Oral History Interview with
Served as Foreign Service officer, U.S. Department of State, 1931-62. In addition to his other service, served as 1st sec., American Embassy, London, 1945, Brussels, 1946; director for Western European Affairs, Dept. of State, 1947; U.S, vice deputy, North Atlantic Council, London, 1950, and minister at Paris, 1952. Attended the UN Conf. on Internat'1 Org., San Francisco, 1945; Council of Foreign Ministers, London, 1945; first session UN General Assembly, London, 1946, 2nd session, New York, 1947; Paris Conference, 1946; North Atlantic Pact negotiations, 1948-49, NATO, 1950, 1952, 1960; and CENTO, SEATO, and Colombo Plan Conferences, 1960. Also served as Ambassador to Peru, 1956-60.
November 13 and December 18, 1972
Richard D. McKinzie
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This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee, but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.
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Opened March, 1976
Harry S. Truman Library
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Oral History Interview with
November 13, 1972
Richard D. McKinzie
MCKINZIE: Ambassador Achilles, at the end of the Second World War I believe you were First Secretary in the Embassy in London, is that correct?
ACHILLES: A bit later. From 1941 to 1945 I was here in Washington as Chief of the British Commonwealth Division in the State Department. I went back to London as First Secretary shortly after V-J Day, but actually at the end of the war I was still here in the
MCKINZIE: Do you have any personal recollections of Mr. Truman's coming to office?
ACHILLES: Yes, I do. Little things. At that time my office was on the east side of the State Department, on the third floor, overlooking the White House. Fairly late one afternoon I saw the White House flag starting down the flagpole and I thought, "It isn't quite sunset yet, somebody's being a little bit early." The flag stopped at half-staff, and a few minutes later, a secretary came in out of breath saying, "President Roosevelt is dead."
I remember hearing a few days later that in the next two hours after President Roosevelt's death had been on the radio that the new President and Mrs. Truman had something like twelve telephone calls asking to rent
My first sight of President Truman came at the San Francisco Conference, which took place shortly after that. Our Secretary of State [Edward R., Jr.] Stettinius, put on a large reception for President Truman to meet the delegates, and my first impression of Mr. Truman was, "This little fellow looks much more like the president of a very small-town country club than like the President of the United States," but we learned to develop a great respect for that little fellow in the years to come.
In September of that year I was assigned to London and also detailed as Secretary of our delegation to the first Council of Foreign Ministers which met in London immediately after V-J Day to try to negotiate peace treaties with Italy and Germany and the eastern
Secretary of State [James F.] Byrnes, who had just become Secretary of State, was chairman of our delegation. John Foster Dulles went and represented Senator [Arthur H.] Vandenberg, who was then chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Jimmy [James C.] Dunn was the second-ranking member of the State Department. Chip [Charles E.] Bohlen was there as interpreter and also adviser on Soviet affairs. Jimmy Byrnes was quite new to the process; he had been in Congress, in the Senate, and a Supreme Court justice.
At the end of the first day's meeting, as usual, I typed up a telegram to the State Department reporting what happened that day. I took it to Jimmy Dunn who initialed it, and took it to Secretary Byrnes for signature. Secretary Byrnes looked at it and said, "What's
I said, "This is the usual telegram to the State Department reporting what happened."
Byrnes said, "God Almighty, I might tell the President sometime what happened, but I'm never going to tell those little bastards at the State Department anything about it."
There was a fairly tough situation the next few days in the Council of Foreign Ministers. We were making a little progress towards negotiating a treaty of peace with Italy. The Russians were being obstinate and difficult, but no more so than usual. But, one morning Molotov opened the session by declaring that unfortunately the whole procedure was illegal. There were five governments represented at the talks: our United States, Great Britain, Soviet Union, France, and China. Molotov announced, obviously on the basis of
new instructions overnight, that the French and Chinese had no business to be there and he would not participate any further in the Conference.
That presented everyone else with a real choice. Should we ask the French and the Chinese to leave, try to work out agreements with the Russians and the British; or, should we stand firm and insist that they continue there and risk the breakup of the conference? I remember at the time thinking that that might mark the transition from a short-lived postwar era to the beginnings of a potentially prewar era.
Secretary Dulles records in his book War and Peace, that he followed Secretary Byrnes up to his bedroom that night and insisted that Secretary Byrnes take the hard line, that France and China should stay regardless of whether the Russians broke off
the conference or not. Byrnes was of two minds, but Dulles was quite persuasive. As I say, Dulles recalls that in his book. Shortly after the book appeared and I had read it, I met Mrs. Dulles at a cocktail party and told her that I had just read that chapter and vividly recalled that day at the London Council of Ministers.
She said, "Foster wrote that he had followed Jimmy Byrnes into his bedroom to tell him that, but he didn't write in his book that he'd also followed him into his bathroom and told him that if he took any other course Senator Vandenberg would denounce him on the floor of the Senate the next day."
After a year in London and a year in Brussels I returned to Washington as Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs, and it became my duty with Jack Hickerson, to concentrate for the next year and a half
on negotiating the North Atlantic Treaty and getting it ratified.
Somehow, the North Atlantic Treaty will always be associated in my mind with fishhouse punch. The Metropolitan Club in Washington always holds open house on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. Christmas Eve they serve free drinks and charge you for lunch and New Year's Eve they charge you for drinks and serve free lunch. Between the two they make a tidy profit. But, having just come back from abroad, I forgot to go to either of them. On that New Year's Eve [December 31, 1947] I was sitting at my desk, slightly drowsy in the middle of the afternoon, when my immediate chief, Jack Hickerson, Director of the Bureau of European Affairs, came into my office, well mellowed by fishhouse punch and said, "I don't care whether entangling alliances have
been considered worse than original sin ever since George Washington's time. We've got to negotiate a military alliance with Western Europe in peacetime and we've got to do it quickly."
I said, "Fine, when do we start?"
He said, "I've already started it. Now it's your baby. Get going."
He sat down and elaborated. He had been with General [George C.] Marshall, who succeeded Jimmy Byrnes as Secretary of State, at the last meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers in London in December . That meeting had broken up with no progress on negotiating the treaties which they had been trying to negotiate for the last two years. The night it broke up the British Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, invited General Marshall to dinner alone in his apartment. That night,
after dinner, he made a statement to General Marshall, which was almost word for word the same one he made in the House of Commons two or three weeks later. He said, and I quote, "There is no chance that the Soviet Union will deal with the West on any reasonable terms in the foreseeable future. The salvation of the West depends upon the formation of some form of union, formal or informal in character, in Western Europe, backed by the United States and the dominions, such a mobilization of moral and material force will inspire confidence and energy within and respect elsewhere."
At that point Western Europe was devastated, prostrate and demoralized and it badly needed confidence and energy within. With the Soviet armies halfway across Europe and still at their full wartime strength and the Communist parties
the largest single political elements in France and Italy, something to inspire Soviet respect was equally essential.
The only moral and material force adequate to deter further Soviet expansion was a combination of that of the United States and Western Europe together. Some form of union was definitely essential, but there was a great question as to what form and between whom.
The next morning Secretary Marshall told Dulles and Hickerson of Bevin's words. He was impressed, but he thought that the union should be purely European, with the United States supplying material assistance. He had made his famous Marshall plan speech at Harvard only six months before and was still trying to get Congressional authorization for it. He did not want to complicate that
task any more than was absolutely necessary.
Secretary Marshall flew home. Dulles and Hickerson came by sea. Jack Hickerson was convinced that a European union backed by U.S. material assistance would not be enough, that only a moral commitment by the United States to do whatever was necessary, including to fight if necessary, to restore and maintain a free and solvent Europe could create that "confidence and energy within and respect elsewhere."
By the time they reached Washington, Foster Dulles had substantially accepted that line of reasoning. Dulles undertook to convince Senator Vandenberg, then Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Hickerson undertook to convince Marshall. Jack Hickerson and I had both read Clarence Streit's, Union Now, and had been deeply impressed by it. We shared
enthusiasm for negotiating a military alliance and getting it ratified as a basis for further progress towards unity.
Early in January, Bevin made his historic speech in the Commons saying substantially what he had said to Marshall, and he inquired in a private message to Secretary Marshall what the U.S. might be prepared to do about it.
Jack Hickerson drafted a reply, but Marshall balked. Jack's draft reply would have given Bevin very substantial encouragement. The reply Marshall finally signed insisted that the nations of Western Europe first show what they were prepared to do for themselves and each other, after which we would consider sympathetically what we might do to help. That was to be our theme song for the next few months: "Show what you're prepared to do for yourselves and each other, and then we'll think
about what we might do."
Bevin's message also stated that he hoped to realize a network of bilateral alliances between Britain, France and the Benelux countries, each ostensibly aimed at any new threat from Germany, but actually and equally valid against any Soviet aggression.
We had recently concluded, and the Senate had ratified, the Rio Treaty by which the nations of the Western Hemisphere constituted themselves a collective defense arrangement under the U.S. Charter to respond individually and collectively to any armed aggression.
Jack's draft reply to Bevin contained, and Marshall accepted, the suggestion that a similar collective defense arrangement between Britain and France and the Benelux countries would be far preferable to .a network of bilateral alliances. Bevin bought the
idea. Senators Vandenberg and [Thomas] Connally, who had been on the delegation that negotiated the Rio Treaty, and to safeguard its provisions had fought at San Francisco for authorization for collective defense arrangements under the UN Charter, heartily approved.
It would be a long time before anyone would admit publicly that we were even considering a treaty. But, Jack and I knew clearly from the beginning what we were working for.
The international situation at the time, including actual and threatened Soviet territorial expansion, the increasingly vigorous and violent threat of the Communist parties in Western European countries, are well-described in the official NATO book, NATO: Facts about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, published in 1965.
As far as we were concerned, Jack, right from the beginning, laid down two important ground rules. One was that the Senate, through the Foreign Relations Committee, was to be involved from the start. Its "advice" was to be sought constantly all the way through, rather than merely its "consent" to a signed and sealed treaty. The other was that the process be kept thoroughly bipartisan--essential in an election year with Democratic administration, a Republican Congress, and the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee a potential candidate for the Presidency.
During January and February of 1948, Bevin, having accepted our suggestion of a collective defense arrangement, pushed on with negotiations with the French and Benelux governments which resulted in the Brussels Treaty, signed on March 17th. Our official position
was still, and continued to be, "First show us what you are prepared to do for yourselves and each other, and then we will see what we can do." Yet, we had been pushing quietly ahead on two fronts. One was ultra-secret political and military talks with the British and Canadians about a treaty. The talks were held in the Joint Chiefs of Staff war room in the bowels of the Pentagon, and the very existence of the talks was so secret that the Joint Chiefs sent staff cars to pick up the various participants and deliver them directly to a secret entrance in the basement. It was so secret that one Pentagon chauffeur got lost trying to find it.
The United States was represented by Bob [Robert A.] Lovett, then Acting Secretary of State; General Alfred Gruenther, then director of the Joint Staffs; Jack; and myself.
The Canadians were represented by Hume Wrong, the Ambassador; General Charles Foulkes, Chairman of their Joint Chiefs; Tommy Stone, Minister in the Embassy, and Louis Rogers, Second Secretary.
The British team was Lord Inverchapel, the Ambassador; Sir Derick Hoyer-Millar, the Minister; the Chairman of their Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Donald McLean, Second Secretary of the Embassy.
The talks--even their existence--were ultra, ultra secret, and to this day I don't believe anything has been written or said publicly about them. Yet, it was only two or three years later that Donald McLean defected to Moscow. The Russians must have been getting a daily play by play account.
