16. Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State (Richardson) to President Nixon 1


  • Implementation of your Proposals to the NATO Ministerial Meeting

In your address at the commemorative session of the North Atlantic Council on April 10, you called for the following three measures to improve Western political consultation:

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—Periodic meetings of Deputy Foreign Ministers;

—Creation of a special political planning group;

—Establishment of a committee on the challenges of modern society.

Discussions at the Ministerial Meeting and comments thereafter from capitals and NATO Permanent Representatives indicate considerable interest in implementing these proposals. Predictably, there are areas of resistance from certain quarters: some Allies have expressed concern over an expansion of NATO’s current structure; others have taken a conventional view towards expanding NATO’s consultative role to include environmental problems. On the other hand, there have been strong expressions of support for your proposals from a number of the Allies; the Germans and Dutch, for example, have evinced enthusiastic interest in NATO discussions on problems of modern society.2

Based on reports we have received thus far, we considered it advisable to instruct Ambassadors in Allied capitals to make bilateral approaches in order to develop support for your proposals at the political level. We also believe it important to try to break this subject out of traditional Foreign Office channels. As a further useful step in this direction, NATO Secretary General Brosio may soon tour Allied capitals in order to obtain high-level views on your proposals.

Specifically, we have taken the following steps on each of your suggestions:

Periodic Meetings of Deputy Foreign Ministers:

We have urged that the first meeting take place in September, leaving to participating officials the question of the schedule for subsequent meetings. We have suggested that topics for consultation by Deputy Foreign Ministers might include European security issues which lend themselves to negotiation with the countries of Eastern Europe; formal establishment of the Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society, and of guidelines for this committee; and a discussion of the work of the Special Political Planning Group.

Special Political Planning Group:

We have called for the establishment of a planning group which would consult on long-term issues beyond current Alliance operational concerns. We believe this body should examine trends in an effort to identify at early stages the problems that might arise, or could be prevented from arising through advance action. If possible, we would like to organize the first session of this group in June.

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Committee on Challenges of Modern Society:

Our first objective in this area is to obtain early agreement in principle among the Permanent Representatives for establishing this committee. Once this decision is taken, we believe that an ad hoc exploratory group should be convened to discuss topics to be brought before the committee, as well as organizational arrangements for carrying this work forward. We have proposed that Allied representatives to this ad hoc group should be of the caliber of Pat Moynihan, Arthur Burns or James Allen. This ad hoc committee would report its findings to Deputy Foreign Ministers at their September meeting; they in turn would endorse or amend decisions of the ad hoc group. The Committee on Challenges of Modern Society would then be formed to meet in October or November.

The Council at Permanent Representatives level will meet to consider these proposals again on May 14. We will complete our bilateral discussions in capitals before then. In the light of these discussions we will prepare additional instructions to our NATO Ambassador to use at that meeting. That session should result in further clarification of Allied views and be the first step towards an action program.

Elliot L. Richardson 3
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, NATO 3. Confidential. Drafted by Reddy on May 5; cleared by McGuire and Springsteen. “The President has seen” is stamped on Kissinger’s May 19 covering memorandum transmitting Richardson’s memorandum to Nixon. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 256, Agency Files, NATO, Vol. IV)
  2. As reported in telegrams 60705, April 19, and 69463, May 3, to USNATO. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 4 NATO)
  3. Richardson initialed “ELR” above his typed signature.