76. Paper Prepared by the National Security Council Staff1

NSSM 1382



I. Assumptions, Objectives: CES Perspective

Following is a capsule summary of the present state of play:

  • —We and the Allies have a commitment to begin multilateral phase of preparations for a Conference “as soon as feasible” after completion of the Berlin agreements (all phases);
  • —Acceleration of Berlin talks makes CES a live issue; decisions at this NATO session and in the next 2–3 months will determine the direction of Allied policy.
  • —Almost all West Europeans favor CES in some degree; French are willing to begin preparations now; Germans commited to “accelerate” preparations, but will not do so until Berlin is wrapped up, and preferably until their treaties are ratified; British inclined to believe CES is an unavoidable evil, to be disposed of as quickly as possible.

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As it now stands, the Soviets will make some clear gains in such a Conference: ratification of political and territorial status quo in East Europe, greater influence in West Europe, possible deepening of trends toward American withdrawal, etc.

  • —On the other hand, East Europeans—Romania, Yugoslavia, and perhaps Poland—want a conference to create psychological barriers to the Brezhnev doctrine.

Our objectives: (assuming a Conference is inevitable)

  • —To avoid allowing issues of a Conference to split US from Allies;
  • —Minimize damage to Alliance that flows from atmospherics of détente;
  • —Institutionalize US role as European power and participant in the East-West dialogue;
  • —Provide some help for East Europeans.

II. Alternative Approaches to CES

Assuming the US could delay, but not arrest, movement toward CES, there follow three illustrative approaches:

CES as Now Envisaged
A Conference for the sake of détente;
AConference making some concessions but protecting Western interests.
A Conference on European Cooperation (i.e., without security issues).
A New Approach—designed mainly to emphasize security issues and follow on machinery.

A. CES as Now Evisaged

1. The Agenda

Warsaw Pact NATO
Force renunciation and respect for existing borders;
Economic, scientific, technical, cultural and environmental cooperation;
A permanent “organ” for questions of security and cooperation in Europe.
Principles which should govern relations between states, including renunciation of the use of force;
(a) Economic, scientific, technical, cultural and environmental cooperation; (b) Freer movement of people, ideas and information;
Possible establishment of a permanent body (though publicly stated to date only as a means of embarking on multilateral negotiations).

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Pact and Allied positions on these items are:


Principles Governing Relations Between States. The core of the conference, from the Soviet viewpoint, is the first Warsaw Pact agenda item which would pledge respect for existing frontiers in Europe and force renunciation. To broaden the scope of this item, NATO Ministers proposed that CES discussions should treat, in addition to force renunciation, general principles governing interstate relations, such as sovereign equality, political independence and territorial integrity, non-interference and non-intervention in internal affairs. Allied Ministers have affirmed that these principles would apply “regardless of political and social systems.”

Adeclaration that reaffirmed such principles in a conference where the GDR was a full participant could have adverse implications for Quadripartite rights and responsibilities in Germany as a whole and Berlin, as could a declaration on frontiers. There would have to be disclaimer about non-recognition of the GDR and about non-recognition of frontiers by US, UK and France.

Cooperation. None expect that CES could negotiate specific agreements on economic, technical and scientific exchanges or environmental cooperation, though some believe discussions in CES, and also in a permanent body established by CES, might stimulate bilateral and multilateral efforts, as in ECE.

Freer Movements of People, Ideas and Information. The Soviets would resist any concrete concessions in this area, though there are tactical and propaganda advantages in keeping the issue in play, and there might be some significant Soviet concessions, if the Allies press firmly. We have suggested that the Allies, at CES and preliminaries, urge the Warsaw Pact states to:

  • —end radio jamming;
  • —relax exit restrictions on their nationals;
  • —permit freer circulation of books, magazines and periodicals; and
  • —allow foreign journalists normal working conditions.

Many Allies, however, would prefer to treat only easier issues, seeking initially little more than minor improvements in the closely controlled programs of East-West cultural exchanges, and hoping reduced tensions following CES would abet further progress.


Permanent Machinery. The Pact in June 1970 proposed that CES create a permanent “organ” to discuss questions of security and cooperation.3

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An illustrative US proposal (Annex I),4 tabled but not yet discussed in NATO, suggested that either a permanent secretariat, or a negotiating forum with procedures roughly similar to those of the Committee of the Conference on Disarmament (CCD) might be considered. A permanent body could not assume meaningful responsibility for maintenance of European security, but could open the way toward a continuing East-West dialogue.

