391. Scope Paper Prepared in the Department of State0



April 27–29, 1962

Our purpose in the Washington talks with the President and the British Prime Minister is clear. We want to be friendly toward the Prime Minister who is under emotional strain on disarmament and nuclear testing and hard pressed politically. We want to listen to his views with sympathetic understanding. We want him to know our thinking on current international issues and project for him our views on East-West matters and European integration. In the process we should make implicit the way we hope U.K. policy will evolve not as a consequence of U.S. pressure, but as a logical result of the forces now in motion. We want him to leave Washington without having induced us to modify our views, but with a satisfied feeling that he has had a very worthwhile and pleasant exchange.

The British need these discussions and we do not. They may well seek to obtain concessions from us which we cannot grant. They may attempt to attach greater importance to these talks than we do.

The fact of the meeting itself reaffirms the special friendship that characterizes the US-UK relationship. The United Kingdom is involved in adjustments of great complexity concerned with its shift from major to lesser power status and its move toward the continent, toward European integration. If our hopes regarding European integration are realized, there will be a challenging opportunity for Britain to exert a position of leadership. Although changes will undoubtedly ensue in the precise nature of the US-UK relationship, as well as in the Commonwealth system, it is early to attempt to define them in detail. What can be said with assurance is that the ties of language, culture and common ideas will endure and continue to be the firm basis for the intimate friendship of our two countries, just as these elements of English history and tradition ensure the continuance of the Commonwealth.

History has pushed Macmillan to very decisive steps. Fundamentally, Macmillan and his group have made the decision about moving toward the continent, but they keep looking back at the US-UK relationship. Any indication at this critical moment that the United Kingdom might be left alone in Europe could provoke a reaction so adverse as to [Page 1065] jeopardize British pursuit of the present negotiations with the Common Market. We believe it is inevitable—if not now, then later—that Britain enter the Common Market. Any redefinition of American-British relations should await the larger clarification of the relations between the US and an integrated Western Europe. As this larger pattern develops, US-UK relations, with due cognizance of their special character, will in turn fall into place within the expanded concept. Therefore, we should approach the whole subject matter of US-UK relations in a positive spirit, i.e., focusing on the new US-Europe ties, emphasizing that the US and the UK are both moving into new, changed and closer relations with Europe.

A key part of this positive approach to US-UK relations might well occur in the President painting the kind of integrated Western Europe that we hope will emerge. The leading role of the United Kingdom in such a Western Europe as the President might describe should catch the imagination of the British—for instance, that special political genius of England to which the theory and practice of democracy owes so much.

It is important that the President make no commitments which bind us to perpetuate the present forms of the US-UK relationship. He can understandably respond that we are in a time of great change and look forward to closer US-UK ties with Europe as a whole. The similarity of the US-UK outlook will help us work closely together in Europe and across the Atlantic.

The Prime Minister is well briefed on the intricacies of the Common Market and the precise details of UK-EEC negotiations. The President should seek his forecast of events and make his points in the description of the kind of integrated Western Europe we hope to see emerge, but without himself being drawn into specifics of the negotiations, or of the type of UK-Six settlement we would approve of.

The Prime Minister is too experienced a hand not to make a few skillful tries. Plays which should be guarded against are:

an appeal for perpetuating Commonwealth preferences in a Common Market on the basis that without such arrangements the Conservative Government cannot carry Parliament along;

our support to obtain the association to the Common Market of the EFTA. Heath recently stated categorically in his otherwise encouraging Western Union speech that association of the EFTA (meaning particularly the neutrals) is “British policy”.

On any appeal to acquiesce in perpetuation of Commonwealth preferences the President should indicate a lack of enthusiasm but recognize the importance of the Commonwealth to the interests of the Free World. Any give in our opposition to perpetuating preferences probably will have to take the form of meeting certain exceptionally critical [Page 1066] economic difficulties of specific old-line Commonwealth members. The President may wish to refer to our own problems of preference and the domestic political problem this creates for us and possibly imply that we may have to balance our own preference problems and those of the Commonwealth when a specific critical need is evidenced in the EEC negotiations. The President should not offer any encouragement with regard to “association” of the EFTA to the Common Market, but say US policy remains opposed to “association” as the best and certainly as the only answer to what appears to be essentially commercial problems. If the EFTA countries wish to be tied politically but without loss of neutrality, then a Schuman Plan association might be considered—i.e., association with the EEC without preferential trade arrangements. And,

our help if he runs into opposition from de Gaulle in the larger framework of European unity. The President might with conviction point out that our influence is limited and only harm could come from the appearance of an Anglo-American gang-up against the French. The President might consider assuring the Prime Minister that he would not be without European allies in such situation and de Gaulle would be particularly susceptible to pressure from a united coalition of his five colleagues of the Six.

