24. Address by Secretary of State Kissinger1

The United States and a Unifying Europe: The Necessity for Partnership

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to you this evening because, like most Americans, I am seized by a mixture of pride and terror when invited to appear before a British audience. In my particular case, and without any reflection on this distinguished assemblage, it is probably more terror than pride; for there is no blinking the fact—it is there for all to hear—that my forebears missed the Mayflower by some 300 years.

Our two peoples have been more closely associated than any other two nations in modern history—in culture and economics, in peace and in war. We have sometimes disagreed. But the dominant theme of our relationship in this century has been intimate alliance and mighty creations.

In 1950, while the Atlantic alliance was considering a continuing political body, my great predecessor Dean Acheson spoke to this society. Describing the travails of creation, Acheson noted that a “strange and confusing dissonance has crowded the trans-Atlantic frequencies.” But he added that this “dissonance flows from the very awareness that difficult decisions must be made and is a part of the process of making them.”

Again today America and Western Europe find themselves at a moment of great promise and evident difficulty, of renewed efforts to unite and old problems which divide. It is a time of both hope and concern for all of us who value the partnership we have built together. Today, as in 1950, we and Europe face the necessity, the opportunity, and the dilemma of fundamental choice.

The Year of Europe

Because we have a historical and intimate relationship, I want to speak tonight frankly of what has been called the “Year of Europe”—of the difficulties of 1973 and the possibilities of 1974 and beyond.

[Page 121]

Last April the President asked me to propose that Europe and the United States strive together to reinvigorate our partnership.2 He did so because it was obvious that the assumptions on which the alliance was founded have been outstripped by events:

—Europe’s economic strength, political cohesion, and new confidence—the monumental achievements of Western unity—have radically altered a relationship that was originally shaped in an era of European weakness and American predominance.

—American nuclear monopoly has given way to nuclear parity, raising wholly new problems of defense and deterrence—problems which demand a broad reexamination of the requirements of our security and the relative contribution to it of the United States and its allies.

—The lessening of confrontation between East and West has offered new hope for a relaxation of tensions and new opportunities for creative diplomacy.

—It has become starkly apparent that the great industrialized democracies of Japan, Europe, and North America could pursue divergent paths only at the cost of their prosperity and their partnership.

These historic changes were occurring in a profoundly changed psychological climate in the West. The next generation of leaders in Europe, Canada, and America will have neither the personal memory nor the emotional commitment to the Atlantic alliance or its founders. Even today, a majority on both sides of the Atlantic did not experience the threat that produced the alliance’s creation or the sense of achievement associated with its growth. Even today, in the United States over 40 Senators consistently vote to make massive unilateral reductions of American forces in Europe. Even today, some Europeans have come to believe that their identity should be measured by its distance from the United States. On both sides of the Atlantic we are faced with the anomalous—and dangerous—situation in which the public mind identifies foreign policy success increasingly with relations with adversaries while relations with allies seem to be characterized by bickering and drift.

There exists, then, a real danger of a gradual erosion of the Atlantic community which for 25 years has insured peace to its nations and brought prosperity to its peoples. A major effort to renew Atlantic relations and to anchor our friendship in a fresh act of creation seemed essential. We hoped that the drama of the great democracies engaging themselves once again in defining a common future would infuse our Atlantic partnership with new emotional and intellectual excitement. [Page 122] This was the origin of the initiative which came to be called the “Year of Europe.”

Let me lay to rest certain misconceptions about American intentions:

—The President’s initiative was launched after careful preparation. In all of our conversations with many European leaders during the winter and spring of 1972–73 there was agreement that Atlantic relations required urgent attention to arrest the potential for growing suspicion and alienation between Europe and America.

—We do not accept the proposition that the strengthening of Atlantic unity and the defining of a European personality are incompatible. The two processes have reinforced each other from the outset and can continue to do so now. The United States has repeatedly and explicitly welcomed the European decision to create an independent identity in all dimensions, political and economic. Indeed, we have long—and more consistently than many Europeans—supported the goal of political cohesion.

