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September 25, 1971


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    A description and analysis of the United States' position on the European Security Conference as perceived by the GDR Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    "Factor Analysis Concerning the State of Preparation for a European Security Conference," September 25, 1971, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PA AA: MfAA, C 368/78
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Factor analysis concerning the state of preparation for a European Security Conference[1] [2]

Berlin, 25 September 1971

Factor analysis concerning the state of preparation of a European Security Conference

The initiative of the Warsaw Pact member states for the convocation of a European Security Conference, and the constructive and realistic proposals for the preparation of an agenda for such a conference, have contributed to revitalising the fight for guaranteeing the security conference and for guaranteeing peace in Europe. The Warsaw Pact member states' persistent and flexible pursuit and broadening of these proposals, as well as the fight for further concrete objectives[3] in the program for securing peace submitted to the XXIVth party convention of the CPSU,[4] have placed the preparation of a European Security Conference on the agenda.

I. Intentions of those states possibly participating in a European Security Conference

Based on the changes in the international balance of power in favour of socialism, the following aspects are generally relevant to the interests and policies of the imperialist states concerning the preparation and realisation of a European Security Conference:
-the necessity to adapt, in more realistic manner than hitherto, to the current changes in the international constellation
-the attempt to reconcile this adaptation with efforts to maintain and solidify the positions of the imperialist system in Western and Eastern Europe
-efforts to stop the offensive of the socialist security policy and to create favourable conditions for the rolling back of socialism, specifically through the subversion of the Warsaw Treaty's alliance structures and its coordinated action in the long term.[. . .]

2. NATO States
[. . .]
2.2 USA and Great Britain

The USA is the main opponent of a European Security Conference.[5] The attitude of the leading circles of the American bourgeoisie towards the European Security Conference is largely determined by their view that Europe is the main battleground in the confrontation between socialism and capitalism. The permanently growing influence of the community of socialist states, particularly of the Soviet Union, on the situation in Europe, and the development of three centres of imperialist rivalry (USA – Western Europe – Japan), and the interconnected problems and difficulties faced by the USA, make it more and more complicated for US imperialism to maintain its position in Europe. US imperialism considers these positions being the most important levers for mobilising and using the military, economic and political potential of the capitalist against the socialist part of Europe, against the national liberation movements, and against the communist worker's movement in the capitalist countries. The new balance of power, which is permanently shifting in favour of socialism, forces the ruling classes in the USA to adapt to these new conditions for the competition of systems. In this context, confrontations take place within the American bourgeoisie about what kind of policy the USA should and could develop towards a European Security Conference.
Disadvantageous effects are feared, above all, in the following respects:
-the Security Conference could lead to a roll-back of US influence in Europe, to growing autonomy of the European capitalist states, to undermining NATO's stability and military strength, as well as to a containment of the US global strategy;
-the Security Conference might prove to be an effective means for changing the balance of power in Europe in favour of Socialism (through the effectiveness of the Warsaw Treaty's states, through the equal participation of the GDR and the strengthening of its status according to international law);
-discussing questions of European security might again necessitate a negative definition of one's own position regarding the basic problems of European security and might thereby highlight the destructive policies being pursued by NATO, particularly by the USA; furthermore, it might reinforce the contradictions within NATO states regarding European security issues.

In the [intra US] confrontation, those forces recognising the necessity to adapt to the new circumstances are guided in these discussions by the following considerations:
- through one or several security conferences with long-term objectives and extended preparations, the USA might open new opportunities for its global strategy and its anti-socialist "flexible Ostpolitik" in order to stop the offensive of the socialist European security policy, to facilitate the penetration of socialist countries and to roll back socialism's influence in Europe;
- through working out a unanimous position among capitalist European states regarding the main issues, under the lead of the USA, prerequisites could be developed to prevent a weakening of the imperialist system in Europe and a containment of US imperialism's influence with Europe.

