67. Editorial Note

On August 3, 1971, Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council staff sent President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger a briefing memorandum for the latter’s upcoming meeting with French Ambassador Charles Lucet later that same day. Sonnenfeldt wrote:

  • “During his other pre-departure calls, Lucet has been stressing MBFR. He has indicated that France does not wish to reduce its own forces, is in favor of ‘global’ rather than regional disarmament, and is against the concept of a NATO ‘explorer’ such as Brosio which infers bloc to bloc negotiations opposed by the French.
  • “You may wish to indicate that
  • “—we are willing to consider other approaches than just a single explorer, since we would welcome French participation if there are resulting negotiations;
  • “—we recognize the security risks involved in MBFR, and for that reason we have urged NATO to continue to study the issues, such as those raised in the US paper recently submitted to the Council;
  • “—finally, we feel ourselves under no particular time pressure for MBFR.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 678, Country Files, Europe, France, Vol. VIII)

At the meeting on August 3, Lucet raised the subject of MBFR with Kissinger. According to a memorandum prepared by Sonnenfeldt:

  • Lucet then turned to MBFR and recited long standing French reasons for opposing it. He stressed that France cannot be committed by NATO decisions. Dr. Kissinger referred to the US domestic situation. He noted that we were somewhat better off in this regard at the moment and MBFR was not the most burning issue with us. As long as the domestic situation remains relatively quiet, we have time to move deliberately on MBFR. Lucet said that the French would not participate in the NATO Deputy Foreign Ministers’ meeting, although they might send an observer. Dr. Kissinger said we would not protest and this would not become an issue between our two Presidents.” (Memorandum for the Record, August 4; ibid.)