95. Memorandum for the Record1
- U.S.-Canadian Delegations, 12th Meeting, Joint Cabinet Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs
- The Secretary
- Minister Sharp
- International Situation Review: Canadian NATO Forces
The conversation turned to NATO’s military structure.
The Secretary said we had been interested, indeed more than interested, in Canada’s proposal to reduce its troops in Europe. We were impressed not only by the quality of the Canadian forces in Europe, they were also important as a symbol of the trans-Atlantic alliance. The Canadian action might suggest to some in the Congress that the United States ought to pursue a policy along the same lines. The prospects of a snowball were not encouraging here or elsewhere in the alliance.[Page 393]
We recognized that Canada had a special problem in its domestic situation; we nevertheless looked forward to consultations on the troop reduction proposal.
Sharp said Canada accepted the need to discuss its role in NATO with its allies. It should be clear, however, that Canada had made some fundamental decisions; namely, to remain in NATO and be a part of it. The Canadians had considered neutrality or an alliance with the United States alone, but had rejected both possibilities. Canada had a stake in Europe’s security. It therefore intended to stay in NATO and to keep troops in Europe in support of that commitment.
As to Canada’s role in the alliance, the present one was not appropriate, and something more compatible with Canada’s responsibilities in North America and elsewhere in the world had to be devised. The armored brigade and the air units in Germany, for example, did not fit with Canada’s other deployments. The Canadians had decided to change their role, though they continued to believe they could play a strong one. Unless they could contribute constructively to the alliance, they would withdraw. Canada understood the importance of consultation, but its basic position was “non-negotiable.” Canada had to have the right to decide on its role. Within that context, it was prepared to discuss the timing of the cuts and, within limits, the extent of the cuts.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 670, Country Files—Europe, Canada, Vol. I. Confidential; Limdis. Approved in S on July 22. Handwritten notes on the first page read: “Hold for HAK AH [Alexander Haig]” and “Also sent to S[onnen]feldt—FYI.” The original is labeled: “Part Five of Eight.” Copies of the other memoranda for the record are ibid.; annotation on one of these memoranda indicates that it was drafted by Carson.↩