Volume #26 - 86.|
NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION
MINISTERIAL MEETING OF NORTH ATLANTIC COUNCIL, WASHINGTON, APRIL 2-4, 1959
Ambassador in United States|
to Secretary of State for External Affairs
April 3rd, 1959|
Repeat NATO Paris, Paris, London, Permis New York (Priority) (Information).
MINISTER OF NATIONAL DEFENCE'S STATEMENT
The following is the text of a statement delivered this morning to NATO Ministerial Meeting by Minister of National Defence:188 Begins: Mr. Chairman,
We are faced with what is undoubtedly the most serious challenge that has yet confronted the Alliance, as a result of the USSR's declared intentions concerning Berlin and Germany.
Canada considers it imperative that it should not be interpreted primarily as a challenge to our military capabilities, as a challenge to seek a solution by force. War can no longer be regarded as an extension of policy by other means, when the chapter which it opens may be so apocalyptic as to be a negation of policy. Now that war has become something which could mean the end of the race or even the end of life itself, the old axioms which regarded war and peace as a not intolerable alternation are worthless. We need a new set of principles, and I suggest that we can not do better than to begin with the axiom so forcibly enunciated by President Eisenhower a few years ago: "There is no alternative to peace." This is the new doctrine which has made Clausewitz obsolete.
If there is no alternative to peace, it follows that we must try to settle our quarrel with the USSR by negotiation. I am under no illusion about the difficulty and complexity of that task. But I believe it can be done. I have already quoted President Eisenhower. Perhaps you will allow me as well to quote from an address made here in Washington a year or so ago by his old comrade in arms, General Omar Bradley: "It may be," General Bradley said, "that the problems of accommodation in a world split by rival ideologies are more difficult than those with which we have struggled in the construction of ballistic missiles. But I believe, too, that if we apply to these human problems, the energy, creativity, and the perseverance we have devoted to science, even problems of accommodation will yield to reason. Admittedly, the problem of peaceful accommodation in the world is infinitely more difficult than the conquest of space, infinitely more complex than a trip to the moon. But if we will only come to the realization that it must be worked out - whatever it may mean even to such sacred traditions as absolute national sovereignty - I believe that we can somehow, somewhere, and perhaps through some as yet undiscovered world thinker and leader find a workable solution."189
If negotiations with the USSR are to be successful, we must try beforehand to know the minds of our adversaries and to know our own minds. As a result of the reconnaissance which Mr. Macmillan and Mr. Selwyn Lloyd so ably conducted in Moscow,190 we now have a clearer idea, I think than we had before of what is in minds of the leaders of the USSR. I shall not try to sift in any detailed way what is now known about Soviet intentions and the Soviet appreciation of their own interests. At the very least, however, it seems clear that while the Soviets are anxious to advance various interests which are antagonistic to ours, they are also anxious not to precipitate a thermonuclear war. Our continuing effort must be to try to engage them on that deeper ground of national interest which they share with us and which alone can serve as the fundamental basis for acceptable solutions, rather than to indulge in a more superficial checker-board contest of conflicting positions which, in the heat of the moment, could lead to forgetfulness of the grim logic that underlies the argument on both sides. One moment of forgetfulness, one unconsidered move, and we could all be involved in mutual destruction.
If negotiations are to be successful, it is also necessary that we try to know our own minds. That is the process, I take it, in which we are now engaged. We in Canada take it for granted that no agreement can be acceptable to the West which places in jeopardy the security of West Berlin or the freedom of its citizens. We also assume that the NATO countries could not accept a solution which might endanger the ties between the Federal Republic and other countries in Western Europe. Moreover, we could not accept arrangements which would have the effect of finally foreclosing the prospect of reunification. On all these points I imagine the governments of NATO countries are agreed.
We do not know how far the negotiations will range in the search for agreement. It may be that in the course of negotiations we may be forced into fairly narrow bargaining over the status of Berlin. In that case, it is important that we be clear about our own views on its present status. The Canadian Government has no doubt whatsoever of the juridical basis for the stationing in West Berlin of troops from the USA, the UK and France. On the other hand, we are conscious of some political shortcomings in the present situation which are exposed by any emergency and which need to be privately admitted. In the first place, the integrity and freedom of West Berlin are not guaranteed by any formal and conspicuous international instrument to which most nations subscribe and to which a ready appeal can be made. It would be an advantage if there were a wider and more formal international guarantee of the security and freedom of West Berlin and of access to that city.
Secondly, Western rights in Berlin essentially flow from the right of conquest. As the years go by it increasingly takes on a rather far away look which may not carry great conviction even to our own people. Finally, there are some aspects of Western claims over Berlin which, although entirely consonant with the right of conquest on which they are based, may also seem rather strange to our own people. For these reasons, we do not think that it should be assumed at the outset of negotiations that any change in the present status of Berlin would necessarily be to the disadvantage of the West.
