The discussion of this item was initiated during the first session on Monday morning, December 14, and it lasted throughout the afternoon meeting. Nearly all Foreign Ministers made statements but as many complex questions were dealt with in full session, and no particular attempt was made by the Chairman to suggest an orderly procedure, the outcome of the discussion was not too satisfactory. In this report, we propose to summarize the points made as regards the major issues which were raised in the course of this discussion.
Trends of Soviet Policy
2. Mr. Eden thought that so far no real effort had been made by the Soviet Union to meet the Western Powers and that there had been no change in the basic hostility of the Soviet régime; its tactics had become more flexible, more intelligent. This change could be attributed to internal as well as external factors. No one could assess the full scope of the internal factors; much was hidden by the totalitarian character of the régime itself but a possible interpretation was that the Soviet Government preoccupied by a variety of domestic problems might be more ready than hitherto to restrain its activities on the international scene. In any case, NATO had achieved some success in building a deterrent against war; the danger of aggression by the USSR seemed less imminent. Morale in the West had improved and we were now almost within reach of our goal of not being compelled to negotiate from a position of weakness. In this connection tribute had to be paid to the United States for the aid given to build up European defence.
3. The Turkish Foreign Minister argued that the hopes raised by the prospect of a Four-Power meeting should not blind our judgment on the motives of Soviet leaders. If they had agreed to attend a meeting this was for tactical reasons and there was no indication that their basic attitude was changed or that they were prepared to accept the unification of Germany in freedom. Soviet armament was in fact increasing.
4. Mr. Dulles, in the morning session, made a long statement on Soviet policy. According to the best available estimates, there seemed to be no immediate likelihood of open armed attack by the USSR against the West. It was desirable, however, to bear in mind the causes of such a situation. The Soviet Government were confronted by a series of domestic or semi-domestic problems. There seemed to be a breakdown in their agricultural policy; there were considerable demands for more consumer goods and they could only be met at the expense of capital development. There was evidence of growing discontent in the satellite countries and the problem of relations with China seemed to be a source of preoccupation to Soviet leaders. Under such circumstances, only reckless judgment might induce Soviet leaders to declare war and there was no evidence of any such recklessness.
5. Soviet policy seemed, therefore, at the present state, mainly concerned with internal. problems, with the maintenance of the status quo in disputed areas and with sowing dissension in the Western World.
As regards Germany, Soviet leaders had refused any opportunities for negotiation. Their note of November 3 was one of the most abrupt refusals to negotiate which had ever been transmitted by a government. They had, however, taken steps to counteract the adverse effects of their negative attitude and, in effect, reversed their position. This did not suggest so much a change of heart on their part as a concession to world public opinion; it could be expected that through various devices, even if they attended a Four-Power meeting, they would attempt to postpone a settlement.
On Korea, it was equally clear that the USSR had no desire to attend a political conference. They had taken the same attitude as regards the President's proposal on atomic energy, there seemed to be no inclination on their part to discuss specific problems in a constructive fashion. World opinion compelled them to modify, for tactical reasons, their more extreme positions but there was no inner desire to seek solutions. Soviet leaders seemed to hope that they could settle internal problems while promoting disunity in the West and that, in the end, their relative position would be improved when the time came to resume a more active and possibly more aggressive international policy.
6. The Prime Minister of Italy agreed with Mr. Dulles. The prospect of a Four-Power meeting would be more encouraging if there was any indication that the USSR had a sincere desire to co-operate in finding a possible basis for co-existence. The only point which was clear, in his opinion, was that any more conciliatory attitude on the part of the USSR was due chiefly to the firmness and unity of the West.
7. Mr. Van Zeeland had never been of the opinion that the Soviet Union had decided to attack the West but he thought that the lack of balance between the forces of the West and those of the USSR had created risks of war. These risks were to some extent being reduced but the growing Soviet power in the atomic field was creating a different and no less serious danger. There were also risks of explosion in a number of points, Berlin, Korea, as long as the cold war continued. War might break out not as a result of deliberate calculation but by accident. While a number of things had not changed in the Soviet World, its objectives and principles, it was obvious that some changes had occurred, in the hierarchy, and in domestic policy, and Western diplomacy had to take any opportunity, however slight, to attempt to find a way to bring the cold war to an end.
8. The Greek Foreign Minister also welcomed Mr. Dulles' view that the danger of war seemed to be less immediate but he pointed out that subversive Soviet activities were continuing and that NATO countries had no choice but to strengthen their political relations and to reinforce their defensive organization.
9. The general conclusions which seemed to emerge from the discussion were the following:
(a) there has been no basic change in Soviet policy;
(b) while Soviet leaders seem to be preoccupied with internal problems and accept for tactical reasons to attend meetings, there is so far no evidence that they are prepared for negotiated settlements of the major issues or to weaken in their attempts to promote disunity in the West;
(c) there is less danger of an open armed aggression but the West must remain vigilant and continue to make every effort to bring the cold war to an end;
(d) the West must guard against the possibility that later on Soviet leaders may revert to a more aggressive policy having, in the meantime, overcome their more pressing internal difficulties and developed their atomic power.
