Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 181

Paper Prepared by Russell Fessenden of the Office of European Regional Affairs 1

[BM D–4/1c]

U.S. Assurances

Both the French and British have indicated a desire to discuss this subject.

u.s. position

In any discussion of this subject, we should not commit ourselves to the issuance of a declaration or assurances at Bermuda.
We should discuss the possibility of a declaration to be issued at a later date when it will be of maximum assistance to the French Government in obtaining ratification.
For illustrative purposes, there is attached a draft declaration of the sort which might be issued subsequent to Bermuda when it may be decided to do so.

french position

To meet their need for assurances, the French have proposed a United States statement which would make the following main points:

reiterate the Senate’s interpretation that the NAT is of indefinite duration and that the NAT is in accordance with the basic interest of the United States;
the NAT is a fundamental and permanent part of our foreign policy and it is our intention that the Treaty should remain in force indefinitely;
press speculation implying that the United States intends to withdraw its forces under NATO command is erroneous;
under NATO procedures it is the constant aim of the member states to consult together on the size and nature of the forces required for the common defense of their territories and on the level and composition of the forces that each nation is to place at the disposal of the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe to meet the requirements of European defense;
the United States considers these consultations to be one of the fundamental elements of the North Atlantic Treaty;
during such consultations, the United States will be guided by its determination to defend Europe against any aggression in application of the present concept of the “formed strategy”;
to this end, within the framework of the above, the United States, in cooperation with the members of NATO and the EDC, will continue to place the forces necessary at the disposal of SACEUR.

We have already told the French that we will consider a statement along the general lines proposed, although we have difficulties with the specific French draft. We feel the statement should not be an attempt to refute erroneous press speculation, but should be a strong and positive affirmation of United States policy made upon a suitable important position. We have told the French that our present thinking is in terms of a declaration making the following general points: (a) The United States considers its own security integrally bound up with the security of NATO and for this reason NATO is a basic and enduring element in our foreign policy; (b) these facts are clearly reflected in the United States Foreign Relations Committee’s interpretations at the time of ratification of the NAT that the Treaty is in accordance with the basic security interests of the United States and should be of indefinite duration; and (c) in carrying out policy of basic and enduring support for NATO, the United States attaches the greatest importance to mutual consultations through NATO on defense requirements and to agreed arrangement for placing forces at the disposal of NATO’s European and Atlantic Commanders.

[Page 1733]

british position

The British, as part of their package on British association, have been willing to move a step beyond the Tripartite Declaration in meeting the French. They have agreed in their proposals on institutional association to a special procedure for separate UK–EDC consultations on the level of troops to be maintained on the Continent. Furthermore, up until very recently at least, they have been willing to reinforce this with a UK–EDC declaration in which they would associate themselves with the EDC countries in taking the initiative in NATO to adopt the duration provision of the NAT to those of the EDC.

A new complication has arisen in that the British are apparently having serious second thoughts about joining the EDC countries in declaring for the 50-year extension of the NAT. In view of the fact that the United States is not willing to take similar action the British may decide to retreat this proposal (even though it was submitted six months ago to all EDC countries) and discuss at Bermuda the possibility of joining us in a joint statement of assurances. Although British withdrawal of their 50-year proposal might provoke strong adverse reactions by the other EDC countries, there would be advantages from our point of view to having the British drop the 50-year declaration and join us in a common policy statement. This would avoid attention being focused on our inability to go along with the 50-year declaration.


The French have publicly stated that they will discuss at Bermuda the question of American and British assurances regarding the EDC, including the maintenance of American and British forces on the Continent as long as necessary. Ideally, what the French would like is a US–UK guarantee of the integrity of the EDC involving a commitment to maintain American and British troops on the Continent throughout the fifty-year life of the EDC. This, of course, is impossible for both us and the British. In the first place, we have carefully avoided any binding commitments to maintain troops on the Continent in connection with NATO. In the second place, we have not bound ourselves legally to the fifty-year term of the EDC Treaty; we adhere to the doctrine of the indefinite duration of the North Atlantic Treaty. The Tripartite Declaration of May 27, 19522 is as far as we have been willing to go in meeting the French request for a guarantee of the integrity of the EDC. The British have recently been willing to go somewhat further in their proposals on British [Page 1734]association. The French can be expected to seek re-affirmation of the Tripartite Declaration and also to obtain further assurances.

