94. Memorandum From Helmut Sonnenfeldt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • State Department Démarche on Canadian Defense Plan

The attached cable, Tab A,2 for your clearance states that Richardson will call in the Canadian Ambassador to object in strong terms to the Canadian reduction plans in NATO. Similar instructions are proposed for the Embassy use with the Foreign Minister in Ottawa.

For several reasons, I think this is an unwise move, before the Defense Ministers’ meeting is completed.

Cadieux’s use of “non-negotiable” was privately conveyed to Laird, and is not necessarily the last word.3 If we make a major issue of it now, the Canadian position undoubtedly will stiffen;

—the line proposed by State contains a veiled threat that unless the Canadians change their position we may take some troops out of Europe. Once this becomes known, as it will, all the Europeans will shudder;

—finally, in view of the Canadian attitude on the ABM, we will be asking for major and unwanted trouble if we stress that Canadian decision is inconsistent with the “new era of consultation” initiated at the time of the Trudeau meeting with the President.

In short, if we escalate our language and force a confrontation now we will probably magnify the consequences of the Canadian decision out of all proportion. There is still room for negotiation, as hinted by Cadieux. We should not slam the door.

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Recommendation: That you call Richardson and discourage him from calling in the Canadian Ambassador or making any démarche in Ottawa.4

If you do not agree with the foregoing, at least we should preserve some flexibility by drastically toning down the proposed language in the attached cable.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 670, Country Files—Europe, Canada, Vol. I. Secret. Sent for action. A notation on the first page reads: “Today.” This memorandum was Sonnenfeldt’s second effort to soften the tone of official U.S. response to the Canadian decision to reduce its military forces in NATO. In a May 27 memorandum to Kissinger, following a presentation by Cadieux to Laird, Sonnenfeldt noted Laird’s strong negative response and proposed that Kissinger “call the Secretary [Rogers] in Brussels and urge him to go easy on the Canadian presentation, and not to encourage others in their criticism” in order to keep open channels of negotiation. The memorandum was marked “disapproved” with the notation, “HAK says Laird’s ok on this.” (Ibid.)
  2. Not printed. There is no indication the telegram was approved or sent.
  3. The May 26 Laird-Cadieux conversation was summarized in Sonnenfeldt’s May 27 memorandum.
  4. A handwritten note reads: “HAK discussed with Richardson on May 29.” No record of this conversation was found.