The talks lasted about two weeks and by the time they finished, it had been secretly
agreed that there would be a treaty, and I had a draft of one in the bottom drawer of my safe. It was never shown to anyone except Jack. I wish I had kept it, but when I left the Department in 1950, I dutifully left it in the safe and I have never been able to trace it in the archives.
It drew heavily on the Rio Treaty, and a bit of the Brussels Treaty, which had not yet been signed, but of which we were being kept heavily supplied with drafts. The eventual North Atlantic Treaty had the general form, and a good bit of the language of my first draft, but with a number of important differences.
The other front was the Senatorial one. The Europeans were, with reason, becoming increasingly frightened of Soviet expansion, and their pleas for U.S. action were becoming
increasingly insistent. Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania, and Poland had been taken over by the Communists by the fall of 1947. The Czech coup came in February, 1945 and the murder of Masaryk in March.
After the signature of the Brussels Treaty on March 17th, Bevin and [Georges] Bidault then French Foreign Minister, said in effect, "Now we've shown what we expect to do for ourselves and each other, what are you going to do? For God's sake, do something quick."
We were all deeply disturbed by the Soviet westward pressure, but to the Europeans we still kept saying, "You made a start, but it's still a small start. Put some military 'bones' on that Treaty, preferably some collective ones." We were sufficiently disturbed, however, to contemplate a declaration by President Truman that he was prepared to negotiate a
military alliance with the Parties to the Brussels Treaty and that, should there be Soviet aggression against any Parties to the Treaty pending its negotiation and entry into effect, the United States would consider it an unfriendly act.
Lovett tried that out on Vandenberg, and got a resounding "No:" "Why," asked Vandenberg, "should Truman get all the credit?" It was not an unnatural reaction on his part, for it was an election year and Vandenberg was interested in being the Republican candidate. But, he was a statesman as well as a politician and his counterproposal was excellent. "Why not," he asked, "get the Senate to request the President to negotiate such an alliance. Wouldn't that give you a long start toward eventual bipartisan Senate approval?" How right he was.
We accepted his approach with enthusiasm and he and Lovett set out to draft a "Sense of the Senate" resolution with Jack's and my assistance. Vandenberg had played a substantial role in San Francisco during the negotiation of the UN Charter and in the Senate for its ratification.
In 1948 there was much public and congressional discussion of the need to strengthen the U.N. and several congressional resolutions on the subject were pending. Vandenberg wished to capitalize on these. Accordingly, the preamble of the Vandenberg resolution called upon the President particularly to pursue the following objectives within the U.N. Charter. Its paragraphs 1, 5, and 6 referred to strengthening the U.N. itself. Paragraphs 2, 3 and 4, were, with the exception of one phrase, my language.
2. Progressive development of regional and other collective arrangements for individual and collective self-defense in accordance with the purposes, principles, and provisions of the Charter.
3. Association of the United States, by constitutional process, with such regional and other collective arrangements as are based on continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, and as affect its national security.
4. Contributing to the maintenance of peace by making clear its determination to exercise the right of individual or collective self-defense under Article 51, should any armed attack occur affecting its national security.
The words "by constitutional process" were Vandenberg's, and they proved very useful in the Resolution and in the Treaty itself.
"One-page Vandenberg," as he was called, insisted that the drafts be all on one page; and he typed it [the resolution] himself, although he had to use very narrow margins and almost ran off the bottom of the page. He also did
his best to keep things bipartisan by insisting that the resolution be referred to as a "Resolution of the Foreign Relations Committee" rather than as the "Vandenberg resolution." However, he could not have been displeased when the press and everyone else preferred the latter.
As soon as the resolution was introduced, President Truman hailed it.
Paragraph 4 with its recommendation that the U.S. react to any armed aggression affecting its national security went far to contemplate the warning that we thought that the President should give. We were on the way, and the British and French were heartened, but still gravely worried and impatient. We did not dare move until the resolution passed the Senate and we pressed the Europeans to get them going on developing some collective military
At the end of April, the Benelux military authorities began discussions, but only in September was the Western Union Defense Organization created with Field Marshal Montomery as Chairman of the Commanders-in-Chief Committee at Fontainebleau. Montgomery did not mince words and the British showed us one of his early secret telegrams from Fontainebleau. "My present instructions are to hold the line at the Rhine," said Montgomery. "Presently available allied forces might enable me to hold the tip of the Brittany Peninsula for three days. Please instruct further."
On April 28th Prime Minister St. Laurent of Canada made first overt proposals for a treaty. Speaking in the House of Commons, he proposed a collective mutual defense system, including Canada, the United States
and the Brussels Treaty parties. Bevin promptly welcomed it. Francis Wilcox, who was then Chief of Staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bill Galloway, whom I had gotten out of uniform and into the Western European Division and who was then working with me, and I worked all day for two or three weeks drafting the Committee's report on the resolution. There were ulcer lunches of stale sandwiches or gummy beans from the scruffy newstand snack bar across the hall from the Committee Room.
Fran was an exacting taskmaster and a stickler for detail; but able as hell and knew his Committee thoroughly.
They adopted the report unanimously and the Senate approved it by the highly satisfactory vote of, I believe, 84 to 6, on June 11. Now we could move.
A similar resolution had been introduced in the House and approved unanimously by the Foreign Affairs Committee. We waited a bit, hoping the House would pass it, but the House adjourned for the election campaign without action. We didn't care too much; it was the Senate that counted.
On July 6, talks began between Acting Secretary Lovett and the Ambassadors of Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Holland, and the Luxembourg Minister, ostensibly, on problems connected with the defense of the Atlantic area, including the possibility of a treaty of alliance. It would still be several months before we would admit out loud that we were negotiating a treaty.
The Acting Secretary and the Ambassadors met once in a while, but the treaty was actually negotiated "despite them" in Jack's words, by
a "Working Group," whose members became life-long friends in the process. Many of them have since subsequently been prominent in their own Foreign Services, in their own Foreign Offices, or as Ambassadors, or in the United Nations.
We met every working day from the beginning of July to the beginning of September. That was before the days of air-conditioning and we all worked with our coats off. Most of us were already on a first name basis and we all were by the third day. No records of any kind were kept.
The NATO spirit was born in that Working Group. Derick Hoyer-Millar, the British Minister, started it. One day he made a proposal which was obviously nonsense. Several of us told him so in no uncertain terms, and a much better formulation emerged from the
discussion. Derick said, and I quote, "Those are my instructions. All right, I'll tell the foreign office I made my pitch, was shot down and try to get them changed."
He did. From then on we all followed the same system. If our instructions were sound, and agreement could be reached, fine. If not, we worked out something we all, or most of us, considered sound, and whoever had the instructions undertook to get them changed. It always worked, although sometimes it took time. That spirit has continued to this day, I believe, although the size to which NATO has grown makes it far less easy.
Two years later we began in London to put the "O" on the NAT by creating the organization. Some of the members of the delegations had been members of the Working Group, some had not. I was our representative on one
committee; the French representative had not been. He made some unacceptable proposal and I told him it was unacceptable. "Those are my instructions," he said flatly.
From force of habit I said bluntly, "I know, but they're no good, get them changed to something like this."
He was sorely offended. A little later in the meeting, I made a proposal under instructions I knew to be wrong. He and several others objected. I said, "I know, those are my instructions. I'll try to get them changed."
I have never seen a more puzzled looking Frenchman. "What," I could see him thinking, "is this crazy American up to? Is he stupid, or Machiavellian, or what?" But, he got the idea in due course. He was Etienne Burin Des Roziers, for several years my colleague as
Minister in NATO and later, after some years in the wilderness, General de Gaulle's Chef de Cabinet for many years. I was always confident that he kept the NATO spirit, but there wasn't much he could do about it at the Elysee. But, that is far ahead of the story.
The French, of course, were difficult. They always are in a working group; they boggled at everything. For weeks they insisted on a treaty having a duration of 50 years. I thought of that often in the years when de Gaulle had the world wondering whether France would pull out as soon as she legally could--after twenty years.
We did not think the Senate would take a duration of more than 10 years and told Berard, the French Minister, so repeatedly. He said France would not sign unless it ran for 50 years. We told him bluntly that we didn't give a damn
whether or not France signed, and that we couldn't go beyond 10, and everybody else would sign, and that he knew damn well the French Government was wetting its collective pants at least once a day for fear the U.S. wouldn't sign or ratify if it did. That was the informal nature of our negotiations.
Eventually we reached agreement on an indefinite duration, with provision for review of the Treaty at the request of any Party after 10 years, and the right of withdrawal after 20 years. Now ten years have passed and so have 20 and no one has yet suggested any review of the Treaty, let alone withdrawal.
The French were not the only ones to be difficult. We had some on our own side. Chip Bohlen and George Kennan were strongly adverse to the idea of any treaty. Chip
was then Counselor in the Department, which at that time meant being in charge of Congressional relations, and George, head of the Policy Planning Staff. In the Departmental hierarchy they both ranked above Jack, and naturally above me. Any telegrams for the Secretary's signature or memoranda to him which we originated were supposed to have their initials before it went to the Secretary. They usually didn't have their initials. Sometimes we got by with it, sometimes we didn't.
One time, Pat Carter, General Marshall's executive assistant, bawled me out for it: "There is too much half-assed staff work around here." I couldn't tell him why, but every time we eventually did get the Secretary's or Acting Secretary's approval. Chip's opposition was due to his belief, pretty
much a conviction, that the Senate would never consent to ratification of a military alliance. His recommendation was that we get Congress to approve a massive military assistance program and let it go at that.
His fallback position was the "dumbbell" one, that there be a bilateral agreement of some sort between the U.S. and Canada on one side and the parties to the Brussels Treaty on the other. He more or less fought a rearguard action against the Treaty all the way through. It was obvious that someone who did not believe in the Treaty or that the Senate would ever approve it was not the man to get it through the Senate for us.
Jack convinced Bob Lovett of the situation and Chip was transferred to Paris. We cooked up a new job for him, that of regional supervisor for the military assistance program--
which didn't yet exist, but which we were confident Congress would approve.
Somewhere along the line George Kennan dropped his opposition and did make one positive contribution. The Rio Treaty provided that in the event of armed aggression against any Party, the other Parties would "assist in meeting the attack." He pointed out that it might be far more effective to hit the enemy somewhere else, rather than where the attack occurred. The language was, therefore, changed to "take such action as may be necessary to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area." In other words, to beat the hell out of the aggressor wherever and however seemed best. Aside from that positive contribution, and occasionally seeing memoranda in drafts, George had nothing whatever to do with the negotiations. In his memoirs,
he makes the amazing statement that he was the Department's representative on the working group. Jack Hickerson was, assisted by Bill Galloway and myself. George was never on it and I do not think he ever attended a meeting. Success has plenty of fathers, even Chip became one after the Treaty was ratified.
More than any human being Jack was responsible for the nature, content, and form of the Treaty and for its acceptance by the Senate. He had insisted from the beginning that we consistently seek the advice on a bipartisan basis of the Foreign Relations Committee. He was the one who insisted that it be a collective defense arrangement as authorized by the U.N. Charter. He was determined, although in deference to the Senate he was very careful about saying so, that it be a binding military alliance with real teeth. He was convinced, and
succeeded in convincing many others, that World War III could best be avoided by convincing the Russians, in advance, that any armed attack on any country in Western Europe would bring in the might of the United States "including the industrial might of Pittsburgh and Detroit," as he said, "immediately."