—We have no intention of restricting Europe’s international role to regional matters. From our perspective, European unification should enable Europe to take on broader responsibilities for global peace that ultimately can only contribute to the common interest. The American initiative was meant to mark Europe’s new preeminence on the world scene as well as within the North Atlantic community.

A comprehensive reexamination of all aspects of our relationship, economic, political, and military, is imperative. It is a fact that our troops are in Europe as a vital component of mutual defense. It is also a fact—indeed, a truism—that political, military, and economic factors are each part of our relationship. In our view, the affirmation of the pervasive nature of our interdependence is not a device for blackmail. On the contrary, it is the justification for conciliatory solutions. For the specialized concerns of experts and technicians have a life of their own and a narrow national or sectarian bias. The purpose of our initiative was to override these divisive attitudes by committing the highest authority in each country to the principle that our common and paramount interest is in broadly conceived cooperation.

The European Identity

Since last April Europe has made great strides toward unity—particularly in political coordination. The United States strongly supports that process. But as an old friend we are also sensitive to what this process does to traditional ties that, in our view, remain essential to the common interest.

Europe’s unity must not be at the expense of Atlantic community, or both sides of the Atlantic will suffer. It is not that we are impatient [Page 123] with the cumbersome machinery of the emerging Europe. It is rather the tendency to highlight division rather than unity with us which concerns us.

I would be less than frank were I to conceal our uneasiness about some of the recent practices of the European Community in the political field. To present the decisions of a unifying Europe to us as faits accomplis not subject to effective discussion is alien to the tradition of U.S.-European relations.

This may seem a strange complaint from a country repeatedly accused of acting itself without adequately consulting with its allies. There is no doubt that the United States has sometimes not consulted enough or adequately—especially in rapidly moving situations. But this is not a preference; it is a deviation from official policy and established practice—usually under pressure of necessity. The attitude of the unifying Europe, by contrast, seems to attempt to elevate refusal to consult into a principle defining European identity. To judge from recent experience, consultation with us before a decision is precluded, and consultation after the fact has been drained of content. For then Europe appoints a spokesman who is empowered to inform us of the decisions taken but who has no authority to negotiate.3

We do not object to a single spokesman, but we do believe that as an old ally the United States should be given an opportunity to express its concerns before final decisions affecting its interests are taken. And bilateral channels of discussion and negotiation should not be permitted to atrophy—at least until European political unity is fully realized. To replace the natural dialogue with extremely formalistic procedures would be to shatter abruptly close and intangible ties of trust and communication that took decades to develop and that have served our common purposes well.

The United States recognizes the problems of a transitional period as Europe moves toward unity. We understand the difficulty of the first [Page 124] hesitant steps of political coordination. But we cannot be indifferent to the tendency to justify European identity as facilitating separateness from the United States; European unity, in our view, is not contradictory to Atlantic unity.

For our part, we will spare no effort to strengthen cooperative relationships with a unifying Europe, to affirm the community of our ideals, and to revitalize the Atlantic relationship. That was the purpose of our initiative last April. It remains the central goal of our foreign policy.

The Common Challenge

The leaders of the European Community meet this week.4 They will consider the nature of European identity; no doubt they will adopt common policies and positions. In the light of this important meeting, let me outline the position of the United States:

—Détente is an imperative. In a world shadowed by the danger of nuclear holocaust, there is no rational alternative to the pursuit of relaxation of tensions. But we must take care that the pursuit of détente not undermine the friendships which made détente possible.

—Common defense is a necessity. We must be prepared to adjust it to changing conditions and share burdens equally. We need a definition of security that our peoples can support and that our adversaries will respect in a period of lessened tensions.

—European unity is a reality. The United States welcomes and supports it in all its dimensions, political as well as economic. We believe it must be made irreversible and that it must strengthen transatlantic ties.

—Economic interdependence is a fact. We must resolve the paradox of growing mutual dependence and burgeoning national and regional identities.

We are determined to continue constructive dialogue with Western Europe. We have offered no final answers; we welcome Europe’s wisdom. We believe that this opportunity will not come soon again.

So let us rededicate ourselves to finishing the task of renewing the Atlantic community.

First, let us complete the work before us; let us agree on a set of declarations equal to the occasion so that they may serve as an agenda for our governments and as an example and inspiration for our peoples.

