44. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for Urban Affairs (Moynihan) to President Nixon 1

At the end of the fiscal year, I would like to bring you up to date on progress of the NATO Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society.

You will recall that the CCMS was proposed by you in April 1969, and began operations in December 1969.

1. Main Points.

A. CCMS is probably now the most active, and productive international activity of its kind. Our thesis that NATO was a forum in which you could get action has, in the short run at all events, proved correct. (It is to be noted that, especially in environmental issues, there are sharply divergent views as between the developed and underdeveloped countries. For the latter, pollution is a sign of progress. They are extremely suspicious of anyone who would deprive them of it. Hence the UN will have great difficulties with this issue.)

B. CCMS is no longer an American activity, but it is nonetheless sustained by American energy and initiatives. It will take a long time for the program to become self-sustaining. Any relaxation of American effort during that interval is likely to be fatal.

2. Participation. Most NATO countries are now seriously engaged in one or more projects. The Dutch Prime Minister remarked to me privately that he believed CCMS was making an important contribution to the further development of the Atlantic Alliance. And it may well be. A curious but happy factor has been the excellent participation we have been getting from the French. They have been among our best supporters and are currently sponsoring a project on regional development [Page 176]and the environment. The Germans, with strong support from Brandt, are doing a good job and have sent top officials to our meetings. Among the large powers only Britain has shown some reluctance to fully commit themselves to the CCMS. Even here, however, some positive changes have come about and they are now planning to work with the French on their regional development project. The Italians are also actively cooperating with us in the disaster assistance field. Among the small countries, Belgium is doing a first-rate job on piloting a project on sea pollution, and Canada is working up what could be an important project on inland water pollution. Some of the smaller countries such as Norway, Denmark and Iceland are rather inactive, one supposes largely for lack of resources and perhaps their preference for working in other organizations.

3. Public Awareness. We have made some progress in publicizing CCMS. Most of the major European newspapers have favorably covered our meetings and we have appeared on TV networks in France, the Netherlands and Great Britain. USIA is planning a series of films on the environment focusing on CCMS projects which we hope will be completed by the end of the year.

4. Projects.

A. Air Pollution. The National Air Pollution Control Administration now has full-time staff working on development of a project to standardize air quality criteria to develop air pollution models in comparative urban areas, including Frankfurt and Ankara. The Ankara system will be operating in mid-September and the Germans will have a fully integrated system operating next spring. From all this activity we hope to establish NATO-wide agreement on air quality standards. We hope by October to have accurate air pollution projections for the Ankara area. This means that for the first time the Turks will be able to plan in some scientific fashion future pollution levels. Eventually we could have operating “models” for every major urban area in NATO.

B. Disaster Assistance. The Office of Emergency Preparedness has been moving forward with three priority projects in this field. They are:

(1) Development of NATO’s role in disaster assistance coordination.

(2) Flood loss mitigation, starting with a symposium on flooding this October in Venice in cooperation with the Italians. This meeting will be the first major international exchange of information on this subject.

(3) Earthquake prediction, warning and loss mitigation with a symposium in the spring of 1971, probably at the Western White House in San Clemente.

C. Traffic Safety. This project, under the National Highway Safety Bureau, is moving ahead rapidly and has good prospects for significant results through a number of activities.

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The first is the foreign development of a small experimental safety vehicle (ESV) similar to that being developed here on the large American scale. The ESV is designed so that car occupants can survive crashes into a brick wall at 50 mph. We are discussing with France, UK, Germany and Italy as well as Japan and Sweden the possibilities of these countries undertaking the development and design of these experimental vehicles. We hope to achieve agreement with one or more of these countries within a fairly short period of time.

The U.S. held a major conference this May on automotive passive restraints in Michigan at the GM proving grounds. This conference demonstrated the use of the so-called air bag technique, and representatives included major world automotive manufacturers and their governments.

A further U.S. activity in this field is development of standardized international methods for rating the nature and severity of injuries and vehicle damage produced in crashes. A workshop on this subject was held in June in Brussels, attended by delegations from six countries and over 100 industry representatives and some of the world’s leading medical experts in crash trauma.

Italy has agreed to undertake a survey of NATO countries on the provision of medical services to aid crash victims. This is a field in which the Europeans are in advance of the United States and where we hope to gain significant advances on our own techniques in this field.

D. Sea Pollution. The Belgians and Portuguese are sponsoring a conference on oil spills this fall in Brussels. This will be the first broad-gauge international conference to deal with this subject looking at detection, prevention and cleaning up of open water oil spills. The U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Interior and other U.S. agencies under the coordination of the National Council on Marine Resources are planning to make a major contribution to this conference. Specifically, we hope this conference will come forth with major recommendations for international action in this field.

E. Inland Water Pollution. This topic is only now beginning to take form under the leadership of the Canadians who are proposing to examine the problems of water basin management in terms of citizen participation. The U.S., along with the Belgians, is co-piloting this project. The Federal Water Quality Administration is providing the necessary backstopping.

F. Narcotics. The special CCMS meeting on narcotics in June seems to have worked. It was agreed that the NATO countries would request a special fall meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) to deal with the present “crisis.” (This is the first time we have used CCMS to launch an initiative elsewhere.) The CND is the “official” world organization for this problem, but it has done nothing whatever [Page 178]about illicit drug traffic. It will now probably get into the subject, with a push from NATOincluding Turkey. The U.S. will probably propose a new international convention at this fall meeting. Later, the U.S. has been directed to prepare a report on the illicit drug traffic throughout the world to be presented to the October meeting of CCMS. This will be the first time anywhere that the Turks will have to listen to what they are up to. It could be an important event. I would think it impossible that they would have agreed to any such thing anywhere save CCMS.

5. Summary. We have moved a long way from our shaky beginning. But it will take hard work and from time to time an expression of interest by you, especially to the Allies, to insure that this initiative will not flounder as have so many early attempts to do something internationally in this field. We have made a good beginning and the prospects remain bright, but the real work remains ahead.

Daniel P. Moynihan 2
  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 6. No classification marking. A copy was sent to Kissinger who sent Moynihan a complimentary acknowledgement on July 14. (Ibid.)
  2. Moynihan wrote his initials above his typed signature.