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216. Memorandum for the Record1

SUBJECT

  • Meeting Between Dr. Kissinger and Italian Ambassador Ortona, November 19, 12:40 to 1 p.m.

The Ambassador explained that he was returning to Rome for a meeting of Italy’s NATO chiefs of mission, and so he hoped to get Dr. Kissinger’s comment on topical issues such as NATO, US force levels, EC enlargement, and then perhaps some comment on the China and Soviet summit meetings.

Dr. Kissinger emphatically stated that we have no intention of withdrawing forces from NATO, and that the Administration will fight the Congress on this point. He added that one would have hoped that, after the Mansfield amendment had been defeated earlier this year,2 this issue would not be raised again in this year or session. The Ambassador began to explain a recent meeting he had with Senator Mansfield, but was interrupted when Dr. Kissinger had to leave the room momentarily for a phone call.

Upon his return, Dr. Kissinger continued that the task of the Administration is made more complex when the Europeans do not do enough. The Germans, for example, seem to be convinced that the US and the USSR will arrange a separate deal on reduction of forces. This view, Dr. Kissinger said, is totally false and nonsense. Ortona said that he has heard this same sort of comment regarding Italian viewpoints too, and that he agreed personally that there was no basis for it.

We do not, Dr. Kissinger continued, conduct our policy in a petty manner. It would be folly for us to injure our friends in order to placate an enemy. With great stress, Dr. Kissinger said that force reductions are not on any agenda for the Moscow meeting, the issue has never been discussed with the Soviets, and that MBFR will be discussed multilaterally—or not at all.

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Dr. Kissinger added parenthetically that it was the Europeans (Brosio) who had dreamed up MBFR in the first place. It is most important for us and the Europeans to agree on a rational strategy and on long term allocation of resources with a better sense of sharing the burden. Unless this is done, the Mansfield amendment will succeed.

Ambassador Ortona suggested that burden sharing is part of the monetary problem, but Dr. Kissinger noted that this will not be the central feature of the monetary issue. The Ambassador said that there seems to be opposing views (US and Europeans) on the monetary/ commercial problems and on exchange rates. He suggested that some effort might be made on the part of the Europeans to deal helpfully on the question of grains and cereals. Dr. Kissinger said that, in his view, the US will have to be somewhat more cooperative on the question of exchange rates, and that the Europeans must do more on the commercial/trade side. He added that the US would look carefully at the grains and cereals possibility as a first step measure.

The Ambassador said that he intended to report in Rome that the US had no intention of disengaging from Europe, and that in effect Europe was the exception to the Nixon Doctrine. In response, Dr. Kissinger said that the Ambassador was exactly right, that the US had no intention of turning its back on Europe. The Ambassador noted that he had recently talked with Senator Mansfield who agreed that European security was as important to the US as its own security, yet he still desired withdrawal of some 50,000 US forces a year. Dr. Kissinger noted that the same people (and Members of the Congress) will employ the same methods and tactics as they had on Viet Nam, but will turn on Europe.

Concluding, the Ambassador asked Dr. Kissinger about the President’s visit to China.3 Dr. Kissinger said that one should not approach both the Moscow and Peking summits with the same concepts and expectations. For example, there may be some agreements that will come from the Moscow meeting—perhaps relating to trade, SALT or even the Middle East. On the other hand, one should not expect any major agreements to result from the Peking visit. The aim there is not major specific agreements, but the start of a direction, an effort to regulate the consequences of hostility. The US plans no shift from Tokyo to Peking, and we will not impair Japanese interests. In short, we are seeking a more stable set of relations.

Arthur T. Downey4
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 695, Country Files—Europe, Italy, Vol. III. Confidential. Sent for information. Drafted by Arthur T. Downey on November 23.
  2. During 1971, Senate Majority leader Mike Mansfield (D–MT) made two efforts to scale back U.S. forces in Europe through Congressional action. On May 11, he introduced a proposal to limit to 150,000 the number of troops stationed in Europe. The Senate defeated this proposal 31–61 on May 19. See Documents 62 and 63. In the fall of 1971, Mansfield introduced a rider to the 1972 Defense Appropriations Bill (H.R. 11731) that would have placed a 250,000 man ceiling on troop deployment in Europe. The Senate rejected this proposal on November 23, 39–54. The Defense Appropriations Act was approved without the Mansfield Amendment.
  3. The President visited China February 21–28, 1972.
  4. Downey initialed “ATD” above his typed signature.