Volume #22 - 515.|
NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION
MINISTERIAL MEETING OF THE NORTH ATLANTIC COUNCIL, PARIS, MAY 4-6, 1956
Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs|
to Secretary of State for External Affairs
April 20th, 1956|
RE-EXAMINATION OF ARTICLE 2 ACTIVITIES IN NATO
Two general conclusions seem to emerge from the re-examination of Article 2 activities which has been taking place in NATO and in certain national capitals, including Ottawa. The first is that a firm conviction exists in at lease some member governments, and in some considerable sections of parliamentary and public opinion in nearly all NATO countries, that much more needs to be done to strengthen the diplomatic, cultural and economic ties between member countries, particularly in the light of present Soviet policies. The second general conclusion is that very few practical proposals have been put forward in responsible quarters as to how this might be done within the existing framework of the Organization (which no person in a responsible position has yet suggested altering in any radical way).
2. There are of course many indications of the widespread feeling that a new impetus and to some extent a new course are required if the alliance is to retain its effectiveness. The recent speeches of Mr. Gronchi, Dr. Adenauer and MM Mollet and Pineau come to mind at once in this connection. General Gruenther and Lord Ismay both emphasized this theme at the recent SHAPE commemoration. Semi-official groups such as the NATO parliamentarians and non-official bodies such as the Atlantic Treaty Association, together with a considerable section of the press, have sounded the same note. The U.K. permanent representative suggested to the Council that consideration of what might be done to further the aims of Article 2 should become a major NATO objective for 1956, comparable to the 1955 objectives of bringing Germany into NATO and bringing about a meeting at the summit. More recently we have learned that Mr. Dulles intends to declare publicly the readiness of the U.S. to "join equally in exploring the possibilities" of NATO achieving a new creative approach to its problems.
3. Despite this widespread and possibly growing sense of urgency, however, specific proposals by governments have been few in number and rather vague in content - as, indeed, they have been since the inception of NATO. You will recall that the Permanent Representatives were instructed in December "to examine and implement all measures" conducive to the closer cooperation envisaged in Article 2 and to consider further the proposals made by Ministers in the course of the discussion.25 So far, the most concrete action taken was that proposed by the U.K. Government (on the suggestion of the Atlantic Treaty Association) which led to instructions being given to the Secretariat to prepare a factual study setting out briefly what member governments have done or are doing to give practical effect, by whatever means, to the intentions of Article 2. While this study will not attempt to indicate what additional action might be desirable, it is possible that the process of consolidating the information may point to some fields which would repay further study. It is the hope of the U.K. authorities that the study will form the basis for a political reply by Ministers to recent Soviet statements of policy. The text is not yet available.
4. It may be helpful to recall briefly the other proposals and suggestions which have been made in the Council in recent months, without confining attention too narrowly to Article 2.
(a) General Implementation. The only specific proposal put forward in December was that of Mr. Beyen (Netherlands) that a body be established within NATO to deal with the economic aspects of Article 2 and to foster cooperation between member countries. This proposal was never discussed in Council, although Lord Ismay said that he disliked the idea because he considered Article 2 activities essentially a responsibility of the Council, and the Turkish Permanent Representative said he thought it might be useful to set up such a body. The French Permanent Representative suggested that national NATO associations might be asked to consider how Article 2 should be implemented. (The Atlantic Treaty Association has in fact taken a thoroughly realistic and responsible attitude on this matter. The suggestion recalls Mr. Wilgress' more limited proposal,26 made personally to you last summer, that the continuing body of NATO parliamentarians should look seriously, with governmental advice and information, into the question of the possible implementation of the economic provisions of Article 2, as a preparatory step leading ultimately, if all went well, to governmental action.)
