21. Paper Prepared in the Office of Western European Affairs0
WESTERN EUROPEAN AMBASSADORS’ CONFERENCE, PARIS, MAY 9–13, 19581
Highlights and Conclusions
I. Remarks by the Secretary
The Secretary characterized the Copenhagen NATO Meeting2 as a demonstration of steady and unspectacular progress in the historically [Page 37] difficult task of operating a peacetime alliance. This is aided by developing process of political consultation in which our relations with the U.K. have a special closeness which can be reflected by Ambassadors in the field. Differences of view did develop on Icelandic fishing rights and on disarmament possibilities. With regard to a possible Summit Conference the preponderant U.S. view is against having one largely on constitutional grounds. There seems a rather remote chance of achieving meaningful agreements at the Summit while there is danger that in the process of getting there we will be forced into important technical concessions such as in the matter of “parity” of representation. On the Soviet attitude generally, there are some signs that their effort to be agreeable for propaganda purposes may eventually become a habit just as they seem to have partially renounced violence as an instrument of policy. This does not assume immediate and complete reform into a state of innocuousness. Khrushchev is more unpredictable than his predecessors. On substantive issues: we are rethinking the possibility of a nuclear test suspension following the present test series; as a practical matter nuclear disarmament will probably have to be considered separately from conventional disarmament in view of the complexity of the latter and the importance of making progress even in limited areas if possible; we will support any policy which will retain Africa as a hinterland of Europe; we hope to find ways of curbing the purely expansionist tendencies of nationalists such as Nasser or Sukarno. On control of outer space we are finding many technical difficulties to be overcome in reaching a meaningful proposal.
II. Remarks by Ambassador Thompson, USSR
Ambassador Thompson listed eight reasons why Khrushchev probably desires a Summit Conference, most but not all of which were, conversely, reasons for the U.S. not to want one. Khrushchev uses the party rather than governmental apparatus and is inclined to be impulsive but he does concern himself with seeking popular support. The great question is whether the Soviet system can be run without the use of terror. There is little prospect of our reaching accommodation with present Soviet leadership. Our policy should be designed to further a liberal evolution in the Soviet system and to disabuse them of the urge to run the world, so as to permit accommodation over the long run.
III. The NATO Alliance and Western Defense
Ambassador Burgess enlarged on some aspects to the Secretary’s remarks especially on the psychological importance of political consultation or as a minimum prior advice to the NATO council of political [Page 38] moves. MC 703 was described as the realistic war plan of NATO based on availability of advance weapons. Ambassadors were requested to urge member governments to meet force goals under this document. It was pointed out that because of the sensitiveness of the document it has not been distributed to Embassies which makes such representations a bit difficult to carry out. An effort to supply Embassies with the necessary information was promised.
Spain’s membership in NATO was discussed with emphasis on its advantages in tying Spain firmly to the West and countering neutralist tendencies. Spain’s willingness to enter NATO at any time should not be taken for granted. Present Department policy favors Spanish admission but we believe our tactics should stress gradual improvement of Spanish relationships so that the several member countries presently opposing might in time voluntarily accept Spain rather than attempting to force this result by strong U.S. pressure.
Efforts to achieve advanced weapon production coordination through FIG, WEU and the Meili office in NATO were described. IRBM placement is meeting some opposition but should be described as cooperation to meet a NATO need rather than a U.S. requirement.
Attention was called to the disadvantageous political repercussions of uncoordinated press visits to US bases abroad such as one which recently rekindled parliamentary controversy over SAC flights in the U.K. Efforts were urged to improve Washington coordination in the future.
IV. Problems of Colonial Areas and Newly Independent States
Mr. Porter outlined the problem of African nationalism and the view that European powers can preserve economic and cultural ties by making timely concessions in the political sphere. He mentioned certain working level contacts for informational purposes with Algerian revolutionary leaders. Mr. Walmsley and Mr. Gerig discussed trends in the UN where Asian-African countries now represent some 35% of the membership as opposed to Europe’s 24%.
The consensus of the discussion was that:
- Most NATO members as well as Spain and Switzerland tended to support France more or less unconditionally in its efforts to solve the Algerian problem.
- French opinion is presently in a state of transition which could bring about a change of policy on Algeria. This could be adversely affected by U.S. action interpreted as intervention in French affairs.
- The necessity of taking a position on anti-colonial issues at the UN poses one of the most fundamental dilemmas of U.S. foreign policy since it almost invariably places the U.S. in a position of conflict with its European friends.
- There is danger of jeopardizing our historic and important European ties without necessarily winning new friends in the Arab world, particularly in view of continued Arab preoccupation with the Palestine problem.
