205. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Spanish Base Negotiations


  • The Secretary
  • Robert J. McCloskey, Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations
  • Wells Stabler, American Ambassador to Spain
  • Arthur A. Hartman, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs
  • Robert E. Barbour, Director, EUR/WE

The Secretary: What is the status of this problem?

McCloskey: First of all, you should know that he wants to see you alone. He may not say anything, though. He will probably have Alba with him, and I suggest that you have Stabler with you. Cortina may [Typeset Page 653] not insist. The main thing is that he does not want to have Rovira with him. The situation on the table is really at a standstill.

The Secretary: My problem is that I have never received a comprehensive paper on this subject. Where is this paper? Does it exist? You know I don’t accept that the job is done when the paper is dropped in my office.

Hartman: You are going to make me shake up your office. There are some things you have to read. This is one of them. It is important and you should have been given it. (At Secretary’s desk) Here it is!

The Secretary: Oh, yes, I have read this. What is the issue now?

McCloskey: Two things. First, we must find some way to pass the September 25 deadline via some kind of a gentlemen’s agreement and without having them invoke the withdrawal part of the agreement. Maybe we can say that negotiations are continuing. The second thing is that we must deflect him from driving you into a bilateral security agreement or a phantom arrangement in NATO.

Stabler: The problem is that he is persuaded that they must get either an arrangement with NATO as a bilateral security guarantee or in any event something which can be presented as equality of treatment. He is sold on this idea of equality of treatment. He has looked into the Turkish situation and thinks that, because Spain is so important, you should go all out for them in the Senate as we have done for Turkey.

The Secretary: He’s nuts! It is the Senate that is getting us out of Turkey.

Hartman: They have also looked at the agreement in an Israeli context.

The Secretary: You know, even those parts of the Israeli agreement that we gave the Senate earlier they now call “secret undertakings”.

McCloskey: I think, as does Wells, that it has become important to this man to negotiate directly with you. His position is that we have ended phase one, and phase two will take place with you. If he is not disabused of this, he will want more meetings with you. You have to tell him that this is not possible.

Stabler: My impression is that they just do not understand that when you develop a formula for a military relationship you must say whether it is or not a security guarantee. We just say whether it is or not a security guarantee. We just can not get through their heads that the first is not possible, given the Congressional situation.

Hartman: But we will have to say it.

The Secretary: You know, personally, I think we should give one. Spain is more important than Portugal or most of the European countries with which we have a defense commitment.

McCloskey: There is just no chance for it on the Hill.

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Hartman: They seem to want some kind of equivalence with NATO.

The Secretary: I think we are reducing our presence too much. Why are we doing all this for one base?

McCloskey: Two bases. There is Rota, and the Air Force will be protected at Zaragoza.

The Secretary: Why are we closing Torrejon?

McCloskey: Is the counter to Zaragoza. Defense said this will be O.K., but only if it is critical to reaching an agreement. Schlesinger and the JCS are willing to give it up, if necessary.

The Secretary: They are not all that eager.

Hartman: What the Spaniards really want is to have the tankers taken out.

The Secretary: What they really want is the apparatus of a security guarantee.

Stabler: He will try to put a lot of pressure on you, and he plans to be here 10 days. My own view is that we can not rule out the possibility that they will conclude that a disadvantageous agreement is worse than none at all. If it ends up with us still having two bases, if not four, and without anything looking like equal treatment, we can not exclude the possibility that they could cut off their noses to spite their faces.

McCloskey: As you know, the material demands went up, too. The best we can do is $100 million MAP for each five years.

The Secretary: Why is that the best we can do?

McCloskey: Because the worldwide total is likely to be not more than $800 million.

Hartman: There is going to be a problem here, especially if we tell Congress that we are keeping only two bases. Congress thinks that the Spaniards should give them away.

The Secretary: And so, what is the answer? MAP?

McCloskey: We offer 10 million a year for 5 years. That figure is stretched to the limit. Congress wants to get rid of military aid entirely.

Hartman: I do not have the impression that they are vitally interested in grant MAP.

Stabler: They want assistance in modernizing their Armed Forces, but what is really important is the general relationship between the two countries.

The Secretary: He is the biggest pain I ever dealt with.

Hartman: Even the French think so.

Stabler: Cortina thinks that Giscard and Schmidt will pick up the defense relationship if ours is dropped.

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The Secretary: Fat chance. Giscard maybe, not Genscher.

Hartman: The fact of the matter is that he has talked himself into a position where the agreement becomes a vehicle for a new kind of relationship with us and others.

