Policy Planning Staff Files

Memorandum by the Deputy Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Butler)

top secret

Suggested Approach by Department Representatives During Informal Talks With Representatives of NME Regarding the JCS Paper on Military Rights 1

We should first explore the basic estimates on which U.S. Government planning depends, in order to make sure that State and NME are starting from the same point. Such questions include:
Is war inevitable? The public statements of the highest responsible U.S. Government officials indicate that the U.S. answer at the present time is in the negative.
While it is admitted that the risk of war exists, the present approved U.S. estimate is that while the possibility of planned Soviet armed actions which would involve this country cannot be ruled out, a careful weighing of the various factors points to the possibility that the Soviet Government is not now planning any deliberate armed action calculated to involve the U.S. and is still seeking to achieve its aims primarily by political means, accompanied by military intimidation. If the NME feels that this estimate should be modified, it is essential that the question immediately be considered by the National Security Council.
If war is not believed to be imminent, in the sense of the next two or three or four years, we are faced with an essentially political problem and political factors should receive primary emphasis. Political action naturally takes into account as essentials the security and the welfare of the United States.
The Department should express its desire to be helpful in the matter of obtaining essential military rights in foreign countries. Illustrations, taken from the JCS paper, can be given to show what has already been accomplished and then indication can be given of what additional action is possible.
The possibilities of a collective rather than a bilateral approach should be further explored. Specific references would be to the North Atlantic Treaty, the Rio treaty, and the U.N. There should be a statement, also, regarding the effect that an immediate and comprehensive bilateral approach would have on the U.S. position toward the U.N.
Specific cases, which have been prepared, among those cited in the JCS paper, should be discussed to illustrate political, economic, financial and military cost of bilateral negotiations. It is pertinent to emphasize the following statement which appears on page 12 of the JCS paper: “The National Military Establishment, however, cannot commit itself to the budgetary expenditure requisite to the use of such rights without approval from the Legislative Branch and the Legislative Branch cannot be expected to grant such approval unless adequate security for the investment, in terms of rights, can be assured.”
The NME representatives should be asked, in the light of the foregoing presentation, if some less comprehensive, less urgent and more feasible approach to the problem of military rights in foreign countries is not possible.
It seems to the Department that the JCS may wish to review parts of their estimate in the light of very recent developments. For example, is it likely that we should count upon any rights or bases of value in China, and, if not, how will that affect requirements in South and Southeast Asia?
The Department would like to explore further with the NME the questions of categories and of standardization. Again, a purely political and a purely military approach would not lead to the same conclusions.

  1. Ante, p. 302.