13. Memorandum of Conversation1



Brussels, Belgium, December 12–14, 1967


  • United States
  • The Secretary of State
  • Secretary Leddy
  • Ambassador Knight
  • E.S. Glenn
  • Belgium
    • Prime Minister Vanden Boeynants


  • Technological Gap

The Prime Minister said that there was widespread talk in Belgium and all of Europe that the technological gap between the United States and Europe was increasing and was becoming very dangerous. Sometime ago President Johnson made a speech saying that it was not the intent of the United States to broaden that gap but that speech came at a moment when public opinion in Europe was not prepared to understand it and it did not produce much effect. At present public opinion is much more alive to the problem and if President Johnson were, again, to make a speech along the same lines and in particular to say that he urged American firms investing in Europe to carry out technically advanced production in Europe so as to close rather than increase the gap, this would have the most salutary effect. The Secretary said that indeed the United States does not seek to increase the gap and it is possible that a statement of this kind may be made. It is important, however, that as at the time when the Marshall Plan was first announced, there should be European leadership in evidence to show that the Europeans are interested in cooperating with the United States in narrowing the technological gap. The Prime Minister agreed [Page 28] with this point of view that European leadership can and should be forthcoming. The Secretary said that he would report this conversation to the President immediately upon his return and that he would suggest that the Prime Minister might direct a personal message to the President on this subject. The President would certainly be most interested in receiving such a communication.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1967–69,SCI 1–1 EURW–US. Secret. This memorandum is Part IV of IV. The meeting was held in the Prime Minister’s office. In an attached memorandum from Bowie to Rusk of December 22, Bowie told the Secretary that the idea of a major speech by President Johnson on the technological gap had been considered by the Interdepartmental Committee and rejected. Rusk agreed to discuss the issue with the President in light of the Hornig committee’s decision if the Belgian Prime Minister raised the issue again, but there is no indication that he did so.