Enclosed is a memorandum with this title prepared by Mr. Davis. It discusses the "slowdown" in some NATO activities.
I am in general agreement with Mr. Davis's comments on the loss of momentum and the reasons therefor.
Note de la Direction de liaison avec la Défense
Memorandum by Defence Liaison (1) Division
Ottawa, February 4, 1953
SOME RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN NATO
The Press reaction to the December Ministerial Meeting of the NATO Council was, if anything, more unsatisfactory than that to reports of earlier meetings. The picture presented to the public was much at variance with what those connected with NATO understand to be the present situation. This may be attributable to a lack of authoritative information or because the developments in NATO have modified in a way as yet not generally recognized outside the Organization. There are indeed indications of changes in the NATO pattern over the last six months. Perhaps these are only incidental and ephemeral. On the other hand., they may suggest important modifications which, in turn, might be either the result of a tacit acceptance of a new role for NATO or simply its shaking down into a more realistic organization.
2. A review of the recent developments and the present position in regard to several aspects of the work undertaken by the Council, contrasted with earlier expectations, may throw some light on where NATO stands at the moment and the direction in which it is developing.
3. One of the most desirable developments in NATO (at least to Canada) has been the opportunity it gives for frank general discussions on political subjects of common concern. Since the Organization first came into being, a great deal of attention has been paid to the means of developing this practice, and at the time of the Lisbon meeting of the Council, when the present Organization was decided upon, it was felt by some members that definitive steps had been taken in creating a situation and an atmosphere where NATO allies would freely, frankly and frequently share their views and preoccupations about political questions of common concern. In many quarters, however, it is considered that these expectations have not been realized. There was a fairly useful discussion of the German -- Soviet Notes in the autumn of 1952, but the prominence of this exercise was, no doubt, partly due to the fact that it was unique.
4. Political discussions at the December meeting in Paris were singularly unproductive. The French got a good hearing for their presentation of the Indo-Chinese situation, but there was nothing like an exchange of views. There are several possible explanations for this, but notably the fear that to join issue with the French on this matter might lead to entanglement in a situation in which most NATO countries do not feel they can make any material contribution at the moment. We may, in fact, be getting close to the situation in NATO, where discussions are avoided in order to escape responsibility.
5. Those who have been close to NATO since its beginnings recall the activity of the Political Working Group of the Council Deputies. On the other hand, the record contains little evidence of practical results from their labours, and it seems most unlikely that organizational or institutional modifications alone would result in any revival in this sphere.
6. There has, however, been an increase in interest in global defence problems, which in their strategic aspects cannot be divorced from general political questions. If NATO becomes active in this field, members of the Council may find themselves discussing their common political problems in a very practical setting.
7. No one connected with NATO -- the Press, the officials, the Military Commanders or the Ministers -- is satisfied with the publicity arrangements. Admittedly, there are bound to be grave problems in giving adequate publicity to an Organization whose chief concerns are matters of the highest security. Furthermore, it has not been possible to create the impression that Ministerial Meetings are a matter of routine. The Press, and thus the public, cannot be made to believe that a gathering of some thirty Cabinet Ministers from fourteen countries, assisted by a small army of high ranking military experts, is not convened to discuss momentous questions. Thus, anything less than major decisions are bound to be interpreted as failures.
8. On the organizational side of the NATO information agency, there seems to have been a lack of definition in distinguishing between the various functions of press liaison, information work, and possible propaganda activities. In so far as Canada is concerned, and perhaps also in the case of other members, there has been no effort to alleviate what has long been recognized as an unsatisfactory situation in regard to the reporting at home of NATO meetings. The fact that NATO meetings are short compared to those of the United Nations General Assembly has perhaps led to the ready acceptance of the idea that it is unnecessary to make any special press arrangements. However, the mere concentration of top level discussions into a short period would seem to accent rather than minimize the desirability of doing everything possible to influence proper coverage at the meetings. An examination of the situation at Paris in December would, no doubt, disclose many instances where valuable work could have been done by a Canadian press officer.
9. The general question of the proper functions of NATIS in the various aspects of its work are for discussion at the forthcoming NATIS meeting in Paris.
10. Since the Lisbon reorganization there has been a feeling in some quarters that too much attention has been paid to the formal structure of the Secretariat and of the committees under the Council, at the expense of progress on the substantive questions. Canadian efforts have been directed at minimizing the proliferation of committees, but the institutional approach of the Secretary-General, who exercises initial responsibility in these matters, is difficult to counterbalance, particularly as an opinion against the establishment of a fixed committee to deal with a particular subject can rarely be presented without inviting the inference that we are not interested in the subject with which the committee would deal. Therefore, efforts to keep the development of the Organization within reasonable bounds have had a dampening effect.
11. The recent experience in the handling of questions relating to the development of Article II would seem to have demonstrated the futility of attempting to force progress when there is no clear agreement on the sphere and pattern of possible common action. The establishment of a special committee to handle this matter would appear to have been almost the death warrant for this moribund subject. Except for some rather artificial efforts to make progress on the questions of labour mobility, the only achievement in the field of non-military development seems to have been the institution of this committee.
