9. Memorandum From Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • State Again Pushes the “Groundswell” on European Security

Literally within a day of our getting State to tone down its basic instruction to Ellsworth on European security2 (so that we would be [Page 20] responding to European support for a conference rather than taking an initiative ourselves), Elliot Richardson signed out a message that again puts us ahead of the pack. The reason for doing this was fear that as the result of the impending Warsaw Pact Foreign Ministers meeting the other side will get the initiative on this subject. Ellsworth is now instructed to suggest to Brosio a public affairs guideline in which the principle of an eventual ESC would be said to be acceptable (Tab A).3

The point here is that while this may well be the case, why should we be the ones to run to Brosio with the suggestion.

Moreover, as a matter of substance, why must we assume that we cannot get at least as much “initiative” out of our eminently sensible insistence on “negotiation of concrete issues,” as the East gets out of their phony slogan for a European security conference. If our whole diplomatic and public posture in the six months since the President’s April directive4 had been oriented around our preferred approach, instead of being concerned with handling “groundswells”—which we ourselves keep adding to—we would be in a far stronger position today.

You told Pauls recently that “European security” is not a major element in our foreign policy at present.5 You (and I) are alone in expressing this view. Unless the President himself says so—perhaps in response to the State memo that you and Elliot agreed would be sent over—we will never get this situation under control.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 257, Agency Files, NATO, Vol. VI. Secret. Sent for information. A note on the first page reads: “HAK has seen, Nov 20, 1969.”
  2. See Document 7.
  3. Attached but not printed at Tab A is telegram 182080 to USNATO, October 28, which reads: “Objective at the Deputy Foreign Ministers Meeting or in council discussion thereafter would be early agreement on public affairs ‘guidelines’ along following lines: that the principle is acceptable of an eventual European security conference, properly prepared and with U.S. participation; that the problem of European security is complicated and must be approached through dealing with concrete issues and not propaganda measures; that the allies are examining such issues for consideration in December to determine those on which progress might be made in bilateral and multilateral discussions with the Soviet Union and its allies.”
  4. See Document 3 and footnote 4 thereto.
  5. See Document 8.