2. Procedural Approaches

We prefer careful explorations followed, if appropriate, by more structured preparatory talks, at official level, that would draft agreed texts, leaving a minimum of disputed points for resolution at a short Ministerial conference.

The French favor shorter preparatory talks mainly on procedure and not on draft texts of possible agreement, leading to an initial meeting where Foreign Ministers would discuss the issues and establish official-level working groups. Thereafter, Foreign Ministers would reconvene to negotiate themselves the questions unresolved by the working groups. The French have gained more Allied support for this approach, which is consistent with France’s general preference to enhance the appearance of an independent status in relations with the East.

3. Possible Results of CES as Now Conceived: Two Variants:


A Conference for the Sake of Détente. After extensive discussions touching only marginally on fundamental East-West differences, Ministers would agree on declaratory texts on general themes that do not bind participants to specific actions, and that

  • —affirm generally accepted principles governing relations between states, including force renunciation and respect for existing frontiers;
  • —declare the intent of participants to promote cooperation in all fields; and
  • —establish a permanent body.

Participants might also express their views on regional disarmament questions, including MBFR.

Assessment. This approach, in effect, accepts the Soviet concept. The likely results would meet immediate political goals of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europeans, and corresponds to the current aims of France, most neutrals, and the smaller, more détente-oriented Allies states. Once an inter-German modus vivendi is reached, the FRG, too, [Page 216] will likely seek to enhance the détente climate by avoiding confrontation with the East.


A Conference Making Some Concessions but Protecting Western Interests. In this damage-limiting approach, the Allies would decline to meet major Soviet aims, including a declaration of respect for existing frontiers, unless the Soviets also make significant concessions, agreeing, for example, to freer movement. Preparatory sessions would be prolonged and probably marked by heated discussions, reflected in media reporting. Substantively, the conference might result in

  • —a compromise, in which the Soviets make some concrete concessions on freer movement and accept a declaration on principles that would apply regardless of political or social systems, while the Allies agree to a formulation pledging “respect” for existing European frontiers;
  • —modest Soviet concessions on freer movement;
  • —agreement to pursue issues of economic and technical cooperation; and
  • —establishment of permanent machinery.

Assessment. Some minimum goals of major participants would be met as a result of public reports of East-West debates in the course of CES, and the results of the conference would be portrayed as Western acceptance of the territorial situation in Eastern Europe, but not Soviet political domination.

B. A Conference on Cooperation in Europe

An alternative CES approach could entail limiting the agenda of the meeting to issues of cooperation in the economic, technical, scientific, cultural and environmental spheres. Issues of security, including renunciation of the use of force and principles governing interstate relations would be specifically excluded, and the title of the conference changed.

The conference would result in declarations of intent to promote cooperation, leaving detailed agreements to subsequent bilateral and multilateral negotiations in other fora.

Assessment. The Soviets would probably resist an Allied proposal to change the terms of reference and to make such a change publicly clear. They might charge the Allies with bad faith, noting repeated public statements in NATO Ministerial communiqués of willingness to begin preparations for a “conference on security and cooperation in Europe” under proper circumstances. Most Allied governments might also oppose such a change, fearing charges from important sectors of domestic opinion that NATO was reneging on a commitment at the very moment when fulfillment of the precondition (a satisfactory Berlin agreement) seemed in sight.

Comment: The idea that we can limit damage by introducing contentious issues such as freer movement of peoples, etc., is probably an illusion. Once Soviets pocket concessions about frontiers, non-use of [Page 217] force, etc., they have achieved their purpose and will probably be able to resist any major change in intra European cooperation. Damagelimiting strategy which is in effect our current policy is a weak rationale.

If a conference is inevitable (this is not necessarily so) and Allies really want it for the atmospherics of détente, there are stronger arguments for playing along rather than putting up weak and ineffective rear guard action. In this case, the French approach seems sound: move to a Conference without long wrangling session and close it out as soon as feasible.

