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

Polto 2025. This message reports latter part Ministerial meeting morning May 5 (re Polto 20222). Secretary opened by saying that he felt NATO is at a critical moment in its life and that there might be misunderstanding between us if it was felt by many of the NATO members that the danger was over. The US does not think so. Secretary then said while there may be be less danger of open armed attack on Europe, danger would be no less than it ever had been if Soviet ever gained a clear military supremacy. Dulles then reviewed world situation in light of increased dangers in Far and Middle East. He agreed with previous remarks Lange and Lloyd that we need to accentuate our efforts of demonstrating strength and vitality of basic values of West. Sec said problem is how Atlantic community can best organize itself not only to continue military effort but also to move into other fields. A change as basic as this requires careful explorations. Secretary then reviewed pros and cons of various economic proposals which had been made, listed the problems of using OEEC because of its neutrals, problems of use NATO, including its relation to the UN. Secretary then returned to his view that problem of what Atlantic community should do to meet present day conditions required thorough and exhaustive study, including how to make the most of the many already-established multilateral organizations, and ended his statement by saying he would be greatly disappointed if NATO Council did not feel time had come for evolutionary development and that a group was needed to study problem very carefully. As far as personnel concerned, he endorsed Lloyd’s suggestion (Pearson, Martino and Lange).

Hansen agreed in general with Secretary’s and Lloyd’s remarks but he said he thought task of economic aid to underdeveloped countries should be left to UN, but admitted there was not much hope of this happening soon, and since problem is an urgent one, other means would have to be found.

Lange urged that a precise definition of what committee was supposed to do be made immediately. Pearson spoke of difficulties committee would face but agreed that NATO is reaching a critical point and said that unless we recognized that while we are right in giving emphasis to non-military matters, this should not obscure fact [Page 73] of other (military) dangers, which if forgotten might mean quick end of NATO.

Ismay asked if Council would adopt conclusion that a group of their own members should be set up to undertake terms of reference. On Secretary’s suggestion Ismay elaborated by calling his proposal interim approval to set up a Committee of Three to undertake work, which would be defined later.

Spaak spoke next and said he had not heard anyone say that military effort should be lessened and he saw no disarmament around corner or any reason to relax. Believes it important that we increase attempts at NATO political solidarity. If we do not have a political understanding, then truly there will exist a crisis in NATO. As for economic problems and what NATO should do, said for time being NATO should concentrate on military and political fields. Spaak said economic problems so difficult and important he wished to think it over later. General line of Spaak’s remarks was that NATO was not doing too badly in the military and political fields and certainly should not relax in them, but that it should stay out of economic field. Secretary said he disagreed with Spaak if Spaak thought Atlantic community was doing all it could to strengthen its own unity. United States believes that there was a time when cohesion except in a more positive, more dynamic association. US is willing to associate itself in strengthening of Atlantic community through increased political consultations, but we wish to make sure that what we do is well defined. We can find ways to deal with the situation if other members do not desire to make community a more vital and stronger political force, but there will be a crisis if feeling here is that everything is fine and nothing more has to be done.

Pineau spoke next. He affirmed faith of France in Atlantic Alliance, said he did not think NATO was organized to get into aid business, recounted France’s domestic difficulties at some length, and felt with Spaak that NATO was not doing so badly.

Cunha spoke next and said he, too, was surprised at talk of crisis in NATO and recommended any expansion of its activities be done slowly and prudently and after much study.

Martino said Council had not dealt with his resolution on a committee within NATO to deal broadly with economic problems, said there was no crisis in NATO but that there would be one if the Ministers left this meeting without doing something. Bech concluded by supporting suggestion for Committee of Three to study carefully what should be done. Meeting adjourned until afternoon.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 740.5/5–656. Secret. Repeated to all other NATO capitals.
  2. Supra.
  3. See Polto 2026, infra.