12. At the December meeting the Turkish resolution, calling for greater participation by NATO in the solution of economic problems by invading the field where the OEEC is now operating, was received with a notable lack of enthusiasm. It is hardly realistic to suggest that NATO, which has not up to now achieved anything in this field, should take over from the only organization where progress is being made.
13. Economic Division has provided, from a different point of view, the following comment on Article II:
"The immediate and direct results of the work undertaken within the Organization to implement Article II have been pretty negligible and perhaps serve to demonstrate that the importance of this Article should not be specifically related to action to be taken by NATO Agencies as such. In the economic field at least this is not surprising since the main economic problems which face members of the Western Community can hardly be handled on a NATO basis. However, the work being done in NATO on the economic capabilities of member countries has undoubtedly been of considerable value in explaining the particular difficulties of individual members and this understanding can have, and probably has had, important results in other more broadly based bodies dealing with international trade and payments.
"It may be that the limited success which has attended efforts to give flesh and blood to Article II through NATO machinery were a necessary step in clarifying the real significance of this Article. From this point of view it can be argued that the importance of the inclusion of Article II in the Treaty lies in the obligation it placed on member countries to pursue harmonious national policies and to encourage economic and social collaboration in whatever forum these matters may be considered or come under negotiation."
14. The developments in the Annual Review1 are worthy of an independent study. The exercise being carried out this year was originally intended as a repetition (in scope if not in form) of the TCC Review completed at Lisbon.2 The pattern, however, could never be the same. This year the Organization itself, that is, the fourteen members, are reviewing their own efforts, whereas last year the main examination was carried out by three independent, highly qualified and conspicuously influential appointees, who were put almost in the position of grand inquisitors. Therefore, the decision that the Annual Review should this year be carried out by the Secretariat, under the direction of the Council itself, was tacit acceptance of a fundamental modification of the procedure followed last year. The effect of this does not appear to have been fully recognized. Consequently, in this year's exercise there are recurring references to reconciliation, although at the same time some members have insisted with equal persistence that examining panels shall not make formal. suggestions or recommendations to the Council. Therefore, if there is to be no opportunity for the presentation of proposals for the modification of defence plans, and it should be kept in mind that the TCC exercise was designed to solve the question of how the gap between military requirements and planned forces could be closed and therefore was based on the acceptance of the necessity for increased effort, the Annual Review this year could not produce results in the direction of increased forces.
15. Coupled with this important change in the concept of the Annual Review, the new timetable, enforced mainly because of the timetable for the American presidential elections, has resulted in a situation where most members will have taken final decisions regarding the size of their defence programmes before the completion of the Annual Review, which was originally designed to influence their contributions.
16. There is the view in some quarters, however, that the Annual Review this year is not, in fact, very different from the Annual Review carried out by the TCC. As first conceived, and most certainly in the minds of the three executives of the TCC, their task was to examine how national contributions could be improved. However, when they came to the point of making precise suggestions to members, it was found that there was a definite limit beyond which nations would be unwilling to receive suggestions. Due largely to the influence of the American chairman, some countries were persuaded to agree to an upward revision of their defence plans. However, it was insisted that the final report should be so presented that no country would appear to be rejecting suggestions officially put forward by the TCC. In order to avoid a recurrence of this potentially embarrassing situation, Ministers determined that this year arrangements would be made to assure that they were not confronted with unacceptable suggestions regarding the modification of their defence plans. The practical result of this has been that no suggestions for any major quantitative adjustment in defence arrangements will be possible. We would seem, therefore, to be back, in some respects, to the position where we were before 1952, where the responsibility for encouraging maximum defence efforts will remain in the bands of the United States, who alone have the practical means of influencing European contributors. The Annual Review, if it follows again the pattern which seems to be developing for this year, will become a technical military exercise to provide an assessment of forces, both in being and planned, and following which Supreme Commanders will give expert advice regarding modifications in national defence plans, to assure that within the limits of the budgets decided upon independently by members, the greatest efficiency of their forces may be achieved.
17. The Annual Review and the development of NATO defensive strength is affected by the influence exerted by the Supreme Commanders. Since the replacement of General Eisenhower by General Ridgway, as Supreme Allied Commander Europe, it has been evident that Eisenhower's contribution to the development of NATO defences was attributable in great part to his enormous personal prestige and political sense rather than to his formal position as Supreme Commander. The present incumbent enjoys neither the reputation of his predecessor nor his ability to persuade, and his repeated display of inflexibility at the December meeting has probably weakened his influence.
