78. Minutes of a Senior Review Group Meeting1


  • European Security Conference


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
    • Mr. George Springsteen
    • Mr. Ralph J. McGuire
    • Mr. Herbert Spiro
  • DOD
    • Mr. Armistead Selden
    • B/Gen. Harrison Lobdell, Jr.
    • Mr. Peter Smith
  • JCS
    • Adm. Thomas H. Moorer
    • B/Gen. Francis J. Roberts
  • CIA
    • Lt. Gen. Robert E. Cushman
    • Mr. James P. Hanrahan
  • Treasury
    • Mr. John J. McGinnis
  • ACDA
    • Mr. Philip Farley
  • NSC Staff
    • Mr. William Hyland
    • R/Adm. Robert O. Welander
    • Mr. Mark Wandler

It was agreed that:

  • —Short of a Presidential approval, we will not agree to a preparatory meeting on CES. If a further meeting is necessary, we should encourage a Deputy Foreign Ministers meeting after the President’s trip to Moscow.
  • —The State Department will circulate its draft paper on “Possible Post-CES Machinery.”2
  • —Using the State Department’s outlines as a point of departure, further study should be done on such substantive aspects of a CES as trade and cultural exchange, permanent machinery and the use of collateral constraints developed for MBFR.

[Page 227]

Dr. Kissinger: All our meetings seem to be about losers. I’m talking about subjects, not personnel.

Adm. Moorer: we’ve got two dillies here.

Dr. Kissinger: I’ve read all the papers. I would like somebody to explain to me what we would get out of a conference on European Security. What advantage would a conference be to the United States?

Mr. Springsteen: In a static sense, there really would be none.

Dr. Kissinger: What about in a dynamic sense?

Mr. Springsteen: In a way, we are stuck with the conference. The question is how do we operate so that we maximize our gains and minimize our losses. This project has been in the works for a long time, and we have been negative on it. Now we are being pushed by our Allies. We think the time has come for us to fish or cut bait.

Dr. Kissinger: Why do our Allies want the conference?

Mr. Springsteen: I think a good part of it has to do with détente fever. The French, for example, think the conference may open some windows to the west for the Eastern European countries with such things as an increased flow of people. Of course, the implicit idea is that the Eastern European countries will get out from under the Russian thumb. The French are the leading exponents of this view.

Dr. Kissinger: If that’s the case, it seems strange that the Russians are such strong advocates of the conference.

Mr. Springsteen: There is of course an element of risk in this for the Russians. Nevertheless, they feel a conference will be a great help to their image in the West.

Dr. Kissinger: Are the Russians facing such great obstacles in their bilateral dealings with the West that they are being forced to take this route [the conference]?

Mr. Springsteen: No. I don’t share the French thesis, either. I was just expressing their point of view.

Dr. Kissinger: The French, among others, are not interested in MBFR. They may be pushing CES in order to prevent MBFR. And if that continues, we will be in a never-never land.

Mr. Springsteen: Isn’t that where we are now?

Dr. Kissinger: At what point do we draw the line? When do we say the party’s over? As usual, I’m just trying to be the devil’s advocate. As you know, no agreement on MBFR will improve our position. I agree with your [Springsteen’s] characterization that we should cut our losses and maximize the pluses. But I don’t understand why the Russians are so eager for the conference. Do they see something in it that we don’t see?

[Page 228]

Adm. Moorer: Their basic objective is to break up NATO. West Europe has not taken a united stance, and the Russians feel that a security conference would be a good way of publicizing this disagreement.

Mr. Springsteen: They [the Russians] also want a conference to put a seal of approval on the territorial status quo and on the Bonn-Moscow and Bonn-Warsaw treaties.3

Adm. Moorer: The only military problem the Russians see is with NATO. As I said before, their basic objective is to weaken NATO. Then they can go on with their other activities in the Middle East, China and in other areas.

Dr. Kissinger: What is the plan for the upcoming NATO meeting?

Mr. Springsteen: At the moment, Germany, Great Britain and France are saying that the status of the Berlin arrangements is far enough along—even though Phase III is being delayed until the treaties are ratified—for multilateral preparatory talks to begin. Our position is that ratification of the treaties and the signing of the final protocol come first and that we shouldn’t move on to multilateral discussions until we have those things. The other countries say we should move now. They say they are certain the treaties will be ratified and the protocol will be signed in due course.

Dr. Kissinger: Would they still want to move even if we say we are not eager to go along with them?

Mr. Springsteen: I am trying to get something out on this subject right now.

Dr. Kissinger: Who’s stopping you?

Mr. Springsteen: No one—yet. The Secretary, as you know, is strong on this precondition.

Dr. Kissinger: I admit the precondition could be seen as somewhat phony. The main point, though, is that we want to delay the conference. If this precondition is no good, we will help you find a better one. We are not eager to have a conference before the summit meeting, and I’m not sure we will be eager for one after the meeting. I’m interested in someone telling me what the hell can come out of this conference.

