No. 138
The Minister in France (Achilles) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State (Matthews)1

personal and

Dear Doc: The impending change in Administration is probably leading a good many people to try to evaluate the activities or policies with which they have been most closely concerned. I enclosed my two cents’ worth in the attached “Evaluation of our Policy toward Europe as of December 1952.”

Jimmy Dunn has indicated general agreement and strongly endorses certain points. I do not wish to commit him even by implication, however, to some of my own far-reaching ideas. He has kindly offered to send his own comments on the paper, which will either accompany this or follow shortly.2

Incidentally, I did not know of Doug MacArthur’s letter of November 43 to David Bruce until after the enclosed had been written, nor had I happened to have any particularly comprehensive discussions with Doug in recent weeks. I find, however, that we have both obviously preoccupied with the same problems and thinking along basically similar lines, although I have had the temerity to include some more radical opinions. I enclose a couple of extra copies, one for Doug and one for George Perkins, Jeff Parsons, Ridge Knight and anyone else who may be interested in EUR.

The depth of the convictions expressed in the memorandum lead me to hope that they can have their two cents’ worth of influence on the thinking of those, whether permanent or newcomers, who will be developing the new Administration’s thinking on these matters while it is in its present formative stage. However, I gladly leave to your own good sense to do whatever, if anything, you think best in this regard.

[Here follows a paragraph of personal remarks.]

As ever,

[Page 242]


Memorandum by the Minister in France (Achilles)


Evaluation of Our Policy Toward Europe as of December 1952

1. Have we been right in concentrating our major anti-Soviet effort in Europe?

Yes. It has been as necessary in peace as it was in the war to concentrate our strength first to hold the vital bastion of Western Europe. However, we are approaching the point where Western Europe and the Atlantic area will be relatively secure and we can already begin to divert some of our effort from the European theater to buttress other vulnerable points.

2. Have we been preparing ourselves against the wrong kind of war?

There is no simple answer. The present “war” is psychological and the chances are it will stay that way, but it has been essential to recreate strength to withstand encroachment and intimidation by the threat of force, in Ernest Bevin’s words: “to mobilize such material and spiritual strength as will inspire confidence and energy within and respect elsewhere.” We have now developed sufficient momentum behind the defense effort, however, to turn our attention increasingly to the economic, political, psychological and moral fronts. It is essential that we do so.

3. Do we really want Europe to unite?

The progress toward unity in Europe during the last five years shows a rapidly growing realization that wholly unregulated national sovereignties are inadequate to deal with today’s problems and that new patterns of international or supranational organizations are necessary. It is easy for any American politician to urge European unity, but if unity is good for them, it should also be good for us. A Europe united outside the framework of the Atlantic Community would not be in our interest; there is too great danger that it would be neutralist or unable to withstand Soviet pressure or both. A Europe united within a developing Atlantic unity may or may not be in our national interest; it can be most helpful psychologically and experimentally, as the Brussels Treaty was in preparation for NATO, but as Atlantic unity develops, we may find a six-nation knot within it an unnecessary and possibly harmful complication. The basic question for America, however, is what is in our interest to do in developing Atlantic unity.

[Page 243]

4. Is NATO working?

Undoubtedly. Senator Vandenberg was right when he said that the mere existence of the North Atlantic Treaty would be far more important than anything done under it. It has made unmistakably clear the basic link between the U.S. and Europe. It has fulfilled most of Bevin’s vision of “inspiring confidence and energy within and respect elsewhere”. Confidence has certainly grown but unfortunately it has been accompanied by more complacency than energy. This is a primary cause of current NATO troubles. On the other hand, there can be no doubt of the respect it has inspired in Moscow. Both the tactical “moderation” shown in the last year in the Kremlin’s European policies and actions and the major emphasis Moscow now places on separating our allies from us is clear evidence of the success of our Atlantic policy.

5. What are the causes of NATO’s strength?

First it is essentially realistic. It correctly reflects the basic community of heritage, of spirit and of interest of a limited number of nations. Secondly, it is inherently practical. It has fumbled and experimented and reorganized, but it has nevertheless concentrated on getting specific governmental agreement on concrete measures which were urgently necessary. It has avoided the dispersion, the debate, the technical detail and the “do-goodism” which have vitiated the efforts of so many international organizations. The combination of realistic basis and practical approach give it a strength and vitality possessed by no other international organization.

6. What are the weaknesses of NATO?

Its basic weakness is that it is not good enough. It must steadily develop or it will inevitably retrogress, if not fall apart. It has, perhaps of necessity, concentrated too much on purely military matters. Senator Vandenberg used to reiterate that if NATO were to succeed it must be far more than a military alliance, that if it were no more than that, it would be at the mercy of any reasonably plausible effort by the Soviet Government to appear peacefully inclined. It has failed to realize in practice the inspiration which the Secretary and various other Foreign Ministers envisaged for it at the time of signing, or to capture popular imagination and hopes to the extent that either the U.N. or the idea of “European Union” have done. Several governments, including our own, have been reluctant to give their representatives enough authority to take decisions within broad instructions. This has led to over-preoccupation with the negotiation of details rather than of major issues.