The German Problem
18. Recent developments in the German-EDC question have serious implications for NATO, where the plans have been based on the availability of significant German forces in order to maintain the forward strategy. Until more is known about the amendments which the French and the Germans might wish to have made in the present plans for the European Army, it cannot be said whether changes will be necessary in the NATO-EDC Protocol, although preliminary indications are that they will not. On the other hand, failure to reach agreement on the establishment of the European Army would open anew the question of how to bring German forces into the scheme of European defence, and the part that the United States and NATO will play in reaching this solution may well modify the existing organization out of recognition.
NATO Defence Forces
19. The development of NATO defensive forces is a special question which will not be examined particularly here, although achievements in this field are the popular measure by which NATO's success is assessed. The practice of stating NATO defence aims in terms of numbers of military units of a given standard of readiness to be provided by a certain calendar date, which was adopted so that military planners could have a firm basis for their plans, has provided a ready but inaccurate standard against which to measure military achievements. The assessment of the numbers of divisions, aircraft, ships and airfields which have been provided by a given date, taken in isolation, gives no real measure of NATO military capabilities and whereas these figures must on occasions be used, the Paris decision to accent quality rather than quantity of forces would seem to be a realistic step. It could be the basis for a more useful development of defensive strength and at the same time remove a basis for inaccurate embarrassing criticism.
20. Under the pre-Lisbon Defence Production Board, efforts were made to "integrate" production programmes and to stimulate additional defence production through the medium of theoretical studies designed to link available production capacity in Europe with outstanding deficiencies of military equipment. This work was largely without issue since NATO countries were unable, or unwilling, to modify national programmes and to finance the supplementary production programmes drawn up by DPB. Since Lisbon, the work of the Secretariat in the production field has been more profitable, if less ambitious in scope. A good deal has been done to ascertain the actual equipment and production position of member countries and production studies have so far been limited to a few equipment items of highest priority. The most important factor in giving reality to NATO work in the production field has been the willingness of the United States to take account of NATO production studies and recommendations in deciding on the type and direction of the very considerable United States programme of European off-shore procurement.
NATO in World Affairs
21. In the broader field of international politics the varied successes of NATO have had their disadvantages. At the recent General Assembly of the United Nations, criticism of NATO, originally voiced only from east of the Iron Curtain, was heard from other quarters, where the solidarity of NATO countries was seen as a rallying point for support of colonialism. In the Commonwealth as well, particularly in relation to plans for Pacific and Middle East defence, there are signs of a growing anxiousness to be brought into closer touch with NATO affairs. The achievements of NATO and the lack of general knowledge about NATO business is giving rise to fears that others will suffer by being left out of this closely-knit alliance. If global strategy is discussed in NATO, and if no arrangements are made for keeping other interested friendly powers in touch with these developments, the solidarity of NATO may become the source of greater criticism. This would have its affect on the movement towards Atlantic union, and, as the feeling that the imminence of war in Europe is lessening, it may not seem to be worth the price to continue to tighten and broaden the bonds of our alliance at the expense of discomfiting our friends with whom our military association is less direct.
22. In reviewing the present situation of NATO and the direction of possible future development, the following particular factors which have undoubtedly contributed to a varying degree to the present situation should be kept in mind. The order in which they are listed is not intended to suggest the priority of their influence:
(1) US Presidential Interregnum -- Theweakening of United States direction in NATO and European Councils, as a result of the change of administration, has had its influence. A great deal of the temporizing on the part of European Governments can be attributed to their unwillingness to commit themselves until hey have had an opportunity to learn at first hand the policies which the new administration will promote and the strength with which it will pursue them.
(2) Lessening of the Risk of War -- No matter what the authoritative military appreciation may be, public opinion in Western Europe is less apprehensive now than a year ago that the Russians will resort to force in Europe in the near future. The fact that the United States officially appears to disagree with this view will probably have little influence in changing European public opinion but, rather, may well strengthen the European fear that United States policy may lead the West into war.
(3) The New Character of the Annual Review -- Ingreat part because of the first two factors there has been a growing unwillingness to build up the defensive forces at the rate planned at Lisbon, and the Annual Review is ineffective in persuading members to increase their defence efforts.
(4) Reduced Influence of SACEUR -- WhenEisenhower was Supreme Commander Europe, his influence contributed to the enthusiasm and the sense of urgency for the build-up of defence forces. Since he has been replaced by General Ridgway, whose professional reputation is high but who wields no great influence in the broader field, the political leaders have shown a disposition to discount his advice.
(5) The Secretary-General -- Theappointment of a Secretary-General to NATO has not brought the dynamic and influential leadership which it was hoped would result from setting up this post. Some people unreasonably expected the Secretary-General to be a superman -- a "civilian Eisenhower." However, even those who rejected this fanciful approach did expect the Secretary-General to provide imaginative and positive leadership.
Revue annuelle des plans de défense des États membres. Annual Review of defence plans of member states.
Le Comité temporaire du Conseil créé pour revoir les contributions que les pays membres pourraient apporter à la défense en égard à leurs possibilités politiques et économiques. Temporary Council Committee Review of defence efforts of member countries in relation to political and economic conditions.