72. Memorandum of a Conversation, British Embassy, Paris, December 14, 1957, 11:30 a.m.1



  • United States
    • The Secretary of State
    • Ambassador Houghton
    • Ambassador Burgess
    • Mr. Elbrick
    • Mr. Reinhardt
    • Mr. Cutler
    • Mr. Smith, reporter
  • United Kingdom
    • Prime Minister Macmillan
    • Foreign Secretary Lloyd
    • Sir Norman Brooke
    • Sir Richard Powell
    • Sir Harold Caccia
    • Sir Frank Roberts
    • Sir Anthony Rumboldt
    • Sir Gladwyn Jebb
    • Sir Leslie Rowan
    • Mr. Bishop, pvt. sec. to P.M.
    • Mr. Laskey, pvt. sec. to F.M.

The Prime Minister opened by asking if the Secretary would like to discuss the matter of how the conference should go both from the procedural and the substantive point of view. He recalled that during the EisenhowerMacmillan talks at Washington2 it had been felt that the purpose of the NATO meeting would be to galvanize and give [Page 225] new life and color to NATO and “of course” deal with certain military matters. However, the buildup of expectations in the public press and and the large-scale Soviet propaganda campaign has resulted in the likelihood that the European nations will inject important political matters for discussion. The form of the meeting has changed; we must face these problems and now and not put them off. He expressed the hope that the U.S. and U.K. would see eye to eye on these questions.

  • First, the essential importance of keeping NATO in being. NATO has proved its worth. Its importance is continually evidenced by the hostility which the USSR bears it.
  • Second, it is essential to keep the Germans firmly in the NATO structure so that after Adenauer dies, Germany will not become neutral. Germany should be so built into NATO as to be inextricably involved.
  • Third, we must avoid NATO’s becoming a “Maginot Line.” Its flanks are vulnerable. We must bring the military aspects of NATO into relationship with the economic capability of the countries. The Prime Minister expressed alarm that military assessments of needs will continually demand more without full consideration of the economic burdens.

The problem of IRBMs could be turned to our disadvantage, as well as to the advantage of the West. … We should only place them where military leadership decides to be strategically wise. These strategic decisions perhaps could be turned to advantage. For example, he expects that the military will not want to deploy ballistic missiles east of the Rhine, and the Germans are apparently reluctant to have missiles stationed in the German Federal Republic. We might consider accepting the Eastern German Zone—with inspection to verify compliance. If there is no military requirement, this would not cost anything and might have substantial political advantage.

The Prime Minister stated that he felt the conference will have to get deeper into the political issues.

Secretary Dulles agreed that the conference may have to get into matters of substance more than had been anticipated last month in Washington and pointed out that the time is short. He referred to the procedural ideas expressed by M. Spaak on December 13.3 Spaak hopes to conclude the formal opening statements Monday afternoon—fifteen minutes for each country. Secretary Dulles pointed out that this would take some four hours. He said the U.S. would like about thirty minutes for its statement and Spaak thought this would [Page 226] be agreeable. The President in the closed session will delegate part of his presentation to Secretary Dulles and perhaps a part of Secretary McElroy. Secretary Dulles pointed out that it might be undesirable for the President to lead off in the restricted session after having spoken just before at the open session. Selwyn mentioned that the U.K. would like to speak toward the end of the presentation. Doubt was expressed that the formal statements would be concluded by Monday night. Selwyn Lloyd said that any speeches before President Eisenhower’s in the restricted session would be of little interest because all would be waiting to hear what the President said. Selwyn Lloyd added that he thought that all the representatives in the North Atlantic Council thought that the President would open up the restricted session. Spaak will wind up each session giving the line which he proposes to follow in his press conference each evening. There was some discussion about the nature of the Tuesday morning session. Secretary Dulles pointed out that the President might visit SHAPE Tuesday morning and that perhaps his presence at the Tuesday morning NATO meeting would not be necessary.