[Page 125]

Second, let us then transform these declarations into practical and perceptible progress. We will restore mutual confidence if our policies begin to reinforce rather than work against our common objectives. And let us move quickly to improve the process of consultation in both directions. The U.S. Government made concrete suggestions in this regard at the recent meeting of the Foreign Ministers in the North Atlantic Council.

But let us also remember that even the best consultative machinery cannot substitute for common vision and shared goals; it cannot replace the whole network of intangible connections that have been the real sinews of the transatlantic and especially the Anglo-American relationship. We must take care lest in defining European unity in too legalistic a manner we lose what has made our alliance unique: that in the deepest sense Europe and America do not think of each other as foreign entities conducting traditional diplomacy, but as members of a larger community engaged, sometimes painfully but ultimately always cooperatively, in a common enterprise. The meeting to which the Foreign Ministers of the Community were courteous enough to invite me marks a significant step forward in restoring the intangibles of the transatlantic dialogue.5

Let us put false suspicions behind us. The President did not fight so hard in Congress for our troops in Europe, for strong defenses, for a conciliatory trade bill, for support for allies around the world; he did not strive so continually to consult on SALT [Strategic Arms Limitation Talks] and develop common positions on MBFR [mutual and balanced force reductions]; he did not stand up so firmly to challenges in crises around the world—suddenly to sacrifice Western Europe’s security on the altar of condominium. Our destiny, as well as the full strength of our military power, is inextricably linked with yours.

As we look into the future we can perceive challenges compared to which our recent disputes are trivial. A new international system is replacing the structure of the immediate postwar years. The external policies of China and the Soviet Union are in periods of transition. Western Europe is unifying. New nations seek identity and an appropriate role. Even now, economic relationships are changing more rapidly than the structures which nurtured them. We—Europe, Canada, and America—have only two choices: creativity together or irrelevance apart.

The Middle East and Energy

The Middle East crisis illustrates the importance of distinguishing the long-range from the ephemeral. The differences of recent months resulted not so much from lack of consultation as from a different per[Page 126]ception of three key issues: Was the war primarily a local conflict, or did it have wider significance? Has the energy crisis been caused primarily by the war, or does it have deeper causes? Can our common energy crisis be solved by anything but collective action?

As for the nature of the Middle East conflict, it is fair to state—as many Europeans including your Foreign Secretary have—that the United States did not do all that it might have done before the war to promote a permanent settlement in the Middle East. Once the war began, the United States demonstrated great restraint until the Soviet effort reached the point of massive intervention. Once that happened, it became a question of whether the West would retain any influence to help shape the political future of an area upon which Europe is even more vitally dependent than the United States. We involved ourselves in a resupply effort not to take sides in the conflict but to protect the possibility of pursuing after the war the objective of a just, permanent settlement which some of our allies have urged on us ever since 1967.

At the same time, we must bear in mind the deeper causes of the energy crisis: It is not simply a product of the Arab-Israeli war; it is the inevitable consequence of the explosive growth of worldwide demand outrunning the incentives for supply. The Middle East war made a chronic crisis acute, but a crisis was coming in any event. Even when prewar production levels are resumed, the problem of matching the level of oil that the world produces to the level which it consumes will remain.

The only long-term solution is a massive effort to provide producers an incentive to increase their supply, to encourage consumers to use existing supplies more rationally, and to develop alternate energy sources.

This is a challenge which the United States could solve alone with great difficulty and that Europe cannot solve in isolation at all. We strongly prefer, and Europe requires, a common enterprise.

To this end, the United States proposes that the nations of Europe, North America, and Japan establish an Energy Action Group of senior and prestigious individuals with a mandate to develop within three months an initial action program for collaboration in all areas of the energy problem. We would leave it to the members of the Nine whether they prefer to participate as the European Community.

The Group would have as its goal the assurance of required energy supplies at reasonable cost. It would define broad principles of cooperation, and it would initiate action in specific areas:

—To conserve energy through more rational utilization of existing supplies;

—To encourage the discovery and development of new sources of energy;

[Page 127]

—To give producers an incentive to increase supply; and

—To coordinate an international program of research to develop new technologies that use energy more efficiently and provide alternatives to petroleum. The United States would be willing to contribute our particular skills in such areas as the development of the deep seabed.

