailed implementation carried out by permanent integrated staff agencies assisted by technical advisory bodies.

Most NAT governments agree such structure desirable. I believe it would be far more effective than present “proliferation of committees” and provide framework in which US leadership could more effectively be exercised. I nevertheless do not agree with all details of Canadian paper or feel that it satisfactorily disposes of some problems.

2. Concept of Council of Governments is certainly sound. I believe this has always been intention of parties and that what is needed is recognition this fact rather than reorganization on this point. Paragraph 1 of Council document D-l/1 September 17, 19494 makes clear that Council is principal treaty body, that it is charged with responsibility of considering all matters concerning implementation of treaty and that other bodies set up under treaty are subordinate to it. Concur in Department’s view, which represents long established international practice, that Foreign Ministers in international relations always speak for their governments rather than their ministries. Since most if not all NAT governments concur that Council should represent governments it should not be difficult to obtain agreement that it now in fact does.

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3. Believe Council should as provided in third paragraph of D–1/1 normally be composed of Foreign Ministers/This does not, of course, preclude governments from being represented by other persons provided they have “plenipotentiary” powers. While delegations might well include delegate of other Ministries depending on agenda, believe each government should have only one representative on Council. Possibility conflicting voices speaking for any one government must be avoided. Canadian suggestion of subcommittees may be found useful.

4. If Council represents governments it follows automatically that Deputies also represent governments (recognized in paragraph 2a of my terms of reference5). Question is simply one of assuring that person representing his government on Deputy’s has confidence of all agencies concerned and that he is advised by those agencies so that he can adequately expound their point of view. I consider deputies regarded as speaking for governments by each other.

5. I see real advantage in retaining Defense Commission [Committee], in some form. Reconstitution as outlined in paragraphs 9 and 10 of revised Canadian paper would have advantages of simplified military structure and give non-SG governments feeling of permanent military representation without impairing operational authority of SG. On other hand, we see real advantage in continuing personal meetings of Defense Ministers and are not sure inclusion of them or their representatives in Council delegations would be sufficient. As compromise you might consider reconstitution of Military Representative Committee with Military Committee representative reporting directly to Deputies on usual policy matters requiring government sanction and to Defense Committee specially convened for the purpose to review or consider policy matters in defense field. Such meeting including agenda to be coordinated with NAC meeting possibly to be held jointly with NAC.

6. With respect to relations between Deputies and SG, we believe each should have responsibility for giving other guidance in its own field and calling upon other for advice and assistance in other’s field. For example, SG would be subject to continuing over-all political guidance from Deputies as permanent alter ego of Council but not to any authority by Deputies in military field. Deputies would depend on SG for advice on military but not on other matters. Deputies should call upon SG for military advice and assistance and needle them for [Page 20] it (e.g. acceptability of types, military requirements, costing information et cetera). SG should call upon Deputies and needle them for advice and assistance concerning political, economic and production matters. Deputies could not require SG to take substantive action in military operational matters nor could SG require Deputies to take substantive action in other fields. This concept would continue Council and Deputies as bodies speaking for governments and would provide Deputies with direct line of authority over SG within area of Deputies competence but would make impossible for Deputies (particularly small nations represented therein) to interfere in any substantive way with authority of SG or SHAPE on military operational matters.

7. Believe DFEC should be eliminated and that all agencies engaged in NATO production, raw materials or finance problems such as DPB, RM [raw materials?] advisor group and proposed new Finance and Economic Board or elements of OEEC should report to NAT Council and between meetings to its alter ego Council Deputies. DPB would not be responsible to Defense Ministers. Of course, as above stated, SG or SHAPE should guide DPB as to acceptable types, military requirements and other matters. Deputies would be principally responsible in economic, political and production fields.

8. Believe paragraphs 6, 7 and 8 should be modified as indicated above. Items 12 and 13 are generally sound.

9. Re item 14 believe Roseman revised draft6 embodies sound US position and plan to take this up informally with UK and other interested Deputies. Have altered chart to remove entirely boxes showing position of DC and DFEC.

10. Believe these suggestions preferable to those in paragraph 5 Deptel 2864 of 1 December.

11. I believe that practical answer to relationship between Deputies and SG is something along lines of paragraph 6. However, in view importance most governments attach to continuing political guidance over military, we believe emphasis in negotiations in Deputies should be upon fact that Deputies as continuing body are channel for governments to give higher direction to work of other NATO agencies. It would then be the mission of US representatives on Deputies and SG to achieve day-to-day working solution advanced in paragraph 6.7

[ Spofford ]
  1. Not printed, but see footnote 9, p. 9.
  2. Not printed. This telegram to London of December 1, 1950, provided Spofford with the first reactions of the Office of European Regional Affairs to the Canadian proposal and stated that the Department of Defense did not believe the time was appropriate for action on top-level NATO reorganization (740.5/11–2950).
  3. See footnote 1, p. 6.
  4. “Report of the Working Group on Organization as Adopted by the Council on September 17, 1949.” Tor text, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. iv, pp. 330337.
  5. The passage under reference reads “The United States Deputy shall have the following functions: a. represent the United States Government in the work of the North Atlantic Council of Deputies:...”.The text of the terms of reference, approved by President Truman, December 16, 1950, is attached to a memorandum for Acheson from the Executive Clerk in the White House, dated December 16; neither printed. (740.5/12–1650)
  6. The reference here is to a revision, not found in Department of State files, of a memorandum of December 28, 1950, by Alvin Roseman, U.S. Representative for Specialized Agency Affairs at Geneva, entitled “Suggestions for the Development of an internationally Financed Staff for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.” The memorandum of December 28 is in Department of State file 740.5/12–2850.
  7. In answer to this message, telegram Todep 203 of January 9 informed Spofford that his position on the Canadian proposal was sufficiently at variance with views previously expressed in the Department of State as to require careful study and that he should limit his participation in debate of the subject to expression of his personal views (740.5/1–751).