Selwyn Lloyd expressed doubt that the conference could finish its work Wednesday night. If that is to be the case, should not one say so at the start to avoid the appearance of any hitch. Secretary Dulles agreed that if there was to be a delay in finishing up, we should announce it as early as possible. He pointed out that some countries probably would not take their full fifteen minutes for formal statements. He suggested that the matter of spilling over to Thursday wait until we see how the Monday session goes. The Prime Minister said the speed of the conference depended entirely on whether there was discussion of substance or just general talk. Selwyn Lloyd pointed out the new factor that the Soviet notes4 had brought into the situation and wondered how we could assume the offensive. Secretary Dulles pointed out that it might be well to establish a group to make recommendations about letters NATO might send to Soviet Union suggesting changes in their policy. He expressed the opinion that the Soviet note writing was excellent craftsmanship and their timing very good. He pointed out that they are capitalizing on the relatively novel technique of public letters between Heads of Government.

Selwyn Lloyd suggested that we might take the political offensive by some statements in the communiqué. For example we might agree that the foreign ministers should meet to discuss disarmament. Secretary Dulles suggested that Hungary might be a good subject to [Page 227] discuss. He felt, however, that this proposal could not be settled at the present NATO meeting.

The Prime Minister said that we had a long struggle against very clever barbarians. He was worried about signs of change in thinking from “unexpected” people. He felt the need of a constructive counterattack, and reverted to the idea of not to place long-range missiles in Germany. He thought of a similar move in the disarmament field; suggest that we might propose to the Russians further disarmament negotiations, pointing out that fifty-four nations had endorsed the London disarmament proposals.5 The Prime Minister pointed out that a number of moderate people thought that the Soviet proposal to prohibit the deployment of missiles in central European areas sounded reasonable.6 Selwyn Lloyd said that George Kennan’s views had made quite a dent in public opinion.7 It was somewhat of a surprise to read “Mike” Pearson’s views about the need for negotiation with the Russians.8 The Prime Minister again said that we could perhaps make some offer in the field of excluding missiles from Central Europe. He did not feel the Russians would accept inspection and that his would call their bluff.

The Secretary then spoke about the matter of consultation, pointing out that the consultative process often results in actions being cleared too late to do any good. It is hard to expose one’s plans to fifteen countries debating in the North Atlantic Council. A number of the countries don’t know very much about the problems on which we are asked to consult. He expressed doubt that agreement could be reached in the North Atlantic Council on an answer to the Bulganin notes. The Prime Minister agreed but wondered if it would not be possible to get some consensus on principles. Secretary Dulles pointed out the difficulty of a coalition in competition with a single power. He added that there should be more trust by the coalition in the leadership of a few countries. He referred to his talk in Washington with Von Brentano and Blankenhorn.9 Blankenhorn had [Page 228] pressed him for consultation to an extreme degree. Secretary Dulles had replied that in the coming months he was sure the Communists would engage in a number of probing operations “now that we are all under the guns so to speak.” It is essential that we be free to react instantly. If I don’t, the situation could get out of control the probers’ prestige might get committed and the operation might not be stopped short of war. He felt that Blankenhorn was more extreme in his views on consultation than Von Brentano. Secretary Dulles said that he had written to Adenauer about this matter10 and received a very satisfactory reply.11 The U.S. is quite willing to make its general policies known and discussed in the North Atlantic Council, but in the matter of application of such policies, the alliance must rely on us to some extent. Secretary Dulles cited the example of a recent insulting note which we had received from the USSR.12 We were tempted immediately to turn the note back to the USSR, but at NATO it was discussed in the North Atlantic Council at such length and so much time passed that the rejection of the note did not seem feasible. The Prime Minister agreed that the important thing was to get agreements on principles allowing for fast action in individual cases. The Secretary said we must be careful not to treat Germany different from the rest of the allies. For instance, it may be sensible to agree not to place missiles within a certain number of miles of Germany’s eastern border but the geography should not be described as involving the German Federal Republic and the Soviet Zone of Germany. He pointed out that the Bulganin note had urged agreement between the CFR and the GDR. The Prime Minister agreed saying that the thing to do was to get agreement on a purely military basis. The Secretary referred to the problem of zones which resulted from the Geneva meeting of 1955 and the muddle that had resulted.

. . . . . . .