[Page 244]

7. What does NATO need most?

Faith, unity, broadening of horizions and closer links to national parliaments. To inspire public opinion it needs to inspire faith that the member governments are going to work progressively toward realization of the ideal of Atlantic unity, not merely toward security but toward greater human values. It must, while keeping its feet firmly on the ground, get its head higher in the air, look further forward and move faster. It needs to exert every effort to develop unity of policy and action concretely with respect to current issues; it has made a good start in this field but much more needs to be done and can be done relatively easily. It needs to broaden its activities much further into the political and economic fields, however difficult the specific problems may be. It needs much U.S. leadership of the kind that pulls from in front, not the kind that pushes from the rear. It needs, to insure realism, effectiveness, and broad support, closer links with the parliaments of the member countries. As an example, the investigations abroad during the last two years of NATO and aid matters by mixed groups composed of representatives of the Foreign Relations, Armed Services and Appropriations Committees of both Houses made a world of difference in Congressional action. There should be regular study and consideration of annual NATO programs, as soon as they have been finalized by the Council, by groups of key men responsible in each NATO parliament for passing upon and implementing those programs. These groups would sit together as a NATO parliamentary body to investigate and exchange views on the adequacy, necessity and practicability of the program and whether each nation was doing its full share. The body would, initially at least, have no power as a body but the influence of the national groups in their own parliaments should be strong and constructive.

8. How can we best combat Russian efforts to divide the West?

Primarily by intensifying our efforts to consolidate and deepen Western, primarily Atlantic, unity. This involves treating our partners really as partners rather than as satellites. We have been good about this, and largely successful, in NATO itself, whether in the Council, Deputies, SHAPE or even the Standing Group, where the problem has been particularly delicate, but we have been markedly less so in certain aspects of our dealings with our allies outside NATO channels. It involves consulting our partners much more and much earlier in the process of formulating our own policies and a real effort to take their views and interests into account. It involves patience. It involves paying much more attention to human values and to the psychological effect of our actions. We can greatly reduce the numbers of our personnel abroad, with [Page 245] profit not only to our budget but to our foreign relations as well. Our influence is inevitably so great that we exert it most effectively when we act gently, tactfully and subtly, not when we have hordes of military and civilian officials all over Europe trying at all levels to tell our friends exactly what to do or think. Finally, we can devote more effort to taking the psychological offensive, to stimulating international discussion of questions which will embarrass and harass the Russians rather than merely waiting to rebut their efforts to embarrass and harass us.

9. What can NATO do in the economic field?

The two principal arguments against NATO dealing with economic problems are that (a) some international agency already exists to deal with every known economic problem and (b) economic problems are more nearly worldwide than regional in extent. This is no reason, however, why the NATO nations should not consider any economic problem from the point of view of our common Atlantic interests, utilize other agencies, for fact finding or even for particular operations, and concentrate upon the practical problem of obtaining agreed governmental action. Their relatively high degree of community of interest should both encourage and facilitate the tackling of particularly intransigent economic and financial problems, notably the dollar gap. On the theory that the smaller the number of countries involved, the easier it is to reach effective agreement, the Treaty specifically provides for “economic collaboration between any or all of them.”

10. Must we continue aid?

We must stop the artificial and mutually unhealthy aid process just as soon as practicable. Certainly “trade rather than aid” is the answer. Before we can safely stop the blood transfusions, however, we must make progress in curing the disease of productive imbalance between the U.S. and most of the rest of the world. We face a real problem of timing because the cure is going to be long and difficult while the donor is getting restive. While a number of countries will continue to need cash, the practical effects of a wave of confidence inspired by knowledge that the U.S. was prepared to participate fully in a major cooperative effort really to cure the imbalance would be considerable. U.S. tariffs are probably the least important element, except psychologically, followed in ascending order by agricultural and similar restrictions, exchange rates, prices, interchange of know-how and techniques, the climate for investment and finally productivity. As long as U.S. productivity continues so far above that of other countries and we continue to develop substitutes and synthetics for everything we have not got, there would still be chronic imbalance even in a world completely [Page 246] free of tariffs and exchange restrictions. The only real cure will be the development of a single economy composed of the U.S. and a progressively larger number of countries whose economic health (and security) we consider important to our own. To develop such an economy will require all the wisdom and imagination we can muster, but one way of working toward it would be to set it as an announced goal and to undertake a deliberate and organized attempt to develop with certain European countries (UK?, Commonwealth?, Scandinavia?, “Schumania”?, all of NATO?) economic relations at least as close as those we have with Canada; i.e., which provide a high degree of interchange of investment, branch factories and managerial and technical skills, supplemented by the development of progressively closer consultation on economic, financial and fiscal policies.

  1. Attached to the source text was a memorandum by Matthews, dated Dec. 16, in which he circulated the Achilles letter and attached memorandum for comment to Bruce, Perkins, Bonbright, MacArthur, Parsons, Knight, and Ferguson. Matthews also appended a letter from Dunn, dated Dec. 10, which supported everything that Achilles wrote.
  2. See footnote 1 above.
  3. Not found in Department of State files.