380. Paper Prepared in the Department of State0
MACMILLAN VISIT WASHINGTON, APRIL 4–9, 1961
Background and Objectives of Visit
Genesis of Visit
During the previous administration Prime Minister Macmillan periodically traveled to this country for intimate talks with President Eisenhower. The last such meeting took place in New York on September 27, 1960.1 Mr. Macmillan wrote you on December 19, 19602 how glad he was to accept your invitation to a meeting at your convenience, an invitation which arose from your talk with Ambassador Caccia December 15.3 The Prime Minister agreed with you on the advisability of starting consideration of our common problems promptly after January 20th through the British Ambassador and the State Department. Mr. Macmillan subsequently suggested a list of topics for discussion.4 The bilateral talks we have now held with the British served to reduce the number of specific issues requiring discussion at the top level and helped to formulate the agenda of six fundamental items for your talks with the Prime Minister.
British Domestic Situation
Mr. Macmillan will arrive in this country with a solid Parliamentary majority behind him and no obligation to call another election until 1964. The Conservative Government has made a sophisticated and generally successful effort to move with the times. The Opposition Labor Party is split over doctrine and foreign policy and Gaitskell’s leadership is under continuous attack. The domestic economy is booming and a sense of affluence is spreading.
This happy surface appearance, however, is somewhat deceptive. There are signs, still small, of boredom with the Conservative administration [Page 1032]and restlessness at the absence of drive and imaginative new ventures. The “stale” Conservative Government is being compared unfavorably with the new administration here. Mr. Macmillan cannot ignore an undercurrent of “little islander” or “neutralist” sentiment.
Britain Foreign Relations Problems
In the foreign political field Mr. Macmillan is confronted with the intricate task of harmonizing the Anglo-American relationship with ties to the Commonwealth and Continental Europe. Mr. Macmillan assigns high priority to strengthening NATO and to increased political and economic unity of Europe. But, in his relations with the Continent, he is faced by the revival of Germany, lingering anti-German feeling in Britain, and the nationalism of General de Gaulle. He has basic reservations about the six country integration movement and favors a broader European unity. Britain values the Commonwealth association for reasons of parental pride, the claim it gives to world status and as a link between the West and the underdeveloped world. However, the UK is no longer able to bring to the “club” the accustomed amount of financial assistance, military power and prestige. He is obliged to continue the distasteful business of “unwinding the empire”. In doing so he is determined to keep unsullied Britain’s remarkable record of leading dependent peoples to independence and not to bequeath to history a Congo. On the other hand, Mr. Macmillan is acutely conscious of the growing pressures for speed coming from Afro-Asian nationalists, given expression particularly in the UN. Mr. Macmillan is under no illusion over the extent to which Britain’s fate is bound up with the outcome of the East-West struggle. The communiqué following the Moscow Communist Conference in December and Khrushchev’s speech of January 65 has resulted in some disenchantment and caution regarding negotiations with the Soviets. Nevertheless, strong pressures remain for exploring every possibility, especially in the disarmament field, for some accommodation and a concomitant nervousness exists about approaching the brink of even local military solutions.
Mr. Macmillan recognizes the UK is no longer a great military power and is able to exert only a marginal effect on the military balance between the US and the USSR. He is concerned that by the acts of others the UK may be drawn into a conflict which could result in its annihilation. This factor together with reasons of prestige lie behind the insistence on maintaining an independent nuclear deterrent which hopefully might give a margin of political independence from the US and make Britain’s voice more audible in any US decision on peace and war.[Page 1033]
The UK is faced by a steadily worsening international economic position. Exports are meeting increased competition and imports are rising sharply. The UK has a severe balance of payments problem, lately disguised by the recent inflow of “hot money”, which is likely to become more acute during the present year. At home there is a low rate of economic growth; inflationary pressures to contend with; and a limited labor supply.
The primary objective of the Prime Minister during his visit to Washington, we believe, will be to appraise the climate and judge the prospects for the continuation and value to Britain of the unique Anglo-American relationship. Mr. Macmillan personally was in large part responsible for reviving the Anglo-American relationship after the Suez debacle and for reinstituting the concept of “interdependence”. We believe that the conclusions he draws will have far-reaching effects on his decisions and on the degree of cooperation we may expect in months ahead. He will seek to “make his mark” with you and to establish the same close bonds he enjoyed with President Eisenhower. The Prime Minister is an exponent of the art of personal diplomacy and likes to think that “jowl to jowl” he is able to resolve difficult issues. He also has a penchant for soliloquizing in broad and bold historical terms which sometimes turn out to have little bearing on his attitude or that of HMG on specific issues. These monologues can be quite disconcerting if taken too seriously.