(b) Political Cooperation. Your own suggestions were the only ones put forward in December: that Ministers should continually ask themselves whether the Permanent Representatives were being given the necessary authority and whether the results of their work were being fully used, that more restricted meetings should be held at Ministerial sessions of the Council, and that more time should be devoted by Ministers to the communiqué.27 The U.S. permanent representative later made two specific proposals: that the Council should issue brief communiqués identifying some of the questions considered at its weekly meetings, and that groups of Permanent Representatives should make a series of visits to other NATO capitals in connection with non-military activities. No action has been taken on either proposal. Recently the Germans have given notice that Mr. von Brentano will make proposals at the May meeting concerning machinery for political consultation. German newspapers have reported that one of the main aspects of his proposals will be a request for the coordination of all political and diplomatic moves of NATO countries which might affect their relations with the Soviet bloc. It may be presumed that he has German reunification and disarmament principally in mind, but no details are available yet as to how he proposes to ensure such coordination. Meanwhile, the Permanent Representatives have steadily increased the scope of their political discussions, and are now having papers prepared on recent trends in Soviet policy, on Soviet economic penetration in underdeveloped countries, and on the new Soviet five-year plan.
(c) General Economic Cooperation. There seemed to be widespread agreement at the meeting in December that member governments should use NATO for developing the principles which should guide them individually and as members of other specialized organizations, while avoiding duplication of function. Among the general suggestions made at that time were yours for periodic discussions at Ministerial meetings on the economic situation and on international economic relations, Mr. Beyen's for a strengthening of links between NATO and OEEC at the Council level, and Mr. Martino's for agreement on the proposed common European market and on collective action to develop the economically weak countries of the alliance. No concrete action has been taken to follow up any of these suggestions, although there will of course be discussion on certain economic matters at the meeting in May.
(d) Economic Assistance. There was strong support at the December meeting for the idea that member countries should intensify their assistance to the underdeveloped and uncommitted countries. Suggestions included Mr. Pinay's that NATO should study the possibility of proposing to the U.N. a world plan for underdeveloped countries, Mr. Beyen's that members should give greater support to the SUNFED proposal, Mr. Martino's that members should examine how best to coordinate their resources for this purpose, and Mr. Theotokis' that NATO countries might engage to purchase surplus raw materials from underdeveloped countries. Only two specific proposals have been made subsequently. The German permanent representative suggested the establishment of an international organization, not confined to NATO countries, for the coordination of economic measures with a view to assisting underdeveloped countries through the development of trade. The Italian permanent representative formally proposed that the exchange of information between member countries on their economic assistance activities should be systematized through NATO, and that a body of consultants should be constituted to advise the Council on the best methods of solving assistance problems.
(e) Cultural and Information Activities. Several Ministers made general references in December to the need for a more constructive and coordinated presentation of the principles and policies of the Atlantic community, but specific proposals were limited to M. Pinay's for a "psychological action committee", Mr. Beyen's for a body assisted by experts to extend and coordinate NATO's activities in regard to information, and Mr. Theotokis' for a propaganda section charged with foreseeing possible Soviet moves and suggesting ways of forestalling them. None of these suggestions has since been elaborated or submitted to the Council for consideration, and only the Italian permanent representative has said that he saw much merit in them. Mr. Wilgress thinks it unlikely that they will be pursued at the May meeting. The U.K. permanent representative said that he regarded them as impractical in that they did not resolve the difficulty of finding the proper propaganda themes that might be developed on a NATO scale. In addition to this basic difficulty, it is clear that most governments - including those few which have some kind of central coordinating machinery in the information field - regard information policy as essentially a national responsibility, and look on NATO in this context not as an executive but as a consultative agency. At the same time it should be remembered that the budget of the NATO Information Service has been increased this year from about $165,000 to about $280,000, largely because of the support for certain practical projects by U.K., U.S. and Canadian representatives. The Information Committee under Mr. Wilgress' chairmanship has also conducted a useful exchange of views and information on the structure and activities of Communist front organizations and on the effects of recent exchanges of visits between East and West.
5. As this summary shows, the Permanent Representatives can point to very little in the way of practical achievement on the various proposals made at the last Ministerial meeting. Basically, no doubt, this reflects the recognition by governments that Article 2 is primarily a commitment by each individual member to give effect to certain principles, which need not (as your Committee of Five pointed out in 1952) be expressed "always and immediately in institutional terms". If, however, the Atlantic Community concept is really as vitally important as we have hitherto considered it to be, and if the measure of progress is the extent to which public opinion and governments react to political events in an Atlantic way, then the record of the past seven years strongly suggests that the emphasis should more than ever be placed on the essentially political functions of consultation and presentation. Governments must not only consult on questions of common concern, but must be seen to have consulted, and the results of their consultation (except where security considerations or the possibility of complications in other areas of the world preclude) must be made public with the maximum impact upon public opinion. It is in this context that we should consider how the methods of consultation and presentation might be improved.
