89. Editorial Note

Herman Pollack wrote Deputy Under Secretary of State U. Alexis Johnson on September 21, 1966, that “a number” of important European members of Intelsat felt unable to participate because of the restrictions on international cooperation imposed by NSAM No. 338 by inhibiting the export of satellite technology. “This feeling has become a significant [Page 166] political irritant affecting our relations with these countries.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1964–66, SP 1–1)

James Webb, Director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, voiced similar feelings in an October 3 letter to O’Connell: “There is no doubt in our mind that this has fostered an impression of obstructionism on the part of the United States, exacerbating existing political strains and prejudicing the climate for cooperative space programs.” Webb was also concerned about the continued U.S. “domination” of Intelsat by denying the Europeans an opportunity to improve their competitive position and win contracts. “Such an impression serves to support the arguments of particular countries that only the establishment of independent European systems can relieve the situation.” (Johnson Library, National Security File, Charles E. Johnson Files,COMSAT—US Communications Policy NSAM No. 338, #1 [1 of 2])

Officials in the U.S. Embassy in London reported on November 9 that the benefits of a change would have a psychological impact rather than cause a real technological advance. “It is believed most countries are basically concerned with industrial aspects and are quite content with single system concept so long as they obtain fair slice of the equipment cake.” (Telegram 3872 from London, November 9; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1964–66, TEL 6)

The Embassy in Bonn warned on November 14 that German industrial officials believed that the United States was “not sincere in our repeated offers to collaborate in advanced technology” and to work with the Europeans, treating them as “equal and respected partners.” While official German support for Intelsat was strong, the Embassy warned: “The potentially damaging effect that our restrictive Comsat policy could have on our relations with the FRG should not be obscured by the relatively minor reaction noted in Germany so far.” It seemed like a contradiction, the telegram noted, between “the warm US reception given the Italian Technology Gap initiative” and “what would seem to be an effort to preserve and even broaden the technology gap in the vital communication area.” (Telegram 5840 from Bonn, November 14; ibid.)