Stabler: We could also just pull back and appeal to Franco, but I have doubts about this. Maybe we should face the possibility that we may not be able to give him what he wants. This would be risky but . . .

Hartman: Finally, we can take the position that an agreement is possible with what we have, if they would be reasonable. The basis for this agreement is our reduced facilities, the military assistance and the institutional arrangements.

The Secretary: What kind of institutional arrangements do you have in mind?

Hartman: Look. Here is the diagram.

The Secretary: Don’t show me any diagrams. I never understand them anyway.

McCloskey: Under the 1970 agreement there is a Joint Committee headed at the top by the American Ambassador and the Foreign Minister.

Stabler: It has not met since I have been there and possibly not for a year.

The Secretary: What does it do exactly?

McCloskey: It is the senior forum for general military policy talks and, theoretically, it covers a combined military staff to coordinate planning and open up lines of communication with some NATO commands.

The Secretary: What will we be willing to have the new Joint Committee do? Where is it located?

McCloskey: At Madrid.

Stabler: It is a planning device, but in wartime it turns into a kind of joint group with Joint Committee arrangements.

The Secretary: Is it legal, without Congressional approval?

McCloskey: There would be a commitment, but it would be a commitment to a military and political relationship and I would be willing to defend it on the Hill. I think that if this is in the agreement it might work.

Stabler: They take the view, a strange view, that article 5 in the NATO treaty is not a guarantee. They insist that for this reason we can give them the same things and still say we have given no commitment.

The Secretary: So, you are talking about two institutions. A kind of ministerial committee that would meet once or twice a year?

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Stabler: Yes, then there would be things like Economic, Scientific and Cultural committees, and they would correspond more or less to similar NATO institutions.

The Secretary: Has this been put to him?

McCloskey: Rovira has a copy, but it is not a commitment on our part.

The Secretary: So, it will not be news to Cortina.

McCloskey: He may have looked at it, but, I doubt that he listened to any discussions of it.

Stabler: The planning group is an old idea. In the past they discussed it.

The Secretary: Maybe because they knew that they would not get everything they wanted. And, if they don’t?

Stabler: In the final analysis, they will probably have to recede but, now they have NATO saying that if they had understood better what Spain wanted, they would have reacted differently. In Helsinki the Belgians and other Europeans were reported as saying to Arias that we had said they wanted full membership, when actually what we talked about was some kind of closer relationship that recognized the Spanish contribution to Western defense. This is all very ironic, because they would happily accept a statement from the Allies saying that they did recognize the Spanish contribution to Western defense. If we could get this, we would be home free.

McCloskey: Article 7 of the Declaration of Principles sounds like paragraph 5 of the NATO agreement. They want this written into a new agreement.

The Secretary: Even an executive agreement with this in it would have to go through Congress.

McCloskey: If this is written into the agreement, the Senate will insist that it is a treaty.

The Secretary: (Reading) That’s pretty strong.

McCloskey: And look at what Pell is doing with the Israeli agreement.

The Secretary: And they want that as an integral part of the agreement?

Stabler: Yes, they wanted it in as part of it, and they do not want it debated.

The Secretary: Either it is a security commitment or it is not. We must say one or the other.

Stabler: We have told them that in 16 different ways, but Cortina does not believe it. They say that if the Secretary would only explain to the Senate how important it was, surely the Senate would understand.

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The Secretary: Ha! That is why they would reject it. If they had Communists in office there, they could have it without difficulty. You know, I can’t bear that man. Whom does he get along with? How did he get to be Foreign Minister?

Stabler: He stands in well with Franco and Franco’s family, and this gives him a lot of power. His briefings of the Council of Ministers are very short. He seems to have brainwashed Arias and is now in a very strong position.

The Secretary: Lopez Rodo was someone you could talk to. I don’t know what became of him. Even Lopez Bravo was realistic.

Stabler: Cortina may be reflecting a changing Spanish public opinion that has become anti-bases but not anti-American. Lopez Bravo is out of the picture. Lopez Rodo is an Opus Dei member who was ousted when Arias came in. Now people say he may become Mayor of Barcelona.

The Secretary: I only ask for reasons of nostalgia. I did not dislike them. You could talk to them.

(Continuation: following Secretary’s meeting with Cortina)

The Secretary: I think it might be possible to put together something that would line up fairly well with his positions. If it turns out not to be possible, we shall just have to tell him so, but he doesn’t seem to mind getting what he needs in a kind of security guarantee and then have us tell Congress it is not one.