The main tactical problem is that the heart of the Conference will be a declaration on non-use of force and respect for current borders; some of the Allies have already made this concession: in the Soviet and Polish treaties,5 the French Declaration of Principles,6 the Canadian-Soviet communiqué;7 and in effect, the Berlin treaties which include non-use of force. The main Soviet aim is to gain American signature. Present Allied position more or less concedes this Soviet position.

C. A New Approach: CES as a Step Toward Maintaining a US Role in Europe.

This new concept of CES departs from the damage-limiting approach we are now pursuing. It would entail a new US initiative in NATO and international CES planning aimed at:

  • —increased emphasis on permanent machinery to provide an institutional framework involving the US intimately in a long-term process of East-West negotiation of issues of security and cooperation, while maintaining and improving present Western security; and
  • —added weight to issues of security—MBFR, and other arms control and disarmament matters.

Under this concept, moreover,

  • —the US would exert leadership in approaching CES;
  • —we could help offset Allied fears that the US is on the verge of massive disengagement, at a time when their doubts are reinforced by current international economic difficulties;
  • CES would be considered a positive step in the longer process of strengthening the transatlantic community, and maintaining its defenses, while the US and our Allies seek further relaxation of East-West tensions designed to enhance European stability on a basis that accords with Allied objectives by making clear the importance they attach to issues of security, and to progress in East-West cooperation in nonsecurity matters, such as freer movement of people, ideas, and information, and economic and technical exchanges.

Agenda. To meet these objectives, the Allies could propose in the December 1971 Ministerial Communiqué the following CES agenda as an alternative to that advanced by the Pact:
Issues of East-West Security
continuing arms control and disarmament efforts and renunciation of the use of force and universal respect for principles governing relations between states, regardless of political or social systems. It is possible that any consensus that emerged might be embodied in an East-West declaration, which might be pursued in permanent machinery established by CES (See Part II C1C, below).
associated with the foregoing, or separately, statements of support for MBFR. If MBFR negotiations had begun prior to CES, reference could be made in CES to progress to date, based upon reports by participating MBFR states. Otherwise, CES could encourage states directly involved in MBFR to negotiate. Although MBFR could also operate under the “umbrella” of a CES (see Part III), the conference would have no authority to direct or approve the form or substance of MBFR negotiations.
Issues of East-West Cooperation
freer movement of people, ideas, and information, stressing the importance the Allies attach to this issue;
economic, technical, scientific, cultural and environmental cooperation. Economic issues for discussion could include a range of improvements on both sides to encourage increased trade and possible ties to Western international economic institutions. In the environmental sphere, support could be sought for strengthening ECE efforts. Beyond this, enhanced bilateral contacts in the other areas could be encouraged, as well as efforts in UN and other appropriate fora.
Permanent Machinery Established by CES

Possible Functions

The US has tabled in NATO illustrative views on permanent machinery (Annex I). We proposed that such machinery might discuss problems of security, cooperation and arms control and disarmament, along the following lines:

  • —as a framework for quiet diplomacy to resolve disputes endangering European security; and
  • —for dealing with grievances, permitting states to raise actual or potential violations of a possible CES declaration on principles that should govern interstate relations.
  • —for discussion of policy issues that impede East-West cooperation in various fields, leaving detailed implementation to the ECE or other appropriate fora.

Regional Disarmament

  • —in connection with MBFR, while this issue undoubtedly would be referred to in CES, actual negotiations have been envisaged in a body comprising states directly concerned. Results of MBFR negotiations, however, could be reported by the states directly involved in MBFR negotiations to CES for noting, as appropriate; and
  • —if agreed among the Allies, for discussion of complaints of noncompliance with arms control and disarmament agreements; and for examination and dissemination of reports produced under any arrangements that may eventually be developed on verification and collateral constraints.

Beyond the foregoing, it is possible that permanent machinery could evolve further, embracing additional functions in a continuing East-West dialogue. However, the USSR and others should not be allowed to manipulate or characterize CES permanent machinery as a substitute for NATO, or as superceding Western security arrangements generally.