6. The conclusion to which Mr. Wilgress has been led is that the Council itself is ill-equipped to "examine and implement" all measures conducive to closer political, economic and cultural cooperation. He believes that a fresh effort should now be made to try to establish within the Organization some appropriate machinery where projects can be discussed and a confrontation of views can take place at the working level, leaving to the Council its traditional function of general policy supervision. This might be done either by setting up a new body charged with the study of current proposals or by broadening the terms of reference of existing committees and establishing in the Economic Division a small research section able to cope with Soviet and Western economic developments.
7. This analysis by Mr. Wilgress seems to me to be on the right lines. Essentially what is required is an enhancement of the authority of the Council, so that its voice can be heard and its influence recognized, accompanied by an improvement in the structure of its committees and working groups where the views of governments are examined and if possible reconciled. This would require no amendment to the Treaty (which charges the Council with the consideration of matters concerning the implementation of the Treaty and authorizes it to set up subsidiary bodies as may be necessary); it would be a logical extension of the development which has already taken place in the Organization; and it would seem consistent not only with the views which the Canadian government has expressed in the past but also with the views which have been expressed from time to time by the U.S. and U.K. authorities.
8. In considering how the authority of the Council could be enhanced, attention might first be directed to methods of improving consultation and presentation at the Ministerial sessions, along lines which you have already suggested on more than one occasion. It may be that with the increased importance now attached to non-military consultation, Ministers from other member countries will be more inclined than in the past to consider favourably some increase in the length of these sessions and a somewhat greater degree of informal and frank exploration of policy. There has already been agreement on your suggestions about the drafting of the communiqué at the forthcoming meeting. As regards the Council in permanent session, you might wish to consider the advisability of agreeing, as a first step, to the suggestions recently put forward by the U.S. permanent representative, i.e. the issuing of brief communiqués identifying some of the questions considered at its weekly meetings and occasional visits to other NATO capitals. You might also wish to consider whether to raise with your colleagues the question of an eventual change in the type of permanent representation on the Council.
9. Experience has demonstrated that discussions in the Council tend to be diffuse and inconclusive unless its members are considering some specific and carefully formulated proposal or statement on which they have been able to obtain clear guidance from their governments. It is important, therefore, that the committees and working groups which are set up to draft such papers should be constituted in the most effective way possible and should be in the closest touch with thinking in the various national capitals. It is perhaps worth recalling in this connection that although the Committee of Five recommended at Lisbon in February 1952 that its functions should be transferred to the full Council, since it was found impossible to make real progress without further consideration of the problems by all NATO members, by September of that year Lord Ismay was suggesting the formation of an Article 2 Committee, and you proposed - and the Council agreed - that working parties be set up to deal with such matters, each at a high level with a Permanent Representative as chairman. It was as a result of this decision that the Working Group on Social and Cultural Cooperation (later the Committee on Information and Cultural Relations) was formed under the chairmanship of the Canadian Representative.
10. It may be, as Mr. Wilgress has now suggested, that some extension or adjustment of this machinery is required. Without in any way excluding this possibility, we have been wondering whether the most practical and immediately effective way of strengthening the committee structure might not be to suggest to the Council that it assign several specific matters of common concern to working groups of officials drawn for the most part for this specific purpose from the national capitals. Such groups need not, and indeed should not, if they are to be of the necessary calibre, contain representatives from all the NATO countries. The idea is rather that they should be formed on the basis of special competence and experience in the subjects with which they will be concerned, much as the working groups of the three Western powers were formed before the two Geneva conferences. On the other hand they should certainly include some representation from the smaller NATO countries, and it should be understood that the results of their deliberations would be submitted to the whole Council for its consideration. I am of course aware that on politically delicate subjects the larger powers might find it difficult to agree to such a procedure, but I think there is enough merit in the idea to warrant further exploration of its possibilities. Merely as an indication of the sort of subjects we have in mind, I might mention German reunification (on which I am sending you a separate memorandum?), the Saar problem, Cyprus and the future political relations of North Africa with the members of the alliance. I should be glad to know whether you think the idea is worth developing with a view to discussing it in Paris.