23. Telegram From the United States Delegation at the North Atlantic Council Ministerial Meeting to the Department of State1

Polto 2016. Following is text Secretary’s remarks on Agenda Item III afternoon May 4:2

Analysis of what has so far been said indicates that the task before the Atlantic community is three fold: [Page 67]

We must achieve and maintain a military posture which will deter armed aggression and which will prevent the Soviet Union from gaining such a relatively strong military position that it could employ threats of violence to extract from the free nations such concessions as would in effect make them subject to the Soviet will.

We must create such strong bonds of unity as between the members of the Atlantic community that they will not fall out among themselves, or follow divergent policies vis-à-vis the accepted source of danger, that is the Soviet-Chinese Communist world. Either would enable the Communist leaders to play one of the free world nations against another.

Moreover, members of the Atlantic community should seek to find the ways to strengthen and broaden the base of their own economies so that they will be better able to meet the expanding needs and aspirations of their own peoples.

We must maintain such economic relations with the newly developing countries of the world that they will see that they can in freedom achieve their legitimate aspirations for improving economic conditions and a beginning of industrialization which will tend to diversify their economies. Today, Communism rules about 800 million or one-third of the human race. About 1,600 million are free, but of these free, approximately 1,000 million belong to so-called underdeveloped countries which are exposed to the Soviet economic tactics. If those tactics should prevail, the world ratio as between Communist dominated peoples and free peoples would change from a ratio of two-to-one in favor of freedom to a ratio of one-to-three against freedom.


I think it can fairly be said that of these three tasks only one is adequately organized—that is the first. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization provides an effective mechanism for assuring the strength of the Atlantic community and this organization is supplemented by collective defense arrangements which cover much of the Far East, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. So long as the free world maintains its own strength and unity it can feel that there are adequate mechanisms to defend that unity as against open armed attack.

The Atlantic community is not yet adequately organized to maintain union between its members and to ensure harmony of policy of its members toward the Soviet-Chinese Communist bloc. There are a whole series of organizations designed to promote such unity. There is NATO itself. There is the Brussels Treaty for Western European Union. There is the Council of Europe. There is the [Page 68] Coal and Steel Community. There is the OEEC and EPU. These represent important unifying efforts, but it cannot be confidently affirmed that these organizations are clearly adequate to ensure against a tragic repetition of the past where the Atlantic community, and particularly Western Europe, has been torn apart by internecine struggles. Already today we see that the unity of our Alliance is seriously disturbed by the Cyprus question. The NATO Ministerial Council does provide a place to exchange views with reference to the international policies of the members, which are of common concern, but this consultation is sporadic and by no means systemized by any agreement as to what should be brought here in a search for common counsel and what can be dealt with independently without such consultation, nor has Europe yet achieved adequate institutions to ensure the freedom of commerce and the wide markets essential for economic vitality and growth.

With respect to the newly developing areas considerable action is being taken, but here again the action is not assuredly adequate to give these countries confidence that they can without dependence upon Communist aid develop their economies in accordance with their legitimate aspirations. Their hopes are perhaps now inflated by Communist propaganda which exaggerates the Communist achievements while it ignores the price paid in terms of human misery and servitude.

There are a number of programs such as the Colombo Plan, a series of bilateral arrangements, certain United Nations activities and certain economic appendages to collective security arrangements, all of which concern themselves with this problem, but there is no consensus as to how best to deal with the problem nor is there adequate appraisal or coordination as to such planning as occurs.


In the light of the foregoing it seems appropriate that this Council should urgently initiate a study of how the Atlantic community can best meet the new problems which confront us and for which, as yet, no adequate solution has been found.

A number of specific and interesting proposals have been made.

I do not desire at this point to give any precise indication as to what the United States thinks a solution should be other than to say this:

The search for unity in the Atlantic community has two aspects. First we should extend, deepen and regularize the habit of consultation which has been developing. Only in this way can we ensure that we will agree and remain agreed on our basic policies in the period when the divisive tactics of the Soviets are less crude. [Page 69] Only in this way can we ensure that incipient quarrels among the members of our own community will not grow into proportions which threaten our own strength and unity. Secondly, the Atlantic community should constantly strive to develop the possibilities for greater unity as between its component parts. These possibilities should be explored at all levels and not assume that any one formulation is itself sufficient: There are degrees of unity which can be practically and usefully achieved by a few but which cannot be similarly achieved by many. This particularly applies to unities along functional and geographic lines. There are, however, certain areas where unity needs to be sought on a broad basis. That notably applies to foreign policies involving relations with the source of common danger, but the establishment of this area of unity should by no means exclude, but should be assigned to promote, other forms of unity and integration which would preserve the West from a continuance of internal struggles which have been characteristic of its past.
The efforts of the Atlantic community to sustain the freedom of the newly developing countries and to maintain friendly relations with them would not be promoted by any organized effort of the Atlantic community to develop the seemingly imposed economic programs upon others. This might be misrepresented as a revival, in an economic form, of Western colonalism. Any acceptable way must provide equality for the underdeveloped countries and the taking of their viewpoint into consideration at the outset of any planning, not merely at the end after plans have been formulated. The Colombo Plan is perhaps the best method yet devised for cooperative planning between the more highly developed and the less highly developed countries of the world. However, we cannot realistically ignore the relationship which exists between defensive military efforts by certain of the less developed countries and the need for giving them what the United States calls “defensive support”, that is economic aid without which an adequate defense establishment cannot be sustained.
The United States does not think that NATO should be converted into an economic body. Already there are many such bodies like the OEEC, Colombo Plan, the economic agencies of the United Nations and of the collective security organizations to which I have referred. There is also the International Bank and Monetary Fund. Also there always will be a role for bilateral arrangements.

Naturally, policies in relation to economics are part of the overall policies as to which there might be consultation as suggested above. Also, there may be useful periodic overall appraisals of existing efforts as the Italian proposal suggests, but this is very different [Page 70] from funneling aid through NATO or making it an economic planning body.


The free nations have had what has not been called, but which in retrospect we might well call, a “first postwar ten-year plan,”. It is time to be thinking in terms of a “second-year plan” which will solidify freedom and enable the free peoples so to use their vast moral and material resources that their conduct and example will exert in attracting influence throughout the whole world.

I suggest that we might ask two or three of our number to undertake urgently to consult with each of the members of the North Atlantic Treaty and indeed, if they deem desirable, with non-members who are associated with the West in other ways, with a view to reporting not later than next fall how, it seems, the Atlantic community can best further organize itself to deal with the problems that lie ahead.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 740.5/5–556. Secret.
  2. For a report of this meeting, see Polto 2017, supra.