Mr. Macmillan’s popularity is still high at home, he wields exceptional power and himself makes the big decisions and sets the tone for the government. We attach high importance to a close personal relationship with Mr. Macmillan, but we do not believe he should be encouraged to overburden this channel to the exclusion of more normal diplomatic practices.
We believe he may also have in mind as major objectives obtaining US support in principle for the following:
- A British role vis-à-vis the Continent which, while furthering the political and economic unity of Europe, would not necessitate an amalgamation of British political personality with the Continent; would retain for the UK a distinctive world-wide role; and would permit a continuation of the Anglo-American relationship and Commonwealth ties. Mr. Macmillan probably will make a special plea for a revision of the US position on Sixes and Sevens in favor of active, or at least benevolent, US support for current British efforts to work out an accommodation between the two groupings.
- Sympathetic understanding of the practical problems confronting the UK in divesting itself of its remaining colonial territories, especially [Page 1034]in East and Central Africa; acceptance of British good faith in trying to move as fast as possible towards granting independence; and assistance in resisting pressures, especially in the UN, for precipitate actions.
- A cooperative economic program intended to expand the rate of Western economic growth and to maximize the use of production facilities, and involving avoidance of accentuating each other’s balance of payments problem; further liberalization of trade; and the expansion of international credit facilities. Mr. Macmillan probably will emphasize that Western Germany should assume a greater share of the Western burden particularly in aid to the underdeveloped countries.
- Thorough exploration of the possibilities of an accommodation with the Communist Bloc including particularly suspension of nuclear tests, disarmament, and admittance of Communist China to the UN.
Our principal objectives might be to:
- Reassure Mr. Macmillan of the importance we attach to the Anglo-American alliance and to close relations at all-levels. The common heritage of our two peoples and the fundamental harmony of our views on world problems form the basis for a relationship which is unparalleled. We think of our ties with the UK as of central importance in building the strength and unity of the Free World in the Atlantic Community and elsewhere. We should eschew ostentation in order to avoid resentment from our other allies. While important differences between us arise from time to time, one of the strengths of our association is that we can agree to disagree.
- Emphasize the importance of both the U.S. and the U.K. moving toward greater interdependence within NATO and helping to strengthen NATO defenses, with increased emphasis on conventional forces and on NATO political cohesion. Also emphasize the importance we attach to the OECD as a forum for coordinating policies to attain economic growth, while maintaining external payments equilibrium and to expanding aid to the less-developed countries along the lines of our proposal at the London DAG meeting.6
- Emphasize the long term importance of the political and economic strength and unity of the Atlantic Community; the desirability of strengthening British bonds with the Continent; the value we attach to the integration movement of the Six as a step which will tie Germany in closely with the West and reinforce the strength and unity of the Atlantic [Page 1035]Community as a whole; our willingness to support a solution between the Six and the Seven provided it does not prejudice progress towards political and economic unity of the Six, is consistent with GATT and does not add to special discrimination against US trade.
- Stress the need for continuing to move as rapidly as possible to grant independence to the remaining colonies without undue risk to their future stability; to expand the West’s economic and technical assistance programs to the underdeveloped world; to create an imaginative public relations program; and to counter Soviet and Communist Chinese influence in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
- Warn against any mistaken belief the Soviets are becoming “fat” and therefore less dangerous. While desirous of exploring all substantive and tactical ways of improving relations and eventually of engaging in serious negotiations on basic issues, we are not prepared to make unilateral concessions merely for the sake of an agreement.
- Bear down on the perils of over precipitate action and the damage to US-UK relations of any campaign to seat Communist China in the UN. Arrangements for the Government of the Republic of China to continue as a member of the UN are a basic essential of our position. It is important that the US and UK concert closely on the tactics to be employed at the UN in order to achieve this objective.
- Emphasize the need for a realistic combination of military and political steps in Southeast Asia to prevent irreparable erosion of the Western position.
- Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 65 D 366, CF 1832. Secret. No drafting information appears on the source text.↩
- For a memorandum of this conversation, see Foreign Relations, 1958–1960, vol. VII, Part 2, pp. 874–875.↩
- See footnote 1, Document 379.↩
- No record of this meeting has been found.↩
- A copy of the British list is attached to a memorandum from Secretary of State Rusk to the President dated January 28. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.41/1–2861)↩
- For text of the communiqué, see Pravda, December 6, 1961; for text of Khrushchev’s speech, see ibid., January 7, 1962.↩
- At the DAG meeting in London, March 18–30, the United States had proposed that Japan, Western Europe, and the United States designate 1 percent of their gross national products for foreign aid.↩