Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 179–198 | Cite as

Lyndon B. Johnson, Alec Douglas-Home, Europe and the NATO Multilateral Force, 1963–64

  • J. J. Widén
  • Jonathan Colman


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  1. 1.
    On this issue see James Ellison,‘Defeating the General: Anglo-American Relations, Europe and the NATO Crisis of 1966’, Cold War History, 6, 1 (February 2006), pp.85–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 1a.
    and Thomas Alan Schwartz, Lyndon Johnson and Europe: In the Shadow of Vietnam (Cambridge, Mass., and London: Harvard University Press, 2003), pp.92–139.Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 (New York: Random House, 1987), pp.423, 426.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    In 1967 the United States, West Germany and Britain made a number of Trilateral Agree ments to address these issues. See Andrew Priest, Kennedy, Johnson and NATO: Britain, America and the Dynamics of Alliance, 1962–68 (London and New York: Routledge, 2006), pp.131–5, 159; Schwartz, Lyndon Johnson and Europe, pp.143–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 4.
    See Kennedy, Rise and Fall, pp.413–37, on the‘Assuring’ of the bipolar world.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    Works covering the MLF to a lesser or greater extent include (in order of year of publi cation): J.W. Boulton,‘NATO and the MLF’, Journal of Contemporary History, 7, 3–4 (July-October 1972), pp.275–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 5a.
    Andrew J. Pierre, Nuclear Politics: The British Experi ence with an Independent Strategic Force (London: Oxford University Press, 1972)Google Scholar
  8. 5b.
    John D. Steinbruner, The Cybernetic Theory of Decision: New Dimensions of Polit ical Analysis (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974)Google Scholar
  9. 5c.
    Christoph Bluth, Britain, Germany and Western Nuclear Strategy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 5d.
    Michael Middeke, ‘Anglo-American Nuclear Weapons Cooperation after the Nassau Conference: The British Policy of Interdependence’, Journal of Cold War Studies, 2, 2 (Spring 2000), pp.69–96Google Scholar
  11. 5e.
    Stephen Twigge and Len Scott, Planning Armageddon: Britain, the US and the Command of Nuclear Forces, 1945–1964 (London: Harwood Academic Press, 2000)Google Scholar
  12. 5f.
    Donette Murray, Kennedy, Macmillan and Nuclear Weapons (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000); Schwartz, Lyndon Johnson and Europe, pp.39-45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 5g.
    Andrew Priest,‘“In Common Cause”: The NATO Multilateral Force and the Mixed- Manning Demonstration on USS Claude V. Ricketts, 1964 to 1965’, Journal of Military History, 69, 3 (July 2005), pp.759–89; Priest, Kennedy, Johnson and NATO.Google Scholar
  14. 6.
    Schwartz, Lyndon Johnson and Europe; Priest, Kennedy, Johnson and NATO, pp.94-101.Google Scholar
  15. 7.
    This includes H.W. Brands (ed.), The Foreign Policies of Lyndon Johnson: Beyond Vietnam (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1999)Google Scholar
  16. 7a.
    H. W. Brands, The Wages of Globalism: Lyndon B. Johnson and the Limits of American Power (Oxford, 1995)Google Scholar
  17. 7b.
    Warren I. Cohen and Nancy Bernkopf Tucker (eds.), Lyndon Johnson Confronts the World: American Foreign Policy 1963–1968 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994)Google Scholar
  18. 7c.
    John Dumbrell, President Lyndon Johnson and Soviet Communism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004); and Schwartz, Lyndon Johnson and Europe.Google Scholar
  19. 8.
    Later comments from de Gaulle included the idea that the MLF was‘an American naval foreign legion’ that would place Germany in position of total subservience to US policy. Schwartz, Lyndon Johnson and Europe, p.42.Google Scholar
  20. 9.
    For the origins of the MLF during the Eisenhower administration, see Pascaline Winand, Eisenhower, Kennedy and the United States of Europe (Houndmills/London: Macmillan, 1993), pp.203–22.Google Scholar
  21. 10.
    Skybolt and the Polaris decision have attracted a substantial literature. See for example John Baylis, Anglo-American Defence Relations, 1939–1984: The Special Relationship, 2nd ed. (London: Macmillan, 1984)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 10a.
    Jan Melissen, The Struggle for Nuclear Partner ship (Groningen: Styx, 1993)Google Scholar
  23. 10b.
    Ian Clark, Nuclear Diplomacy and the Special Relation ship: Britain’s Deterrent and America, 1957–1962 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 10c.
    Lawrence Freedman and John Gearson, ‘Interdependence and Independence: Nassau and the British Nuclear Deterrent’ in K. Burk and M. Stokes (eds), The United States and the Atlantic Alliance since 1945 (Oxford: Berg, 1999), pp. 179–203Google Scholar
  25. 10d.
