189. Action Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs (Burt) to Secretary of State Shultz1


  • A Strategy for the Summit Season

Issue for Decision

Whether to approve the strategy for the period leading up to the Summit2 that is described below.

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A. Context

At a time when the Alliance is arguably in very good condition, having met the challenge of INF deployment, there is, paradoxically, a rash of discussion of the difficulties of preserving it—at least in its present form. Americans are criticizing Europe for being weak, or not doing its share, and Europeans express fear that the United States is abandoning interest in Europe. If we allow this backbiting to set the tone for transatlantic relations over the next months, what could and should be occasions for celebration of successes—not just meeting the missiles test, but achieving economic recovery and convergence on economic policy, and an increasingly agreed and coherent East-West policy—will be severely tarnished.

This paper aims to elucidate the positive themes we should stress in the hope that in this case good money will drive out bad. They are not precisely new—they derive from the basic and lasting truths that the West needs a strong defense, and to have a strong defense it needs strong economies.

B. Themes

The transatlantic security relationship is alive and well. The INF crisis is past. Our allies are convinced that lack of progress in arms control is the responsibility of the Soviets. They have come around to a similar view of the East-West relationship to ours, and are prepared to wait—and expect—that the new Soviet leadership will have to resume doing business with us.3

Arguments about burdensharing and on the relative role of conventional defense are Alliance perennials. The fact is, however, that NATO’s conventional defense is in better shape in 1984 than it was in 1974 or 1964. The NATO countries do, of course, need to make improvements and to find ways to do this at the least cost possible.

It is vital to keep the international trading system open, and to prepare for further liberalization in the not-too-distant future. 1984 will be the first year since 1979 in which the free world as a whole achieves substantial growth in trade and output. The time is ripe to begin talking of a renewed effort to liberalize trade, as a contribution to sustained economic growth. At the same time, it is necessary to lean against the protectionist winds, and avoid actions that would make talk of a future trade round sound hollow.

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The countries of the West are finding new areas for cooperation. The Space Station, and other activities in space, are good opportunities for involvement by Europe and Japan in an exciting and popular branch of technology. We can also learn from each other how, more broadly, to put technology to the service of economic growth. In addition to such future-oriented cooperation, collective action to cope with the economic crisis in Africa would show that the West can act together not just in pursuit of security or economic interests, but for humanitarian motives.

C. Events

Mitterrands’s visit is a good starting point for our efforts to drive these themes home.4 We should concentrate on the security and cooperation themes. While Mitterrand, if one can judge by the line taken by Attali at the last Sherpa meeting, may not be as intent as in the past to stake out a different position from us on economic policy, the fact that France is the most depressed economy among the Summit nations means he is not the man to play our tune on trade liberalization. On the other hand, his view of the strategic relationship is as close to ours as we’ll find, and he has a track record of interest in future-oriented subjects like technology.

The OECD Ministerial already is shaping up as mainly devoted to trade.5 The recent Mini-Ministerial showed that most of the OECD countries are agreed that increased flexibility is the great need of Western economies—and trade is the great inducer of flexibility.6

The NATO Ministerial is the obvious occasion for positive statements about the Alliance, and for the display of a shared attitude toward the East.7

The President’s Summit Trip obviously is the capstone of these efforts.8 His remarks in Normandy can evoke the historical and [Page 789] emotional origins of the Alliance.9 The speech we have proposed he give in London could touch on all of our themes—a strong Alliance, growth through trade, and cooperation.10 Finally, while it would be premature and inappropriate to launch a new trade round at the Summit, the Summit can be used to give that idea impetus as well as to gather and display agreement among the participants on cooperative efforts. It can also be an occasion to discuss Alliance concerns, particularly East-West relations; while there is opposition, at least from the French, to a political statement, we would not want to abandon the idea. The Summit is the one occasion when the Japanese discuss political matters with a group of Alliance countries, and we may again wish to take advantage, as we did last year, of the unique opportunity it thus provides.