I don’t want to put this idea of a defense agreement up in the first paragraph, and I don’t want a draft that is excessively legalistic. I don’t mind referring to the declaration of principles, and to the objectives of the agreement, but I want something that recognizes the general importance of our relationship and agrees to improve the process of consultation, etc. Make defense one of the sub-headings, like economic relations, etc. I don’t mind his paragraph 4. We can’t be as specific as he would like about NATO, but I don’t mind trying to give him some general political phrasing that will meet his purposes.

He thinks I am implementing his ideas. You know, I think he is eager to get off the hot seat. He thinks he can get from me what you refused him.

McCloskey: But, you know, giving him everything he wants would be enormously difficult. For $750 million we would be buying back Torrejon. Do you think we can ask for that figure?

The Secretary: That is probably too high, but I don’t think he is going to insist on that either.

Stabler: The important thing in his mind now seems to lie in the way it is presented. He wants it totally different from other agreements so as to bring out this idea of equality of treatment.

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The Secretary: He doesn’t seem to have any trouble about our saying it is not a defense agreement and describing it as an agreement for economic and political cooperation in Spain. The Liberals will scream, of course, but it does make sense. I think I can understand his objective.

Hartman: Did he say that if he did not get $750 million he would give up?

The Secretary: No, but I think we can go higher than $550. He started with a billion, but I turned him down. Then he said $750. I think he would happily have settled for $650, so let’s go up to maybe $575 FMS and $75 MAP. I think he will be happy with this. I don’t think we can give him $750, but if we have found $100, we can find $115; if we have $10, we can go to $15. And, look, when you draw this thing up, keep it away from the lawyers.

Hartman: But, you know, all you have after the first year is a one-year commitment. We can’t get multi-year funding commitments.

The Secretary: I don’t really care about the bases, but I do care about our presence in Spain when the succession takes place and during what is going to be a critical period. We could tell them to go to hell without any great loss to the military security of the United States, but this would be no contribution to future political stability in Spain and, of course, it would be one more loss in the Mediterranean area. With an agreement on consultation and cooperation, with defense as one component of it, we could tell Congress that what is involved is a moral investment in Spain, and I would take that chance. We have now offered 550 for five years FMS and MAP. Let’s get up another hundred.

Hartman: I gather he asked you about a special national security arrangement.

The Secretary: That egregious bore. He has dragged out a remark made by the President at Helsinki to the effect that, if necessary, we would put the thing back into the NSC and take another look. You know, it’s mind-boggling to think that some remarks I made off the cuff in Spain are now quoted back to me as policy.

McCloskey: Will you see him again?

The Secretary: Yes, I have to see him, probably Friday in Washington.

McCloskey: That was quite a keen cut he took at his own negotiator, when he said he violated his instructions, that the communiqué had not been approved by the government, and that he insisted on reducing the bases. Imagine, he said that the spirit of negotiations had not been reflected in ten meetings. But you know, he has now done one thing, and that is that he has raised the negotiations to your level. That is probably what he wanted all along.

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The Secretary: He is an egomaniac. I think he intended all along that he would be the one to negotiate it with me. All I did was give him back your ideas.

Stabler: It looks as though what he wants is to be able to go back to Madrid saying he got equality of treatment. I think next time you should have Bob there.

The Secretary: You know, Bob, all I gave him were your proposals. I told him why we want to avoid a debate in Congress and to emphasize our general relationship, and he didn’t object. I didn’t add anything, all I did was sell your package. He swore that your proposal, which I presented to him as my own, coincided exactly with what he had wanted all along.

Draft up for me a document with some of these basic ideas, emphasizing our general relationship and consultation in the various fields. Make defense one paragraph among several. I think it is doable. I promised him I would have a document for him to look at Thursday, so I need it by Tuesday night.

  1. Summary: Kissinger, McCloskey, Stabler, and Hartman discussed the U.S-Spanish base negotiations.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P820123–1595. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Barbour on October 1; and approved by Covey in S. The meeting took place in the Waldorf Towers. The paper to which Hartman and Kissinger refer was not found. The memorandum of conversation on the September 22 discussion between Kissinger and Cortina in New York is ibid., P820123–1569. Kissinger and Cortina met again on September 26, September 30, and twice on October 4 to negotiate the agreement; memoranda of conversation on these meetings are ibid., P820123–1606, P820123–2606, P820123–1595, and P820123–2406. Kissinger met with Stabler and McCloskey on September 26 and October 4 to discuss the base negotiations; memoranda of conversation on these discussions are ibid., P820123–1628, P820123–1633, P820123–2398, and P820123–2395.