13. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • Scope and Objectives of Secretary Rogers’ European Trip

On November 29, a memorandum was received from the Secretary of State setting forth the general scope and objectives of the visit he begins early this week to Brussels, Bonn and Paris (Tab B).2 The Secretary, together with Secretaries Laird and Kennedy, will attend the semi-annual NATO Ministeral meetings in Brussels and he will then proceed to Germany and France for bilateral talks with the leaders of those countries.

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As regards the NATO meetings, the Secretary plans

  • —to issue our undertaking for firm force commitments to NATO through 1970 (this will involve certain reductions in forces, particularly naval, committed to NATO, but not stationed in Europe, resulting from our Defense budget cuts);
  • —to support a five-point response to recent Warsaw Pact initiatives on European security, as follows:
    a new “signal” to the East, that NATO is prepared to consider the possibility of balanced East-West force reductions in Europe;
    a further probe by the US, UK and France of the possibilities for improving the situation in Berlin and NATO support for the Federal Republic’s Eastern policy;
    reference to a possible Joint Declaration on the Principles Governing Relations between States (this would essentially be the Western counter to the Brezhnev Doctrine3);
    references to increased East-West cultural, technical and economic exchanges; and
    in response to majority sentiment in the Alliance, a reference to the Warsaw Pact-proposed European Security conference but stipulating that it be properly prepared, offers prospects of concrete progress and includes the US and Canada.

The Secretary states in his memorandum that he does not believe he requires additional guidance for the NATO meetings but will seek it if required.


With regard to his stop in Bonn, the Secretary plans

  • —to establish close working relations with the new German leadership and to dispel German suspicions that we favor the CDU over the SPD;
  • —to urge the Germans not to base their policy on the assumption that US troop withdrawals are inevitable;
  • —to support German efforts to improve relations with the East provided this does not impair Western security;
  • —to tell Brandt that he will be welcome in Washington whenever a convenient time can be arranged.

In Paris, the Secretary plans
  • —to confer with our delegation to the Vietnam talks;
  • —establish personal contact with President Pompidou and assure him of the importance you attach to his forthcoming visit; and
  • —to elicit Prime Minister Chaban-Delmas’ views on French domestic affairs.

I believe following the Secretary’s return, a review of the state of play on European security by the NSC will be desirable so that you will be able to consider the range of options open to us in the light of sentiment in the Alliance (the French, for example, have reservations about a NATO initiative on East-West force cuts), Warsaw Pact initiatives and our own interests. A study of pertinent issues will be prepared through the NSC machinery for a possible NSC meeting before the Wilson and Pompidou visits early next year.4

If you agree, I will send the attached acknowledgment of the Secretary’s memorandum to the Acting Secretary of State (Tab A).5


That you approve my sending the attached memorandum to the Acting Secretary of State (Tab A).6

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 258, Agency Files, NATO, Vol. VII. Secret. Sent for action.
  2. Tab B, a memorandum from Rogers to the President, November 28, is not attached. In it Rogers stated that on European security problems “we are proceeding on the basis outlined in my October 31 memorandum to you [Document 10].” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, NATO 3 BEL)
  3. Reference is to Soviet claims to a right to intervene in the internal affairs of Bloc states. The Brezhnev Doctrine was originally set out by Soviet Communist Party spokesman Sergei Kovalev in a September 26, 1968, Pravda article, “Sovereignty and International Responsibility in Socialist Countries.” A translation is printed in Current Digest of the Soviet Press, October 16, 1968.
  4. Wilson and Pompidou visited Washington January 27–28 and February 24–26, respectively. Documentation on both visits is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XLI, Western Europe; NATO, 1969–1972.
  5. Not attached.
  6. Nixon initialed his approval on December 15. The word “changed” was written in the margin, and “Acting Secretary” was struck out and replaced with “Secretary” since Rogers returned from his European trip on December 8 and Richardson was no longer Acting Secretary. Kissinger sent the revised memorandum to Rogers on December 16. He wrote: “The President has noted your memorandum concerning the scope and objectives of your participation in the recently concluded NATO meetings and of your talks in Bonn and Paris. A National Security Council review of the range of options open to us on the issues involved is to be scheduled for early next year.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 258, Agency Files, NATO, Vol. VII)