No. 530

CFM files, lot M–88, box 72, Bound volume—Austria, 1951

Memorandum by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs ( Bonbright) to the Ambassador at Large ( Jessup)1

top secret

I heartily concur with your conclusion that the comments of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the Austrian Treaty paper are addressed to negotiating tactics rather than to the military consequences of the problem and that the determination of tactics is clearly the responsibility of the Department of State. Nevertheless, I think that certain considerations should be taken into account in reaching a decision on tactics in the forthcoming negotiations. I believe that these considerations make it desirable to change the recommendations of the Steering Committee in order to obtain maximum agreement on the Western position.

In the first place, EUR has always considered that the decision of the President and the NSC gave the Department sufficient authority [Page 1105] to accept the Soviet version of the remaining articles in the Treaty in order to obtain a final settlement. The proposal to accept the Soviet position on all the articles has not been made to the British and French and may cause certain difficulties. These Delegations may question our position with respect to specific articles, such as Article 48 which the British and French wish to retain in the Western version and Article 16 which the French desire to reject the Soviet version. Article 27, which has given rise to the comments of the JCS, has never been a serious problem with the British and French, a fact probably arising from the reality of US financial responsibility for the rearmament of Austria. It is not known, therefore, whether they would agree with our proposal to accept the Soviet version of all articles at the outset of the negotiations. The recommendations in my memorandum provide, as you point out, a framework for tripartite discussions, culminating in the proposal that the Soviet position be accepted as the price of obtaining a Treaty. If tripartite agreement were reached to accept the Soviet position as a package deal we could inform Secretary Marshall of our intention to proceed on this basis as such action would lie clearly within the responsibility of the Department.

Secondly, the views of the JCS, as contained in Secretary Marshall’s letter, provide a great advance in military thinking on this subject and are in marked contrast to the views transmitted to Secretary Marshall by the three Service Secretaries. Until recently the JCS have opposed the conclusion of the Austrian Treaty on security grounds, a fact which has necessitated raising this question six times in the National Security Council. If we do not agree to attempt to save Article 27 through negotiations, as requested by the JCS, it is quite possible that the Service Secretaries will utilize this opportunity to propose to Secretary Marshall that the entire question of concluding the Austrian Treaty be resubmitted to the NSC. The Department could not prevent such action and in event it took place we would be unable to discuss this question in the present tripartite schedule. Attention, therefore, should be paid to the JCS view on Article 27 since the scope of this Article lies within their legitimate interest.

Thirdly, our objective in the Four-Power talks is to conclude the Treaty on the best terms obtainable. We have been trying to obtain Soviet acceptance of their own texts for individual articles in the Deputies’ negotiations for the past year but have been prevented from obtaining agreement by procedural difficulties. There has been no proposal for trading articles as recommended in my memorandum as such action would require discussion at the Ministerial level. The acceptance of the Soviet version of all the unagreed articles at the outset of the negotiations might obtain the conclusion of [Page 1106] the Treaty if the Soviet Delegation is instructed to reach a total or partial settlement with the West. On the other hand, if the Soviet Delegation has such instructions, the proposal for a series of steps in the negotiations might also achieve the desired result of concluding the Treaty at any one of the stages which are listed. It seems to me that the adoption of such a series of rollback positions would be more comprehensible to the Soviets in terms of the negotiating history of the Austrian Treaty than a complete acceptance of their terms at the outset. If the Treaty were concluded at any stage prior to the final one, a distinct advantage would be obtained for our interest in Austria. The proposal in my memorandum envisages that we accept ultimately the Soviet version of all five articles in order to obtain conclusion of the Treaty. The effect, therefore, would be the same and the only difference in the two proposals would be to draw out the Austrian negotiations for a longer period of time.

I agree with your suggestion that we hold up any communication to Secretary Marshall on this question until his views are obtained on linking the discussion of the Austrian Treaty with the question of Soviet troop strength in Rumania and Hungary.

With respect to your earlier memorandum on the Deputies’ meeting scheduled for March, I believe that we should not make any offer for settlement of the Treaty to the Soviets at that meeting, but rather leave any substantive discussion for the Ministerial meeting. The exact date in March has not yet been set and it will be done by diplomatic note. No decision need be taken on this question until the second week in March, at which time we will have more definite information on the Soviet reply to our forthcoming note and the timing for the meetings. A decision could be made at that time either to hold the Deputies’ meeting, if it is considered desirable, or cancel it in the light of the forthcoming Four-Power conference.

  1. Drafted by Williamson.