Mr. Springsteen: Do you mean if it drags on?

Dr. Kissinger: It won’t drag on. The Berlin negotiations stretched out for two years. How could the trade issue be dragged out, if it’s on the agenda.

[Page 229]

Mr. Springsteen: You can negotiate ad nauseum. The problem for better or worse, is how do we go through the process. The French, for one, want to leapfrog.

Dr. Kissinger: We want to delay as long as possible. We want to delay the preparatory process. If our Allies in NATO come up with an unreasonable proposal, why do we have to rush in? (to Mr. Springsteen) Are you sure they will have one?

Mr. Springsteen: The senior advisors have been meeting in Berlin, and Bahr says the meetings will be concluded by December 3. Great Britain, Germany and France say we should move now to the multilateral preparation. Hillenbrand said, though, that we will not move until the final protocol is signed. He cited what I thought was a very good example. Suppose we go very far down the conference road, he pointed out, and the Bundestag doesn’t ratify the treaties. Then the Russians wouldn’t sign the treaties. Where would we be then?

Dr. Kissinger: That wouldn’t break Brandt’s heart. In fact, it would give him another argument for early preparatory talks for a conference.

Mr. Springsteen: Hillenbrand was looking at it from our point of view.

Dr. Kissinger: Couldn’t we have a Deputy Foreign Ministers meeting first, before we begin the multilateral preparatory discussions? Would that be unreasonable?

Mr. Springsteen: That, in fact, is what we envisioned.

Dr. Kissinger: Suppose we tell the Allies that we want a Deputy Foreign Ministers meeting first, but they don’t want to wait. What happens?

Mr. Springsteen: We would like to swing them [the Allies] around and get them to agree to having the final protocol signed first, followed by a Deputy Foreign Ministers meeting where we can all try to see where we are going. We would encourage a Deputy Foreign Ministers meeting this spring. This scenario also calls for no multilateral exploratory talks.

Dr. Kissinger: Do we all agree with that? (to Mr. Selden) What is Defense’s position?

Mr. Selden: We agree with State that we should cut our losses. The longer we delay, the better off we are.

Dr. Kissinger: (to Mr. Farley) Phil, what do you think?

Mr. Farley: We would like very much to keep disarmament out of the conference, if it ever takes place.

Dr. Kissinger: Why do you want to do that? Because you think it would screw up the SALT talks? Or are you afraid that you will have the only substantive topic at the conference?

[Page 230]

Mr. Farley: There would be no substance to discussions unless the conference did not deal with MBFR, and CES is simply the wrong place to get involved in that.

Mr. Selden: How would we keep it out of the conference?

Dr. Kissinger: The Russians wouldn’t want to discuss MBFR at the conference. They want a renunciation of forces agreement and other things which will prove that military blocs are not necessary.

Mr. Springsteen: The Russians have suggested that MBFR can be discussed at the conference, but not negotiated.

Mr. Farley: It would be hard not to do that.

Dr. Kissinger: It’s not that MBFR is such a winner, either, judging from the paper I read. At what point do we concentrate on substance, or do we go on in this never-never land? We keep getting high level letters from Soviet leaders to the President, urging a conference to discuss such things as cultural exchange and trade. All of this is done bilaterally now.

Mr. Springsteen: The agenda the Soviets are proposing stresses force renunciation and respect for existing borders.

Dr. Kissinger: That’s in the UN charter, isn’t it?

Mr. Springsteen: That’s right. NATO, nevertheless, has been doing some homework on this. In fact, there is a NATO draft agreement, but it hasn’t got government clearances.

Dr. Kissinger: Is this a U.S. draft?

Mr. Springsteen: It’s not a draft from one country. It’s just a staff operation.

Dr. Kissinger: What happens if the Allies say this is a brilliant draft?

Mr. Springsteen: I don’t think that will happen. There are actually three drafts—from us, the Germans and someone else.

Dr. Kissinger: Are these individual products? Is our paper a U.S. Government draft? Are we behind it?

Mr. Springsteen: No. None of you are signed on.

Dr. Kissinger: This is the first I have ever heard of such a draft. (to Mr. Selden) Do you know about it?

Mr. Selden: No.

Dr. Kissinger: (to Adm. Moorer) Do you?

Adm. Moorer: No.

Mr. Springsteen: The draft is more or less a product of an EUR graduate seminar. The U.S. Government is not committed to it in any way. We simply tried to point out some of the pitfalls involved in these discussions.

Dr. Kissinger: If the Allies like the paper, why would we not be committed?

[Page 231]

Mr. Springsteen: We have made it very plain to them that this paper was done on the staff level.

Dr. Kissinger: We are now negotiating in the mid-East on the basis of a paper prepared by the head of our U.S. Interests Section.

Mr. Springsteen: I can assure you that this is not at all the situation with our paper.

Dr. Kissinger: Can we see the paper?

Mr. Springsteen: Surely. In fact, big chunks of it were cleared here, if I recall correctly.