We in Canada have therefore been anxious that consideration be given to ways in which the present agreements over Berlin could be strengthened by either supplementary or substitute arrangements. Speaking in the House of Commons on the 19th of March, our Prime Minister expressed the belief that "the UN might play some significant role in the solution of the Berlin problem and that this phase deserves further and more careful study."191 That is a possibility to which I should like to direct your attention. I would not argue that in principle a solution involving the UN would be necessarily preferable to an agreement solely between the occupying powers. Indeed, I would doubt if the UN could play a useful role unless a four power agreement had first been reached. I would suggest, however, that a settlement involving the UN need be no weaker, and conceivably would be more stable, than the present position. Although the effective introduction of the UN into the Berlin situation could probably be accomplished only through the agreement of the Four Powers, it could serve to engage the interest of other governments in the freedom and independence of Berlin in a way which no agreement solely between the occupying powers could do. Accordingly, I suggest that it would be worthwhile for the Permanent Council to study the possibilities of a role for the UN in the application of a solution for the Berlin problem, and I offer the following three points as a possible basis for discussion.
First: The basic role of the UN might be to verify that all parties were abiding by the terms of the agreement. Second: An essential part of the agreement would be a Soviet pledge binding itself and its associates to permit full freedom of access to West Berlin and the acceptance of a UN presence on the lines of communication.
Third: It should be understood that any UN responsibility for West Berlin would be complementary to the present rights and obligations of the four occupying powers.
So far I have spoken only of Berlin. But it may be that the negotiations may take in much more territory in an effort to reach a mutually acceptable accommodation. In that case, I should like to offer a few further suggestions. I have already stressed that we in the West could not countenance an agreement finally foreclosing the prospects for German reunification. A sense of realism, however, compels me to add that the prospects for early reunification do not seem bright; and it may be that we will have to approach this long term objective by more indirect means than we had previously insisted upon. If that proves to be the case, we would hope that over the years there would be increasing cooperation at the technical level between the Federal Republic and the Pankow régime. It might also be useful if the proposal originally advanced by the Federal Republic were put into effect and a continuing commission for Germany were instituted, and charged with responsibility for supervising and promoting progress towards reunification.
Should it turn out that the approach to reunification must be more partial and indirect than we in the West have consistently proposed, we may find as a consequence that we will also have to revise the views we have previously held about European security. It has long been agreed among us that if the USSR would agree to the reunification of Germany, some security arrangements should be worked out in Europe to provide them with a measure of assurance. Partial progress in one direction may entail partial progress in the other. For that reason, it seems to me that it would be unwise for the Western powers to enter the negotiations that are now contemplated with their minds closed against the possibility of accepting some measure of arms limitation or redeployment in a European area to include some territory now within the NATO area and some territory now behind the Iron Curtain.
I would suggest that while our security in the West over the last decade has deepened on drawing lines, on giving pledges, in short on a widespread policy of containment, the strategic situation may now be altering in such a way as to leave scope for some mutually profitable measure of redeployment. As we move into the missile era, when the time scale for charting military action will be plotted in terms of minutes rather than of hours, we will be under a stern necessity to do everything we can to prevent the weapons systems on both sides from responding almost automatically to doubtful intelligence. An area in Europe in which there was some arms limitation, together with some system of inspection and control, might be the start of a process which would have a wholesome and calming effect. However that may be, I would urge that the Western negotiators should not reject out of hand the possibility that some measure of arms limitation or redeployment might conceivably form a useful part of an accommodation with the USSR in the forthcoming negotiations.
In putting forward these various suggestions, we in Canada would not want the Western negotiators to feel that we are trying to place them under constraint. On the contrary, we would want them to feel that they can exercise the widest latitude within the limit of agreed positions and that in so doing they can rely on the trust and understanding of their allies. But let them not forget that our fortunes, as well as theirs, are at stake. Twice in my lifetime, Canada has suffered cruelly from wars originating in Europe. We have an air division of fighter planes and a brigade of ground troops stationed in Europe as part of the NATO shield. We know that, if the worst comes to the worst, such a conflict could as easily mean nuclear destruction of our cities in Canada as of those in Europe. Knowing the responsibilities they will have in their hands, we hope that the Western negotiators will take counsel from the knowledge that a thermonuclear war might destroy us all; from the instinct for survival which should be altered by that knowledge; and from the intellectual and diplomatic resourcefulness which should in this way be instinctively quickened. We fully expect that in skill and strength and subtlety they will prove equal to the task. Ends.
188Le ministre de la Défense nationale a représenté le Canada après la mort de Smith en mars 1959. The Minister of National Defence represented Canada following Smith's death in March, 1959.
189Bradley a fait cette déclaration le 5 novembre 1957. Voir les extraits de son discours dans The New York Times, November 6, 1957, p. 12. Bradley made this statement on November 5, 1957. For extracts from this speech, see The New York Times, November 6, 1957, p. 12.
190Voir/See Document 145.
191Voir Canada, Chambre des Communes, Débats, 1959, volume II, p. 2143./ See Canada, House of Commons, Debates, 1959, Volume II, p. 2049.