Future NATO Policy
10. Mr. Eden spoke along expected lines as regards future NATO policy. There was no suggestion that NATO should relax but if an attack was not imminent the member countries had to prepare themselves for a long period of international tension and determine the level of forces which would provide an adequate deterrent but yet could be maintained as long as was necessary. He thought that the following broad lines of policy stemmed from the above assumption:
(a) NATO countries had to keep in being, over a period of years, forces which would provide an effective deterrent to aggression;
(b) the quality of the forces in being should be improved so that they could provide a shield behind which reserves could be mobilized;
(c) the lead in new weapons and scientific defence should be maintained;
(d) provision should be made for a German contribution to the defence of the West.
Mr. Eden suggested that Lord Alexander would give, under Item V of the agenda, detailed indications as to how such broad policies could be put into effect.
11. Mr. Dulles accepted in effect Mr. Eden's suggestions but he made a number of additional points:
(a) NATO already had impressive forces at its disposal which would create serious problems for the aggressor;
(b) fellowship had been developed within the Organization and the habit of working together, as shown by the Annual Review and the International Secretariat was growing;
(c) NATO was more than a military organization and the United States Government favoured the development of the non-military aspects of the Organization -- in fact, this was essential if NATO was to endure;
(d) NATO had to establish its military expenditures at a level consistent with social and economic progress; this was in effect and in itself a security measure;
(e) the United States stood ready to do its part in the task ahead; they were increasing their contribution to NATO security by strengthening North American defence in cooperation with Canada; they would increase the effectiveness of NATO forces with new and better weapons; they would continue to make a financial and material contribution to European forces (although it was hoped that this would decrease as European economic strength increased); the President was seeking authority to make additional information available to NATO authorities as regards the effect of new weapons -- this would assist NATO planning and, in particular, the preparation of a new statement of requirements.
12. The Turkish Foreign Minister raised the only dissident voice. As Soviet armed strength was increasing he could not see that NATO forces should level off. Soviet leaders were only impressed with two arguments: strength and determination. The Western Powers had been careful not to take any provocative steps and any fears which may be expressed by Soviet leaders as to the NATO build-up were only meant to serve propaganda purposes. In fact, Soviet leaders were neglecting no occasion to increase their political and military power and aggression against the West was continuing. Under the circumstances armed forces had to be developed, priority had to be given to security and if economic difficulties were to arise, they could be solved on a cooperative basis as had been done in the past. The shield of NATO had to be related to the threat and not to economic possibilities. The Turkish Minister drew attention again to the danger involved for NATO countries if they developed economic relations with and therefore increased their dependence upon the Soviet Bloc.
13. The Foreign Ministers of Norway and Denmark stressed the importance from the point of view of a long-range defence policy of developing production and employment in Western Europe. Mr. Pella made the point that democracy had to be concerned not only with security but that it had to demonstrate that socially and economically it was more effective than the Communist system and he expressed the hope that, whenever important questions arose, they would be discussed by the Permanent Representatives.
14. It seemed that agreement on the following points emerged from the Council discussion on future NATO policy:
(a) the United Kingdom assumptions were accepted;
(b) while NATO forces had to be maintained at a sufficiently high level to deter aggression, social and economic stability had to be preserved;
(c) it was important for the long run to develop the economic potential of the member countries and to follow progressive social policies;
(d) consultation on common political problems had to be developed as it tended to increase the cohesion of the Alliance;
(e) in general, non-military cooperation -- this was stressed by Mr. Pearson -- had to be built up if the Organization was to last longer than the military emergency which had brought it into being.
The European Defence Community
16. Mr. Dulles made a very frank, able and moving statement on this subject. Under the North Atlantic Treaty, member countries had to safeguard Western civilization which was a great creative force. It had emphasized the spiritual nature and freedom of the individual, it had promoted government by consent and guided the evolution of many countries towards self-government. Western civilization had increased productivity and made it possible for more people to live longer and better; it was prepared to share its knowledge with other areas of the world. Yet, this great uplifting force was now challenged by those who reproduced the degradation of the dark ages; this was due to the fact that the nations which had led the West had weakened in strength and prestige and allowed themselves to become divided.
17. The West had immense potential strength but greater unity was necessary. The integration of the European Community was essential to provide a core to the Atlantic Community. Both had to be built together and each contributed to the success of the other. This integration had already found expression in the OEEC, the EPU, the CSC, and the proposed EDC, at EPC. The United States people had followed closely this process. Many felt that they were only interested in the defence aspect of integration. Nothing was further from the truth. The United States were interested in the survival and the prosperity of the European civilization and, in their view, this meant the setting-up of a European Community based on the reconciliation of France and Germany.
18. The United States people had anxiously been awaiting the consummation of the integration process through the setting-up of the EDC. They had demonstrated their concern through membership in NATO, cooperation with the OEEC, economic assistance, the stationing of forces in Europe. They had done much to make Europe a healthy and cooperative area but the essential step had yet to be taken. Some feared that if such a step were taken, the United States might then abandon Europe and reduce its forces. In fact, if the EDC were created it would ensure intimate and enduring cooperation between the forces of the United States, the United Kingdom and those of European countries. If, however, France and Germany were to remain apart it was doubtful whether Europe could be made safe and this would compel an "agonizing" reappraisal of basic United States policies.