V. The U.S. Economy—Remarks of Dr. Saulnier
The current U.S. recession is fairly conventional in pattern being caused by reversal in previous expansionist tendencies in plant expansion, export trade and military procurement. Purchases of consumer durables have not picked up as expected at the end to the installment cycle but rather savings are increasing. The recession has not yet spread extensively to other countries except in special commodity areas. Vigorous action in limited fields is needed to reverse the curve which is now flattening out, however, tax cuts should be approached only carefully and selectively, if at all, in view of the inflationary impact of prospective budget deficits. The most important long term need was a labor-management relationship which would stabilize costs and the purchasing power of the dollar.
The Ambassadors expressed an interest in receiving frequent current analyses of the U.S. economy which the E area of the Department has agreed to supply.
VI. European Economic Integration
Mr. Corse reviewed the status and prospects of the Coal and Steel Community, EURATOM and the Common Market. He foresaw some dislocations in U.S. foreign trade but an over-all expansion as a result of the organizations.
Mr. Timmons spoke on the Free Trade Area which is favored by the United States in order to forestall fragmentation and bilateralism of the European economy. We wish however that it be consistent with GATT principles. Concessions will be necessary on the part of “the six” principally France and “the non-six” principally the U.K. Smaller countries such as Switzerland and Austria have perhaps more vital interests at stake.
It was the consensus that the FTA is necessary and that U.K. views will be sufficiently flexible to persuade France of its advantages after difficult and protracted negotiations. It is questionable whether its ultimate form will be as acceptable to the U.S. as that of the Common Market. Potential advantages of the U.K. in attracting foreign investment under an FTA are probably exaggerated but are a psychological impediment to agreement by others. Special problems will be created for the “peripherals” such as Spain and Portugal who may need special tariff [Page 40] accommodation and help from investment funds. The appropriate U.S. position is one of interest but non-intervention except on matters of legitimate U.S. concern such as reducing trade barriers to non-members. There appears to be predominant interest by American business in the potentiality for investment within the trade area. A number of Ambassadors expressed interest in having a study which would provide policy guidance on investments abroad since questions such as whether to attempt to retain exclusive U.S. control or encourage local participation have important political significance.
VII. Miscellaneous Problems
- USIA Mr. Bradford expressed the expectation that European operations would not be further penalized because of lack of funds although he mentioned the difficulty in some cases of persuading Congress of the necessity to continue operations in “friendly” Europe. Emphasis would increasingly be placed on the long term cultural, “quality” approach. Several Ambassadors mentioned the importance of steady continuity in this type of operation.
- Budget Mr. Burns described the present rather gloomy outlook for the S and E portion of the budget. Ambassador Bruce and others expressed the hope that no further cuts in personnel would be made.
- Personnel and Training The Chairman read a memorandum from Mr. Henderson1 on the vital necessity of increased language skills in the service and the consequent high priority on assignments from the field to language schools. This provoked a great deal of discussion out of which emerged a strong recommendation for scheduling training before arrival at post rather than interrupting a duty assignment and suggestions for greater use of at-post language training and supervisory review to assure that able and conscientious officers were not penalized by having less time for language training than others. Strong views were also expressed on the difficulties caused by too frequent transfer of officers and by transfers so scheduled that a complete section may be changed within a relatively short time.
- Local Employees Ambassador Lodge mentioned a serious humanitarian and public relations problem where faithful local employees of many years service did not get full retirement credit and compensation for periods of service during and before the war. Several other Embassies were concerned by the same or similar problems and it was urged that renewed efforts be made to obtain funds from Congress to provide adequate annuities.
- Communications There was a general desire for more rapid communications to the field. It was pointed out that British transmission was [Page 41] invariably more rapid than ours. This was believed to be partly a question of communications discipline and partly one of obtaining the most modern available equipment. A thorough restudy of this problem was strongly recommended.
- Evacuation Planning Attention was called to the importance of the planning of coordination with local governments and of financing for logistic support.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 120.1451/5–2258. Secret. Drafted by Torbert and transmitted to Secretary Dulles under cover of a brief memorandum of May 22 from Elbrick.↩
- A copy of the agenda for the meeting, a paper on procedures and administrative matters, and a variety of background papers for the meeting are ibid. Detailed summary records of the discussion of each of the agenda items, as well as a summary account of the presentation by the USIA representative at the conference, were transmitted to the Department of State as enclosures to despatch 2008 from Paris, May 20. (ibid., 396.1-PA/5–2058) A 22-page transcript of Secretary Dulles’ remarks at the opening session of the conference on May 9, including the discussion that followed, is ibid., Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199.↩
- See Documents 136 ff.↩
- MC-70, “Minimum Essential Force Requirements, 1958–1963,” was prepared by the Military Committee of NATO early in 1958 as guidance and a yardstick of progress in the 1958 and successive Annual Reviews. MC-70, a copy of which is at NATO headquarters in Brussels, has not been declassified. See also Document 131.↩
- Not further identified.↩