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I must say I find this eminently reasonable. Then there is the question of how do you do this.
Then we got into a belief which I have that this should be done under NATO. This is an important point because if you do it under the alliance, then every country can say it has a guarantee, it has an interest, it is participating.
You do not force à country to go out and get into its own independent nuclear field, you do not compel it to do that. But if we continue to talk about the fact that the only way to be important in this world is to have your own nuclear stockpile you compel people to get into this.
If you bring this into NATO, make it clearly a NATO responsibility, then they can feel they do have a guarantee and that they are discharging their responsibilities to their people, to the defense of their people.
This, I think in general, would be enough for most of the European countries, those European countries who have not already started. The question of mechanics is how you do it, with 15 fingers on the trigger. I do not agree with this concept of 15 fingers on the trigger.
From that standpoint there are 15 fingers on anything that we want to do. If you cannot do anything with 15, you cannot do it at all and you might as well stop. I have recently proposed in a public speech that it would be more effective, more efficient to have a small executive body working and responsible to the NATO council.
The NATO Council could establish rules under which NATO atomic weapons should be used. Then establish a body to have a particular responsibility for followup in the situation and if time permits, if the question came up on the use, they would go to the Council and present the problem to the Council and get a decision.
If time did not permit, then the smaller body would decide. You cannot have the rule of unanimity, because this is going to stop action.
My suggestion is that you go again within this NATO context, and that you would have a majority vote of just two-thirds. This would permit you to move. If you cannot get two out of three or three out of four, you should not move. This permits you to move.
And, another thing, it meets indirectly and I think in a reasonable way, a sound way, it meets the European criticism, which is purely an academic criticism but nevertheless important, that the United States exercises a veto over that activity.
This would meet that, without violating the fundamental rights of any country or the rules or principles of sound practice. So, the question of control is the larger issue. I think we sometimes confuse ourselves talking about hardware, it is awfully interesting and politically it is obviously necessary from time to time to do it, but the real crux of this problem is, is a guarantee going to be provided to NATO countries.
If you are not going to do this you might as well fold NATO. It will destroy NATO if you do not do this. Then give to NATO in some way the responsibility for making decisions in the NATO area. I am restricting this to the NATO area. Let us not go outside it.
Senator MUNDr. Does this involve any necessary new legislation in Congress?
General Norstad. It might, Senator, but what I am proposing from my own standpoint would not involve passing the custody of weapons to anyone who does not now have the custody. I think the supply system will take care of it. I am not clear on this and I have heard positions taken on both sides of this as to whether legislation is required. If there is any question about it, I think legislation is required.
If there is any question on a matter of this importance, then we ought to solve it by legislation.
Senator Jackson. In any event, it would have to be submitted to the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy.
General NORSTAD. I think it would.
But, the important thing here is that it does not result in our assisting other countries in creating a nuclear capability. They have a delivery capability but because of this system they would not have the weapons that they do not now have. I think this is quite satisfactory from the military standpoint.
I think it should be acceptable from the political standpoint. I think by and large it is the best political solution.
Senator MUNDT. I have a couple of other questions but I understand that Senator Saltonstall has a question.
I am going to yield on this particular issue if he has a question to ask.
Senator SALTONSTALL. Mr. Chairman, I thank the Senator from South Dakota very much if he would permit me to ask one question which I would like very much to ask General Norstad in view of the statement that he has made under his first point.
General, I recall very well, one of my best memories, the long conference with you and Admiral Sherman in 1947 on the Unification Act.
Now, you speak of the importance of personal relationships. My question is this, perhaps it is a more technical question. Do you believe that the present new setup of a regional commander, whether it be Army, Navy, or Air Force, reporting directly up through the Secretary of Defense to the President, establishes a closer personal relationship to the man in the field, the man who has to make quick decisions, than the previous setup of our military?
General NORSTAD. I think this is an improvement. I offer no suggestions on changing the present system. But whether or not it is satisfactory in time of crisis, whether any system can be made safe by organization is the question.
I personally have felt that you had to modify somewhat in practice - that is not for normal day-to-day business but when you are really in crisis you have to have a contact, a feeling of being in touch with the highest political authority.
To give an example, I think I mentioned this before you came in this morning, Senator—but problems always have a strange habit of developing at very inconvenient times. Even in my own experience and we have had some crises but they have not been too serious or anything that could not be handled, nothing to get too excited about.
But there have been two or three times when somebody said guns are swinging, what do we do now? You cannot say refer it to Wash
ington or London or even to Paris. You have to say yes, no, do this, or that, or do not do this, right then and there. Regardless of theory, the guy who says that makes policy.
Senator SALTONSTALL. There is no question about that.
General NORSTAD. If you want the policy to reflect, as it should, the policy and the general philosophy of your highest political authority there has to be some contact between the man who is in that position and your highest political authority. You cannot get this by the process of osmosis through 67 levels.
This is a fine way to run this vast organization, this great system; it cannot be run any other way, in my opinion. I am speaking now of crises. There must be a means of having a personal and direct relationship so that you have an understanding.
The man in the field may make a mistake. Mistakes are made. But if he has this relationship, the chances are that it will fall somewhere between this narrow limit, between a floor and ceiling of what the top political authority would be thinking in the area.
It would not be a serious mistake. In addition to this, this relationship gives him confidence. In the last year or year and a half on occasion I have had to say, do this or do that or do not do this, where policy was being made. I must say I have done this with confidence. Part of the confidence, it is true, comes from the fact that I was at that job for an awful long time; I served for 12 years, as you know. That helps a little bit. But also because under the last administration and under this administration I was permitted a direct relationship with the President on such a basis that I felt that I knew generally what he was thinking. It helps when you can pick up a telephone and can talk to the President of the United States from time to time. This helps.
