396.1/11–2753: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Aldrich) to the Secretary of State 1


2321. Subject Bermuda meeting—Europe.

Following outline British position based entirely on conversations prior news new Soviet note.2 Definite positions may of course also be influenced French foreign policy debate.
Taking essential task at Bermuda as making affirmative contribution to EDC ratification and getting on with German defense contribution, British point out that previous meetings have emerged with reiterated agreement by three powers (or by fourteen in NATO), including French, of urgency achieving EDC ratification. In view present position French Government, British believe mere reiteration this position at Bermuda useless. Only constructive approach is to ask what can be done to help French Government with its problem, and to direct communiqué this end.
Obvious French desire is to obtain British commitment for 50 years against reducing present level British forces on Continent without French consent. Any such undertaking clearly not acceptable. British presume any similar French desires concerning American forces equally unacceptable to United States. British therefore, casting about for possible additions to reiteration previous assurances contained May 1952 tripartite declaration and United Kingdom–EDC agreement.3
British approach is to tie this problem into NATO new look, which would set framework for Anglo-American assurances on Continental force maintenance for reasonable forward period. They hope outline new look can be agreed at Bermuda partly as basis Bermuda communiqué itself and partly as common approach for Paris NATO meeting. Framework involves following elements:
Restatement long continuing Soviet threat in Europe, despite some alterations character Soviet problem;
Emphasis on previous NATO build-up and plans for German participation as essential elements in stabilizing situation and providing thus for a deterrent to aggression;
Need for continuing deterrent through continued qualitative improvements, inclusion of Germany, and in due course incorporation new weapons, but within realistic politico-economic capabilities;
Replacement concept military requirements for effective forward strategy defense, leading to unbridgeable gap, by more modest politico-military concept adequate deterrent which is achievable; and
Formulation directive along these lines for 1954 NATO AR.
In this connection, British recognize flaw in Makin’s presentation,4 namely, absence satisfactory rationalization of present magnitude forces, qualitatively improved, plus German contingents in fact, constituting adequate future deterrent. They have tried unsuccessfully to obtain quantitative military definition of deterrent force, but find problem involves too many political elements to be susceptible purely military definition. They have open mind on how to approach problem of politico-military definition, recognizing weaknesses and dangers in mere argument that past performance has constituted deterrent.
Final element in NATO new look package would be conclusion by United Kingdom and United States that forces of present magnitudes must be maintained on Continent “at least for next few years”. British recognize extreme delicacy problem formulation this conclusion so as avoid implication time period being merely that required for effective German build-up. Their reference to “next few years” is designed simply to cover period as far forward as anyone can reasonably plan. Essential concept is to encourage French through restatement basic Western Europe defense problem, concluding with assurances on United States–United Kingdom force maintenance, but with unacceptable commitment to French veto over changes in United States or United Kingdom Continental force levels.
British also preoccupied difficult problem drafting communiqué providing above results without apparently prejudicing outcome NATO meeting and reviving friction between “little two” and “big three”. They rely heavily on Ismay’s presence and his return to Paris to report to permanent representatives in advance NATO Ministerial meeting, as means soften any such friction.5
British have considered at length pros and cons doing something at Bermuda on subjects at pre-Lugano meeting,6 such as security [Page 1725]guaranties, declaration of intent for Germany, free elections, status all-German Government, et cetera. Present conclusion is against such discussions, partly on ground impossibility effective consultation with Adenauer between Bermuda and NATO. They do not rule out, however, further discussion of these matters if closer meeting of minds can be achieved.
On Saar,7 British also feel time is not ripe for pressure on French at Bermuda, partly on tactical grounds, partly because impossible know just where to press French until specific Franco-German differences clarified between Bidault and Adenauer. On other hand, Eden very concerned with Saar as obstacle to EDC and anxious use Anglo-American good offices whenever positive results seem possible.
  1. Repeated to Paris.
  2. Reference is to the Soviet note of Nov. 26.
  3. The text of the treaty between the United Kingdom and the members of the European Defense Community is printed in AFP , vol. i, pp. 1107 1198. The text of the declaration of the Governments of the United States, United Kingdom, and France concerning their interest in the strength and integrity of the European Defense Community, signed at Paris, May 27, 1952, is printed on p. 686.
  4. The presentation under reference here has not been identified further.
  5. On June 23, 1953, Hughes had transmitted to Secretary Dulles a request from Ismay that he be “summoned” to Bermuda as an observer on behalf of NATO. Ismay argued that this type of consultation would give NATO a “shot in the arm” and would be a great encouragement to the other 11 allies who were not represented at Bermuda. (Eisenhower Library, Whitman file) Secretary Dulles and President Eisenhower endorsed the idea on that day (memorandum by Dulles, Eisenhower Library, Whitman file) and the idea was kept alive despite the cancellation of the conference in June.
  6. Documentation on the four-power conference, proposed by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France to open Oct. 15 at Lugano, but subsequently held in Berlin, Jan. 25–Feb. 18, 1954 is presented in volume vii .
  7. Further documentation on the Saar is presented in volume vii .