100. Address by Secretary of State Rogers1

[Omitted here are introductory comments.]

I think you will agree with me when I say that President Nixon came to office with an experience in foreign affairs matched by few of his predecessors. A review of his public statements shortly before and after he assumed office foreshadowed the major initiatives that this administration has taken. Yet few would have been willing to predict their sweep. They can be broadly stated this way:

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  • First, maximum practical efforts in every forum to achieve a more peaceful world, as with the SALT [Strategic Arms Limitation Talks],2 Berlin, and Middle East talks;
  • Second, concerted action to achieve a better balance of responsibilities to reflect the growing shift in political-economic power in the world; for example, the Nixon doctrine, which has resulted in the reduction of more than 420,000 men from East Asia, and the new economic policy;
  • Third, intensive diplomatic activity to improve relations throughout the world in order to provide a foundation for a generation of peace, as illustrated by the President’s forthcoming trips to Peking and Moscow.

Basic to this third point is a fundamental and often ignored concept in foreign affairs—that nations do not have permanent enemies, only permanent interests.

I will not attempt to cite the various initiatives the President has undertaken to carry out these objectives, because you are all well aware of them.

Rather, tonight I want to speak briefly about the U.S. relationship with Europe—about our permanent interests and, in the true sense of the word, our permanent friends. In each of the permanent interests of United States foreign policy—security, economic well-being, peace—Europe continues to play a central role. Europe’s security is indivisible from our own. Europe’s economic strength reinforces our own. And as the President has said, “if we are to found a structure of peace on the collaboration of many nations, our ties with Western Europe must be its cornerstone.”3 This statement is fundamental to our foreign policy. We hope it will not be forgotten by our friends in Europe.

It is more than symbolic, then, that the President has scheduled meetings with President Pompidou, Prime Ministers Heath, Trudeau, Caetano, and Chancellor Brandt and that within a few days I will be attending a NATO Foreign Ministers meeting. These consultations are all important aspects of implementing our foreign policy, in which our relations with Western Europe remain of fundamental importance. They will give the President and members of his administration an opportunity to discuss in person the visits he will be making to Peking and Moscow, economic and monetary issues, and other matters of common interest.

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Europe today is in an important period of transition, a transition embodying two processes. The first, the process toward integration of Western Europe, is progressing rapidly. The second, a process toward reconciliation between countries in Eastern and Western Europe, appears to be beginning.

The United States Government fully supports both of these. Since the days of the Marshall Plan the unity and strength of Western Europe have been central objectives of American foreign policy; we will not cease to be active supporters of these objectives now that they are on the threshold of success. And we are no less determined to participate actively in the process of reducing the political and social barriers which still divide the European Continent.

In the process toward Western European integration, we have always known that, as Western Europeans developed collective policies and a collective identity, their views and ours would not always coincide and transitory differences would develop.

In the economic field this has happened from time to time over the years, but we have resolved our disputes without damaging the underlying strength of our relationship.

We realize that the international aspects of the economic policy announced by President Nixon last August4 directly affect the interests of Western Europeans. We believe that they understand why we had to take drastic action to correct a balance of payments deficit running at three times the 1970 rate. It is not our intention, of course, to damage the economies of our allies and friends or to impair the system of economic cooperation which has served all of us so well over the past quarter of a century.

Since August 15, we have consulted closely with the principal industrial and financial nations about the measures we have taken. There is a wider measure of agreement among us than is evident from some of the public comment on the subject. There is a recognition that exchange rates had gotten out of line and that a substantial realignment is necessary if the international system is to function effectively. There is understanding that we have unfinished and urgent business of major importance in the area of trade rules and trade practices to insure freer and fairer trade. There is no disagreement that the burden of the common defense should be shared more equitably and that multilateral [Page 343] efforts must be intensified to accomplish this result. We believe that mutually beneficial solutions can and will be worked out.

U.S.-Western European Interdependence

Moreover, whatever our contemporary economic problems, the broadest interests of Western Europe and of the United States remain inseparable. And neither these nor any other problems will cause us to abandon our support of Western European alliance or our commitment to a strong NATO alliance.