Or you can communicate. You can do this without doing violence to the organization. I offer no suggestions on changes in the organization. I am simply talking about crises. You must have, at least I must have, a feeling for allied views. I have maintained this by seeing allied leaders from time to time. Prime Minister Macmillan, for example, has very kindly taken his busy time to talk with us.
This has helped, or to send messages back and forth. This is the way you get the feeling that you can do certain things and move with confidence when you have to move. This is my plea here, and this may not be accomplished by any change in organization.
This is something that we must be aware of. I think we must not only permit, but encourage it.
Senator SALTONSTALL. I felt through the laws and through the regulations that this is a big step forward along the lines you are talking about.
General NORSTAD. It is.
Senator SALTONSTALL. Mr. Chairman, I thank you very much. I thank the Senator from South Dakota for permitting me this interruption.
Senator JACKSON. I take it you would agree wholeheartedly that the personal relationships you referred to so effectively of course must be developed before the crisis occurs?
General NORSTAD. Yes. Of course, it is useless if you wait for the crisis because then if you start having personal contact you do not even know what questions to ask.
Senator MUNDT. I now have three rather closely related questions, General. Dealing specifically with your interpretation of what you consider the proper role of Congress in this whole picture, not only from the standpoint of the constitutional provisions of advise and consent, from the standpoint of policy, but the Congress generally.
You say on page 6 that there is no substitute for direct, person-toperson relationships between the highest political and military authorities and this inevitably includes the commander in chief, and the President, in considerable detail.
On page 7 you say policy, and here I speak of what we call grand policy, must be established at the top. I wish you would define the top for us and what you envision the role of a Congress in these personal relationships.
General NORSTAD. In the sense of which I am speaking here, I was speaking from the background of my experience, my service in the armed services. So the top authority in the sense I have used it here is the head of government, specifically, of course, the commander in chief in this instance.
It would apply in the allied sense to the Prime Minister of Great Britain, the President of France, the Chancellor of Germany, as examples. In my own experience, as you know, I have derived some of my own foundation of policy understanding in these rooms, and this has been part of the foundation which has given me confidence at times of stress. Over the years I have appeared in many rooms of this kind in this building and in the House.
So, you have a feeling there, too, of what people are thinking. In addition to that, as you know, I think it is an essential part of the life and activity of a commander in the field to see the parliamentarians in an allied capacity of all of the countries, again to have some feeling, some sense of what they are thinking.
All of these things contribute. So far as authority is concerned, in all of these countries the head of government is the commander in chief. You take your instructions from him. In times of crisis you deal with him. He is the top. But it adds to your sense and your understanding of the situation, and what the countries want, to have the close relationship which we all have had and my predecessor had and I certainly have had with the parliamentarians of all the countries.
As you know, I have met with you in the parliamentary meetings, and with representatives of other countries. "I have seen them in ali of the countries, talked with them from time to time in large segments and in small segments. This again adds to one's understanding, one's authority.
But, to be specific, from the organization standpoint, I am talking about the legally constituted commander in chief here.
Senator Mundt. In this same area I presume that the point 4 where you talk about the very sticky problem of reassessment and reappraising policy and formulating new ones, and I think we have to recognize unless we formulate new ones our old ones ultimately become obsolete and ineffective, that you must then have been talking primarily about an alliance concept and your concept of NATO because you stressed the fact that these criticisms of reappraisal should be done in private session.
I just do not see how formulating a national policy, within a country like this, with respect to discussion in Congress, could achieve much of an impact by limiting their suggestions and criticisms to private discussions.
I wish you would dilate on that a bit.
General Norstad. I had in mind of course again I qualified it by saying I was speaking in that case from my allied responsibility-I had specifically in mind some of the discussions that have taken place in the alliance in the last 2 years where you raise questions of the concept of strategy.
If we do this publicly, the minute you do that, then you begin to crode the foundation, the foundation of confidence which has done somo really marvelous things. This has a very serious effect.
If we got together and decided beforehand, quietly, in general, what could be done, you could handle this in such a way that you did not necessarily cause this erosion.
This is very important, very important politically, because in the last analysis, I do not have to tell you, the people have an influence. We all get these letters from people who are in a rather exposed position who write and say, “Thank you very much, I feel very secure, very confident and very secure."
Sometimes they write and say, "Are we going to be defended and who is going to do it ?"
We write back, “Yes, you are to be defended because I am going to do it.”
They say thank you very much. And they go back to their business.
This is a strength of the alliance. The strength of the spirit is just as strong as the strength of the tanks and bombs. At the moment for political purposes it is a great deal more important at any given time, has a much greater importance.
If you say this strategy is wrong and this whole philosophy is wrong and the important people say the whole concept has to be looked at, these poor people are bewildered. Then you lose some of your strength. Then if the Soviets blow cold for the moment, you do not have quite that firmness of response, promptness of response, which is essential to meet it. This is what I have specific reference to.
Senator MUNDT. I thought you must have been referring to the alliance concept. I agree on that. I want to get into the record the fact that there are great changes in policy within a country like ours that can come from public expression, public criticism, and public reappraisal.
The most significant change in our American foreign policy probably in the 20th century occurred in the latter part of the 1930's and the first part of the 1940's after the great public debate on what they call isolationism against internationalism whereby we evolved a national policy today that certainly is different entirely from the isolationist policy. It was done by public debate.
I think we are trying now to evolve a national policy toward Cuba through this same process. We cannot define the policy yet, how it is going to end up, but I think the discussion is fruitful. I wonder if there is any way in which you disagree?
General VorstĂ). Not at all. Is this not a case of discussion in public of positions or principles that have been pretty well established or beaten out beforehand ?