Memorandum of Meeting, by the Chief of the Division of American, Republics Analysis and Liaison (Dreier)

Participants: Mr. Snyder—OWMR7
Acting Secretary of State Acheson
Acting Secretary of War Royall
Assistant Secretary of the Navy Sullivan
Mr. Symington—S.P.A. 8
Mr. Harold Stein—OWMR
Mr. Maxwell—LP 9
Mr. Dreier—RL

Mr. Snyder opened the meeting by stating that there were two problems for consideration:

A long range program of providing arms to other American republics, concerning which full agreement had not been reached; and a short range program already agreed upon.

Regarding the latter, the principal question was whether it should be carried out through the Surplus Property program.10

Acting Secretary Royall briefly summarized the Army’s interest in this program as a means of promoting close collaboration with the military forces of the other American republics. Assistant Secretary Sullivan, for the Navy, subscribed to the general objectives but expressed the view that heavy modern weapons such as battleships, cruisers, aircraft carriers, submarines, long-range bombers, should not be given to the Latin American countries because the danger of their misuse would in general be greater than their value to our defense.

Acting Secretary Acheson made a clear distinction between the long range program and the short range program. Concerning the long range program, he said the State Department had concluded that a reexamination of it was necessary in the light of developments since the general policy was approved by the President last summer. He referred to the invention of the atomic bomb, to the question of [Page 91] whether the strategic value of this program would any longer be worth the cost, and to the political situation in Latin America where unrest increased the likelihood of the misuse of these arms by military forces in overthrowing governments and establishing governments under their military control. With reference to the short range program, however, the Department, Mr. Acheson said, recognized that a moral commitment of a sort had been assumed as a result of the military staff conversations, and that after considerable discussion, particularly on the subject of bombing planes, a schedule of arms and equipment to be sent under the short range program had been agreed to. The attitude of the other American republics was such, he said, as to make it necessary for the United States to send forward the limited amount of equipment contained in the short range program. It was the Department of State’s opinion that this could most effectively be done through the Surplus Property program.

Mr. Sullivan explained that the Navy had only a very small amount of spare parts, etc. involved in any short range program since it was not possible to use the surplus property program for the transfer of any vessels aside possibly from small boats.

Mr. Symington expressed the view that the short range program could be handled through the surplus property program. Mr. Stein expressed the opinion that it was possible from a technical legal point of view to carry on the program under the surplus property act but that it was definitely not the kind of transaction envisaged in the act, and that, therefore, consultation with Congress was desirable. Mr. Snyder stated that he believed the program should be discussed with the President and with Congressional leaders in order that an understanding might be reached as to the use of the surplus property program for this specific purpose. Mr. Acheson urged that only the short range program be discussed with Congress in view of the reexamination of the long range program which the State Department felt desirable. Mr. Royall said he felt there could be no objection to a reexamination of the long range program as Mr. Acheson had suggested provided it be done promptly.

Mr. Snyder concluded the meeting by asking that the reexamination of the long range program be started immediately and requested that the War Department draw up a memorandum summarizing the nature, amount and value of equipment involved in the short range program. This memorandum was to be circulated for comment to the State and Navy Departments and SPA and would serve as the information to be given to Congressional leaders when the program was discussed with them.

  1. John W. Snyder, Director of the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion.
  2. W. Stuart Symington, Administrator, Surplus Property Administration.
  3. James A. Maxwell, Assistant Chief of the Division of Lend-Lease and Surplus War Property Affairs.
  4. See Public Law 457, October 3, 1944, an act to aid the reconversion from a war to a peace economy through the distribution of Government surplus property and to establish a Surplus Property Board to effectuate the same, and for other purposes, 58 Stat. 765.