19. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • Implementation of Your NATO Proposals

The North Atlantic Council (NAC) has now discussed your proposal for establishing a Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society (on May 14), and the proposals for periodic meetings at the Deputy Foreign Minister level and creation of a more powerful Special Political Planning Committee (on May 21).

The discussions in Brussels have made clear that the considered Allied reaction has been generally positive though cautious to the idea of a Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society, and generally negative on Deputy Foreign Minister meetings and a new planning group.

At Tab A2 is a memorandum from Elliot Richardson giving details of the status of the proposal for a Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society, which has been considered in some detail with the Allies. The Permanent Representatives have agreed ad referendum to (a) visits this summer by NATO Secretary General Brosio to Allied capitals to discuss your proposals; and (b) a special NAC meeting this autumn, reinforced by high-level experts on environmental affairs, to discuss this subject.

My own review of the reporting from Brussels leads me to conclude that there are three basic reasons for the slowness and skepticism of our Allies in responding to your proposals:

—first, and most important, the proposals have been advanced through NAC, where the Permanent Representatives tend to see the new structures as challenges to their own prerogatives, and to interpret [Page 66] US advocacy of change as implying that NAC has not been doing its job properly;

—second, your proposals tend to cut across bureaucratic lines and suggest a NATO role for agencies of Allied Governments outside the Foreign Ministries, which causes consternation among professional diplomats in the capitals; and

—third, the Allies traditionally are suspicious of plans to create new NATO mechanisms until it is perfectly clear why they are required and how they will be used.

The State Department is currently undertaking a further series of bilateral approaches to the allies both in allied capitals and by calling in Ambassadors or Deputy Mission chiefs here. An aide mémoire giving additional details on how the Committee on Challenges of Modern Society would function is being handed to all allied foreign ministers.

I think this is the right approach since it may cut through some of the inertia. If, after we have obtained responses to these démarches, the pace still seems unsatisfactory we could consider a personal letter from you to NATO heads of government. Elliot Richardson will provide a further progress report in a few days.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 256, Agency Files, NATO, Vol. IV. Confidential. Sent for information. A handwritten note at the top of the memorandum reads: “Pres has seen, 6/3.”
  2. Attached but not printed.