Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Webb)

top secret

Meeting With President, Thursday, June 2, 1949

plans for improving our policy determination

On several occasions recently I have had an opportunity to say a word or two to the President about our plans for improving our policy determination, and have explained the background of thinking which is along the line that the next two or three years are going to be ones of radical readjustment with many difficulties. I have indicated that the approach at the highest levels in the State Department will be to place before this session of Congress those matters which we believe to be best and press for action, because we do not wish the President, when the difficulties which we foresee arise, to be in the position of not having presented a program which would at best have eliminated some of the difficulties and at worst would have ameliorated them. This program means that the President will put forward what he genuinely feels to be necessary, and the responsibility for inaction, if that should materialize, will be that of Congress. Also, this is a useful medium for getting before the country those matters which will require considerable debate, and increases the possibility of receiving favorable action in future Congresses.

It has been my endeavor to let the President understand that the Department will participate fully in any effort he chooses to make to have a thorough revaluation of the programs of the Government related to foreign policy, with an idea to reducing our commitments in any areas where this is possible and planning progressive pulling in of our horns as the post-war recovery begins to materialize in other countries.

In this connection, I pointed out that one of the great values of the Military Assistance Program and the Point IV Program1 is that they can form the basis for building cooperative relations with other nations on a basis considerably less expensive than the continuation of such programs as ECA.

James E. Webb
  1. For documentation on this program, see pp. 757 ff.