9. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Interdepartmental Group for Europe (Hillenbrand) to the Chairman of the Review Group (Kissinger)1


  • NATO Policy Review—NSSM 6

The IG/Europe has considered in detail and at length the requirement levied in NSSM–62 for a) a review of alternatives to policy in general toward NATO and b) a discussion of specific related issues such as US troop levels, German offset negotiations, US nuclear relations with the UK and France, consultations in NATO, and US attitudes toward intra-European defense cooperation.

We have not achieved a fully agreed paper though there has emerged a measure of consensus. Each member has problems with certain aspects of particular interest; for example, Treasury believes that the budgetary and balance of payments aspects of policy are not given sufficient weight. There remains also a divergence of view on the approach taken in responding to NSSM–6, and more particularly on the presentation of the main related issues.

I do not find the differences surprising: the US relationship to NATO involves factors extending across the entire spectrum of our relations with our Allies. Consequently, agreement either on definition of issues or on alternative solutions was not possible in the time allotted for the study. Moreover, I have resisted efforts to “paper over” policy differences by forwarding to you positions reflecting the “least common denominator.”

Our difficulty in reaching agreement is also rooted in the fact that the objective situation has altered since NSSM–6 was received: the President has clearly affirmed his support of NATO. Thus, alternative institutional arrangements for accomplishing US policy objectives are not presently at issue. We assume, however, that modifications are not precluded to the present NATO structure and functions to improve the organization and to achieve a better balance of contributions between us and our Allies in both military and non-military sectors of Alliance activity.

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Against this background, I am forwarding to you a paper3 that takes as its premise the continuation of US participation in NATO. It concentrates on the fundamental issues facing the Alliance, and explores alternatives arising from these issues.

These issues confront the Administration with the necessity for choice. Some will require early consideration, and others can be deferred somewhat. All, however, are important, and should be addressed before too much time elapses.

The presentation is organized into main issues requiring choice, and related lesser issues. Detailed background papers covering these questions have been prepared, and a measure of agreement on these papers also has been achieved. But because points of difference between agencies remain, and because some of these disagreements may be resolved through further IG/Europe discussion, the papers are not submitted at this time. However, they can be made available for reference if desired.

In approaching the issues set forth in the attached paper I would recommend that the NSC decide, in the course of an initial discussion, a) those issues which should be discussed further; and b) the preferred order of discussion. IG/Europe could then refine its studies of these issues for NSC use. I would appreciate your comments on this proposal.

Some members of IG/Europe favor exploring long-range alternatives to NATO, against the background of fundamental US interests and current US policies. This approach, in my view, might form the basis for a later study of possible future developments, whereas the immediate focus of our concern, it seems to me, should be on the real issues confronting us today in our relations with NATO.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–111, Senior Review Group, SRG Minutes Originals 1969. Secret.
  2. Document 2.
  3. Not attached. Davis forwarded the undated paper prepared by the Interdepartmental Group on Europe entitled “NSC Review—US Policy Toward NATO,” to Pedersen, Nutter, Smith, Lieutenant General William Rosson, and Assistant Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness Haakon Lindjord under cover of a March 17 memorandum. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–035, Senior Review Group Meetings, Review Group NATO Policy—NSSM 6 3/24/69)