287. Response to National Security Study Memorandum 461


[Omitted here is the outline and the table of contents.]

I. Introduction

Spain is in a period of transition. General Franco, who has held power for 30 years, still controls the government, but he is showing the effects of age and can no longer devote the same personal attention to every phase of government activity that he has during his long rule. To provide for an orderly succession, he has named Prince Juan Carlos to become Chief of State upon his death or retirement. He has recently appointed a new, younger cabinet whose leading members demonstrate a great interest in economic modernization and closer ties with Western Europe. It is thus an appropriate moment, as Spain moves into the [Page 890] post-Franco era, to examine our Spanish policy alternatives from a broad viewpoint and over a period of years.

Spain’s system of government can still be described as essentially authoritarian, although it has generally evolved during the last few years towards more tolerance. Independent labor unions and political parties (except for the “National Movement”) are forbidden. There are still considerable restrictions on the freedom of the press and freedom of association. Somewhat less than one-fifth of the membership of the Cortes (Parliament) is popularly elected. Despite the disturbances precipitated mainly by university students and young priests, and, to a lesser extent, workers, most Spaniards are apolitical and many sectors have a strong interest in stability and order. The generation which lived through the Spanish Civil War is largely fearful of any violence and political disruption. The emerging middle class, the product of a sustained period of economic growth, has a stake in the status quo.

The new Cabinet, appointed last October 29, represents a shift of the balance of power in favor of a group of “technocrats” whose emphasis is on progressive business, economic planning, and modernization. They have expressed interest in closer ties with Western Europe and the United States. It is not expected that the new Cabinet will press for political liberalization, but rather a modernization of the government, especially in economic policy. The two strongest figures in the government next to Franco are Vice President Carrero Blanco and Economic Minister Lopez Rodo. It seems probable that one of them may eventually succeed Franco in his capacity as Head of Government. If so, we could expect to see a continuation of the ascendancy of the “technocrats” over the Falangists, military, and other elements represented in the government.

The United States has various interests in Spain which can be categorized generally as political, economic, and security. The country’s geographic position makes a Western-oriented Spain of crucial importance for Western security in Europe, the Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Middle East. Though not a member of NATO, Spain makes a major contribution to the Western security system through the facilities it offers to U.S. air and naval forces. Spain and the United States share an interest in strengthening the defense of the West and share a concern over the expanding Soviet influence in the Arab World and the increased Soviet naval presence in the Mediterranean. At the same time, Spain’s policy of support for the Arab countries would probably preclude U.S. use of the Spanish bases in any Arab-Israeli confrontation. In general, it can be said that our security interest in Spain relates directly to our defense strategy for the greater area rather than to Spain in itself.

Because of our need for military facilities, the United States has had an interest in political stability in Spain, since GOS support for our [Page 891] security interests might not be present in an unstable situation. At the same time, there is a U.S. interest in seeing Spain become closer to Western Europe. This implies an interest in political liberalization, so that Spain will become more politically acceptable to the Western European community. We support Spanish entry into NATO, as a solution to the problem of Spanish defense, to enable Spain to participate more effectively in the Western defense scheme, and as a means of integrating Spain into Europe. Various NATO allies continue to oppose Spanish entry, however, on political grounds. Our ultimate goal remains to get Spain into NATO, which possibility may arise after Franco’s death. In the interim, if and when Gibraltar becomes a less divisive issue between Spain and the UK, we might explore again the possibility of establishing a low-level contact through a liaison relationship between Spain and a NATO command in the area of special Spanish interest (IBERLANT, MARAIRMED).

The United States supports the movement toward unity in Western Europe. On the other hand, the U.S. opposes limited preferential trade agreements between the EC and non-members, as we consider that these are damaging to U.S. exports and impair the integrity of GATT. Spain and the EC are presently negotiating a limited preferential trade agreement. The U.S. has considerable bilateral economic interests in Spain, being the largest supplier of goods to Spain ($590 million in 1968), the largest market for Spanish exports ($279 million in 1968) and having investments there totalling $500–600 million.

Relations between Spain and the United States have, since 1953, been based largely upon the existence of and our continuing need for joint-use military facilities in Spain. The U.S., in the early days of the Defense Agreement, sponsored Spain’s return to international respectability. Likewise, Spain was at that time dependent upon the U.S. for economic and military support. During the intervening years we have worked closely with the Spanish government, while maintaining discreet contact with the opposition to be aware of the full spectrum of Spanish opinion.

Spain today is in a fundamentally different situation from that of 1953. A period of sustained and significant economic growth has put the country back on its feet economically. Spain is an active member of the UN, the OECD, and other international organizations and has a far greater role than before in the world political arena. GOS expressions of the desire for a new kind of relationship with the U.S. in the future reflect its greater independence.

Two immediate policy issues must be faced—the future of US-Spanish base agreements, and our attitude toward an imminent Spanish-EC limited preferential trade agreement. The first of these, which is the more significant, will require a decision as to whether or [Page 892] not we should seek to retain military rights and facilities either at the present level or in reduced form in Spain after the present agreements expire in September, 1970.

The options are: to attempt to retain these facilities to the maximum extent, to reduce them in various alternative ways, and to withdraw our military presence from Spain.

Spanish officials have expressed a desire for a new, broader US-Spanish relationship with emphasis on other than military aspects. In particular, they have asked for our support in a far-reaching education reform plan, which, if implemented successfully, will have the effect of modernizing the educational structure of the country. In any event, our bilateral relations with Spain over the past years have been good. They can be expected to remain good with or without a new defense agreement, as long as the other elements of our overall policy are based on realistic objectives and an accurate appraisal of the politics and economics of Spain now and in the near future.

[Omitted here are Sections II, Issues and Analysis, and III, Alternative Policy Options; and Annexes A through D.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–147, National Security Study Memoranda, NSSM 46. Secret. The report is 36 pages long. NSSM 46 is Document 279.