There are set forth below the main elements needed for formulating a U.S. position on assurances at Bermuda. These are: (1) what commitments we have made and what we have told Congress; (2) what the British are proposing to do; (3) what the French currently would like to have us do.

status of u.s. commitments

There are three inter-related questions which are relevant to the question: guarantees on the integrity of the EDC, commitments on the maintenance of troops, and the duration of the NAT.

Guarantees of the integrity of the EDC . The Tripartite Declaration was specifically designed to guarantee the integrity of the EDC. It contains a US–UK statement that any action from whatever quarter threatening the integrity or unity of the EDC will be regarded as a threat to their own security and will involve consultation under Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty.

The Tripartite Declaration along with the EDC Treaty and other documents was submitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a supporting document at the time of the ratification of the Contractuals and the EDC Protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty. The Declaration was discussed by the Senate, but specific Senate action was not required. The precise legal effect is not clear, but is being given further study by the Legal Adviser’s Office.

Maintenance of Troops on the Continent. On the one hand, the U.S. has no binding legal commitment to retain troops in Europe for any particular time period; on the other, the Executive Branch has made no statements or commitments to the Congress limiting in time the maintenance of the present level of troops on the Continent. Furthermore, the United States has made, in conjunction with the U.K. and France, certain public declarations regarding occupation forces in Germany which might be interpreted as commitments to retain United States forces in Europe for a particular period.

In a joint communiqué issued on 7 June 1948,3 following a conference in London among representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the Benelux countries on the subject of Germany, the statement was made that “The United States, United Kingdom, and French delegates reiterated the firm views of their governments that there could not be any general withdrawal of their forces from Germany until the peace of Europe is secured and without prior consultation. During this period there should be no general withdrawal [Page 1735]of the forces of occupation of the United States, France or the United Kingdom without prior consultation…”

Senate concurrent Resolution 8 of April 1951, which concluded the “troops for Europe” debate, contained no provisions on withdrawal. The Resolution recognized the U.S. interest in Europe’s security and the desirability of contributing a “fair share” of the forces required for the common defense. No time limit on this contribution was indicated. The primary limitation implied by the Resolution was the expression of the sense of the Senate to the effect that the President should consult the Congress before increasing further the number of troops assigned to Europe. It should be noted that this Resolution set forth the sense of the Senate, but was not at the time recognized as legally binding by the Executive Branch.

During hearings on Senate Resolution 8, the question of the duration of the troop assignment arose on a few occasions. Spokesmen for the Executive Branch declined to indicate a probable time limit for the assignment of troops. Both General Eisenhower and General Bradley commented on this subject, and stated that a date for withdrawal could not be predicted. General Bradley expressed the view that U.S. troops should remain in Europe as long as needed.

The London Agreement of June 1948 4 imposes on the three occupying powers not to undertake a general withdrawal of their occupation forces without prior consultation among them. Furthermore the U.S. is obligated to maintain its occupation forces until “the peace is secured”.

The commitments we have under NATO are to consult through the Annual Review on the size and nature of the forces required under the common defense and to consult with the NATO Major Commanders on the level and composition of forces available to them. We have always preserved the legal right to withdraw forces from NATO. The relevant document on the powers of the NATO Commander (DC 24/35) is silent on a nation’s right to withdraw forces assigned to NATO. It does provide that national authorities retain the right, subject to consultation with the Supreme Commander, to change over units and formations stationed in Europe, provided that the size, composition, and quality of the national contribution to the total force immediately available to the Supreme Commander remains basically unchanged.