Faced with positive reactions from the international public and with the interest of the majority of neutral European states in having a security conference, the USA can less and less resist its convening. There generally exists unanimous agreement between both main groups within the US bourgeoisie that currently and in the foreseeable future, as there is no possibility to directly prevent a European Security Conference from taking place, its start has to be delayed by every means. (In the field of political science there are certain indications about the beginning of an arrangement with such a conference in the USA, too. See W. Griffith, Moscow, Bonn and European security, working paper for the 6th German-American conference, Bad Godesberg, 22-25 January 1970; Zbigniew Brzezinski, Amerika darf nicht abdanken, Newsweek, 9 February 1970;[6] Timothy W. Stanley, Conference on European Security? Problems, Prospects and Pitfalls, Washington 1970 (Study of the Atlantic Council).)

The course of the Nixon government, aimed at impeding and stalling the European Security Conference, is apparent in:
-efforts to maintain controlled tensions in Europe and thereby to interfere with and to hinder an improvement of the climate between socialist and capitalist states in Europe, being to the detriment of basic imperialist interests. This is aimed at hampering any further increase in the influence of socialist Europe and the completion of coordination among European states according to the Warsaw Treaty states' proposals.
-establishing new demands for further settlements in advance of the security conference. Such demands are, e.g., ratification of the Quadripartite Agreement about West Berlin,[7] "satisfactory results in the SALT[8] talks as well as in possible talks about troop and armament reductions, in the relations between GDR and FRG according to the approach of the Bonn government, in the Near East question".
-supplementing and changing the agenda proposed by the socialist states for a European Security Conference, with the objective of creating favourable conditions – particularly for US imperialism – for gaining influence on the internal development of socialist states. First and foremost this includes proposals being directed precisely at the use of economic, scientific-technological and ideological levers for undermining the unity and solidarity between socialist states.


[1] Copyright: Project 'CSCE and the Transformation of Europe', University of Mannheim and the Cold War International History Project at the Woodrow Wilson Center. All rights reserved. The "CSCE and the Transformation of Europe" Project is funded by the VolkswagenStiftung. If cited, quoted, translated, or reproduced, acknowledgement of any document's origin must be made as follows: "Oliver Bange/Stephan Kieninger (eds): "Negotiating one's own demise? The GDR's Foreign Ministry and the CSCE negotiations - Plans, preparations, tactics and presumptions," CWIHP e-Dossier Nr. 17, on behalf of the Project 'CSCE and the Transformation of Europe', University of Mannheim 2008 (

[2] Excerpts from document, pp. 1-2, 16, 17, 19.

[3] The concrete objectives were "renunciation of force" as well as "commercial, economic and scientific-technological cooperation".

[4] See Brezhnev's speech on 30 March 1971 at the opening of the CPSU's 24th Party Conference (Moscow, 3. March to 9 April 1971) in: Leonid Breschnew: Auf dem Wege Lenins – Reden und Aufsätze, vol. 3 (May 1970 – March 1972), (East) Berlin 1973, pp. 210-340.

[5] The East German perception of "American" intentions was too stereotyped as to identify and seize upon the internal differences in US approaches towards an ESC. For a detailed account of competing American détente strategies, see Stephan Kieninger: Transformation or Status quo: The conflict of stratagems in Washington over the meaning and purpose of CSCE and MBFR, 1969-1973, in: Oliver Bange/Gottfried Niedhart (eds): Helsinki 1975 and the Transformation of Europe, Oxford/New York 2008, pp. 105-127.

[6] The authors of this planning paper refer to Zbigniew Brzezinski's column with the title "Isolationism and Fragmentation", published in the US edition of Newsweek Magazine on 9 February 1970.

[7] This is the GDR's interpretation of the Quadripartite Berlin Agreement signed on 3 September 1971. For the text, see Ingo von Muench (ed.): Dokumente des geteilten Deutschland, vol. 2 (1968-1974), Stuttgart 1974, pp. 94ff.

[8] SALT stands for Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, which were being conducted between the USA and the Soviet Union at that time. See John Newhouse: Cold Dawn - The Story of SALT, Washington 1989.