Jack also insisted that we not waste time arguing about a preamble until the rest of the treaty was finished. "No applesauce until we finish with the meat and potatoes." and he insisted that the whole Treaty be short, simple, and flexible, permitting maximum freedom for evolution, development, and response to unforeseeable circumstances. And early on he read a newspaper correspondent's comment that treaties should be drafted in language that the Omaha milkman could understand. Whenever anyone proposed any complicated language
Jack would remind him of that Omaha milkman, who thus became the spiritual stylist of the Treaty. It was a one-man Hickerson treaty.
Article 5 was the guts of the treaty, the "go to war" article and naturally it was the most intensively scrutinized and argued over, both in the Working Group and within the Foreign Relations Committee. It began with Article 3 of the Rio Treaty as a model. It read in part:
The high contracting parties agree that an armed attack by any state against an American state, should be considered as an attack against all the American states, and, consequently, each one of the said contracting parties undertakes to assist in meeting the attack in the exercise of the inherent right of individual or collectively for self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations.
The Omaha milkman promptly threw out the "High Contracting" since "Parties" alone was just as good. I have recounted George Kennan's contribution to provide for "winning the war"
rather than "meeting the attack."
In the beginning the draft Article 5 read:
The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America should be considered an attack against them all. And consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of individual or collective self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as may be necessary to restore and maintain security of the North Atlantic area.
There we ran into trouble with the Foreign Relations Committee. "Does this mean war?" "Is it constitutional?" "Don't forget that only Congress can declare war."
We were working primarily with Arthur Vandenberg, then Chairman, and Fran Wilcox, Chief of Staff of the Committee, although we met informally a number of times with the other members. Certainly Vandenberg and Wilcox did
not object to a strong treaty, but they constantly had in mind the need to get the approval of two-thirds of the Senate. It was Vandenberg who suggested replacing the words "such action as may be necessary," by "such action as it deems necessary." This would not only give the U.S. full freedom of action, but enable Congress to decide whether or not war was necessary.
The Committee was happy, the Europeans were not. To them this took the heart out of the binding commitment to go to war which they so badly wanted from us. We argued for days, that it still provided that we must regard an attack on any of them an attack on us, and act accordingly, and that we could be counted on to be reasonable as to what action we deemed necessary. They were not convinced. What if them were a prolonged debate
in Congress? Could we do anything quickly? Might not our eventual action be too late? Did not this greatly weaken the deterrent of making clear to the Russians that we would go to war immediately? We had to admit that their fears had considerable justification. On the other hand, as we reiterated constantly, there would be no U.S. commitment of any kind unless the Senate accepted the treaty. Eventually we agreed to insert the word "forthwith," making the sentence read, "by taking forthwith such action as it deems necessary." Also inserting "including the use of armed force." This was acceptable to the Committee and to the Europeans although they were not overly enthusiastic. With agreement on this the critical point reached, the final language, therefore, read:
The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or
North America should be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the Chapter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
Thus the treaty would be activated by any armed attack "in Europe or North America," but that required somewhat more precision. How about ships, aircraft, island possessions, occupation forces in West Germany or Berlin?
Article 6 spelled this out:
For the purpose of Article 5 an armed attack on one or more of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the territory of any of the Parties in Europe or North America, on the Algerian Departments of France, on the occupation forces of any Party in Europe, on the islands under the jurisdiction of any Party of the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer or on the vessels or aircraft in this area of any of the Parties.
The French made an effort to have the treaty cover all of their colonial possessions including Indo-China. The Foreign Relations Committee was insistent that we not get into the question of going to war to uphold colonialism. The British, the Belgians and Dutch understood, and left the French alone. The latter insisted that the three northern departments of Algeria were constitutionally part of metropolitan France, and dropped the fight when we agreed to include them.
The article covers islands, ships and aircraft in the North Atlantic area, rather than the North Atlantic Ocean, thus covering the Western Mediterranean and Malta. I picked the Tropic of Cancer running between Florida and Cuba as a convenient southern boundary to avoid complication with "the good neighborhood." That limitation has
often been criticized by the Allied Supreme Commander, Atlantic, in preventing the use of NATO forces south of that line.
This did create a serious problem during the Cuban missile crisis when Britain objected to the use of NATO naval forces near Cuba. I have always maintained that there was nothing in the Treaty to prevent their being used south of the Tropic. They were merely not under its protection south of it, and whether or not they were sunk there or anywhere else outside of the Treaty area was a political matter with decisions by governments having naval forces assigned to NATO, in the light of circumstances at any given time. As far as I know our Government has never given a definitive position on this point, but I gather that SACLANT and the Joint Chiefs concur.
During the negotiations the question of
a northern boundary never arose. After signature, and during the Senate hearings, someone asked Dean Acheson what the northern boundary was. He thought fast and said, "The North Pole." That has never been questioned.
Since Hawaii became a state, it has been pointed out that the Treaty area does not include Hawaii. It doesn't. We'll have to take our chances on another Pearl Harbor.
Part of the bargaining with the French over colonial possessions had involved consultation over serious problems outside the Treaty area. The British, Belgians and Dutch also favored this, and neither we nor the Committee had any objections.
There was no problem in agreeing on the language of Article 4:
The Parties will consult together, whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence, or security of any of the Parties
It was understood that territorial integrity and security covered anyone's possessions anywhere, and that "in the opinion of any of them," guaranteed consultation whenever anyone invoked the article. No one ever has; yet continuing political consultation on all major international problems involving NATO countries has become one of the most important developments under the Treaty.
This government's insistence, pronounced constantly by Vandenberg and Lovett, that the Europeans show what they can do for themselves and each other was reflected in Article 3:
In order more effectively to achieve the objectives of this Treaty, the Parties, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.
This was agreeable to the Europeans and it pro-vided a basis for the contemplated U.S. mili-tary assistance program. It also added to the deterrent with a commitment to back up the will to fight with the ability to do so effectively. Everybody liked this article.
The Canadians realized more clearly than anyone else that a truly military alliance, as important as it undoubtedly was and is, was not enough. What was really needed was a progressive development of a true Atlantic Community, with a capital "C"--progressively closer unity in all fields. Prime Minister [Louis S.] St. Laurent had implied this publicly and the Canadians pushed hard for some provision to provide a basis for it. Jack and I fully agreed. No one else was prepared to go very far.
After a good deal of discussion, Article 2
was drafted to provide that:
The Parties will contribute toward the further development of peaceful and friendly international relations by promoting the general welfare.
When we tried this out on Senators Vandenberg and Connally, both, especially Connally reacted violently. He said, that "the general welfare" provision of the U.S. Constitution had caused more litigation than any other provision in it. It would not be included in any treaty while he was in the Senate.
That Saturday afternoon Jack called in Mike Pearson and Tommy Stone the Canadian Ambassador and Minister, and the four of us concocted the present Article 2:
The Parties will contribute toward the further development of peaceful and friendly international relations by strengthening their free institutions by bringing about a better understanding of the principles upon which these institutions are founded, and by promoting
conditions of stability and well-being They will seek to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies and will encourage economic collaboration between any or all of them.
Everyone bought it, although it was short of what the Canadians, and Jack and I would have liked. The words "strengthening their free institutions and by bringing about a better understanding of the principles upon which these institutions were founded" were, of course, intended to encourage efforts to oppose domestic communism, which then was a real threat in France. "Conditions of stability and well-being" were also anti-Communist and came as close to "general welfare" as Connally and Vandenberg would buy.
Despite numerous efforts over the years by both the U.S. and Canadian Governments, Article 2 has never gotten off the ground. In the early days the French made fun of it
and sabotaged our efforts to promote cooperation. All they wanted was the U.S. guarantee to fight if France was attacked. On any economic matters the Europeans always said, and the Canadians and we had to agree, that the Organization for European Economic Cooperation was better qualified.
At the time of the spring of 1952 Ministerial Council meeting in Lisbon we had just imposed some restriction on imports of Canadian pulp and paper which bothered the Canadians con-siderably. Mike Pearson, then Foreign Minister of Canada, asked me if Washington would object if Ottawa invoked Article 2, and the phrase "they will seek to eliminate conflict in their national economic policies."
I telephoned the State Department and got the reply that we wouldn't object at all. Mike so advised Ottawa, but the Canadian Government
got cold feet and never raised the matter. It was not until April 4, 1969, the 20th anniversary of the signing of the treaty, that Article 2 was actually invoked. That was when President Nixon proposed that under it, NATO establish a Committee to deal with "the Challenges of Modern Society."
Despite some opposition on the ground that the OECD and the U.N. were better qualified, NATO's Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society has come into being and is doing useful work. However, that is a very small step toward a true Atlantic community.
Articles 1, 7, and 8, which merely show due deference to the United Nations, presented no problems. There was general agreement to Jack's thesis that the Treaty must not be merely a piece of paper containing a specific obligation, but rather must provide flexibility of implementation
and the possibility of progressive evolution.
The Europeans were also interested in speeding U.S. action in emergencies. There was no difficulty in getting agreement on Article 9:
The Parties hereby establish a Council, on which each of them shall be represented; to consider matters concerning the implementation of this Treaty. The Council shall be so organized as to be able to meet promptly at any time. The Council shall set up such subsidiary bodies as may be necessary. In particular, it shall establish immediately a defense committee which shall recommend measures for the implementation of Articles 3 and 5.
Since they could only "consider" matters of implementation, this raised no Senatorial questions. Being so organized as to be able to meet promptly at any time satisfied the Europeans, in fact it led to the establishment of the Permanent Representatives, originally considered to be Deputy Foreign Ministers, but actually only
Ambassadors, who constitute the Council in Permanent Session. It was always understood that the Council be composed of Foreign Ministers. The Europeans were anxious to have a defense committee quickly and it was established early on.
We also recommended, and everyone agreed, to establish a committee of Finance Ministers to help finance rearmament. However, it didn't take long to find out that the Defense Ministers in one room could reach unanimous agreement that everyone's defense budgets should be doubled, while the Finance Ministers in the adjoining room are reaching unanimous agreement that they could be cut in half.
At Canadian initiative the Council was expanded to include Defense and Finance as well as Foreign Ministers so they could fight it all out together. The only trouble has been in
practice that most of the Finance Ministers won't come as they know they would be under heavy pressure if they did. We carefully avoided any requirement in the Treaty for unanimity, with one exception. That was the admission of additional Parties to the Treaty, which would of course increase everyone's obligations. That was readily agreed in Article 10, with a limitation that only European states could be admitted.
Article 11 started out to be a simple statement that the Treaty shall be ratified in accordance with the constitutional processes of each signatory. Senators Vandenberg and Connally, always anxious to assure the rest of the the Senate that its prerogatives were safeguarded, added a key phrase so that the first sentence read:
The treaty shall be ratified and its provisions carried out by the Parties in accordance with their respective constitutional processes.
This worried the Europeans a bit, but they couldn't properly object, and the language was agreed.
Articles 12 and 13, about the duration of the treaty, caused a great deal of argument. The Brussels Treaty was for 50 years, the Rio Treaty of indefinite duration but any party could withdraw anytime after two years notice. The French and the other parties argued strongly for 50 years; the Senators were reluctant to go beyond 10. Eventually we hammered out Articles 12 and 13, providing that the Treaty would be of indefinite duration, but that it could be reviewed at the request of any Party after it had been in force for 10 years and that any Party could withdraw on a year's notice after it had been in force for 20 years.
It has now been in force for 23 years, and
despite all de Gaulle's unpleasant noises, neither France nor anyone else has ever shown a desire to have the Treaty reviewed. Indeed, de Gaulle always emphasized that he had no objection to the Treaty, i.e. the U.S. guarantee, but only to the idea of an integrated organization under it, which he considered a form of U.S. domination of France.
