After an exchange of courtesies, the Prime Minister said that he would
like us to have his Government’s views on the European Defense Force. He said that the
Netherlands Government had not originally been enthusiastic about the
EDF. This was not because they
minded relinquishing sovereignty to a Supra.
national authority; they were doing that in the Schuman Plan. They did, however,
have a number of serious worries about the EDF; and the Prime Minister thought that the Netherlands
could participate only on the following conditions.
1. The Netherlands must remain a member of NATO in full and good standing.
2. For symbolic reasons, it was important that the EDF treaty and the NATO treaty should remain in force for the same period of
3. In defense matters, the Netherlands is not prepared to accept the
decisions of one man. What they want is a collegial structure along the
lines of the Schuman Plan.
Its members, however, need not be under governmental instructions.
4. The Netherlands cannot accept a common budget as conceived in the
original French plan. As long as there was no real political federation
of Europe in which there was a Supra. national
authority which would have total responsibility and corresponding
authority to raise taxes, etc., the Netherlands cannot allow outsiders
to determine military expenditures and thus social expenditures for the
5. The Netherlands will have to secure guarantees of the above desiderata
before signing a treaty. The Prime Minister thought it would be
“grotesque” to expect that Benelux
could successfully oppose Germany on any important issue once Benelux were an actual member of the
The Prime Minister concluded his opening remarks by saying that the
French thought Benelux would be
forced to participate in the EDF under
pressure from the U.S. The French were mistaken about this and he wanted
us to realize that we were asking his country to join in a tight-knit
defense community with two of the most unstable governments in Europe.
He added that Italy was 40% Communist and France was 25% Communist. So
long as this was true, the Netherlands did not want to participate in
any federation with an assembly in which they could be overwhelmed by
the voting strength of France’s or Italy’s Communist factions.
I told the Prime Minister that I was familiar with many of the doubts he
had expressed regarding Netherlands participation in the EDF. As to the first concern he had
mentioned, I said there was no doubt so far as we were concerned that
the Netherlands would continue to be a member of NATO exactly as at present. So far as
Dutch political relations with other members of the European Defense
Community were concerned, we
assumed that each member of the EDC
would continue to be represented as independent countries on the NATO Council.
With regard to the other prerequisites the Prime Minister had mentioned,
I told him I thought there was an area in which agreement could be
reached. The treaty could, for example, contain guarantees which should
take care of any Netherlands’ worry that its economic stability might be
jettisoned by others through the imposition of financial burdens.
As for any general worry the Netherlands might have regarding possible
domination by Germany in a defense organization, I told the Prime
Minister it was our view that the best way, and perhaps the only sure
way, to avoid the building of a complete national military establishment
by Germany was provided in the EDF. I
said that I knew the Dutch believed Germany should come into NATO as a full member. On the other hand,
this would not be possible for the French to accept unless the Germans
were first brought into an EDF in such a
way as to preclude the rebuilding of a complete national military
establishment by Germany.
In conclusion, I told the Prime Minister I hoped that at the meetings to
be resumed in Paris tomorrow, each governmental representative would be
able to maintain a sufficiently fluid position to render remaining
The Prime Minister again summarized, in briefer form, the Netherlands
concerns he had expressed above, adding that Benelux experiences to date in negotiation with the
Germans, French and Italians had not relieved them of these worries. He
emphasized particularly a tendency on the part of the French, each time
the Dutch thought they had made some headway, to keep going back to the
original French plan. This made it difficult to know just where they
stood at any given time. He hoped, however, that at the forthcoming
meetings of the EDF Ministers there
could be some final decision taken. On the matter of constitutional
difficulties, the Prime Minister noted that this was more of a problem
in Belgium than in the Netherlands. He said that the Dutch were going to
amend their Constitution and have general elections next summer anyway.