    Donette Murray, Kennedy, Macmillan and Nuclear Weapons (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 10e.
    Nigel Ashton, Kennedy, Macmillan and the Cold War (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 10f.
    Ken Young,‘The Skybolt Crisis of 1962: Muddle or Mischief?’, Journal of Strategic Studies, 27, 4 (December 2004), pp.614–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 11.
    This article refers to both‘supporters’ or‘advocates’ of the MLF and to individuals who were more‘pragmatic’ in relation to the MLF. The former group was often described as the‘cabal’ or‘theologians’ by their opponents. It should be noted that both groups supported the MLF although the advocates tended to be the most zealous in seeking the establishment of the force.Google Scholar
  29. 12.
    Bundy to the President, 15 June 1963, Foreign Relations of the United States 1961–1963 (FRUS) Vol. XIII Western Europe and Canada (Washington DC: USGPO, 1994), pp.592-5.Google Scholar
  30. 13.
    On LBJ’s skill or otherwise in the realm of foreign policy see, for example, Philip Geyelin, Lyndon B. Johnson and the World (London: Pall Mall, 1966), p. 15; Waldo Heinrichs,’ Lyndon Johnson: Change and Continuity’, in Cohen and Tucker (eds), Lyndon Johnson Confronts the World, p.26; Schwartz, Lyndon Johnson and Europe, pp.1–6.Google Scholar
  31. 14.
    Elections and preferred dates for a signing of a treaty on the MLF are discussed in Bonn to Washington, 4 March 1964, no. 3133, Central Files, DEF (MLF) 4; and Geneva to Washington. 25 March 1964, SECUN 3, Central Files, DEF (MLF) 3, both in Box 1759, RG 59, United States National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland (NARA 2).Google Scholar
  32. 15.
    On the circumstances of the meeting see Walt Rostow, The Diffusion of Power (New York: Macmillan, 1972), pp.391–2; Geyelin, Lyndon B. Johnson and the World, pp.159–61; and Steinbruner, Cybernetic, pp.286–9. For a record of the meeting see memorandum of discussion, 10 April 1964, FRUS 1964–1968 Vol. XIII Western Europe Region (1995), pp.35–7.Google Scholar
  33. 16.
    Memo from Bundy to Johnson, 6 December 1964, ibid., p. 135.Google Scholar
  34. 17.
    Ibid., memorandum of discussion, 10 April 1964, pp.35–7. For Finletter’s talking paper for this meeting, see‘Talking paper for Ambassador T. K. Finletter’, undated, Subject Files 1963–1966 (Office of the Special Assistance to the Secretary of State for Multilat eral Force Negotiations), Lot 69 D 55, Box 14, RG 59, NARA 2.Google Scholar
  35. 18.
    Memorandum of discussion, 10 April 1964, FRUS 1964–1968 XIII, pp.35–7.Google Scholar
  36. 19.
    Ibid., US Embassy Bonn to State Department, 16 April 1964, pp.37–9; telephone conver sation between Ball and Finletter, 10.40 am 15 April 1964, Papers of George Ball, Box 5, Lyndon B. Johnson Library (LBJL), Austin. Texas; Department of State to Certain Embassies, 12 April 1964, TOPOL 1534, Central Files, DEF (MLF), Box 1758, RG 59, NARA 2.Google Scholar
  37. 20.
    For the communique of the Johnson-Erhard meeting see Documents on American Foreign Relations 1964 (Washington: USGPO, 1965), pp.93–5.Google Scholar
  38. 21.
    See‘Concept Multilateral Nuclear Force given new impetus’, US Information Service, 14 October 1963, PREM 11/4739, National Archives, Kew, Surrey (NA).Google Scholar
  39. 22.
    For a discussion of the different interpretations of the 10 April meeting see Geyelin, Lyndon B. Johnson and the World, pp. 160–61; Steinbruner, Cybernetic, p.289 (particu larly note 55).Google Scholar
  40. 23.
    Robert Dallek, Lyndon B. Johnson: Portrait of a President (London: Penguin, 2004), p. 162.Google Scholar
  41. 24.
    Rusk’s pragmatic view of the MLF can be studied in Oral History Interviews, Dean Rusk (1970), LBJL, Interview IV (10–12), while a‘radical’ view from an ardent MLF supporter can be found in Finletter to Secretary of State, Emb.comm. 1458 (Paris), 14 April 1964, LBJL, National Security File (NSF), Subject File, MLF, Cables, Box 24, quoted in Helga Haftendorn, NATO and the Nuclear Revolution: A Crisis of Credibility, 1966–1967 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), pp.127, 182–3 (note 52).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 25.
    Rusk to State, 17 April 1964, FRUS 1964–1968 X1U, p.41. 26_See Alec Douglas-Home, The Way the Wind Blows: An Autobiography by Lord Home (London: Collins, 1976), pp.176–204.Google Scholar
  43. 27.