Dr. Kissinger: That is not inconceivable to me. Can we get some coherence into this whole process? If not, we run the risk of eroding everything that has been built up over 25 years. Governments that are weak or dependent on elections very often like to pretend that something is happening when in fact nothing is happening. We should not be feeding that process. Ideally, we should have a Deputy Foreign Ministers meeting first, and our role in that meeting should be as concrete as possible. Second, when there is a proposal we should all look at it and drive to make it as concrete as possible. Otherwise, there is too much incoherence. (to Mr. Springsteen) I’m sure this is your view, too.

Mr. Springsteen: It is. We have seen the monster coming down the road for some time now, and consequently we have done a good deal of work.

Dr. Kissinger: Have you worked with the agencies here?

Mr. Springsteen: Yes. With Defense and Treasury.

Dr. Kissinger: What is the title of this draft paper you prepared?

Mr. Springsteen: “Possible Post-CES Machinery.”

Gen. Lobdell: We worked on certain sections of it.

Dr. Kissinger: We need a systematic review of all the concrete proposals that are surfaced, and we need to have meetings on these proposals, when appropriate.

Mr. Springsteen: We welcome that.

Dr. Kissinger: Do we all agree then that we will not agree—short of Presidential approval—to a preparatory meeting? If a further meeting is necessary, it should be a Deputy Foreign Ministers meeting after the summit.

All agreed.

Dr. Kissinger: As far as the basic approach to the conference is concerned, we have broad choices: the Soviet approach and the “new” State approach. Both deal in some degree with security considerations.

Mr. Springsteen: It’s true that they deal with security considerations, but we also would hope to achieve something concrete. In order to do that, we would have to step in and take an active role. We don’t [Page 232] want the conference as an end to itself, the way the Soviets do. Instead, we want to institutionalize the continuing role of the United States in the future of West Europe.

Dr. Kissinger: How would we go about doing that?

Mr. Springsteen: By giving strong leadership. We could tell our Allies what we are working on and win them to our positions.

Dr. Kissinger: We are an activist government. Once we adopt a policy of activism on CES, two things will happen: (a) we will all become very active, which is no crime in itself; and (b) when the Europeans say that something we want doesn’t meet with their favor, we will end up with the Soviet position under American leadership. Let the Soviets drive the process. We should drive the substance.

Mr. Springsteen: The Allies already think we are dragging our feet on the conference. We can tell them we are prepared to have a conference. We can say that the Soviets can drive the process if they want but that we think we should try to figure out how to turn the conference to our advantage. For example, there might be an advantage for us in establishing permanent machinery.

Dr. Kissinger: We should look at that carefully. I have no views on it, and I am pretty sure that the President has not addressed it. Just off the top of my head, though, I would say that anything the Soviets can exhibit as a substitute for NATO would be a disadvantage for us.

Mr. Springsteen: We have not rejected the idea of permanent machinery.

Dr. Kissinger: We should have another meeting after the NATO Ministerial to discuss force renunciation and other things we have been studying at the staff level.

Mr. Springsteen: we’ve already given you an outline of our thinking on the subject.

Dr. Kissinger: You should use this outline as a point of departure for further study. Take the topics we consider useful and flesh them out. For example: What would we say about trade and cultural exchange? What would we say about permanent machinery? What, if Phil [Farley] permits, would we say about CES using some of the collateral constraints we developed for MBFR?

Mr. Springsteen: All of this is fine, but we have a more immediate problem, too. The Secretary will be expected to say something about CES at the NATO Ministerial. The line he has used the last two years has been pretty stubborn and negative. Does he parrot that line again, or does he indicate to the Allies that we are prepared to approach various alternatives?

Dr. Kissinger: Why does he have to say more than we are willing to discuss concrete issues after the final protocol has been signed?

[Page 233]

Mr. Springsteen: The Allies will counter by saying that this is what we have all been doing.

Dr. Kissinger: The Secretary can then say that the issues are not concrete enough.

Mr. Farley: They [the Allies]can’t point to a consensus in the Alliance.

Mr. Hyland: Our line is that we are not yet ready on substance, especially on security considerations.

Mr. Springsteen: I hadn’t realized Phil [Farley] was so adamant on disarmament.

Mr. Farley: I have several practical concerns. Suppose, for example, that CES borrows the MBFR collateral constraints and creates some kind of compliance machinery. Then, if we are relying on national means to detect violations, I would hate to rely on CES as a court of appeals. Also, if we give CES a heavy security cast, we could be left with only a regional security organization. I don’t mean to be negative, but the papers we have done so far don’t show how we move on to the next steps.

Dr. Kissinger: If that’s the case, then we don’t go on to the next steps.

Mr. Springsteen: But we haven’t even taken the first step.

Dr. Kissinger: If we want to avoid going 1000 miles, we should not take the first step.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–112, SRG Minutes, Originals, 1971. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. All brackets are in the original.
  2. Not found. See footnote 4, Document 76.
  3. See footnote 5, Document 76.