US adoption of a positive approach to CES could entail the following advantages and disadvantages:

  • Advantages
    • —would conform to the realities of the situation in Europe by giving at least equal attention to security issues;
    • —because it would explicitly assert the continuing US role in the evolution of Europe, it would deny the Soviets their basic objective of getting the US out of Europe;
    • —by emphasizing the continuing character of East-West negotiations, Allied defense expenditures might be more easily sustained;
    • —the basic situation of the East European states would not be altered, but their desire for a more independent voice in discussions surrounding a conference would be met;
  • Disadvantages
    • —there likely would be no immediate concrete results beyond those possible under other suggested approaches to CES;
    • —a possible CES declaration on arms control and disarmament might strengthen public reluctance, in Allied countries, to support the substantial force improvements we seek; and
    • —other disadvantages at worst could approximate those flowing from a conference making some concessions but protecting Western interests, but would be far less than from a conference for the sake of détente or a conference on cooperation.


Developing Allied Consensus.

A positive approach to a CES conforms more closely with the majority Allied view than our present approach. Therefore, we anticipate no difficulty in gaining Allied concurrence. Discussion of arms control and disarmament at CES conforms to current Allied thinking, and therefore poses no problem. Reference in CES to MBFR will be welcomed most Allies.

The following illustrative steps would facilitate building an Allied consensus around a US preference:

  • —the US could underline the Berlin precondition, and clarify its attitude toward CES, and perhaps toward economic and defense aims generally, in a major address on European affairs by the Secretary sometime in November;
  • —the US position would be conveyed to the Allies in time to allow for consultations at NATO in advance of the December Ministerial meeting:
  • —the US would introduce into the Council draft formulations for the December Ministerial communiqué;
  • —depending on the status of the Berlin agreement, NATO Deputy Foreign Ministers could meet in April 1972 to assess prospects for opening multilateral East-West talks and to discuss the substance and procedures for multilateral East-West talks; and
  • —after conclusion of the Berlin accord, and following the President’s visit to Moscow, East-West multilateral talks could open.

Comment: The basic issue here seems to be along the following lines: If we must go to CES, is there any conceivable way it can be turned to our marginal advantage, recognizing that in the short turn, at least, the Soviets will score major gains?

This “new” approach is, of course, an old idea favored by many observers. Its essence is that we use the inevitable Soviet “principles” as a bridge to some more practical measures; i.e., if the Soviets claim non-use of force, we propose restraint on force movements, possibly European observer teams, pre-announcement of maneuvers—in short, many of the MBFR collateral measures. In this way, we at least give some substance to the vacuous declarations of a Conference.

Second, we establish an institution which will have little real power, but will have some psychological benefit for the East Europeans in that they can invoke the permanent machinery in times of tensions or crisis.

If there is anything in this proposal for a change in attitude, it is mainly in the possible longer term gains that would tend to blur the sharp divisions in Europe. Why the Soviets would agree to such potential danger is another issue, but it is, after all, their conference, and this “new” approach puts them on the tactical defensive. If introduced [Page 221] early in the preparations, it would certainly protract the preliminary discussion—another possible advantage.

As reported in the study, the concept is still too vague; it lacks precision in what the Conference would produce in terms of arms control statements, practical implementation measures and the authority of the permanent machinery. If adopted, this would have to be clarified in some detail.

The disadvantages are understated, presumably because this is the favored option. The real disadvantages are

  • —First, our Allies may well misconstrue our new enthusiasm as another form of superpower collaboration; they might be rather unimpressed by the claims that we would gain some concrete security measures; they would still think in terms of atmospherics, and conclude we were only looking for a rationalization of the same objectives.
  • —If it became clear that we meant business, and really wanted some practical achievements, the Allies might retreat since the last thing they want is that CES become a contentious meeting.
  • —The second disadvantage is that regardless of our aspirations we must deal with the Soviets who are not about to allow their pet project to be turned against them. Their interest is still in the fact of the Conference, rather than its concrete measures. We will still have to go through a first phase of declarations and pledges to get to the second stage of applications of arms control measures or a permanent institution. The Soviets will see to it that nothing effective happens.

In short, this is a gamble. But we would be no worse off for having made the attempt than if we supinely drift into the Soviet type conference that now appears unavoidable.

In many ways, this approach to a CES is less damaging than the current prospects for two losers: MBFR and then a meaningless CES. If we were to move in this new direction on CES, logic would suggest that MBFR be deferred, and the CES would endorse it, though not control it. MBFR would thus be a tangible result of CES, and, if it dealt with principles of force reductions, these might be taken over by all Europe.