  • First, there is, of course, no intention on our part—as has been suggested in some quarters—to exploit the economic situation to try to divide Western European countries from each other. We hope Western Europe will continue to speak with unity and cohesion in the economic as in other fields.
  • Second, while we firmly believe that defense burdens should be shared more equitably, economic differences and problems have not caused us to change our views on the maintenance of U.S. forces in Europe. As President Nixon pledged a year ago: Given a similar approach by our allies, we will maintain and improve those forces and will not reduce them unless there is reciprocal action.5 The administration’s steadfastness of purpose on this point should be clear from the determination and success with which we have continued to oppose attempts in the United States Senate to cut U.S. forces in Europe unilaterally.
  • Third, we will not withdraw—in the economic field, in the security field, or in the political field—into remoteness or isolation from Western Europe. Rather, in recognition of U.S.-Western European interdependence in all these fields, we will remain committed and involved.

This, then, is the message that the President has asked me to take next week to the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels: that America’s partnership with Western Europe and America’s commitment to its defense are undiminished.

At that meeting the allies will be concerned, too, with the second process I have referred to—the movement toward reconciliation in Europe as a whole. In particular, we will be discussing two elements in that process, the mutual and balanced force reductions (MBFR) and a conference on European security and cooperation.

We hope that it will soon be possible to move into more definitive preparations for a negotiation on force reductions. At the Deputy [Page 344] Foreign Ministers meeting in October, former NATO Secretary General [Manlio] Brosio was named to explore Soviet views on approaches to negotiation. We regret that the Soviet Government, despite its earlier public assertions of willingness to proceed at once to negotiations, has not agreed to receive Mr. Brosio. We hope it will do so soon.

Concern has been expressed in certain quarters in Western Europe that the United States Government may consider the discussion on force reductions as little more than a cover for American troop withdrawals. This concern is without any foundation. We have no interest in an agreement which would alter the conventional-force balance in Europe to the West’s disadvantage. Only reciprocal withdrawals which are carefully balanced could be contemplated. Only such withdrawals can contribute to the overall process of East-West reconciliation to which we and our allies are committed. Together with our allies we must make certain that all proposals for force reductions are carefully examined for their security implications.

Conference on European Security

Another step in the process of reconciliation which will receive active consideration at the coming NATO meeting is a conference on European security and cooperation.

NATO has made clear that it would not engage in preparations for such a conference until the Berlin negotiations were successfully concluded. The first phase of the Berlin agreement was signed by the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and France in September. The second phase, the talks between East and West Germany, has now reached the point of decision. If those talks succeed—and there is now every reason to believe they will—the four powers would subsequently proceed toward the signing of a final protocol bringing the entire Berlin agreement into effect. When this would occur is uncertain at the present time because of the Soviet Union’s insistence that it will not sign the protocol until the time of the ratification of the treaty between the Soviet Union and the Federal Republic of Germany. They insist that it be done simultaneously. The United States, for its part, would be prepared to sign the final protocol as soon as the results of the German negotiations have been found acceptable. And we expect this to occur very soon.

However, when the protocol is signed—so that a satisfactory solution to the question of Berlin is an accomplished fact—the way will be open for concrete preparations during the coming year for a conference. In this connection we would be prepared to support the convening of a special NATO Deputy Foreign Ministers meeting to consider ways to proceed.

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Let me outline the basic United States approach to such a conference.

In the first place, we believe that a conference should emphasize substance over atmosphere. It must attempt to mitigate the underlying causes of tension, not merely its superficial manifestations. It should therefore deal with any security issues on the agenda in a concrete way.

In the second place, we believe that the discussions could usefully address the basic principles that should govern relations among states. A conference should encourage the reconciliation of sovereign European states, not confirm their division. The conference could help make this clear by affirming—as President Nixon and President Tito affirmed in October—the independence and equality of sovereign states, whether their political or social systems are different or similar.

In the third place, we believe that a conference should give major emphasis to issues of cooperation on which East-West progress is attainable. While a conference might contribute to enhanced security, the progress achieved on Berlin and in the SALT talks suggests that detailed negotiation of individual security issues is more likely to be handled in less general and less highly visible forums.