Secretary Dulles asked about the completion of the U.S.–U.K. IRBM agreement.13 Mr. Smith pointed out that Sir Richard Powell had said this morning that the only remaining problem was how, for U.K. internal domestic reasons, to give some semblance of U.K. control over the first squadron (planned for the sake of speed to be manned by U.S. personnel). Secretary Dulles said that on the question [Page 229] of control over these missiles he felt that we should use the principle that an attack on one nation would be an attack on all members of the coalition.

Secretary Dulles referred to the revival of the Combined Policy Committee and it was agreed that this would be good mechanism to supervise the new technological cooperation established during the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington last month. Secretary Dulles pointed out, however, that this did not mean that any past decisions of the CPC would have binding or precedential effect for the future.

The Prime Minister asked about the possibility of “regularizing” the control arrangements for the decisions to use IRBMs and referred to the ChurchillTruman agreement about U.S. use of U.K. bases for U.S. bombers.14 He spoke of bringing this formula up to date. He said IRBMs are only another form of bomber. Secretary Dulles asked if he had in mind doing this now, and the Prime Minister said “no.” The Prime Minister said it would be useful if we could develop a formula so that “we can quote it.”15

Secretary Dulles referred to the question of support costs and asked if the U.K. had made any progress with the Germans. Sir Frank Roberts said that this question had been put to the North Atlantic Council and three independent experts will meet shortly, following the procedures set out in the July 6 North Atlantic Council resolution.16

Secretary Dulles said he was to see Chancellor Adenauer at 6 o’clock today. Selwyn Lloyd said that the support cost question was a matter of some urgency with the U.K. in that their budget estimates had to be firmed up by mid-January. The Prime Minister then stated that Germany with its great wealth should go in more for foreign investment. It had accumulated one thousand million dollars a year and immobilized this vast sum. He was fearful that this process would lead to a world-wide depression. A paramount imperative of capitalism is to put such reserves to use around the world. If they do not this, Germany will be ruined in the end. It is the Marxist argument that capitalism will not find productive use for its reserves and thus destroy itself. Marxism has been refuted by the examples of the U.K. and the U.S. which had put its accumulated reserves to productive [Page 230] use all around the world. We must get Adenauer to understand this.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 948A. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Smith.
  2. Macmillan and Lloyd visited October 22–25, 1957, for discussions with President Eisenhower.
  3. Reference is to a conversation between Dulles and Spaak on December 13, summarized in a December 15 memorandum of conversation, USDel/MC/3. (Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 948)
  4. For text of Bulganin’s letter to Eisenhower of December 10, 1957, on disarmament, see Department of State Bulletin, January 27, 1958, pp. 127–130.
  5. For text of the 24-power draft resolution, first submitted to the U.N. General Assembly on October 11, 1957, by several non-Communist nations, including the United States, and subsequently adopted with amendments as General Assembly Resolution 1148 (XII) on November 14, 1957, see Documents on Disarmament, 1945–1959, vol. II, pp. 914–915.
  6. This proposal was contained in Bulganin’s December 10 letter to Eisenhower.
  7. Reference is to Kennan’s proposal for a denuclearized zone in Eastern Europe made in the Reith lectures at Oxford in November 1957 and in BBC broadcasts that December. He published it in his Russia, the Atom, and the West (New York, 1957), chapters iii and iv.
  8. Reference is presumably to Lester Pearson’s Nobel lecture delivered in Oslo on December 12, 1957, where he urged the United States and the Soviet Union to exchange views frankly. (New York Times, December 12, 1957)
  9. See Documents 6365.
  10. See Documents 66 and 67.
  11. See Document 68.
  12. See footnote 2, Document 63.
  13. Reference is to an agreement under negotiation whereby the United States would provide IRBMs to Britain. A summary of discussions about this agreement was transmitted in Polto 1821, December 19. (Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–PA/12–1957)
  14. For text of the TrumanChurchill Communiqué, January 9, 1952, see Department of State Bulletin, January 21, 1952, p. 83.
  15. It is assumed that he was referring to the need for something to use with U.K public opinion which is presently exercised about the nature of U.S. strategic bomber rights in the U.K. [Footnote in the source text.]
  16. Reference is to the resolution in which the NAC accepted the request of the WEU to study “Common Solution of Currency Problems Arising from Stationing of Troops in Other Member States” transmitted in Polto 61, July 8. (Department of State, Central Files, 740.5/7–857)