18. Telegram From Secretary of State Rusk to the Department of State 1

Secto 59. Eyes only for Acting Secretary from Secretary. Reference Polto 1 of April 14,2 I find it difficult to be patient in face of whining from various quarters across the Atlantic. Reftel should have broken down words Europe and Europeans into their component parts because on these matters there is no such thing as Europe. It is elementary that there will be no MLF unless a representative grouping of NATO countries wants it and that there will be an MLF if they do. I told Finletter and others just prior to White House meeting3 that I was unable to make a personal commitment to support MLF with only Germany, Greece and Turkey. It is also elementary to me that the United States does not expose itself to a major prestige setback by pretending that the American Republic and NATO will come crumbling down if at the end of the day Italy and Great Britain decide they want none of it. I do not know why we cannot deal with this matter in a businesslike fashion as a constructive worthwhile move without involving it with a second coming of Christ.

I am also concerned about the attitude around NATO headquarters toward disarmament. Every NATO government in the UN has voted regularly for disarmament and many of them have pushed us at times in UN and elsewhere to go farther and faster than we thought wise. Our responsibility toward this arms race is to try to prevent this globe from becoming a cinder and we must be forgiven if we try to get on with it even if others are hypnotized by toys and gadgets which they themselves only dimly understand. My own view is that we should get on with both the MLF and disarmament. If we get to a point, which I doubt, where we are forced to make some choices between the two, responsible governments should consult with each other and decide what to do. This is in no sense an unusual problem. It arises in connection with the armament of [Page 41] the United States, NATO force goals, US commitments about divisions in Europe and many other problems.

What I would like to see, therefore, is a little more maturity on these matters, but I doubt we can achieve it; but I do not want us to appear apologetic, defensive or embarrassed. No Foreign Minister has whined to me in terms like Polto 1 and until they do I am not much interested in lesser fry.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, DEF(MLF)12. Secret; Priority; Nodis. Rusk was in the Far East for the SEATO Council Meeting and visits to Saigon and Taipei April 10–20.
  2. In this telegram, Finletter raised the issue of whether to “force” the MLF on the Europeans. Referring to the White House meeting on April 10, he stated that it indicated that the United States would take no action to achieve the MLF unless the Allies asked for it. Finletter proposed that a middle ground between “force” and permissiveness be staked out urging the Allies “courteously and without pressure” to accept the MLF for the common good. He concluded that anything less than this would be “misunderstood by Allies who cannot understand that most powerful member of Alliance is as diffident as all that.” (Ibid., DEF(MLF))
  3. See Document 16.