By September 1948 the draft treaty was practically complete. With masterly understatement the other governments and we bravely announced that a satisfactory basis had been found upon which to negotiate a North Atlantic Treaty. The Working Group had become a real bond of brothers and most of us have continued lifelong friends.
The Ambassadors and the Acting Secretary met again and we let them argue awhile over a preamble. We, on the Working Group, didn't give a damn
what it said except that, at Jack's insistence, we beat down a French attempt to include a reference to cultural cooperation. I'm not sure we were wise in that. We and the French thought of it, with a capital "c", i.e. artistic, etc., cooperation. But, pursued in a broader civic or sociological sense, it might have helped stimulate action under Article 2.
The best and briefest draft proposal was submitted by Elco van Kleffens, the Dutch Ambassador. Stalin's expansionist policies had given rise to the Treaty, which was designed to stop their progress. Elco suggested the preamble read simply, "Dear Joe." It was a good idea.
During the fall the main discussion related to membership. The French wanted Italy included. This, despite the early World War
II French crack that if Italy stayed neutral, it would take five French divisions to watch the border; if Italy attacked France it would take ten divisions to defeat her, and if Italy attacked Germany it would take twenty French divisions to save her.
There was a certain amount of reluctance, largely on the grounds that Italy was not, strictly speaking, an Atlantic country. But, it was agreed to include her on the basis of her strategic position in the Mediterranean and on the flank of France and, more importantly, to help combat internal Communist subversion on Italy.
Of considerable importance was the question of the "stepping stones," the Atlantic islands. In those days the range of planes was considerably less than it is today and those islands were considered of great importance should it become
necessary to get U.S. forces to Europe in a hurry. The islands concerned were Greenland, which meant including Denmark, Iceland, and the Azores, which meant including Portugal.
During this summer, Denmark, Norway and Sweden had been negotiating a Nordic defense agreement, which the Swedish envisaged as a neutralist defense arrangement as between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. The neutralistic Danes were tempted, but the stalwart Norwegians saw clearly that the combined strength of the three Nordic countries would be powerless against Soviet aggression or blackmail, and that only a U.S. guarantee could provide real security. There was quite a bit of public controversy. The Swedes vigorously advocating a neutral Nordic arrangement and the Norwegians, naturally with our encouragement, advocating participation in an Atlantic arrangement.
Wilhelm Morgenstierne, the Norwegian Ambassador, made a speech in Minnesota, in which he said, "Norwegians would rather die tomorrow on their feet than live a thousand years on their knees."
The Swedes inquired privately whether they would still be eligible for military assistance if they didn't join the treaty. Hugh Gumming and I told them that they would of course be eligible, if there was anything left after everyone else's needs had been taken care of. The Norwegians prevailed, and the Danes and Icelanders came with them. They participated in the last few meetings.
The Portuguese presented a different problem. They were deeply suspicious of the larger continental countries, especially France and Britain, despite the latter being Portugal's oldest ally. The suspicion went back
to the Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1889 (I'm not sure that that date is correct), which contemplated dividing up the Portuguese African possessions. It provided euphemistically that, "If Portugal were no longer sovereign over its territories, they would be divided as provided in the Treaty.
The Portuguese wanted no part in European unity, which they felt would be used both to take over the colonies and undermine her basic sovereignty. Having had this fully explained to me by the Portuguese Ambassador, my good friend Pedro Teotónio Pereira, I drafted a personal message from Truman to Salazar in which I still take a certain satisfaction. It states that we understood and shared Portugal's reluctance to get involved in European integration or internal continental squabbles, as our whole history showed. Like Portugal, we
were oceanic, seafaring, Atlantic power, with a great interest in maintaining the security of the Atlantic area and not just the Continent of Europe. It worked, and the Portuguese joined the negotiations in the last days.
Despite Swedish allegations that we had pressured them to join, we never did invite them. We knew they would decline. We simply told them they would be at the end of the line if they wanted any military assistance.
We did invite Ireland as an important stepping stone in anti-submarine warfare. We doubted that they would accept. They replied that they would be delighted to join provided we could get the British to give back the six Northern counties. We simply replied, in effect, that "it's been nice knowing you," and that was that.
All this time I had been keeping in close touch with the Joint Chiefs through the Strategic Survey Committee, of which Admiral Arthur Davis was chairman. He was a crusty old sea-dog and most people were afraid of him, but he and I got along fine.
The British and U.S. Combined Chiefs of Staff had ceased to exist after the war, but the British kept a large military mission in Washington with offices in the Pentagon. Nothing could convince the French that the Combined Chiefs setup was not still secretly in existence, and that the British and we together were discussing worldwide strategy. The British were, in fact, closer to our military than anyone else; but there was definitely nothing formal about it.
The French insisted that the proposed Military Committee, on which all the Parties
could be represented, be supplemented, and in fact, dominated by an Anglo-French-American Standing Group, at Chiefs of Staff level. Nobody else liked the idea, least of all the smaller European nations, but the French made such a row over it that the rest of us eventually agreed. It was not provided for in the treaty, but was established anyway.
At the last minute the Italians threatened for a few days that they would not sign the Treaty unless included in the Standing Group. We laughed at them and they came around.
Tradition provides that the terms of a treaty must be kept secret, at least until signature, if not until it is actually sent to the Senate for approval. Jack and I felt that this would not do in the case of something as radical a departure from Washington's warning against entangling alliances. We had the Foreign Relations Committee with us, but
it would help them and us a lot if we also had a good deal of public support. We, therefore, took it upon ourselves to prepare public opinion. John Hightower covered the Department for the Associated Press and Frank Shackford for the United Press. Both were completely reliable, and John, in particular, was a true statesman. They were naturally anxious for news on the progress of the Treaty. Every few days all fall I would call them to my office and say in effect, "Of course, I can't say a word about the progress of negotiations. However, as you know, the Rio Treaty is an excellent collective defense arrangement under the U.N. Charter. Article so and so of the Rio Treaty provides so and so." They would then write that the Atlantic Treaty would contain so and so.
Long before the Treaty was signed, a good
idea of its character and provisions had been given to the public. Jack and I thought it best not to seek approval for this course, either from higher authority or from the Committee, but we had the tacit approval of them both. In fact, in November, the Department decided to publish a brochure discussing the need for such a treaty and what it should contain. I was assigned to write it, did so, and turned it over to the Bureau of Public Affairs for them to obtain the necessary clearances and handle actual publication. The bureaucratic wheels turn slowly. It was printed and released to the public early in January.
We got an immediate outraged bellow from President Truman. Truman was preparing his Inaugural message and was planning to use exactly the same substance as the fourth of its principle points. We had inadvertently
stolen his thunder. He told the Department to come up with something else important in a hurry.
After considerable head-scratching, someone unearthed an old memo of Bob Schaetzel proposing a program of technical assistance to undeveloped countries. It was dusted off, sent to the White House, accepted, and became the famous "Point Four Program."
In January 1949, the Democrats took over the Congress and Dean Acheson succeeded the ailing George Marshall as Secretary of State.
Incidentally, I was told not long after that by Bill Hillman, for a long time a principal Hearst correspondent in Europe and later vice president of Crowell-Collier and a close friend of President Truman, that the appointment of Acheson came about from a slightly indirect
President Truman was rather informal and casual in his press conferences and every once in a while he would let slip something that was not entirely accurate. The State Department press people had been issuing what they called "clarifications" of what the President said and in effect corrected him. This eventually got under the President's skin. According to Bill Hillman, the President sent for Jim Webb, the former Director of the Budget, and said, "Jim, I'd like you to be Under Secretary of State, and one thing I want you to do is to stop that damn State Department correcting what I say in press conferences."
He said, "Yes, Mr. President, I'd be glad to.”
The President then sent for Dean Acheson
and said, "I've asked Jim Webb to be Under Secretary of State. I'd like to have you be Secretary if you don't mind having Jim be Under Secretary."
He said, "Yes, Mr. President, I'd be delighted."
Our first job was to indoctrinate Dean Acheson on the whys, wherefores, and provisions of the Treaty. He learned fast.
Our second job was to butter up Tom Connally, who had succeeded Vandenberg as Chairman of the Committee, and whose nose was slightly out of joint because we had worked so closely with Vandenberg on it. Dean, Jack, and I had a number of meetings with him and the Committee. He was soon mollified and various members of the Committee made some minor corrections which were incorporated.
By the time the Treaty was finally signed
on April 4, 1949, the Committee felt, as a whole, almost as if it were their treaty. Jack's strategy had certainly worked, so had Vandenberg's.
Finally the great day for signature, April 4, arrived. The ceremony would be held in the imposing, prosaicly titled "Interdepartmental Auditorium" on Constitution Avenue. The President and Dean Acheson would sign for the United States, the Foreign Ministers and Ambassadors for the others. The ceremony went off without obvious hitches. The speeches of the Foreign Ministers were in English or French and then translated into the other, the interpreter having advance copies. The Portuguese spoke in English, but nobody, including the interpreter, could tell which language he was speaking; and the interpreter repeated his speech in English by mistake. Nobody but
the Portuguese knew the difference. The Marine Band played and there were a few snide comments as the selections included "I Got Plenty of Nothing," and "It Ain't Necessarily So."
On April 4, 1964, President Johnson held a ceremony commemorating the 15th ceremony of the signing. I ran into Dean Acheson going up the stairs of the White House and made the mistake of reminding him of that last selection. After the President had finished his remarks he called on Dean. I think Dean had not expected to be called upon. Anyway, he got up, hesitated a bit, and then recounted that the band had played, "It Ain't Necessarily So."
But, back on April 4, 1949, when the ceremony was over, Jack and I and a little Air Force sergeant who had been working with us on
security, headed for the nearest bar, which was in the basement of the old Hotel Willard. After fifteen months of effort, worry, and tension, the Treaty was a fact. We could relax, grin at each other, and really enjoy a couple of bourbons.
Now we had to think about ratification. Everything seemed as propitious as months of work and cooperation with the Committee could make it, but memories of what the Senate had done to the League Covenant haunted us.
First came the hearings. Dean Acheson did a superb job. In order to lean over backwards the Committee had invited the two most vocal Senatorial opponents of the Treaty, Senators [Forrest C.] Donnell and [Arthur Vivian] Watkins, both long forgotten, to attend with the same right to question as if they were members of the Committee.
They bored in on whether Article 5 constituted an ironclad obligation for the U.S. to go to war if war broke out in Europe. Without equivocating in any way, Dean reiterated and reiterated and insisted that the Unites States, acting "by constitutional process" would take "such action as it deemed necessary." The two opponents got no satisfaction. Vandenberg's and Connally 's insistence, on those two phrases paid off handsomely.
The other administration witnesses were Louis Johnson, Secretary of Defense; General Bradley, Chief of Staff of the Army; Bob Lovett, former Acting Secretary; Warren Austin, our representative to the U.N., and Averell Harriman then head of our Economic Cooperation Administration. The two opponents couldn't shake any of them.
General Bradley's testimony sticks in my
mind as the perfect way to handle classified information. On the assumption that the General would not be able to answer many of the questions by Committee members in public session, a public session was arranged for the morning and the executive session for the afternoon. Without revealing anything that should not have been revealed, he answered every question put to him in a public session to the complete satisfaction of the questioners, including Donnell and Watkins and the executive session was called off.
