239. Telegram 289664 From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom1

Subject: Message from Secretary to Foreign Secretary Callaghan on British Defense Cuts. Refs: A. London 18789; B. NATO 6729 (both NOTAL). Embassy should convey following message to Foreign Secretary Callaghan:

Begin text.

Dear Jim:

Because I understand the British Cabinet will meet on December 9 and will address defense spending, I am writing you in advance of our meetings in Brussels and London to express concern over any further reductions in the UK defense budget.

As we have agreed in the past, our policy of détente can succeed only if we preserve an acceptable military balance. Congressional pressures on U.S. defense spending can only increase if our principal allies do not resist making cuts of their own.

The defense cuts your government made last year drastically reduced Britain’s ability to play an international role, and cut to the minimum Britain’s ability to maintain its forces and reinforcement ability in Europe and the Mediterranean. Any further defense reductions would weaken Britain’s influence as a NATO ally, with important implications for future European stability. I am sure you are aware that America’s long-term relations with the UK will inevitably have to take into account Britain’s standing as a partner in our common security enterprise.

I hope you will be able to use your influence to stem any further reductions. I look forward to seeing you later this week.

Warm regards,

Henry A. Kissinger

End text.

  1. Summary: The Department forwarded a message from Kissinger for delivery to Callaghan concerning the possibility of further UK defense cuts.

    Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Europe and Canada, Box 15, UK—State Department Telegrams from SECSTATENODIS (4). Secret; Flash; Nodis. Sent immediate for information to the Mission to NATO. Drafted by Vladimir Lehovich and Gerald Helman in EUR/RPM; cleared by Lowenstein, Sonnenfeldt, and C. Arthur Borg in S/S; and approved by Kissinger. In a February 19 memorandum to Scowcroft, Clift summarized a February 17 message from Mason to Rumsfeld on the UK defense cuts. (Ibid., Box 15, UK (6))