63. Letter From President Eisenhower to President de Gaulle0

Dear General De Gaulle: I have given considerable thought to the views expressed in your letter of September seventeenth. You have posed serious questions which require earnest thinking and careful study.

The central problem you raise—the organization of the free world’s defense—is very much on my mind also. I agree that we should constantly seek means for making that organization more effective.

We are, I believe, in full agreement that the threat we face is global and that our policies should be adapted to deal with the world-wide nature of the threat. Although recognizing that more needs to be done, we believe that our policies have to an extent already been adapted to this end. It is in recognition of the need to deal with the world-wide threat that the United States has joined with its allies in establishing elements of strength throughout the world. The United States and France are closely associated in certain of these groupings, such as NATO and SEATO. The United States has also associated itself with many other countries, in both multilateral and bilateral arrangements, all directed toward the same general purpose. We have also sought to give recognition to the fact that the threat is more than military through our economic, financial, and technical assistance programs designed to aid nations throughout the world to resist subversion.

As for the Atlantic Alliance itself, I believe there has been a significant evolution in NATO over the past two years. Consultation in NATO has in fact been extended well beyond the confines of the European area. We, for example, have sought to use the NATO Council to inform or consult with our allies on the threat facing the Free World in the Far East and the Middle East. We have also sought to use the Council to develop common policies toward the Soviet bloc. We feel that this “habit of consultation” among the NATO nations must be still further broadened but that this cannot be forced. I do not believe that we can afford to lose any of this developing intimacy among all the members of NATO and the closer bonds it forges.

As for the means for dealing with the problem which you propose, our present procedures for organizing the defense of the Free World clearly require the willing cooperation of many other nations, both [Page 109] within and outside NATO. We cannot afford to adopt any system which would give to our other allies, or other free world countries, the impression that basic decisions affecting their own vital interests are being made without their participation. As regards NATO itself, I must in all frankness say that I see very serious problems, both within and outside NATO, in any effort to amend the North Atlantic Treaty so as to extend its coverage beyond the areas presently covered.

All this having been said, I must add that I recognize that a community association to live must constantly evolve and find means to make itself more useful in the face of changing conditions. I am quite prepared to explore this aspect of the matter in appropriate ways.

With best personal wishes,


Dwight D. Eisenhower1
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, International File. Secret. The text was transmitted in telegram 1392 to Paris, October 20 (Department of State, Central Files, 740.5/10–2058), and handed to Pompidou at 11 a.m. on October 21. (Telegram 1434 from Paris, October 21; ibid., 740.5/10–2158)
  2. Printed from a copy that bears this stamped signature.