392. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Kennedy0
Taz Shepard relayed your question as to why the President of the United States cannot make commitments which bind the United States to perpetuate the present forms of the US-UK relationship. This is a dandy question.
I hope that what the Department means here is what I was trying to say in a memorandum yesterday:1 that our close cooperation with the British does not depend on British aloofness from Europe or on the existing preferential treatment of the British on nuclear matters. We want the British in Europe, and we do not really see much point in the separate British nuclear deterrent, beyond our existing Skybolt commitment; we would much rather have British efforts go into conventional weapons and have the British join with the rest of NATO in accepting a single U.S.-dominated nuclear force.[Page 1069]
The question of British membership in Europe is now urgent. The nuclear question is less pressing from our point of view, simply because the time does not look right for a solution. Certainly there is nothing for us in any possible British notion that the UK might pay its entrance fee to the Common Market by providing nuclear assistance to the French. In such a case the British would be appeasing the French with our secrets, and no good would come of it for Europe or for us. I strongly agree with Jean Monnet that the Common Market and the nuclear problem should be dealt with one after the other and not both at once. Our discussion of the MRBM problem should fill the gap in NATO while the Common Market and the UK are working out their basic arrangements (everyone is trying not to call it a U.S. proposal but Finletter warns that it will be very difficult to avoid some talk of a U.S. initiative).
So I think the answer is that the President of the United States has every right to sustain the special relationship with the UK as long as the fundamental basis of that relationship is cooperative common effort, and not special preference. After all, we would like a special relationship with the French too, if only it could involve some real cooperation.