130. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Posts in Europe1

1515. For Ambassadors from Leddy. Subj: NATO-France Problem. Section II of II. Following is draft paper referred to in Circular 1514:2

Basic premise in U.S. consideration of this problem is that any French action taken against U.S. installations in France or against NATO [Page 313] is in fact an issue between France and rest of NATO and not between France and U.S.
U.S. remains committed both to NATO Alliance, as embodied in 1949 Treaty, and specifically to NATO as an organization.
U.S. would not be willing to substitute for integrated NATO a system of bilateral security commitments incorporating substance of Article V of North Atlantic Treaty.
U.S., while always prepared to examine on their merits French proposals for reform of NATO, wishes develop its contingency planning with other thirteen NATO Allies. In this regard, objectives of U.S. are:
To carry on common effort with other Allies in NATO regardless of French willingness to participate fully in Alliance activities or French actions which would to varying degrees impair NATO effectiveness.
To maintain defensive capability of NATO forces, including viability of “Forward Strategy,” and to achieve optimum military posture attainable in light of French action.
To preserve concept of integration, particularly integrated command and combined planning, in NATO. Modifications in existing relationships, multilateral or formally bilateral, which may be proposed by French should be considered on their merits; however, U.S. will resist proposals which significantly impair peacetime or wartime military capability of Alliance.
If forced by France to abandon facilities on French soil, to relocate elsewhere those forces and facilities essential to defense of NATO territory.
To facilitate ultimate return of France to status of full participating member of Alliance.
To achieve common position through consultation with our Allies before any steps are taken in response to French action against NATO or U.S. forces and facilities in support of NATO.
To assure other Allies that in addition to defensive measures described here, U.S. is prepared to explore and cooperate in measures which strengthen Alliance.
The Allies other than France should not make first move in anticipation of possible French actions against NATO or U.S. facilities in France, but should seek through continuing consultation among themselves common appreciation of French moves looking toward collective action when and if confrontation with France becomes unavoidable.
Primary purpose of Allied consultation should be to establish a consensus among fourteen that French threat may be real and that [Page 314] understanding should be reached in principle on necessity for meeting this threat, if it develops, on collective basis.3
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, DEF 4 NATO. Secret; Limdis. Drafted and approved by Leddy and cleared by Spiers. Sent to London, Paris for the Embassy and USRO, Bonn, The Hague, Rome, Brussels for the Embassy and USEC, and Luxembourg.
  2. In circular 1514, February 10, Leddy noted that there was a growing need for a draft paper to form the basis of discussion with the allies if De Gaulle laid down conditions for the U.S. military presence in France or made proposals regarding NATO in the next several months. Leddy proposed that Rusk give this paper initially to the Common Market members of NATO and the United Kingdom as a preliminary statement of U.S. thinking. Leddy also reported that this paper was a sanitized text of the NATO-France paper prepared in the fall as a draft NSAM (see Document 106) and asked for comments on the draft. (Department of State, Central Files, DEF 4 NATO)
  3. With the exception of Ambassador Bruce, who thought the tactics for consultation seemed sensible, the Ambassadors to whom this paper was transmitted all expressed concern that it was jumping the gun or might entail a greater risk of confrontation with France. (Telegrams 3789 from London and 642 from The Hague, February 11; telegrams 4903 and 4921 from Paris, 2427 from Bonn, 981 from Brussels, and 2012 from Rome, February 14; ibid.)