116. Paper Prepared in the Department of State0

DNM D–0/1


Paris, December 13–15, 1961



Although there are very grave problems facing the Alliance, the general atmosphere in NATO at present is on the whole healthy. There [Page 336] is less of the feeling that NATO is in a state of “disarray” than is usually the case before the December Ministerial meeting. Nevertheless, the problems facing the Alliance are most serious and, as usual, U.S. leadership will be a crucial factor in determining the outcome of the meeting.

Berlin is bound to dominate the Council meeting, with attention focused on the 4-Power Ministerial meetings which will just precede the NATO meeting. A crucial problem will be to give the eleven members of the Alliance outside the Four Powers a feeling of partnership in formulation of Alliance policy on Berlin and avoiding any impression that the Four are dictating to the others.

The Soviet threat in other areas will also be very much in the minds of the Ministers. This will be especially true of the Soviet note to Finland.1 The residual colonial problems of Portugal and Belgium will also figure largely in the meeting, including the question of NATO country votes on colonial questions in the UN. Other East-West issues, such as disarmament, will preoccupy the Canadians and Scandinavians.

Less evident, but very much in the air, will be the general question of the future of the Atlantic Community. Although such developments as the U.K. joining the European Communities will not be discussed in the meeting, the implications of this and similar developments for the Atlantic nations will be in the back of the minds of the Ministers.

On the military side, the continental countries, led by Germany, and the southern countries will generally press for stronger NATO defenses and for measures leading toward greater integration of the NATO defense effort. The debate on NATO strategy which has taken place in the Permanent Council during 1961 will also be very much in the minds of most NATO members, although it is doubtful that the interested countries will use the NATO meeting to reopen a full-scale debate on these issues. There is also likely to be pressure for a greater involvement of the U.S. strategic capability in NATO defense.

Finally, there may be a recurrence of earlier pressures for holding a NATO Heads of Government meeting sometime in 1962, and particularly in the context of Berlin.

General Objectives

The general U.S. objectives at the December meeting should be:

To obtain maximum possible unified NATO support for the U.S. position on Berlin.
To stress to our NATO Allies the world-wide nature of the confrontation between the Sino-Soviet bloc and the Free World.
In order to avoid complete preoccupation with crises and Communist initiatives, to put proper focus on the constructive long-range development of the European-North American partnership.
In the military field, to ensure forward development of the Alliance’s defenses, building upon actions taken in connection with the Berlin crisis, and to maintain European confidence in NATO defenses by taking steps to make evident the inseparability of the defense of Europe and North America.

Specific Objectives

Below are outlined the more specific objectives arranged in accordance with major agenda topics.

Political (Agenda Item I)—Berlin. On Berlin it will be desirable to obtain maximum possible support for our four-point program (political, economic, military, and psychological) within the limits imposed by Allied unity. Of key importance to obtaining NATO-wide support on Berlin will be the giving of full information on our negotiating position, as well in advance of the Ministerial meeting as possible. The U.S. comments on Berlin should incorporate the assurances given to Adenauer in his recent conversations with the President,2 since these will be well received by the Alliance as whole. Nearly all members of the Alliance will undoubtedly strongly support our general position on negotiations, which may put the French in an increasingly isolated position. Although this poses dangers of leaks regarding Allied disunity, we should nevertheless not hold back from taking our case to the Alliance as a whole, over French opposition if necessary.

Economic counter-measures have been under intensive discussion in NATO. Although it would be desirable to have final agreement by the time of the Ministerial meeting, this may well not be possible. In this event, we should propose a referral of the question to the Permanent Council for further discussion.

On the military side of Berlin we should continue our efforts to push for greatest possible build-up of Alliance forces, exercising our leadership primarily by demonstrating through our own preparedness measures that we are willing to make the required sacrifices. We must also be prepared to comment on U.S. military aid policy. Berlin military contingency planning should not be discussed in any detail at the Ministerial meeting. We should confine ourselves to commending the progress which has been made in agreeing on NAC directive on contingency planning.

Other Areas. With regard to other areas, the U.S. should stress again the general theme of the Oslo meeting that the Communist threat is [Page 338] world-wide. We should cite Finland in this connection. It is important for the U.S. to stress the threat in the Far East, including Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Taiwan Straits. We should also make a full presentation on the Latin American situation, following up on our full discussions at Oslo on this subject and on the first NATO experts’ study on Latin America. We must also be prepared to state our position on colonial questions, particularly as reflected in UN votes.

Long-range Prospects. A major U.S. purpose at the meeting should be to raise the sights of the Alliance from the immediate threats facing us around the world as a result of Communist aggression by focussing due attention on the constructive purposes of the Alliance. We should welcome progress being made in other fields, such as the full use being made of the OECD, the negotiations between the U.K. and the European Community, and other steps to strengthen Europe. We should stress the determination on our part to see a parallel strengthening of the partnership between Europe and America.

Military (Agenda Item II). Our presentation should lead off with a comprehensive review of information on Soviet strategic capabilities against the U.S. and Europe, comparing it with U.S. strategic capabilities. We should then follow with a clear reaffirmation of our assurances regarding the U.S. response to a Soviet attack on Europe and then lead into a discussion of the three major issues.

Strategy. While we do not want to open up a major discussion on strategy, we do want to take the occasion to improve Alliance understanding of the issues at stake by bringing out the full implications of the intelligence assessment. There remains a tendency in the Alliance to put sole reliance on the use of nuclear weapons. We should seek to bring home the fact which is still not generally realized: that we are facing a situation in which we may well be going to war. Fuller realization of this fact should have its impact on the strategic thinking of the Alliance. In our handling of the strategy discussions, we should try to do so in a way that, while making our views known and reaffirming the importance we attach to them, will not result in acrimonious debate with the danger of publicity leaks about Alliance disunity on the fundamentals of strategy.
MRBMs. We should try through the briefing of the respective strategic capabilities of the U.S. and the USSR, to demonstrate that the Alliance should have full confidence in the present nuclear deterrent and the ability of this force to assure adequate coverage of NATO targets. We should recognize, however, that there are Allied concerns on this last point and should be prepared, in this same context, to take steps to stress again the inseparability of the defense of Europe and North America: We should indicate our willingness to carry through on commitment of Polaris submarines to NATO and to join our Allies in considering establishment of a multilaterally owned and controlled NATO [Page 339] MRBM force, both of which have already been publicly offered. We should indicate that we consider that a multilateral force would be the means of MRBM deployment most consistent with NATO cohesion, and that we would not be prepared to facilitate procurement of MRBMs for NATO forces not under multilateral ownership and control. We should also indicate our willingness to have the MRBM requirements for 1966 considered early in 1962.
Control. Our Allies have also shown some desire to explore means for giving the Alliance a greater role in nuclear matters, quite aside from MRBM deployment. We should indicate a willingness to join them in trying to devise guidelines which would govern the use of nuclear forces committed to NATO. We should also be willing to join them in exploring new means for reaching collective decisions regarding use of these weapons which would be consistent with their credibility as a deterrent.
  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 65 D 366, CF 2012, Secret. Drafted by Fessenden and cleared with Kohler and S/P.
  2. For text of the Soviet note of October 30, see Pravda, October 31, 1961, p. 9.
  3. For documentation on Adenauer’s visit to Washington, November 20–22, see vol. XIV, pp. 590 ff.