Then came the task of writing the Committee's report. For several weeks Fran Wilcox, Bill Galloway, and I spent all day everyday in the Committee's back office and lived on those awful ulcer lunches. Fran was a tough taskmaster, knew his Committee and kept in constant touch with his key members. Again it paid off.
I was allowed to sit in when the Committee considered the draft report and witnessed Senator Vandenberg's surprising feat of getting the Committee to vote unanimously against a resolution affirming faith in Almighty God.
What happened was this: Through oversight on our part in arranging the signing ceremony, there had been no prayers at the ceremony and several religious souls had commented adversely in letters to Senators, the Department, and to the press. Senator Alexander Smith of New Jersey, a kindly and religious old boy, suggested that the criticism might appropriately be countered if the Senate added a reservation expressing faith in Almighty God as part of its approval of the Treaty. He offered to write a resolution to that effect. Vandenberg went into action. "No, sir:" This treaty was going to be approved "clean as a hound's tooth."
"There will be no reservations or understandings of any kind whatsoever tied to its tail." The preamble of the Treaty spoke of the common heritage and civilization of their peoples. Certainly faith in Almighty God was a cardinal point in our common heritage. Let the committee's report say so emphatically, but let there be no reservations to the Treaty. Then he put Senator Smith's resolution to the vote and everyone, including Smith, voted against it. The Committee's report was unanimously favorable.
Then came the floor debate and the needed two-thirds of the Senate to concur. Nose counts indicated that we were safe, but a fair number of Senators were coy about it, and we dared not uncross our fingers. The Capitol building was undergoing repairs to the Senate chamber at the time, and the Senate was meeting
in the smaller old Supreme Court chamber between the two wings. On the afternoon of the vote I was there with a tally sheet. The minute the aye's passed the two-thirds mark I took off for the Department without waiting to hear the final outcome, which I believe was 82 to 12. I headed straight for the Secretary's office. Dean already had a bottle of bourbon out of his desk drawer. And he, Barbara Evans, his longtime secretary, and Ernie Gross, the legal adviser, were celebrating. I joined in.
On the second bourbon I said, "Dean, now that we've got this one wrapped up, let's go after a full Atlantic federal union."
Dean thought a few seconds and said, "I'd rather start with Britain, Canada, and ourselves." He did take a step in that direction. In agreement with the other two Governments,
a tripartite committee was established to coordinate the economic policies of the three. Harry Labouisse was the U.S. member; Don Matthews the Canadian; and, I believe, Lord Plowden the British. Unfortunately none of them had enough influence in his own Government and the committee never got off the ground.
The treaty entered into effect in August 1949 and we began to think about the first meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers, and about what kind of permanent organization would be desirable. In preparing for that first Ministerial meeting I nearly cracked up. I had been working under considerable pressure for nearly two years and was dog tired. Phil Jessup, who was then a special legal Consultant to the Secretary of State, and later the U.S. Judge on that International Court of Justice,
instituted a new method of preparing for conferences. It was called "position papers" on every subject that might conceivably come up. They had, as I recall, four headings, "U.S. Objectives," "Other countries' Objectives," "Discussion," and "Recommendations." The idea was good, but the damn things had to be cleared with everybody and his brother in the Department, and then with other Departments. Phil instituted the method and then went off somewhere, and I was left to inaugurate it for that first meeting.
At that point I was so tired I could read a page and never remember even having seen it, let alone what it said. I thought I really was cracking and asked for a checkup at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda. They sent me instead to the Navy Dispensary down on Constitution Avenue for an examination. The
examination was simple. You took your clothes off, were given a long form and took it from room to room, A, B, C, etc., where various doctors tested you and filled out parts of the form. In about Room H, there was a patient ahead of me so I sat down beside the doctor's desk. Under the glass top of his desk I saw a cartoon of a Navy doctor examining a sailor and saying: "That's the saddest story I ever heard. As soon as I get through drying my eyes, I'll give you a ticket entitling you to five minutes of the Chaplain's time to cry on his shoulder. Now get the hell out of here."
Since then I have believed in miracle cures, for my own was instantaneous. The realization that my trouble was simply being so goddamn sorry for myself did the trick. I've never come near a breakdown since, but
once in a while I have occasion to remember that cartoon and chuckle.
We prepared for that meeting altogether too well. Jack and I negotiated everything out in advance with the Embassies in Washington so completely that the Ministerial Meeting took exactly 25 minutes. There was a bit of Ministerial grumbling at traveling across the Atlantic for a 25-minute meeting, but it was a good one. It would help if more meetings were that well prepared.
In the spring of 1950 Livie [Livingston] Merchant and his wife and my wife and I went to a Saturday night dance at the Chevy Chase Club. Livie was then Acting Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs and I was Acting Assistant Secretary for European Affairs. We went home about 12 o'clock. We lived near each other. Shortly after I got home the
telephone rang, it was Livie saying, "North Korea has just invaded South Korea, I'm going down to the Department."
He went down and didn't emerge for the next 48 hours. As it was not in my area, I didn't go down that night, but I went down the next morning and didn't emerge for a good many hours. At first the State Department, the Pentagon, and the White House were all in a quandary as to what action the U.S. should take, if any.
At first there was considerable doubt that we should take any. Dean Acheson had inadvertently stated publicly that South Korea was not of essential strategic importance to the United States, and the Russians had taken that as giving a green light to the North Koreans to move in. At first we sent small units from Japan to Korea to assist in the
evacuation of the Americans. Their orders were gradually extended.
All of us in the Department were called upon to study what the effect of drastic U.S. intervention would be in our respective areas. I polled our various Division Chiefs on Europe, being rather hesitant about it myself, and found them agreed that a bold course would have a much better effect in Europe than a timid one.
A few nights later Dean Acheson, Livie Merchant, Jack Hickerson, who was then in charge of United Nations Affairs, and myself, had dinner at the Metropolitan Club before Dean Acheson went to the White House to advise the President on what course to follow. At that point we all agreed that full American intervention was desirable. It was also agreed that Jack Hickerson would bring up the case
of North Korean aggression in the Security Council on the following day.
He did so, denounced the Russians, and the Russians made their great mistake of walking out of the meeting. In their absence Jack secured approval of a vetoless resolution for the United Nations to resist the aggression by armed force.
Shortly thereafter I went to London as number two on the NATO delegation under Ambassador Charles Spofford. When we set up the permanent organization, the theory was that the members would be Deputy Foreign Ministers, able to speak as Foreign Ministers in the NATO Council. At that time we were expecting to designate Averell Harriman, then a Special Assistant to the President as well as the head of the Economic Cooperation Administration, and the Europeans also expected it. Averell turned it down. So did various other people, and we
ended up with Charles Spofford. Charles Spofford was a very able New York lawyer and made an excellent Ambassador, but unfortunately none of the Europeans had ever heard of him. Consequently, they downgraded their own representation in the Council, and the Council never became one of Deputy Foreign Ministers as it was supposed to be.
Three of us went over together: Spofford, John Sherman Cooper, representing Senator Vandenberg, and myself I got to know John well in those days and developed a fondness and respect for him. He was an odd Senator; he never made speeches, he only asked questions. He was always helpful, he was always wise, and he was a great asset to us.
The Korean war helped us in NATO because it succeeded in scaring the Europeans considerably. We tried hard to get them to increase their
defense budgets, to increase their terms of conscription, and generally to upgrade the military effort. Largely thanks to Korea, we succeeded in getting them to make substantial advances.
One thing we tried to do in the early days was to promote the rationalization of defense production and standardization of weapons. We never got very far with standardization. A committee was set up and had some success. I think it reduced the types of aviation fuels from 111 to 23 and the number of aviation lubricants from 20-odd down to about 7. It also reached agreement that different parts of the electrical system of Jeeps should have the same colored wires. But, that was about as far as they got.
In the rationalization of defense production we had the bright idea; let the French
produce the anti-tank guns, the Belgians the rifles, the Italians the trucks, and so and so down the line, each producing something on a large scale and doing it very effectively. For a long time nothing happened, and then the French army suddenly ordered 10,000 Fiat trucks. We thought that at last this idea had taken hold; here we go from here on. We found out a little bit later that the wife of the then French minister of war was the sister of the head of the Fiat company. So it goes.
MCKINZIE: Mr. Ambassador, was not there some opposition, though, in the United States to production of certain military items in Europe? I recall the Italian proposal to produce aircraft engines, and there seemed to be some disagreement about the advisability of that because it might prevent the development of the aircraft industry in the United
States which was essential to future defense needs.
ACHILLES: Yes, there has always been argument about what should be produced where, some of it financial in character. The Pentagon was naturally anxious to transfer as much weaponry as possible to the Europeans and get credit for it on the books so that they could buy more modern equipment. There was also fear of constructing factories in exposed parts of Europe to turn out the most modern types of equipment for fear that in the event of war they would be overrun and used by the enemy.
MCKINZIE: Do you recall a French plan for production of defense items, a kind of unified defense budget plan that they proposed at one time, wherein each of the NATO countries would make its contribution to the defense budget and yet,
contracts would be let in, various places, presumably mostly in France.
ACHILLES: France. Yes. Yes, the French tried that one. It had its good points, aside from the fact that people were not too keen about French manufacture. Some of the items were not too wise.
The French also proposed the infrastructure program which was adopted. "Infrastructure" was defined as coming from an old French word meaning someone else had got to pay for it. It meant constructing the airfields, the highways, communications networks, depots, and all kinds of things on French soil. But, that was a useful operation, and those things are still there even though NATO forces are not using them since de Gaulle ordered NATO forces out of France.
Second Oral History Interview with Theodore C. Achilles, Washington, D.C., December 18, 1972.
By Richard D. McKinzie.
MCKINZIE: Mr. Ambassador last time we talked you had told me about events in your career down through the beginning of the Korean war and your subsequent trip to London where the NATO Council met. Might you pick up the story there?
ACHILLES: Right. During the summer of 1950 when we were getting the permanent council organized in London, Chuck Spofford and I com-muted back and forth between Washington and London, about two weeks at each side. One night, while we were in Washington, we really got started on the rearmament of Germany. My wife and children were away, and Chuck Spofford usually stayed with me in our house on Woodland Drive. It had been apparent all along that the combined military power of the NATO governments was very slight compared
to the Soviet military machine which had not been demobilized at all, and the Pentagon was urging German rearmament to fill the gap. The Office of German Affairs of the State Department sided with the Pen-tagon, but most of the rest of the State Department was dubious. And most of our allies--especially the French--were strongly opposed.
One night, when Chuck and I were in Washington, we had a small stag dinner at the house. We had Averell Harriman, who was then Special Assistant to the President, General Gruenther who was Director of the Joint Staff, Hank (Henry A.) Byroade who was Director of the Office of German Affairs in the State Department, Doug (Douglas) MacArthur, [the second], who was Director of the Office of NATO Affairs in the State Department, and Chuck and myself. Sitting on the terrace on a hot Washington summer
evening after dinner, we concocted a simple scheme. We were all in favor of German rearmament; the problem was how to get it started politically. Our scheme was this: Averell Harriman would draft a letter for the President's signature to the Joint Chiefs of Staff asking whether they considered German rearmament essential. Al Gruenther would reply for the Chiefs of Staff that they did consider it essential. The President would then direct the State and Defense Departments to seek Allied agreement to proceed to rearm Germany. It worked out, but neither quickly nor easily.
A NATO ministerial meeting was to be held in New York that September, and although the exchange of letters between the White House and the Pentagon was speedily completed there were only two or three weeks left before the meeting to sound out and
soften up the British, who were hesitant, and the French, who were certain to go straight through the roof--and they certainly did.