The Energy Action Group should not be an exclusive organization of consumers. The producing nations should be invited to join it from the very beginning with respect to any matters of common interest. The problem of finding adequate opportunity for development, and the investment of the proceeds from the sale of energy sources, would appear to be a particularly important area for consumer-producer cooperation.

As an example of a task for the Energy Action Group, I would cite the field of enriching uranium for use in nuclear power reactors. We know that our need for this raw material will be great in the 1980’s. We know that electric utilities will wish to assure their supply at the least possible cost. We know that European countries and Japan will wish to have their own facilities to produce at least part of their needs for enriched uranium. Such plants require huge capital investment. What could be more sensible than that we plan together to assure that scarce resources are not wasted by needless duplication?

The United States is prepared to make a very major financial and intellectual contribution to the objective of solving the energy problem on a common basis. There is no technological problem that the great democracies do not have the capacity to solve together—if they can muster the will and the imagination. The energy crisis of 1973 can become the economic equivalent of the sputnik challenge of 1957. The outcome can be the same. Only this time, the giant step for mankind will be one that America and its closest partners take together for the benefit of all mankind.

We have every reason of duty and self-interest to preserve the most successful partnership in history. The United States is committed to making the Atlantic community a vital positive force for the future as it was for the past. What has recently been taken for granted must now be renewed. This is not an American challenge to Europe; it is history’s challenge to us all.

The United Kingdom, we believe, is in a unique position. We welcome your membership in the European Community—though the loosening of some of our old ties has been painful at times. But you can make another historic contribution in helping develop between the United States and a unifying Europe the same special confidence and intimacy that benefited our two nations for decades. We are prepared to offer a unifying Europe a “special relationship,” for we believe that [Page 128] the unity of the Western world is essential for the well-being of all its parts.

In his memoirs Secretary Acheson described the events of his visit to London in the spring of 1950.6 He described the need of his time for an “act of will, a decision to do something” at a crucial juncture.

We require another act of will—a determination to surmount tactical squabbles and legalistic preoccupations and to become the master of our destinies. We in this room are heirs to a rich heritage of trust and friendship. If we are true to ourselves, we have it in our power to extend it to a united Europe and to pass it on, further enriched and ennobled, to succeeding generations.

  1. Source: Department of State Bulletin, December 31, 1973, pp. 777–782. Brackets are in the original. Kissinger delivered his speech to a gathering of the Pilgrims of Great Britain held at the Europa Hotel. Another copy of Kissinger’s address is in the National Archives, RG 59, Policy Planning Council (S/PC), Policy Planning Staff (S/P), Director’s Files (Winston Lord) 1969–77, Lot 77D112, Box 346, DEC 1973.
  2. See Document 8.
  3. Reference is to Danish Foreign Minister Knud Borge Andersen. The same day the U.N. General Assembly opened its 28th session on September 24, the New York Times printed the text of the European Economic Community’s joint declaration on relations between the Common Market and the United States. (“Text of the European Economic Community’s Proposal on Relations With U.S.” and “Kissinger Speaks at U.N. Today, Marking Entry Into the ‘Club’,” New York Times, September 24, 1973, pp. 16 and 12, respectively) During a September 25 meeting among Kissinger, Andersen, and U.S. and Danish officials, Kissinger expressed his admiration for European unity but criticized the EEC for its response to the “Year of Europe” speech and its formulation of principles without prior consultation with the United States. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1027, Presidential/HAK MemCons, MemCons April–Nov 1973 HAK & Presidential [2 of 5]) The full memorandum of conversation is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–15, part 2, Documents on Western Europe, 1973–1976. Kissinger recalled his frustration with formulating an Atlantic Declaration in Years of Upheaval, pp. 171–192.
  4. The EC summit meeting was held in Copenhagen December 14–15.
  5. Kissinger met with the EC Foreign Ministers on December 11 in Brussels.
  6. Reference is to Present at the Creation: My Years at the State Department (New York: Norton, 1969).