A conference could, however, stimulate cooperation in Europe toward increased East-West trade, toward more frequent and more useful exchanges of science and technology, and toward common efforts to preserve the human environment.

In the fourth place, we believe that a conference should go beyond the traditional pattern of cultural exchanges between East and West. It should take specific steps to encourage the freer movement of people, ideas, and information.

In general, we would view a conference on European security and cooperation in dynamic rather than static terms. We would firmly oppose any attempt to use it to perpetuate the political and social division of Europe. We would see a conference not as a ratification of the existing divisions but as a step on the long road to a new situation—a situation in which the causes of tension are fewer, contacts are greater, and the continent could once more be thought of as Europe rather than as two parts.

Improving Relations With Eastern Europe

I have spoken of our efforts with our allies to lessen tensions and improve relations with the peoples and states of Eastern Europe. In our bilateral efforts as well, we are seeking the same objectives and making progress. As you know, we have been making progress in the SALT talks. The success of Secretary [of Commerce Maurice H.] Stans’ visit to the Soviet Union underscores the progress we are making in our relations. [Page 346] You know, for example, the progress that has been made in trade recently.

In May President Nixon will become the first American President to visit the Soviet Union in 27 years. As the official announcement of the trip made clear, both we and the Soviets had agreed that a summit meeting “would be desirable once sufficient progress had been made in negotiations at lower levels.”6 We are pleased that such progress is taking place.

The objectives of the President’s visit—to improve bilateral relations and enhance the prospects for peace—cannot be attained, nor will they be sought, at the expense of the other countries of Europe, Eastern or Western. Indeed, we are prepared to improve and expand our relations with the Eastern European states at whatever pace they are willing to maintain. Good beginnings have been made. In bilateral trade, the area in which the Soviet Union’s allies have shown the greatest interest, the total is expected to reach $415 million this year; although still small, it is an increase of more than 50 percent since 1967. We hope to increase it substantially in years to come.

We welcome the authority President Nixon was given by Congress to approve Export-Import Bank financing of trade with Eastern Europe. Yesterday, as you know, the President notified Congress of his intention to apply this authority to Romania, and we have some possibilities under active consideration now to carry out in practice that authority.

Other Eastern European countries, notably Poland and Hungary, have also shown a desire for improvement in their relations with us. We reciprocate this desire and are responding to it. With Poland, for example, our overall trade already approaches in volume our trade with the Soviet Union, and we hope further steps will soon be possible to increase it.

Our approach in Eastern Europe, as elsewhere, corresponds to the words of President Nixon’s inaugural address in 1969: “We seek an open world—open to ideas, open to the exchange of goods and people—a world in which no people, great or small, will live in angry isolation.”

There are voices in this country calling for United States withdrawal from the affairs of Europe. Such withdrawal would be folly. It would not be in the interests of our allies. It would not be in the interests of a more peaceful and more open European Continent. It would not be in the permanent interests of the United States.

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Therefore we will work to strengthen our partnership with our allies in Western Europe. We will work to improve our relations with the states of Eastern Europe. And we will work to help clear the way for more stable and cooperative relationships within the whole of Europe.

[Omitted here are questions and answers.]

  1. Source: Department of State Bulletin, December 20, 1971, pp. 693-697. Secretary Rogers addressed the 50th anniversary dinner of the Overseas Writers of Washington.
  2. All brackets in the source text.
  3. The complete text of President Nixon’s foreign policy report to the Congress on Feb. 25 appears in the Bulletin of Mar. 22, 1971. [Footnote in the source text.]
  4. Reference is to Nixon’s so-called “New Economic Policy,” which he announced in an address to the nation on August 15. With respect to foreign policy, the address focused on protection of the American dollar as a pillar of monetary stability throughout the world. Text of the address is in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1971, pp. 886-890. See also Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. III, Documents 164 ff.
  5. For a message from President Nixon read by Secretary Rogers before the ministerial meeting of the North Atlantic Council at Brussels on Dec. 3, 1970, see Bulletin Jan. 4, 1971, p. 1. [Footnote in the source text.]
  6. For background, see Bulletin Nov. 1, 1971, p. 473. [Footnote in the source text.]