    ‘Statement made on Saturday 5 May by Secretary McNamara at the NATO Ministe rial Meeting in Athens’, 5 May 1962, at For a shortened version of the address see FRUS 1961–63 VIII National Security Policy (1996), pp.275–81.Google Scholar
  44. 28.
    ‘The Nassau Agreement’, 21 December 1962, reproduced in John Baylis (ed.), Anglo-American Relations Since 1939 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997), pp. 139–41. 29_Documents on American Foreign Relations 1963 (Washington: USGPO, 1964), pp. 199–201. See also Pierre, Nuclear, pp.247–8.Google Scholar
  45. 30.
    Quoted in Thomas Schwartz,‘Victories and defeats in the long twilight struggle: the United States and Western Europe’, in Diane B. Kunz, The Diplomacy of the Crucial Decade: American Foreign Relations During the 1960s (New York: Columbia Univer sity Press, 1994), p. 130.Google Scholar
  46. 31.
    On the British decision to join talks on the MLF and the demonstration ship see the press notice on 1 October 1963,‘Multilateral NATO Nuclear Force: Statement of Her Majesty’s Government’s Position’, PREM 11/4739 NA. See also Cmnd. 2270, Statement on Defence 1964 (February 1964), pp.6–7.Google Scholar
  47. 32.
    Pierre, Nuclear, pp.245–6.Google Scholar
  48. 33.
    Quoted in Twigge and Scott, Planning Armageddon, p. 188.Google Scholar
  49. 34.
    Pierre, Nuclear, pp.243–50.Google Scholar
  50. 35.
    See Hansard, House of Commons, 28 September 1963, column 469.Google Scholar
  51. 36.
    See, for example, record of conversation between Douglas-Home and Senator Fulbright, 5 May 1964, PREM 11/5195, NA. For a description of Thorneycroft’s and Douglas- Home’s views on the MLF while working under Macmillan see Thorneycroft to PM, 4 October 1963, PREM 11/4739, NA.Google Scholar
  52. 37.
    Talking points paper on the MLF, 5 February 1964, and background paper on the MLF, 6 February 1964, Western Europe, 1963–69, NSF, LBJL, from microfiche in the Liddell Hart Military Archives, King’s College, London.Google Scholar
  53. 37a.
    On the February meeting in Washington see also Kenneth Young, Sir Alec Douglas-Home (London: Dent, 1970), pp. 196–7Google Scholar
  54. 37b.
    and Nicholas Henderson, The Private Office: A Personal View of Five Foreign Secretaries and of Government from the Inside (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1984), pp.57–8.Google Scholar
  55. 38.
    On socialist opposition to the MLF in Italy see record of conversation between Butler and Saragat, 16 December 1963, PREM 11/4739, NA; and record of conversation between Douglas-Home and Moro, 27 April 1964, PREM 11/4879, NA. See also Leopoldo Nuti,’ “Me Too, Please”: Italy and the Politics of Nuclear Weapons, 1945–1975’, Diplomacy and Statecraft, 4, 1 (March, 1993), pp.114–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 39.
    The British presented their detailed ideas in the Working Group in Paris on 2 July 1964. See Shuckburgh to Foreign Office (FO), 2 July 1964, No. 280, PREM 11/4740, NA.Google Scholar
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    Pierre, Nuclear, pp.248–9.Google Scholar
  58. 41.
    Shuckburgh to FO, 7 April 1964, Nos. 167 and 168, PREM 11/4739, NA.Google Scholar
  59. 42.
    Shuckburgh to FO, 17 April 1964, Nos. 180, 181 and 182, PREM 11/4740, NA. On the two meetings regarding the MLF between Rusk and Butler see record from meeting, 26 and 27 April 1964, PREM 11/4740, NA. For American records of these talks, see Washington to Paris, 30 April 1964, TOPOL 1637, Central Files, DEF (MLF) 12, Box 1760, RG 59, NARA 2; and memorandum of conversation, 26 April 1964, FRUS 1964–68 XIII, pp.41–3.Google Scholar
  60. 43.
    Record of meeting between Butler and Rusk, 26 April 1964, PREM 11/4740, NA.Google Scholar
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    Record of meeting between Butler and Rusk, 27 April 1964, PREM 11/4740, NA. See also Foreign Secretary to PM, 28 April 1964, no. 1594, PREM 11/4740, NA.Google Scholar
  62. 45.