D. Possible Pitfalls

The Mitterrand visit poses risks as well as opportunities. A worst case scenario would see him lambasting the U.S. for protectionism while arguing that the U.S., for the good of Europe, should accept new limits on our farm exports. We are trying by every channel to find out what he may intend to say; and to enlighten him about U.S. attitudes, about which he seems rather oblivious.

More generally, protectionist actions by the United States—or by Europe—could poison the atmosphere. Fortunately, the probability is that if such steps are to be taken, it will be after the Summit, not before. Repetition by Henry Kissinger and others of a critical view of the state of the Alliance could also counteract the efforts we shall be making.

I suggest that a speech by you which touches on both sides of the coin of transatlantic relations, security and economics (especially trade), is not just a useful but almost an essential counter to these dangers. Earlier you agreed in principle to give a speech on the economic issues; I will be sending separately, for your consideration, a draft which combines the two sides in one statement.11

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If you agree with this statement of basic themes and how to give them currency, we shall use this strategy in organizing the program of the next several months.12

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Trip File, Summit File, London Summit—March 1984 (1); NLR–755–18–61–1–6. Confidential. Sent through Eagleburger and Wallis. Drafted by Holmes. Shultz’s stamped initials appear on the memorandum. A stamped notation indicates that it was received at 7:25 p.m. on March 9. Hill initialed the memorandum twice and wrote “3/10” and “3/14.”
  2. Reference is to the G–7 Economic Summit meeting scheduled to take place in London, June 7–9. In a March 15 memorandum to Burt, Wolfowitz, McCormack, Newell, Malone, and Hughes, Wallis noted that the U.S. summit strategy was based upon two goals: “To reinforce that the economic policies followed by the United States in the past three years have resulted in a strong domestic economic recovery that is now bringing the Free World into recovery and greater security; and building on recovery and our achievements at the past three economic summits, to advance and consolidate international prosperity and security in the years ahead.” (Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Trip File, Summit File, London Economic Summit—Background June 7–9 1984—Wallis (Binder) (2); NLR–755–19–26–5–0)
  3. Andropov died on February 9 and was succeeded by Chernenko.
  4. Mitterrand was scheduled to visit the United States, including the cities of Atlanta; San Francisco; Chicago; Peoria, Illinois; Pittsburgh; and New York, March 21–24.
  5. Scheduled to take place in Paris, May 17–18.
  6. Reference to a meeting of finance ministers or deputy finance ministers of OECD member nations in Paris, February 13–14. (Paul Lewis, “Nations Seek Key To Growth: Officials Stress Spending Cuts,” New York Times, February 15, 1984, p. D13) In telegram 6985 from Paris, February 17, the Embassy summarized the concluding session and the results of the “mini-ministerial.” (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, Electronic Telegrams, D840111–0102)
  7. Scheduled to take place in Washington, May 29–31.
  8. In addition to visiting London, June 4–10, to meet with Queen Elizabeth and attend the G–7 Economic Summit meeting, the President was scheduled to visit Ireland, June 1–4, and France on June 6 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Allied landing at Normandy (D-Day).
  9. During his remarks at the Omaha Beach Memorial on June 6, the President said: “From a terrible war we learned that unity made us invincible; now, in peace, that same unity makes us secure. We sought to bring all freedom-loving nations together in a community dedicated to the defense and preservation of our sacred values. Our alliance, forged in the crucible of war, tempered and shaped by the realities of the postwar world, has succeeded. In Europe, the threat has been contained, the peace has been kept.” (Public Papers: Reagan, 1984, Book I, p. 822)
  10. The President did not deliver a formal speech while in London, but offered remarks and took part in a question and answer session on June 10. For the text, see Public Papers: Reagan, 1984, Book I, pp. 836–839.
  11. Not found.
  12. Shultz initialed the “Agree” line. A stamped date next to it reads: “MAR 14 1984.”