29 May 1987 - 31 May 1987

The Atlantic Gap: National Differences and the Future of the Alliance - Options for Action by the Private Sector

Chair: The Rt Hon Geoffrey Rippon QC

On the weekend 29-31 May the Foundation held a conference which turned out, largely by chance, to be its numerically biggest ever. The subject was "The Atlantic gap: national differences and the future of the Alliance - options for action by the private sector". The aim was to bring together people from both sides of the Atlantic who contribute to the work of the bilateral and multilateral organisations which encourage popular support for relations with the United States and for the Atlantic Alliance. The various councils, foundations, etc. in the US which foster relations with European countries responded enthusiastically to the project and added a certain amount of uncoordinated recruitment, in Europe as well as the US, to Ditchley's own. At one stage the conference total rose to more than 60; but happily many names were withdrawn from the list and the final total was a just-manageable 51. Of these, 19 were American, 13 British, 4 German, 4 Italian, 2 French, 2 Canadian, 1 Danish, 1 Australian, two officials from NATO, one from the European Community and two from the Atlantic Institute. All the plenary sessions had to be held in the lecture theatre: there were four instead of the usual three working groups and three instead of the usual two dining rooms.

The chair was taken by the Rt Hon Geoffrey Rippon, whose long experience of European and Atlantic matters proved very valuable in the course of the weekend. The conference was not so much a debate about contentious policy issues as a comparing of experience between people with a common aim. The working groups on the Saturday discussed the pros and cons of Europe doing more for itself as Europe, the phenomenon of anti-Americanism in Europe, the Alliance profile and personality and their relationship to policies and public acceptance, and the relevance or otherwise of the Alliance/NATO to the preoccupations of some partner states, principally the US, with problems in the wider world outside Europe. Differences of interest and policy between the US and European countries were examined, with a view not so much to discussing the merits of the policies as to considering the effects of the differences on trans-Atlantic solidarity.

The general feeling seemed to be that it would on balance be good for the Alliance if the European countries realised their own potential more. There was the usual mixed message about American attitudes, but the majority view seemed to be that the US could not be expected to continue devoting as many resources to Europe as in the past. On the European side, anti-Americanism was found to be less substantial and less potent than it sometimes appears - more a variable by-product of other, deeper sentiments than a driving force in its own right. As regards the task of achieving consensus on and public support for Alliance policies, it was generally agreed that those outside government would find it difficult to make headway unless governments adhered to the twin principles of the Harmel report (defence and negotiation in tandem), avoided confusion between military requirements and political objectives (a reference to the SS20/LRINF imbroglio, where a political linkage had been created which could not be justified in strict military terms), and related arms control proposals in a clearer way to real military asymmetries. Excessively ideological overtones should be avoided when explaining policies to the public. The accent should be on the prevention of war, the maintenance of balance and the preservation of unity of purpose. As regards out-of-area and economic and trade problems, a greater effort was needed to avoid mutual irritation across the Atlantic: responsibility here rested on governments within the Alliance rather than on the Alliance itself.

There was general agreement that the various organisations and groups dedicated to the improvement of bilateral and multilateral relations across the Atlantic needed to sharpen their educational role, as there was a vast job of public education needing to be done. The major part of their effort should be directed at the teachers and leaders of the young, but also at all those who are intermediaries between governments and public. There was no specific message which needed to be conveyed: it was more a question of trying to ensure that Americans were better informed about European countries and European peoples better informed about the US. The business of the private sector organisations should be pursued with great seriousness of purpose, with the definite aim of raising public consciousness and understanding at both ends of the exchanges which they organised. As the ruinous effects of two world wars became distant in time, and patriotism and national sentiment revived and flourished once again, and the human environment became rapidly more complex in every Atlantic country, the task of nourishing Atlantic internationalism became very important; and it was this which drew the conference participants together.

It was claimed at the end of the conference that this was the first occasion on which leading members of some of the main organisations dealing with bilateral friendship across the Atlantic had compared experience and exchanged information about their tasks and attitudes. If so, Ditchley made a useful pioneering contribution. It must be hoped that the habit of communication between the various bodies will grow.

This Note reflects the Director’s personal impressions of the conference.  No participant is in any way committed to its content or expression.

Conference Chairman: The Rt Hon Geoffrey Rippon QC
Barrister-at-Law; Chairman, Dun and Bradstreet Ltd, Britannia Arrow Holdings, Brassey’s Defence Publishers, Singer & Friedlander Holdings, Robert Fraser and Partners


Dr Gregory Flynn

Deputy Director and Director of Studies, Atlantic Institute for International Affairs, Paris.
Dr Andrew Pierre
Director-General, Atlantic Institute for International Affairs, Paris

Mr Geoffrey Jukes

Senior Fellow, Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific Studies, the Australian National University, Canberra (presently on leave at Wolfson College, Cambridge); Consultant on Soviet Affairs, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) (1965-72); Senior Associate Member, St Antony’s College, Oxford (1972-73); Visiting Fellow, Clare Hall, Cambridge (1980).