    On the resistance to the British proposal see for example Bonn to FO, 27 May 1964, no.562; Ankara to FO, 29 May 1964, no.868; and Shuckburgh to FO, 19 June 1964, no.255 and 256. All of them are taken from PREM 11/4740, NA. On British manoeuvres to encourage Finletter and some of the other negotiating teams to comply with the Rusk agreement see FO to UK.Del. NATO Paris, 3 June 1964, no.2405; FO to Shuckburgh, 11 June 1964, no.2477; Harlech to FO, 25 June 1964, no.2342; and Harlech to FO, 13 July 1964, no.2536. All of these documents are from PREM 11/4740, NA.Google Scholar
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    Thorneycroft to PM, 8 May 1964, PREM 11/4740, NA.Google Scholar
  64. 47.
    On Thorneycroft’s‘barrage’ of messages sent to Douglas-Home see for example the ones on 23 and 30 June and on 24 July 1964, in PREM 11/4740, NA. On the Prime Minister’s view see PM to Thorneycroft, 11 May 1964; and PM to Thorneycroft, 27 July 1964, both in ibid.Google Scholar
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    See Shuckburgh to FO, 17 April 1964, no.182; and Shuckburgh to FO, 21 April 1964, no. 192, both in PREM 11/4740, NA.Google Scholar
  66. 49.
    On the Soviet note see Moscow to FO, 12 July 1964, no.1385; and Paris to FO, 20 July 1964, no.338, PREM 11/4740, NA. For a contemporary account on the Soviets and the MLF see Zbigniew Brzezinski, ‘Moscow and the MLF: Hostility and Ambivalence’, Foreign Affairs, 43, 1 (October 1964), pp. 126–34. See also Dumbrell, President Lyndon Johnson and Soviet Communism, pp.71–3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. 50.
    The co-ordinated approach by the American and Germans are shown in Shuckburgh to FO, 17 April 1964, no.182; and Shuckburgh to FO, 11 June 1964, no.247, both of them in PREM 11/4740. See also Farley to Gerard Smith, 9 June 1964, Subject Files 1963–1966 (Office of the Special Assistance to the Secretary of State for Multilateral Force Negotiations), Lot 68 D 301, Box 4, RG 59, NARA 2.Google Scholar
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    Erhard to Johnson, 30 September 1964, FRUS 1964–1968 XIII, pp.78–9.Google Scholar
  69. 52.
    Johnson to Erhard, 7 October 1964, ibid., pp.82–3. On Grewe’s talks in Washington see memorandum of conversation, 6 October 1964, pp.80–82, in ibid.Google Scholar
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    See John W Young, ‘International factors and the 1964 election’, Contemporary British History 21, 3 (September 2007), pp. 351–71. Thanks to Professor Young for providing an advance copy of his article.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. 54.
    Pierre, Nuclear, p.250. This view is confirmed by a letter from Harold Wilson to Johnson in the run-up to the 1966 general election, when he warned the President that he might employ anti-German ‘xenophobia’ in the campaign. See Wilson to Johnson, 27 February 1966, FRUS 1964–1968 XII Western Europe (2001), p.532.Google Scholar
  72. 55.
    On Labour’s views on nuclear issues before and during the elections see Young, ‘Inter national factors and the 1964 election’, pp. 355–7, 362–4.Google Scholar
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    ‘Wilson Visit and the MLF, 6 December 1964, UK Wilson Visit I 12/7–8/64, NSF: Country File, Box 214, LBJL.Google Scholar
  74. 57.
    State to Embassy in Bonn, 29 October 1964, FRUS 1964–1968 XIII, p.94. For details of the Wilson-Johnson summit see Jonathan Colman, A‘Special Relationship’? Harold Wilson, Lyndon B. Johnson and Anglo-American Relations‘at the Summit’, 1964–68 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004), chapters 1 and 2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. 57a.
    and Saki Dockrill,’ Forging the Anglo-American global defence partnership: Harold Wilson, Lyndon Johnson and the Washington summit, December 1964’, Journal of Strategie Studies, 23, 4 (December 2000), pp. 107–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Priest, Kennedy, Johnson and NATO, p.94.Google Scholar
  77. 59.
    NSAM 322,17 December 1964, FRUS 1964–1968 XIII, pp. 165–7.Google Scholar
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    Geyelin, Lyndon B. Johnson and the World, p. 180. See also Priest, Kennedy, Johnson and NATO, pp.93–121.Google Scholar
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    Denis Healey, The Time of My Life (London: Penguin, 1989), p.305.Google Scholar
  80. 62.
    See Ball to Rusk, 17 November 1964, FRUS 1964-68X111, pp. 112–15. Erhard lost office in late October 1966. See Schwartz, Lyndon Johnson and Europe, pp.132–3, 145–6, on how US-German relations, notably the troop offset issue, played a role in his defeat.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Board of the Journal of Transatlantic Studies 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. J. Widén
    • 1
  • Jonathan Colman
    • 2
  1. 1.Swedish National Defence CollegeStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Centre for International Security and War StudiesUniversity of SalfordUK

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