106. Editorial Note

On November 18, 1972, Kissinger sent National Security Study Memorandum 164, “United States Relations With Europe,” to the Secretaries of State, Defense, Commerce, Treasury, and Agriculture, with copies to the Director of Central Intelligence, the Chairman of the JCS, the ACDA Director, and the President’s Assistant for International Economic Affairs. NSSM 164 noted that the President had directed the preparation of a basic study of U.S. relations with Europe, particularly Western Europe, setting out goals and priorities for the second Nixon administration. The study was to be completed by January 1, 1973, for consideration by the NSC Senior Review Group.

NSSM 164 concluded: “The existence of this directive and the content of the study must be regarded as extremely sensitive. All officials involved will see to it that proper security precautions are taken to avoid public speculation about changes in our European policy.” (National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 80 D 212, Box 1113, NSSM 164) For the Department of State’s response to NSSM 164, see Document 108.

On November 27 Secretary of Commerce Peterson sent a memorandum to Kissinger and Shultz entitled “Some Thoughts on the Dual Position of (1) Ambassador to NATO and the European Community Operating as a Senior Representative to Europe and (2) The Official [Page 280] Responsible for East-West Trade.” Peterson noted there were two phases to dealing with the challenges the U.S.-European relationship would pose in the President’s next term: planning the strategy, and then implementing it. He referred to the NSSM 164 exercise as kicking off the first phase, which must be carried out in Washington, and concluded “that we are putting the cart before the horse in talking about an assignment now in Brussels to act as the President’s man in Europe before we have decided what it is we plan to propose to the Europeans.”

At several points in his November 27 memorandum Peterson pointedly noted that Kissinger and Shultz were the President’s key advisers. He recommended a small European Planning Group, with close liaison with them, to work out a strategy on military, political, economic, and other matters before turning to implementation. Peterson included the following summary of a proposed 10-year strategy on security, economic, and political issues for the Planning Group to consider, which would “reflect the President’s-Kissinger’s-Shultz’s views”:

  • “1. It must originate with and address itself to the highest level of government where we must generate the political will to solve our growing economic problems. It must, in all likelihood originate with the President of the United States.
  • “2. The strategy must take a long-term view in order to give the relationship a sense of durability and permanence. We might seek a long-term, perhaps 10 years, compact or covenant of a cross-sectoral nature in which agreements on trade, defense, energy, monetary and other policies would be pulled together and which we would articulate a new set of principles to govern our relationship—a new Atlantic Charter, as it were.
  • “3. In putting together any such comprehensive agreement, we must play our negotiating cards where they have the greatest impact—not administrative cubby holes. I suspect that our best trump card could be long-term security agreements.
  • “4. Our strategy should also involve a realistic ordering of economic priorities so that, when the trading starts, we will be in a position to get the trade-offs which maximize the return to us. In the past, we have scattered our economic negotiating shots too much.
  • “5. Our strategy should be to seek agreement on some joint policies for dealing with the growing energy shortage. The incentive for such agreement should be strong since the United States and Europe both have interest in avoiding cut-throat competition either for energy or for foreign exchange earnings to pay for the energy.
  • “6. Our strategy must take note of the danger that our new commercial relationships with Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union could [Page 281] serve as a wedge between us and our traditional Western European allies. Participations for European capital in some of our Soviet energy ventures could help avert this. Using additional trade with Eastern Europe as a political lever to achieve joint objectives is still another thing we should do.
  • “7. The strategy might look toward far broader forms of cooperation between the U.S. and Europe, cooperation in areas such as medicine, drug control, crime, transportation and pollution abatement.
  • “8. Finally, in our approach, we must examine closely the need for new institutions and new methods of consultation to meet the problems of the 1970s and avoid the apathy and even hostility that is building up on both sides.”

Peterson’s memorandum then developed each of the eight points in greater detail. On the economic side he thought U.S. and European economic interests were not in conflict in the long run, but that in the short term Europe sought trade advantages and responded to political needs that were frictions in the relationship. He expressed his concerns about a coming energy crisis with “massive” U.S., European, and Japanese energy trade deficits that could have “traumatic effects on the international monetary system” and a “cannibalistic scramble not only for energy but for export earnings to pay for it,” which would hardly contribute to stability in the Western Alliance.

In the implementation phase Peterson saw three possibilities for an Ambassador. First, the Ambassadors to NATO, the European Communities, and the OECD could be combined in a super-ambassador based in Brussels. Another possibility would be an Ambassador at Large stationed in Europe with coordinating responsibilities for NATO, the EC, and the OECD. Finally, should the President and European leaders decide a conclave of “wise men” would be helpful in resolving problems, an Ambassador at Large or another designee could assume this role. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 214, Commerce Volume IV July-December 72)

On November 30 Haig forwarded to Shultz a paper entitled “Peterson Assignment,” under cover of a memorandum indicating the paper was to be delivered in a sealed envelope. (Ibid., Box 290, Treasury Volume III) The paper outlined Peterson’s prospective duties as the “President’s European Representative”: Ambassador to the OECD, NATO, and the EC with responsibility for coordinating the U.S. role in and relations with these institutions. He would report to the President through Kissinger and Shultz. His deputies would have day-to-day operating responsibilities for the three missions and would report to Washington agencies on day-to-day matters in the normal way.

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No “super-ambassador to Europe” was appointed. During the second Nixon administration each of the three missions continued to have its own Chief of Mission, and no Ambassador at Large with coordinating responsibilities for Europe was designated.