Professor David Adams

Director, The David Bruce Centre for American Studies, University of Keele; Chairman, British-American Associates, UK.
Mr Nicholas Ashford
Deputy Foreign Editor, The Independent.
General Sir Hugh Beach GBE KCB MC
Chief Royal Engineer; Member, Security Commission; Colonel Commandant, Royal Engineers.
Dr Christopher Coker
Lecturer in International Relations, London School of Economics.
Mr Hugh Corbet
Director, Trade Policy Research Centre, London.
Mr David Gillmore CMG
Deputy Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth
Mr Charles Hargrove
Formerly The Times special correspondent for European Affairs, Paris.
Mr Edmund Ions
Reader, Department of Politics, University of York.
Sir John Killick GCMG
President, British Atlantic Committee
Mr David Lawday
European Correspondent, The Economist.
Sir Donald Tebbit GCMG
Chairman, English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth; Chairman, Diplomatic Service Appeals Board; Member, Appeals Board, Council of Europe; President (UK), Australian-British Chamber of Commerce.
Mr Alan Lee Williams OBE
Warden, Toynbee Hall; Vice President, European-Atlantic Group; Chairman, Peace Through NATO; Member, European Working Group, International Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, Washington, DC

Dr Peter Gellman

Junior Research Fellow, Wolfson College, Oxford.
Mr J A Malone
Minister-Counsellor and Deputy Permanent Representative to NATO, Canadian Mission to NATO, Brussels.

Ms Connie Hedegaard MP

Conservative Member of Parliament (Folketinget); Member, Danish Atlantic Association.

Mr Simon Nuttall

Head of the department dealing with Inter-Governmental Cooperation between Member States, Secretariat-General, Commission of the European Communities, Brussels

Professor Dr Wilhelm A Kewenig

Member, Abgeordnetenhaus (Berlin parliament), and Member of Senat (Berlin government) in charge of interior; Member of the Board, CDU-Berlin
Herr Karl-Walter Lewalter
Ambassador-at-Large, Political Section, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bonn
Professor Dr Michael Stürmer
Institut für Geschichte, University of Erlangen.
Dr Karsten D Voigt MdB
Member, Bundestag (SPD), Frankfurt; Foreign Policy Spokesman, SPD Parliamentary Group; Member, SPD Party Executive.

Monsieur J
érôme Dumoulin
Rédacteur en Chef, L'Express, Paris.
Monsieur Michel Jaoul
Director, Fondation Franco-Américaine, Paris.

Ambassador Giuseppe Jacoangeli

Formerly Italian Ambassador to the OECD, Paris.
Dr Paolo Mancinelli
General Secretary, Olivetti Group.
Professor Cesare Merlini
President, Istituto Affari Internazionali, Rome; Chairman of the Executive Committee, The Council for the United States and Italy, Rome.
Ambassador Egidio Ortona
President, Honeywell Information Systems Italia, Rome

Dr Jamie Shea

Head of Visits and Seminars, NATO, Brussels.
Mr William Young
Director of Information, NATO, Brussels (from 1 June 1987)

Mr Geryld B Christianson

Staff Director, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Washington, DC.
Mr John Clancy
President, the Council for the United States and Italy, New York
Mr Thomas Fenton
Chief European Correspondent, CBS News, London
Mr Richard W Fisher
Managing Partner, Fisher Capital Management, Dallas
Mr Michael Froman
President, Oxford University Strategic Studies Group, St Antony’s College, Oxford.
Dr Michael H Haltzel
Secretary, Western European Program, The Wilson Center, Washington, DC.
The Hon Arthur Hartman
Retired as Ambassador to Soviet Union (1981-87)
The Hon Milton W Hudson
Senior Vice President, Morgan Guaranty Trust, New York
Mr Robert J Korengold
Counselor for Public Affairs, United States Embassy, London
Dr Robert Legvold
Director (formerly Associate Director), W Averell Harriman Institute for Advanced Study of the Soviet Union, Columbia University, New York.
The Hon James G Lowenstein
Partner, The IRC Group, Washington, DC; Co-founder and Member, Board of Directors, French-American Foundation.
Mr David McGovern
Partner, Shearman and Sterling, Paris, France.
Professor Joseph S Nye Jr
Director, Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University; Member, Trilateral Commission, International Institute for Strategic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations.
The Hon Stanley Resor
Partner, Debevoise and Plimpton, New York; Director, Atlantic Council, Institute for Defense Analysis; Member, Arms Control Association, UN Association.
Ms Gail Richardson
Director of Programs, The French-American Foundation, New York.
Professor Marshall D Shulman
Emeritus Director, W Averell Harriman Institute for Advanced Study of the Soviet Union, and Emeritus Professor of International Relations, Columbia University
Professor Nicholas Wahl
Petrie Professor of European Studies, and Director, Institute of French Studies, New York University.
Mr Robinson West
President, Petroleum Finance Company, Washington, DC.