Illustrations1970 saw many examples of our new analytical process at work:
The Indochina Ceasefire Proposal.
My October 1970 proposal for a ceasefire in Indochina was the result of months of study. The Vietnam Special Studies Working Group first made detailed analyses of the military situation in each of the military regions of South Vietnam. It examined the pattern of control in the countryside under present and foreseeable conditions. With this background the group studied possible formulas for establishing and verifying a ceasefire, and the likely impact of various forms of ceasefire on the military situation, the control of the countryside and Vietnamization. At the same time, the Interdepartmental Group for East Asia analyzed the implications for negotiations of the various ceasefire proposals and sought to determine the likely position of the other side.
These separate studies were then integrated and reviewed by the Senior Review Group. After discussion in the National Security Council, I chose a formula which offered more hope as a basis for negotiation over a formula which offered the greatest apparent advantage to our side. The detailed studies which were made will provide the necessary back-up if the other side indicates a willingness to talk seriously about a ceasefire.
NATO Strategy and Forces.
As described in the Europe chapter of this report, a thorough review of NATO's strategic alternatives was essential. We and our allies needed a realistic alliance defense strategy and we had to know the nature and numbers of U.S. and allied forces required to support the strategy. This was the only way to develop the basis for deciding on force levels and the allocation of the defense burden within the alliance.
The Defense Program Review Committee examined the comparative strengths, mobilization capabilities, logistic support and dispositions of Warsaw Pact and NATO forces. These analyses were used to develop alternative strategies. The committee also examined approaches to Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions in Europe, in terms of their possible effects on alternative NATO defense postures. Meanwhile, the Interdepartmental Group for Europe studied the political implications of alternative defense decisions for our relations with Western Europe and for East-West relations.
These two study efforts, integrated through the Senior Review Group and the Defense Program Review Committee, provided the National Security Council with a realistic range of options for a U.S. position on allied strategy and on the size of our own forces in Europe. After the council review, I reaffirmed our support for the alliance's present defense strategy, and our intention to retain our present strength in Europe and to strengthen our NATO-committed forces.
The NSC Verification Panel built on the base developed last year in preparation for the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT). It kept up to date our technical analysis of the relative capabilities of specific weapons systems and of our capacity to verify different types of limitation. This gave us the building blocks for assessing different combinations of specific limits.
Our National Security Council and NATO reviews of alliance defense strategy highlighted the need for more intensive study of approaches to mutual and balanced force reductions in Europe. The Verification Panel is treating this question with the same careful analytical approach which has served us well in preparing for SALT.
The Middle East.
The Near East Interdepartmental Group and the Senior Review Group reviewed the situation in this troubled region continuously over the past year. We sought an understanding of the requirements for longer-term stability in the area; we sought a range of choice for near-term U.S. policy steps, such as the major initiative of last summer which led to the Middle East ceasefire.
When the situation in Jordan deteriorated in September and external intervention threatened, the Washington Special Actions Group followed the situation and its implications for us closely. Realistic options were developed to help contain and end the crisis. Because the broader issues of the Middle East had been under continuing study, we were able to address the issues in Jordan not solely in terms of the immediate crisis but in the broader context of the region and our longer-term interests and objectives.
Procedures are meant to serve purposes; they are not ends in themselves. We believe the system helps us challenge old ideas, deliberate thoughtfully and coordinate effectively. It has promoted creativity and orderliness without developing a bureaucratic existence of its own.
We recognize that while inadequate procedures can lead to bad decisions, even good machinery cannot guarantee food ones. History will judge us by the wisdom of our policies, not the process leading to them. But our strengthened NSC system is providing crucial support.