In the Tripartite Declaration there is the assertion that the signatories “have expressed their resolve to station such forces on the Continent of Europe, including the Federal Republic of Germany, as they [Page 1736]deem necessary and appropriate to contribute to the joint defense of the NAT area, having regard to their NATO obligations, their interest in the integrity of the EDC, and their special responsibilities in Germany”. The Tripartite Declaration also includes the statement that: “The security and welfare of Berlin and the maintenance of the position of the three powers there are regarded by the three powers as essential elements of the peace of the free world in the present international situation. Accordingly, they will maintain armed forces within the territory of Berlin as long as their responsibilities require it…”

Duration of the NAT . The U.S. interpretation of the duration of the NAT is that given by the U.S. Senate at the time of the signing of the NAT:

“The committee gave serious thought to the problem involved in the duration of the treaty. In view of the difficulties of forecasting developments in the international situation in the distant future rigidity for too long a time clearly would be undesirable. On the one hand, the committee agrees that the stability and confidence which are so essential for the security of the North Atlantic area could not adequately be established if the treaty were of short duration. It accepts as a desirable solution, therefore, the indefinite duration of the treaty, with provision for review after 10 years, and for withdrawal after 20 years.”

The committee further stated:

“The treaty is in accordance with the basic interest of the United States, which should be steadfastly served regardless of fluctuations in the international situation or our relations with any country.”

We have always taken the position that these statements by the United States Senate actually make our NATO commitment a more enduring one than the finite commitment resulting from a treaty with a specific termination date.



Draft Declaration on EDC and NATO

The United States, the United Kingdom and France, having reviewed in the light of the present international situation their participation in the several inter-related arrangements which have been created to further the security and well-being of Western Europe and the North Atlantic area, have concluded that the practical unification of the six-nation European community is of vital importance to the attainment of these objectives. It is recognized that the European community must be developed and maintained within the framework [Page 1737]of a continuing Atlantic community. The three Governments believe that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization provides a basis for lasting association among the member nations, and it is their policy to strengthen and preserve such an association. To this end the following principles have been agreed:

The Three Powers, considering that their own security is integrally bound up with the security of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and recalling that the treaty establishing that Organization is of indefinite duration, hereby reaffirm that their full support for the Organization is a fundamental and enduring element of their respective foreign policies.
Recalling the Declaration of May 27, 1952 regarding the abiding interest of the Three Powers in the effectiveness of the treaty creating the European Defense Community and in the strength and integrity of that Community, the U.S. and the U.K., reiterate that they will regard as a threat to their own security any action from whatever quarter which threatens the integrity or unity of the Community and that they will act in accordance with Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty.
Furthermore, the U.S. and the U.K. each reiterate their resolve to station such forces on the Continent of Europe, including the Federal Republic of Germany, as they deem necessary and appropriate to contribute to the joint defense of the North Atlantic Treaty area, having regard to their obligations under the North Atlantic Treaty, their interest in the integrity of the European Defense Community, and their special responsibilities in Germany. In this connection, the Three Powers attach the greatest importance to the continuance of the arrangements for mutual consultation through the NAT Organization on defense requirements and on the size and composition of forces to be placed at the disposal of NATO Commanders.

  1. Attached to the source text was a cover sheet which indicated that it had been prepared by Fessenden, revised to reflect the comments of the Department of Defense, and circulated as BM D–4/1c. Two earlier drafts of this paper, BM D–4/1, dated Nov. 24, and BM D–4/1b Approved, dated Dec. 1, are the same in substance as BM D–4/1c, but the former contains no draft declaration while the latter contains three draft declarations on EDC and NATO plus a paragraph on EDC and NATO for the Bermuda communiqué. Copies of BM D–4/1 and BM D–4/1b Approved are in the CFM files, lot M 88, box 166, “Bermuda Meeting”.
  2. Ante, p. 686.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. ii, p. 313.
  4. Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. ii, p. 309.
  5. Dated Dec. 12, 1950; for text, see ibid., 1950, vol. iii, p. 548.