The meeting began auspiciously at the Waldorf Hotel in New York. It began particularly "auspiciously" for Dean Acheson, whose bęte noire in the administration had been Louis Johnson, the Secretary of Defense. The first evening of the meeting Johnson's resignation was announced. Dean had a few extra bourbons to celebrate. Bob Lovett became Acting Secretary of Defense. But, substantively the meeting began not auspiciously. As soon as the formalities were over, Dean Acheson announced that we considered the state of Western defense forces so weak that only if they were supplemented by German rearmament could they constitute a credible deterrent. Robert Schuman was the French Foreign Minister and Jules Moch the Defense
Minister. Moch's only son had been a resistance fighter. He had been caught by the Nazis and shot against a wall in the Rue de Rivoli in Paris. Moch vowed that Germany would be rearmed only "over his dead body." There were three days of discussion which got absolutely nowhere. Then--and I think it was at Schuman's suggestion--the meeting was adjourned for a week to enable each delegation to go home for personal consultation. As he was saying goodbye to Dean Acheson, Schuman, and I quote substantially, said: "I understand your belief in the need for German rearmament, but the French Assembly will never approve it as such. I will go home and try to figure out some way of filling the need."
When the meeting reconvened a week later, Schuman proposed creation of a European Defense Community to include Germans, but only in an international force integrated down
to the squad level with no national staff or other military organization. That plan was to keep us occupied for the next four years.
The concept was approved by the ministers for study. It was also agreed that study be given to the appointment in peacetime of a Supreme Allied Commander who would command both such national forces as were assigned to him and a proposed European force. After the Council of Ministers adjourned, the Council of Deputies took it up in London, while the French set up a working group in Paris to begin formulating concrete plans for it. The Paris working group was at about the lieutenant colonel level--ample evidence that no one took it any too seriously. In the permanent Council of Deputies at London only the French pushed it very hard. [Nerve] Alphand, the French Deputy, who
couldn't have liked the idea less, pushed it dutifully. We opposed it as dangerously delaying German rearmament. The British, Belgians, and Italians were mildly favorable. The Dutch joined us in opposing it. One day the Dutch Ambassador van Starkenborgh surprised everyone by coming out in favor of it. After the meeting I asked him why instructions had been changed.
"It's simple," said he, "if France, Germany, Belgium, and Italy form some kind of a union and the Netherlands is not included, all the trade that now passes through Amsterdam and Rotterdam would go through Antwerp and Bremen; it's just as simple as that"--and it was. We continued to oppose the EDC. The low level group in Paris continued work on an enormously detailed and complicated draft treaty.
All that fall I was continuing to commute between Washington and London. Staying
at the Connaught when in England, and living alone, I had a lot of time to think.
Somewhere along the line Washington decided that perhaps the proposed European Defense Community was the most likely way, after all, to get agreement on German rearmament and that, even if painfully slow, it might also turn out to be the quickest. We began to support it and urged the others to get on with it.
The next ministerial meeting was in Brussels in December. By then it had been definitely decided that a Supreme Allied Commander should be appointed. He obviously had to be an American. We did not object; certainly our military did not. Neither did we have any particular desire that he be an American.. Certainly we did not insist that he be one. The Europeans simply could not conceive of his being any other nationality.
Third, was the need to have the Supreme Commander have recourse to nuclear weapons.
There was never any question as to the man. Eisenhower was not only the conquering hero who had won the war, but also his a-bility to make a staff of more than one nationality work together was legendary. He was an inspiring leader with almost an uncanny ability to come up with the right answers. In December 1950 the ministerial meeting in Brussels named him Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and everyone felt better.
Early in the new year General Eisenhower set out on a courtesy visit to each of the NATO capitals. Doug MacArthur was assigned as political adviser to him. I wished many times in later years that Doug instead of me had been named our number two representative in NATO. Had he been, I would probably have gone as political adviser to Ike
and I think there would have been a difference in the course of events. Ike was not only a hero as Supreme Allied Commander, in a position to get almost anything done, he was also a fervent idealist with a strong sense of mission. In talking with Senators, the press, and others he would unceasingly emphasize the necessity of integration and unity, both European and Atlantic--not only military, but in all fields.
Doug lacked any commitment to the Atlantic concept. A hard boiled "realist" and rather a political opportunist, he followed the popular political line on insisting on European unity with a minimum of U.S. involvement His influence with Ike was exerted wholly in that direction. In that place my efforts would have been wholeheartedly in the Atlantic direction. Ike put more and more emphasis on Europe, but he never ceased to be a deep believer
in Atlantic unity as well.
When Ike made his tour of the NATO capitals, Doug went with him with a large black briefing book on each country: with the name of the Prime Minister, the Foreign and Defense Ministers, what party was in power, how strong the Communists were, and so forth. It was his responsibility to keep Ike properly briefed. Doug recounted later that the bridge game started before the wheels were up on each flight and didn't stop until they were on the runway at the other end. He never had a chance even to open a book, let alone brief Ike. But, Ike didn't need it--he charmed everyone.
Ike picked Al Gruenther as his Chief of Staff, and A1 came to Paris to get the French to provide a suitable site for facilities for Supreme Headquarters. The French naturally were glad as they wanted those
headquarters in France and were cooperative as much as the French can be, but still dragged their feet to get as good a bargain as possible. After two weeks Al let it be known on a Monday that he was going to London on Thursday to look for a site there. On Wednesday he had everything he wanted from the French.
Now that we had a Supreme Allied Commander, the effort began to develop integrated forces and logistics, arms standardization and rationalization of arms production. It was far from easy. One outstanding success, due to A1 Gruenther's insistence was establishment of a NATO Defense College. Al insisted that field grade officers--those who were going to be generals--must be taught to work together. They have been, and most of those who had the experience, either at the college or at SHAPE, became lifelong members of the team.
One other successful operation was negotiation of a NATO status of forces agreement to cover members of the armed forces of one nation stationed on the territory of another. It was a highly legal matter, but since most of the forces concerned would be American, and most of the others including the French badly wanted American troops there, we got what we wanted without too much trouble.
Most other aspects were less so. We tried, for instance, to get the Dutch to concentrate on their Navy rather than their Army--no luck. We set up technical standardization task forces, where several years work produced only such meager results as standardization of the colors on different parts of the wiring of a Jeep ignition system and the reduction of types of aviation fuel from 102 to 23. On rationalization of production we hoped, for example, to have the Belgians
make all the rifles, the French the anti-tank guns, the Italians the trucks, and so on. Nothing happened for a long time and then suddenly the French Army ordered 10,000 Fiat trucks. We were exultant until we found out that the wife of the then French Minister of War was a sister of a top executive of Fiat. Oh, well, I guess integration has to go deep into the human and biological realm before it gets far material-wise.
There was of course, need for an integrated logistic system of airfields, pipelines, supply docks, and warehouses. Naturally most of it had to be in France. The word "infrastructure" came into use. It was defined as coming from "infrastructure," an old French word meaning "somebody else has got to pay for it." A concurrent definition in logistics, incidentally was: "What the war goes better with if you got than if you ain't."
There was another great argument as to what share each government should bear. We fought over it for months and the Deputies brought it to a head in the Spring of 1951 at a ministerial meeting in Lisbon. Lord [Hastings L.] Ismay was British Defense Minister, Jules Moch, the same in France, and Bob Lovett our Secretary of Defense. Everybody had rigid instructions. A great deal of argument narrowed the gap between total agreed contributions and total need--but it was still fairly wide. A1 Gruenther passed Bob Lovett a note reading, "Headline in New York Times, 'Lovett Sits On hands While Plate Is Passed At Lisbon."' Bob came up a little beyond his instructions. Actually it was Lord Ismay who took the bull--in this case "John Bull"--by the horns, and announced that despite his instructions he would undertake to have Britain fill the gap. He was a hero.
One night, during the meeting, Mike Pearson
the new Canadian Foreign Minister consulted me privately. Washington had just imposed some new restriction on imports of Canadian wood pulp, and Ottawa was upset.
"What would Washington think," Mike asked, "if he invoked the words "eliminate conflict in their economic policies" in Article 2 against us." I phoned Washington and got back word that they didn't mind in the least. I told Mike, but Ottawa got cold feet, and missed a golden opportunity to set a precedent that could have been very far-reaching. NATO’s international staff had been growing like topsy on Parkinson's model, but it was a headless hodgepodge of members of delegations and supposedly international servants.
Now that there was a Supreme Allied Commander it was agreed that the NATO staff should be headed by a topflight Secretary-General. The usual delegates lounge-politicking
produced unanimous agreement that it should be Sir Oliver Franks, then British Ambassador in Washington. The Council convened at ten o'clock one morning, and as the first order of business Sir Oliver was elected Secretary-General. Sir Anthony Eden asked for a recess of ten minutes to inform Sir Oliver. He called him on the phone. It was then 5:15 a.m. in Washington and a rather sleepy and disgruntled Oliver asked, "What's all this about, Secretary-General of NATO? Why didn't someone mention this to me before? I have no idea whether I want it or not." The Foreign Office had assumed unanimous approval of Franks and had forgotten to consult him about it.
"My God," said Eden, "the Atlantic Council has just elected you unanimously."
"I don't care," replied Franks, "give me a few days to think it over."
"Look," said Eden, "I recessed the Council
for ten minutes to inform you of its decision--how about it?"
"I'll call you back, " said Sir Oliver.
"I don't know."
"For God's sake no more than two hours."
In two hours Franks called back and said, "Thank you very much, I appreciate the offer, but I'm not interested." Consternation in the Council--no one had thought of anyone else. There was a quick coalescence on Mike Pearson and off went a telegram to Ottawa asking its approval. The next morning came a negative reply, which did not state, but clearly implied that Ottawa would not be a second choice after London had declined. More consternation. Then it was generally agreed that [Paul-Henri] Spaak would be the answer to the "twelve maidens' prayers"--
generally agreed by all except France.
Spaak had recently made a speech which upset the French. A speech to which, I'm afraid, I contributed. Spaak had been awarded an honorary degree by the University of Pennsylvania. At his suggestion I had been invited to attend the ceremony. The night before Spaak had asked me whether he should take a strong line in favor of integration. I strongly recommended that he do so. I thought he was talking about Atlantic integration, but he was thinking about European integration and his speech had been a bitter attack on the French for holding it up.
There were twelve members of NATO at that point. Eleven of them were strongly in favor of Spaak. The French were not. Alphand went to work and convincingly demonstrated his ability. He started with the British. A Britisher, Franks, had been first choice. Since NATO headquarters was moving from London
to Paris, didn't London feel it important that a Britisher be Secretary-General? The British said they would be glad if a Britisher were chosen. Then Alphand went the rounds, saying Spaak, while personally distinguished, would not do. The British "insisted on a Britisher." He put it across and got the Council to vote that the Secretary-General should be British. That put the ball back in the Foreign Office. They came up with first one and then another name, both "lame duck" diplomats of whom they wanted to get utterly rid.
Chuck Spofford and I pooh-poohed this, without even mentioning them to the Council. We went to Roger Makins and Sir Pierson Dixon, the two top permanent officials of the Foreign Office, and told them Britain really had to come up with someone outstanding or we would go for a Continental.
Bob arranged for Chuck to see Churchill and the latter saw the light.
"Ismay is my good right arm, but you can have him," said Churchill. Ismay it was, and he did wonders for NATO.