The Prime Minister may attempt to throw the responsibility for resolving his nuclear deterrent dilemma on us. He may attempt to elicit an implied commitment that at least in the “holy realm” of military nuclear arrangements the special US-UK relationship will be perpetuated. Nuclear weapons have become a status symbol of international power, and the UK will not give up this symbol easily. The French, however, resent the US-UK nuclear monopoly in NATO and a special nuclear status for the UK within the Community would not be tolerated by the Continental powers. In the long run it may become important to the goal of an integrated Western Europe for Britain to contribute its national nuclear deterrent to the Community as a function of developing a multilateral NATO nuclear deterrent. We might at this juncture concentrate on seeking British support for a NATO multilateral MRBM force and in the process point out the dangers of German and French national nuclear cooperation. We see no reason why the President need conceal his lack of enthusiasm for the Defense White Paper with its failure to support the strengthening of NATO’s non-nuclear arm.

We should use the opportunity to steady the British on East-West matters and to induce them to accept the continued necessity of facing up to the unpleasant requirements of the Cold War. We know that Macmillan is terribly worried about disarmament and nuclear testing. We must not underestimate the Prime Minister’s concern about the present state of East-West relations, his conviction that he, personally, must do something about it and his desire to go down in history as the architect [Page 1067] of an East-West détente. It is important that we counsel him on patience and perseverance.

The discussions will take place in the shadow of resumed Western nuclear testing and possibly a more definite indication of another series of Soviet tests. These developments might possibly pave the way for new proposals on a test ban. The Prime Minister will be most anxious to explore all such avenues. We know that he has a feeling of personal failure that he was not able to come up with some kind of a proposal that would have brought the Soviets around to acceptance of a test ban before the current Western tests.

When most of the wrappings have been removed, the weak spots in the British appraisal of the East-West confrontation concern Berlin, economic counter-measures against the bloc, and a feeling that bringing the Chinese Communists into international affairs is inevitable. On Berlin we may have an opportunity to assess the results of the Secretary’s discussions with Ambassador Dobrynin and evaluate whether the Soviets would accept a détente. On the economic counter-measures the Prime Minister of one of the greatest trading nations may be understandably sympathetic to the contention that “the only good Russian is a fat one.” With regard to the Chinese Communist role the Prime Minister has indicated he would appreciate information on our views on the future of our relations with the Communist Chinese.

While the discussions with the Prime Minister may convince us that we have reinfused the British with the need to stand firm against the Soviet Union, and we know that in a show-down they would be with us, it is in the grey areas of compromise that might occur at any summit meeting that we have need for concern. It may well be that the purpose of these discussions will be an exchange of briefings for a summit meeting. Against that possibility we want to be sure that the vaunted British spine is stiffened across the board in the day-to-day aspects of East-West confrontation.

In the careful consideration of diplomatic parry and riposte for these talks, it is important that the desirability of acknowledging the special friendship that characterizes the US-UK relationship not be overlooked. Nor should it be labored. Furthermore, a certain amount of reassurance for Macmillan personally is indicated. He has been having a hard time of it. His critics—and even some of his own Tory compatriots—claim he has lost his political magic.

Macmillan and his Conservative Party have had recent political rebuffs. Liberal Party gains in a by-election at Orpington dramatized a decline in the Conservative vote in other recent by-elections. However, the Conservative Party retains its parliamentary majority of over a hundred. The Labor Party has not as yet succeeded in projecting a convincing image of itself as a desirable alternative. On the other hand, the [Page 1068] Conservatives have discovered that the UK move toward Europe may be the key to a positive image for the Tories. But there can be no denying that a certain ferment has disturbed the British domestic political calm. No general election is now expected until next year. While Macmillan undoubtedly intends to guide his party through this next contest, he is again rumored to be stepping down after the elections. This is no new rumor, but there are increasing indications that his tired appearance is less studied pose and more a reflection of reality.

Against this background of a domestic political scene that shows some decline in enthusiasm for Conservative leadership, an increase in the tempo of British public debate over the desirability of entering the Common Market, a lack of success at Geneva in obtaining Soviet cooperation in disarmament or banning nuclear tests, and a threatening host of international problems, the Prime Minister is coming to talk with the President. He is encouraged by the genuine rapport established at the Bermuda talks in December 1961. He would not be averse to parlaying a successful Washington discussion into going with his friends to a summit gathering to try to bring about an overall settlement. He should only be encouraged if there were some tangible indication that equable results might be obtained.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 65 D 533, CF 2085. Secret. Drafted by Sweeney and cleared with Schaetzel, Tyler, Ball, and Rusk.