  • CES would not begin until after the Moscow summit: then preliminaries would take a few months and the actual conference would meet in, say, late 1972 or early 1973.
  • MBFR might begin before that, but if we chose to, we could use the CES as a means to defer MBFR.


Most Allies and non-aligned states wish to establish a connection now between MBFR and CES. At the same time, most recognize that [Page 222] CES would be too unwieldly a forum for negotiation of so complex and sensitive a subject as MBFR, and that actual negotiations should be restricted to the states directly concerned.

The US has preferred to keep the two issues on separate tracks, in effect assuming that the tracks might cross at some point, but leaving open the option of separately initiating either CES or MBFR discussions. Our approach to MBFR, moreover, has recognized that

  • MBFR addresses the military confrontation of major powers whose forces and territory are directly involved; other states, though interested, have less at stake in such negotiations, and many would likely mount pressures for reductions without necessarily insisting on essential safeguards; and
  • —involvement of non-aligned countries would complicate and delay MBFR negotiations, causing inter alia possible Congressional pressures for unilateral reductions.

Given the general preference expressed over past weeks by our Allies, however, for including MBFR in some fashion on a CES agenda—based largely on their view that MBFR would provide a concrete issue of security for CES in discussion and evidence of movement toward détente—we are virtually isolated on this issue, and will likely need to deal with it at Ministerial level in December.

Since we cannot prevent participants in CES from referring to MBFR, the alternatives are: (a) to strive for agreement among the Allies (and perhaps with the Soviets) for procedural arrangements to be made in the initial phase of CES that would avoid more than general reference in CES to MBFR; or (b) to deal with the substance of MBFR in CES.

Comment: Clearly, the latter is a non-starter and a potential disaster.


Provided there is a satisfactory resolution on Berlin, the issue arises of the relationship between CES and SALT. The possibilities lie between the following alternatives:

  • —linkage between achieving success in SALT and proceeding with CES; and
  • —considering SALT along with other issues as part of the complex of US/Soviet relations which needs to be taken into account in assessing Soviet intentions in regard to CES.

Linkage would have the following implications:

  • —while it may be argued that Soviet interest in CES could provide additional leverage in SALT, it is unlikely that this interest would affect the Soviet position on SALT issues, since they deal with fundamental matters of state security;
  • —such linkage would run a considerable risk of damaging SALT at a stage in which the negotiations are both delicate and nearing fruition. Since we have consistently eschewed linking SALT with extraneous issues, a reversal on our part would cause the Soviets to question our basic objectives in SALT, thus delaying and diverting the talks—precisely the opposite of what would be intended.

Comment: This part of the discussion is badly rigged by State and ACDA who are deathly afraid that SALT will be endangered. Yet, it makes absolutely no sense to think about European security in any real sense if the US and the USSR cannot make even a limited arrangement on strategic arms control. The original idea of including this discussion in the study was to emphasize this point, so that the US could at least tell the Allies of our reluctance to proceed with the actual CES if SALT had not reached some agreement. In fact, this is not a revolutionary position. Until the last NATO meeting, our preconditions for CES were the Berlin agreement and “progress” on other East-West issues, which was specifically defined to mean SALT. This latter condition was dropped under French pressures.8 All that would be involved in reviving it would be rather clear warnings that CES could not be expected to achieve anything if SALT was stalemated.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–063, SRG Meeting, European Security Conference 11/23/71. Secret. The paper is an analytical summary of an undated response to NSSM 138, prepared by the Interdepartmental Working Group on Europe (IG/EUR).(Ibid.)
  2. Document 74.
  3. See Document 30.
  4. Not attached. The reference is apparently to a proposal transmitted in telegram 160785 to USNATO, September 1, on possible post-CES machinery. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–063, SRG Meeting, European Security Conference 11/23/71)
  5. For the text of the Moscow Treaty between the Soviet Union and the Federal Republic of Germany, August 12, 1970, and the Warsaw Treaty between Poland and the Federal Republic of Germany, December 7, 1970, see Documents on Germany, 1944–1985, pp. 1103–1105 and pp. 1125–1127, respectively.
  6. For a summary of “The Principles of Cooperation Between the USSR and France,” signed by Pompidou and Brezhnev during the latter’s visit to France, October 25–30, 1971, see Keesing’s Contemporary Archives, 1971–1972, p. 24958.
  7. See footnote 8, Document 51.
  8. See Document 57.