At the beginning of July, Ike came to London to be given the freedom of the city at a luncheon at the Guildhall. Marian and I were there and heard his inspiring speech. It was a sermon on the absolute necessity of European unity and particularly on a European Defense Community. I could see Doug MacArthur's hand very clearly. The speech made headlines, and produced an earthquake in the Paris negotiations for the European Defense Community. Hitherto, they had been conducted by lieutenant colonels, majors and first secretaries, who had argued interminably about minor points. Suddenly the negotiations were taken over by full
generals and ambassadors and the arguments became serious and sharp. From then on, all governments concerned took them seriously.
In December 1951 the ministerial meeting of the Council was at Rome. And in November Mike Pearson and I flew over to Paris from London to talk to Ike about the arrangements. Mike, by rotation was Chairman of the Council, and I was batting for Chuck Spofford who was ill. Mike was Foreign Minister and we flew over in his plane. We circled over Le Bourget in heavy fog for an hour or so and then circled over Orly for quite a while before we were allowed to land. We heard the explanation--the United Nations Assembly was convening in Paris the next day. Molotov and a plane load of Soviet Officials were also trying to land. They had been circling around in the fog with us for an hour or so, until someone had been gotten out from the Soviet Embassy who
could speak enough French, English, and Russian to talk the plane down. We were glad to be down.
We got out to SHAPE at lunchtime and were taken into Ike's office for cocktails. This was in November 1951, about three months before Ike came home to run for President. When we entered his office he was grinning from ear to ear. We asked why?
"There was a fellow in here just now," said Ike, "who offered me $40,000 for one word."
"What was it," we asked?
"He was a correspondent of Colliers and he offered me $40 ,000 for a 'yes' or 'no' answer to the question, 'Are you a Republican?’” Ike was mightily amused.
Several months later Marian and I had lunch in the country with Jeff and Drew Parsons and Spaak was there. The papers that morning quoted Ike as saying he didn't want to be President unless he was a candidate of both
parties. Spaak spoke admiringly: "Ca c'est la declaration d'un vrai candidat." Years later Eleanor Tydings, Senator Millard Tydings' widow, told me that while Ike was still President of Columbia, Millard had been tapped to go offer him the Democratic nomination. Millard came home and told her Ike hadn't said "yes" or "no", but he was hopeful that he could be persuaded.
I was careful not to tell Ike's $40,000 story for several years. In 1960 I took Prime Minister Pedro Beltrán of Peru to see him and stayed on for a few minutes after Pedro left. I reminded him of the incident and said I'd been careful never to tell about it.
"Hell," said Ike, "tell it to anyone you want. I don't mind."
Ike truly wanted to be the candidate of both parties--the President of all the
people. Unfortunately that was also his weakness; he wouldn't fight hard enough for the things he knew were right, hoping to win the opposition over by persuasion.
I think that's about all I have written down through the end of the Truman administration.
MCKINZIE: Would you permit me to go back to some of the things we discussed when we first talked?
MCKINZIE: Let me ask you if you could add a little more detail to some of the things? One of the first things that occurred during Mr. Truman's administration with which you were affiliated was the San Francisco Conference in 1945, and you mentioned that you first encountered President Truman there when he came out for the signing. I wonder if you do
recall, though, any of the substantive issues with which you had to deal when you went out to the Conference, and how you felt at that time about the prospects for the U.N.? You mentioned that you'd read Clarence Streit's Union Now, and I wondered if you had any hope that this might be one step toward the achievement of the kind of postwar world that he had advocated? So that's two questions, I guess. One, was if you recall any thing about the substantive work, and two, how you felt about the U.N. as an instrument?
ACHILLES: On the substantive side my job was liaison officer with the British Dominion delegations other than Canada. That is, primarily Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Our principal arguments with them were over the veto. The Australians and New Zealanders in particular--[Herbert Vere] Evatt, the Australian Foreign Minister, and [Peter]
Fraser, New Zealand's Prime Minister, were bitterly opposed to the veto. I think a good many of us on the U.S. delegation in our hearts also opposed the veto. We thought it was basically wrong. We would have been happier without it. However, Senators Connally and Vandenberg of the delegation were insistent that it was absolutely essential to get the Charter ratified by the Senate. We believed that, and, therefore, we went all out trying to convince the other delegations that whether or not the veto was a good idea--no veto, no U.S. membership in the United Nations; therefore, they'd better support the veto.
I remember spending between two and three hours one night alone with Prime Minister Fraser of New Zealand expounding our theory. Ordinarily I can say anything I've got to say in ten minutes. By the time I got through that length of talking my throat was practically
As to whether we had hopes for the U.N., yes. I think we all had a feeling that the League of Nations would have worked if the U.S. had been a member. We were hopeful that the U.S. would be a member of the United Nations and that it would work. We were already skeptical on Soviet intentions. They had begun to act badly in Poland; I believe that by the time the San Francisco Conference convened they had arrested or at least detained in the Soviet Union most of the members of the Polish Government. There were different signs that the Russians would be difficult. Chip Bohlen kept reminding us that the Russians were also fighting the Germans, but in no other sense were they really our allies. Despite that we still hoped it would be possible to work things out and that the U.N. would basically contribute towards a new
MCKINZIE: You spent 1946 and 1947 in London and Brussels. You didn't say very much about that in our last interview, although you did say that when you came back into the Western European Affairs Division that you were convinced that Europe was demoralized and badly needed confidence and energy within. I wonder if you could elaborate on that a little bit from your experience in London and Brussels in 1946-1947? Did you have any experiences there that illustrated to you personally that they were demoralized and lacked what you called "confidence and energy within," or was this something you garnered from the reports after you got back?
ACHILLES: Some of both. I served at London the first time from '39 to '41. Even during the hardest part of the blitz in that period, I had the feeling that Britain was largely a Conservative
country. In elections even unemployed coal miners would vote the Conservative rather than the Labor ticket.
When we went back again, in September 1945, we landed in Southampton and drove up to London. Driving into London, by the time we got to Shepherd's Bush I had the feeling that the country had changed drastically and that this was now a Socialist country. The elections had been held a few months earlier, in which the Labor Party had won the elections. We had not foretold that. Everyone including Churchill and Attlee had predicted a small Conservative majority. We'd missed one clue on that. The Canadians had also held an election and the ballots of the Canadian troops still stationed in England were tallied. When they were tallied they showed a much larger percentage of Socialist votes than those in Canada. We should have paid attention to that, but we didn't.
It was only an indication of a social change and a change of attitude in Britain. What was really on people's minds was the growth of the Communist Party in France and Italy. I think that was scaring everybody.
MCKINZIE: You mentioned then that Ambassador Hickerson and you discussed the need for some kind of military alliance which would deal with this very problem you are talking about now. It would generate some kind of internal confidence and stop the growth of the Communist Party in France and Italy and also block what was clearly Russian moves into the west. But, you also said you saw this kind of a military alliance as a basis for further progress toward unity. I wondered if at that time you had any specific ideas how that might be implemented? Did you see some special way of implementing the Treaty which would bring about greater unity, because Europe
had had a number of military alliances before which didn't particularly result in the kind of unity that I gather you were after? Perhaps my question is a little fuzzy, but you did mention that this was one of your goals.
ACHILLES: Actually we saw it not as a step necessarily toward European unity, but basically as a step toward greater Atlantic unity in all fields. The Europeans had concluded the Brussels Treaty, which did provide a measure of unity in the military field. But, the Brussels Treaty was pretty completely absorbed into the NATO military organization. And the Brussels Treaty did not in itself provide for any other kind of European unity. But, largely due to Canadian insistence, Article 2 was put in the Atlantic Treaty as a basis for the progressive development in the future of Atlantic Unity in all other fields--political, economic, monetary, social, and what not.
MCKINZIE: You mentioned, then, that once this thing got started you gave some help in the drafting of the Vandenberg resolution. I wondered how much of Senator Vandenberg is in it? He seemed to be getting help from lots of people, perhaps from John Foster Dulles. How clearly do you think Vandenberg understood the world situation, as you did?
ACHILLES: I think he understood it very clearly There were a number of resolutions to strengthen the United Nations pending in the Senate at the time. Vandenberg wanted to take advantage of those, the sentiment that inspired them and the votes of the people who had introduced them. But, he fully understood what we were driving at, and the need for a senatorial directive to the Administration to go ahead and negotiate a military alliance. As I recall, Vandenberg drafted the preamble and Articles 1, 2, and 6 of the resolution. Bob Lovett,
Jack Hickerson, and I drafted Articles 3, 4, and 5. Those were the ones that advocated the progressive development of regional or other collective defense arrangements within the United Nations Charter. That was 3. Four, was association of the United States with such collective defense arrangements as effect its national security; and five was making clear in advance its determination to resist aggression.
MCKINZIE: I take it there were some fairly high-powered meetings with Senator Vandenberg himself.
ACHILLES: No, just Bob Lovett and Arthur Vandenberg--just meeting quietly in the evenings--worked this thing out. I think Vandenberg was consulting Foster Dulles, who was not then in the Department, but was working with Vandenberg; and Lovett consulted Hickerson and
myself. But, it was the two of them who worked it out.
MCKINZIE: Got it working. You mentioned that in January and February of 1948 there were some talks between you and other members of the U.S. Government, held in the Pentagon with the British and Canadians. Discussions at which, I think you indicated, there were no records kept at that time when the subject of the treaty was being broached secretly. I wonder if you could say who had to convince who of what during those discussions? For example, was how a treaty might be implemented discussed?; or did the subject of the use of atomic weapons happen to come up in those discussion?
ACHILLES: There was no great need for anybody to convince anybody else. I think we were all convinced that some defense arrangement in
peacetime making clear the determination of all of us to react with armed force should there be armed aggression in Europe or North America, was necessary. Bob Lovett may have taken a little convincing, but he was basically in favor of it. I think his holding back was due largely to Senator Vandenberg's feeling that he had to get the enabling legislation and appropriation through for the first year of the Marshall Plan, and he didn't want to take on ratification of the treaty too soon. But, those of us who were in the actual talks felt that a definite, firm treaty obligation ratified by the Senate was essential. Not everybody in the State Department felt that. Chip Bohlen was opposed to it--just favored a military assistance program. George Kennan opposed it initially, but then came around. But, those of us who were actually in the talks were all in favor of going ahead with negotiating
a formal treaty.
MCKINZIE: You mentioned that by the time those talks ended, that you had in your desk drawer a draft treaty, which you showed only to Ambassador Hickerson. What I wondered was, whether in those talks at the Pentagon some of those sessions had been a drafting session for that treaty or was this something you did on your own?
ACHILLES: Jack and I wanted to have in our. own minds what we thought the treaty should contain. But, there were no drafting sessions in the Pentagon with the British and Canadians at that point.
MCKINZIE: So they didn't know exactly what you had.
MCKINZIE: You also mentioned that you had some experience
in working with, I believe the man's name was Francis Wilcox, who was the Chief of Staff for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I was wondering if you can recall any of the particular problems you had in drafting the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's report on the Vandenberg resolution. Was it necessary to "fuzz up" any particular issues in order to make it acceptable to Connally on the one hand and Arthur Vandenberg on the other? Was this task of particular delicacy?
ACHILLES: Nothing was "fuzzed up." On the contrary, we made great efforts to keep all language clear and simple and we succeeded. Fran knew the members of his Committee very well and their views. He knew the things to which they attached most importance. He knew how to deal with them. He was a perfectionist and a hard taskmaster. He wanted that report to be something that would get
not merely the support and approval of Connally and Vandenberg, the Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, but of all the others on the Committee. He knew each one's, more or less, point of view. For instance, Theodore Green had some ideas of his own--more on the Treaty than on the resolution, and some of his ideas were actually reflected in the language of the Treaty. But, the main thing, I think, that Fran Wilcox got in, both in the resolution and in the Treaty, were the references to "by a constitutional process."
