Kissinger to get a mixed reception from America’s allies – archive, 1973 | Nato

Dr Kissinger’s first appearance on the NATO stage is awaited by the European allies with a mixture of interest and irritation – all the more so since he has not used diplomatic channels to give advance notice of what he plans to discuss with his colleagues.

Nobody any longer bothers to deny that Atlantic relations have gone sour. But the Europeans feel that they have been more sinned against than sinning. After years of neglect of Western European interests, with Dr Kissinger and Mr Nixon concentrating on Vietnam, the Soviet Union, and China, the Europeans were suddenly told last April that their turn had come and this was the Year of Europe. The Atlantic Charter was to be updated.

But it all went wrong even before the Middle East war broke out. At first the Europeans were reluctant to rally together and talk with the Americans. By the time they found it possible to speak with one voice and to affirm the “European identity,” Mr Nixon was so caught in the Watergate morass that his European projects seem to have become secondary. Moreover, the Europeans were, and still are decidedly reluctant to declare a “special partnership relationship” with the US.

Then came the Middle East war. The Americans called on their European allies to support them first in diplomatic manoeuvres designed to put pressure on Russia and then to lend facilities for the US arms lift to Israel.

But the Europeans cannot forget that Dr Kissinger made no attempt to consult the allies as he formulated his Middle Eastern policy. The Europeans received only brief, and consequently useless, advance notice of the American general alert, and some of the European countries now criticise the US for pressing for a Middle East ceasefire without in return insisting on an easing of the oil embargo which is hitting them far harder than America.

The Europeans still insist that they need the US nuclear shield, but they believe that this is also in the Americans’ own interest. While the US does not disagree with this view, she is also arguing that the Europeans must show greater cooperation. The Europeans are trying to impress on the Americans that they can no longer expect their voice in the Alliance to prevail automatically.

On all sides it is agreed that more effective consultation is essential. The Europeans are hoping that Dr Kissinger will concentrate on this during the NATO meeting.

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