He didn’t believe the Belgian Government, however, wants elections at
this time because the present Government has only a four vote majority
Ambassador Van Roijen asked
what would be the effect on U.S. public opinion if an EDF treaty could be signed but not ratified
by the time of the NATO Council meeting
in Lisbon. I replied that I was sure this country would consider it a
great step forward if an EDF treaty had
been signed by the time of the NATO
Council meeting in Lisbon. It was understood here that ratification was
a lengthy process and no one would expect ratification to be completed
by that time. On the other
hand, we did not want to see the training of German troops postponed
until the ratification process was completed since this might take
The Prime Minister said there would be no difficulty with the Netherlands
Parliament ratifying anything the Netherlands Cabinet signed because the
Cabinet was such an accurate reflection of the political complexion of
the States General. He did think, however, that there would be
difficulty with any EDF treaty in the
French, Belgian and German legislatures.
I said it seemed to me from what I had heard that there was an area in
which problems posed by the EDF could be
worked out, that I thought it extremely important that we keep our
present momentum and that it would be a tragedy if this were not
The Prime Minister said that on the whole general question of rearmament
he had been represented in the U.S. press as lacking enthusiasm for a
vigorous Netherlands defense effort. He said that he was enthusiastic
about the Atlantic Pact because he believed that it was the Atlantic
Pact which would keep the Russians away, not a European army. He was
convinced that the Russians were not going to commit aggression against
Western Europe by direct armed attack. He thought their attack would be
through infiltration and subversion. He believed the Russians were
acting in Europe on the basis of an old saying to the effect that you
need not “cut anyone’s throat when you can put poison in his soup”.
Following up this line of thought, he said it was obviously necessary to
maintain economic stability in order to prevent undermining by the
Russians. If we go too far in the direction of military expenditures,
obviously the economic and political consequences would be considerable.
He mentioned neutralism as being one such consequence. These
considerations called for finding a proper balance between economic and
military expenditures. Finally, he said it seemed to him the greatest
military danger from Russia was in Africa and in Asia, that the Russian
threat to Western Europe would continue in the form of efforts to weaken
the West economically.
I agreed that there had been some tendency on the part of soldiers, both
in Europe and here, to ask for more military outlay than it was possible
to support. The findings of the TCC bore
The Prime Minister in response said the Dutch had increased their taxes,
had cut their consumption, had cut their investments, had cut their
construction of housing, and that their budgetary position was
accordingly good. Moreover, tax morality in the Netherlands was such
that his Government in fact collected the taxes it imposed. Dutch living
standards, however, were so low that the present Government could not
add the additional 500 million guilders to its 1500 million guilder
annual defense budget as the TCC had
recommended for fiscal 53. I told the Prime Minister I was sure we in
the West could find a way to raise forces of sufficient size and quality to deter aggression
without at the same time causing a deterioration on the home front.
I told the Prime Minister and the Ambassador I was glad they had brought
the above matters to my attention and that I would keep them in
1Prime Minister Drees made an informal visit
to the United States, Jan. 12 to 24, 1952. He visited New York
City, Jan. 12 to 16 (including a brief trip to Bridgeport,
Connecticut), Pittsburgh, Jan. 17–19 (including brief stopovers
at Niagara Falls and Buffalo), Washington, Jan. 20–23 (including
a trip to the Parris Island Marine Base), and New York, Jan.
23–24. Prime Minister Drees’ meetings with American officials in
Washington occurred on Jan. 21: he called on Secretary Acheson at 11 a. m., made
a 10-minute visit to the White House to meet President Truman at
noon, luncheoned with President Truman at Blair House, and paid
an informal visit to offices of the Congress in the afternoon.
The small amount of available documentation on the Drees visit is all included
in file 756.13.
*Ambassador Van Roijen later told
Ambassador Chapin that
The Hague had requested the Prime Minister to bring this matter up
himself. It was decided here that the Ambassador should bring it up
“with the Prime Minister present”. [Footnote in the source text.
Documentation on the attitude of the United States with respect to
the situation in Indonesia is presented in volume XII.]