MCKINZIE: You mentioned then that talks started on two levels in July of 1948 and lasted until early September, that there were talks at the ambassadorial level and talks at working level, and that the real issues which had to be resolved in a North Atlantic Treaty were in large part resolved in those sessions in the summer of 1948.
MCKINZIE: I was wondering if at that time you had the draft treaty from your desk drawer as a kind of working document?
ACHILLES: Jack Hickerson and I had it firmly in mind and talked from it, but it was never presented as such. By the time we got through with those sessions a draft treaty had been produced not too different from it. By the time we admitted we were ready to negotiate a treaty, it had been substantially negotiated.
MCKINZIE: I take it, then, those discussions in the summer of 1948 took up such questions as present and future membership in the organization; they took up such questions as what kinds of standing military forces might be required?
ACHILLES: Initial membership and procedure for
admitting additional members, yes. Form, no. They were mainly drafting sessions on the treaty. It was only in September that we got seriously into the membership question. There were general discussions, as to the question of whether Italy, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Portugal, should be included. But, it was only later on, after the treaty had been formally and overtly negotiated, that we really argued out specifically the question of what other governments should be invited. That came up, as I recall, fairly late in the fall.
MCKINZIE: While you were having those talks in the summer of 1948 did you happen to have any contact with the economic people, that is the people in the ECA--Averell Harriman's outfit--about whether or not implementation of this Treaty was going to be affordable for Europeans?
ACHILLES: No, actually we didn't. I donut think there was any connection. The Europeans, especially the British and French, had been urging us all along to get on with negotiating the Treaty. They could feel the Russians’ hot breath on the back of their necks and the Communist Party's influence in Italy growing. There were no economic considerations, except for the continuing Canadian insistence that we provide for greater economic cooperation after the treaty went into effect.
MCKINZIE: I assume then that during the summer the Canadians made a fairly strong appeal for a stronger Atlantic Community with a capital "C"?
ACHILLES: They did.
MCKINZIE: Do you recall any specific responses, to the Canadian appeal on the part of the
French or the Belgians or the British?
ACHILLES: Escott Reid, who was for many years in the Canadian Foreign Service--I think he was High Commissioner in India and Ambassador to Germany--is in the process of writing a book now on the origins of NATO. I discussed this with him at various times, and he feels that the Canadians had to overcome a lot of opposition in Washington on Article 2. I've argued that with him. Hickerson and I were strongly in favor of it. Lovett had no strong feelings either way. The Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee, especially Connally, strongly objected to our first draft, which said that the Parties would undertake "to promote the general welfare." Connally said the general welfare clause of the U.S. Constitution had caused more litigation than any other words in it, and he damn well was not going to have anything like it in the
Treaty. But, I don't think even in the Senate there was any particular opposition to the idea. Escott has a certain amount of bits and pieces of information, including some telegrams from the Canadian Embassy here at the time back to Ottawa, reporting opposition to it. So there may have been more than I realized at the time.
MCKINZIE: But, you think that most of the problem then for the Canadians came from Europeans rather than from Washington.
ACHILLES: Certainly as far as implementation of it. After the Treaty went into effect the opposition came from the Europeans. The French always poo-poohed it. Alphand, for many years the French Ambassador to NATO, pooh-poohed any form of cooperation other than having the U.S. guarantee and U.S. forces in Europe; pooh-poohed every measure of cooperation that was suggested by anybody.
And every time we tried to get something done on the economic side people pointed out, with reason, that the OEEC, as it then was, was better qualified to promote economic cooperation.
MCKINZIE: Let me jump, then, ahead chronologically and ask about a specific point that you made. You mentioned that after the treaty had been negotiated the substance of the treaty's provisions were revealed publicly by the State Department in perhaps early January of 1949, at a time when President Truman was looking for material for his inaugural address, and had, indeed, intended to use some of that material that I believe you wrote, but it had already been released. And you commented that a man by the name of Robert Schaetzel...
ACHILLES: ...who has just retired as Ambassador to the European Communities.
MCKINZIE: ...came up with some kind of a document about technical assistance which was dusted off and sent over to the White House. I take it, then, that your recollection is that Point Four was not a very strong point with the State Department at that time?
ACHILLES: No. Nobody had taken it too seriously. Schaetzel had written a paper advocating it, but like so many good ideas in the State Department, nothing had happened about it; but when President Truman used it as Point Four in his Inaugural Address it suddenly got great publicity and caught the public imagination both here and in the developing countries. For my money it was the most effective part of our foreign assistance program.
MCKINZIE: When General Eisenhower was appointed in December of 1950 it took a little while to get things off the ground, but do you think
maybe the existence of the Korean war made it easier to get things off the ground militarily than it would have been under other circumstances?
ACHILLES: Very definitely. The Korean war had the Europeans sufficiently worried so that we were able to get them to increase their defense budgets; in quite a few cases to increase the length of their military service; to take measures to improve the quality of training that they were giving their forces; and provide newer equipment. It had a very, very good effect. All of which helped Ike when he became Supreme Allied Commander; "picked up the ball" and in his persuasive way got them to make further improvement.
MCKINZIE: I read someplace that some people were arguing that by the time the military contingent for the NATO had been formed the reason for forming the organization--the military
threat--had already passed. Would you comment on that?
ACHILLES: I don't think it's completely passed yet. I don't think there has ever been any serious danger of an all out Soviet armed attack west of the East German-West German frontier. The danger has been, and still is, that the Russians can resort to the same tactics they were using after the war, subversion and political blackmail backed by the threat of force--intimidating European Governments with the fear of Soviet force.
IACKINZIE: Do you have any idea why Oliver Franks declined the NATO Secretary-Generalship? You mentioned that he just called back and said he wasn't interested. Have you heard him say or talked to anyone?
ACHILLES: No, I haven't, but I don't think the reason had anything to do with NATO. He retired
from the Embassy in Washington not too long after that, went back to England and took on various civic responsibilities there. One was reorganizing the whole British hospital system of medical teaching and hospitalization, to which he devoted a great deal of time for quite a few years. We tried when Cabot Lodge retired as the first Director General of the Atlantic Institute to get Oliver Franks to succeed him. Chris Herter and Will Clayton talked to him both in London and subsequently in New York. Franks was very much interested, but finally declined on the grounds that he was just too busy with his medical reorganization in Britain. I think he thought that he just had too much to do at home. I don't think he ever had any question about NATO. Another thing which makes me believe that, is that in 1962 Oliver Franks had an article in Foreign Affairs--it was a lead article in that
issue--entitled, Cooperation is Not Enough, stressing the importance of developing more effective and tighter Atlantic unity.
MCKINZIE: Perhaps he saw NATO as not being quite tight enough.
ACHILLES: That's right. He did.
MCKINZIE: Thank you very much Mr. Ambassador.
ACHILLES: Thank you. It was a pleasure.
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List of Subjects Discussed
Acheson, Dean 71, 72, 77, 83
and German rearmament, 93
Alphand, Hervé, 95, 133-134
and German rearmament question, 90-96
and Korean War, 83
and NATO, role in, 15, 17-36, 43, 61, 64, 69, 74
Truman, Harry S.:
drafts message for, 61
first impression of, 3
and UN Charter Conference in 1945, 115-117
Bevin, Ernest, 9-10, 11, 13, 16
Bradley, General Omar, and NATO Treaty, 73-74
Bohlen, Charles E., 4
Brussels Treaty, 16, 20, 121
Byrnes, James F., 4-7
Byroade, Henry A., 91
Carter, Pat, 33
Connally, Senator Tom, 15, 48, 54, 69, 132
Cooper, Senator John Sherman, 85
Council of Foreign Ministers meetings:
in London in 1945, 3-7
in London in 1947, 9-11
Davis, Admiral Arthur, 63
Donnell, Senator Forrest C., 72
Dulles, John Foster, 4, 6-7, 11, 12-13, 122
Dunn, James C., 4
Eisenhower, Dwight D.:
and Presidential candidacy, 112, 113-114
European Defense Community, 94-97, 111
as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, NATO, 98-101
Foulkes, General Charles, 18
Franks, Sir Oliver, 106-107, 137-139
Galloway, William, 26, 36, 74
Great Britain, and socialism, 118-119
Green, Senator Theodore, 128
Greunther, General Alfred, 17, 91-92, 100, 101
Harriman, W. Averell, 91-92
Hickerson, Jack (John D.), 7, 8-9, 11, 12, 16, 19, 27, 35, 36-38, 69, 81, 83, 123, 126
Hightower, John, 65
Hillman, William, 67-68
Hoyer-Millar, Sir Derick, 18, 28-29
Inverchapel, Lord, 18
Ismay, Lord Hastings L., 104, 110
Jessup, Philip, 78-79
Kennan, George, and NATO, 32-33, 34, 35-36
beginning of, 82-84
and influence on Western Europe, 85-86
Lovett, Robert A., 17, 104, 123, 125
MacArthur, Douglas, II, 91, 98, 99, 100
McLean, Donald, 18
Marshall, George C., and NATO, 9, 10, 11-14
Merchant, Livingston, 81-82, 83
Moch, Jules, 93-94
Montgomery, Field Marshall Viscount, 25
Morgenstierne, Wilhelm, 60
Nixon, President Richard M., 51
North Atlantic Treaty Organization:
Canada's role in, 131-133
Council of Foreign Ministers, first meeting of, 78-81
and German rearmament question, 90-97
inception of , 7-26
language and provisions of draft treaty of, 37-57, 122-123, 129-130
membership issue, 57-62, 130
and military production, 86-89
organization of, 84-87
production, rationalization of, 102-103
ratification of treaty, 72-77
and Secretary-General appointment, 105-110
Senate resolution on report concerning, 26-27
signing of treaty, 69-71
standardization program, 102
and status of forces agreement, 102
and Truman, Harry S., 66
and U.S. public opinion, 64-66
"Working group", deliberations of, 27-36
Pearson, Lester (Mike), 48, 50, 104-105, 107, 111
Point IV, 67, 135
Pereira, Ambassador Pedro Teotonio, 61
Portugal, and NATO, 60-62
Rogers, Louis, 18
Roosevelt, Franklin D., death of, 2
des Roziers, Etienne Burin, 30-31
St. Laurent, Louis S., and NATO, 47
Schaetzel, Robert, 67, 134, 135
Schuman, Robert, 93-94
Shackford, Frank, 65
Smith, Senator Alexander, 75-76
Spaak, Paul-Henri, 107-108, 112-113
Spofford, Charles, 84, 85, 90, 91, 109
Stone, Tommy, 18, 48
Sweden, and NATO, 59-60
Tripartite committee (U.S., Great Britain, and Canada), 78
Truman, Harry S. 2-3, 61
and Acheson, Dean, appointment as Secretary of State, 67-69
Inaugural speech of 1949, 66-67
and NATO treaty, 20-21
United Nations Charter conference, 115-117
Vandenberg, Arthur H., 4, 7, 15, 21, 22, 39, 40, 48, 54, 69, 75-76, 122, 123, 125
Vandenberg resolution, and NATO treaty, 22-24
Van Kleffens, Elco, 57
Van Starkenborgh Stackouwer, Jonkheer Tjarda, 96
Watkins, Arthur V., 72
Webb, James, 68-69
Western Union Defense Organization, 25
Wilcox, Francis, 26, 74, 127, 128
Wrong, Hume, 18
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