19. If Western Europe was to develop unity this had to be soon. Powerful divisive forces were at work and it might never be possible again for integration to occur in freedom. If it could be achieved, the United States would see it as a symbol of Europe's will to achieve the goal to defend the Western heritage. The creation of the EDC was, however, only part of the task. It was also necessary to achieve the enduring unity of the NATO Alliance. The EDC and NATO complemented and reinforced each other.
20. The Foreign Minister of Norway agreed with Dulles as to the historic importance of the EDC in effecting a reconciliation between France and Germany; furthermore, there was no alternative but to secure a German defence contribution which was essential to the defence of Europe.
21. Mr. Pearson agreed with Mr. Dulles on the significance of the EDC as regards further support for European defence; it would be easier to continue mutual aid assistance and to strengthen our association with NATO if Germany joined with us in the defence of the West. Mr. Pearson referred to the danger mentioned by Mr. Dulles of not completing arrangements to bring Germany into our defence system. It was first planned to deal with East-West tensions after the German collapse had left a void in the centre of Europe. Now the void was being filled and the problem was to cope with an East-West and Centre conflict. Under the old 1914 and 1941 formula, the East and the West combined against the Centre. The new method envisaged that the West and the Centre joined in unity in more than narrow military cooperation. The alternative of having the Centre either weak and neutral or armed and strong, as a third force, was not attractive. We were therefore strongly in favour of the EDC for military and political reasons; this was the best way to complete our arrangements for collective security and for collective non-military action.
22. Mr. Pella recognized that the ratification of the EDC was important to ensure a German contribution to the defence of the West and as a step forward towards the integration of Europe which was a fundamental objective of Italian foreign policy. He felt, however, that any attempt to secure ratification now, in Italy, would meet with serious difficulties as long as the problem of the "Eastern frontiers" of his country had not been solved favourably.
23. M. Bidault referred only briefly to the strengthening of the NATO Alliance as the framework for the EDC. He dealt mainly with the difficulties which France had to overcome in connection with this project. He mentioned certain fears that France might lose her special position as a Standing Group Power, the need to settle first the Saar problem, the bitterness resulting from three centuries of wars, the importance of being given assurance of understanding and support on the part of her major partners, and mostly the war in Indo-China. M. Bidault paid homage to the assistance received from the United States and gave assurance that France would not let down the Associated States but he hinted that if the war in Indo-China could be brought to a close and French military units repatriated, the ratification of the EDC might be ensured.
24. The discussion on the EDC brought out one or two new points:
(a) the time for decision has now arrived and unless the EDC is ratified soon, the consequences as regards United States policy and defence assistance for Europe will be very serious;
(b) the EDC and NATO are closely related and the coming into being of the former will ensure closer cooperation and assistance from the American members of the Alliance.
25. The Foreign Ministers of Norway and Denmark expressed the hope that a Four-Power Conference would be held and that it would produce results. They did not have illusions as to the prospects of far-reaching agreements but they thought public opinion had to be persuaded that the West had spared no effort to lessen tension; if the meeting were to fail, it was equally important that responsibility for failure should be placed where it belonged.
26. Mr. Van Zeeland reminded the Big Three that alone they were not the Alliance but that they would represent the hopes of the fourteen countries; he suggested that they should not expect to reach agreement quickly and that they should not try to find final solutions to any problems; they had to attempt to develop concrete proposals and to try to promote discussion on substantive rather than on procedural issues. While we had no intention to attack, it was possible that Soviet fears might be genuine and he urged that an effort be made to develop a generally acceptable system of security.
27. Mr. Pella recalled that a free, unified and democratic Germany was an essential NATO objective. He rejected any idea that Germany might be neutralized. As to Austria, tactical preoccupations on the part of the USSR were mainly responsible for the delay in reaching agreement; every effort should be made to induce the USSR to give signs of good will in regard to a problem where divergencies appeared easier to conciliate. It was hoped that the Conference would also examine the problem of security.
North American Defence
28. In the course of his statement, Mr. Dulles, as we expected, reported that the United States Government were taking steps in consultation with Canada to strengthen the defence of the American Continent as part of the NATO area. It was necessary to provide a degree of protection to essential American war production capacity. By 1956, the USSR would have a formidable air potential and an adequate defence of North America against air attacks was essential to NATO. The temptation would be great if an aggressor could knock out the industrial power of the United States. While it was impossible to prevent serious damage in case of attack, a substantial degree of protection and the capacity to retaliate massively could be ensured. Any measures to achieve these objectives reduced the likelihood of war.
29. Mr. Pearson added that in Canada we had much in mind the new urgency of an old responsibility: American continental defence. We considered continental defence as part of NATO defence and in accepting additional burdens in this regard we were making the same kind of contribution to the common security as if we were sending more units across the Atlantic. While we were prepared to accept a large share of the burden we were not, however, considering a reduction of our commitments in Europe.