The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of Defense ( Johnson )


My Dear Mr. Secretary: The National Security Council approved in July 1948, a policy paper (NSC 15/1) entitled “U.S. Civil Aviation Policy Toward the U.S.S.R. and its Satellites”.1 The objectives of this policy are to “contain” the civil air operations of the U.S.S.R. and its Satellites and to prevent the sale of aircraft and aviation equipment to these countries. The Secretary of State was directed to coordinate the implementation of this policy which called for attempts to enlist the cooperation of other non-curtain states on a “common-front” basis.

The Department has been reasonably successful in obtaining agreement to prohibit sales of aircraft and aviation equipment and in “containing” Soviet and Satellite civil air operations in the Near East Area. We have failed, however, to obtain British agreement to the full implementation of this policy in Western Europe and are faced with failure of this policy in that area unless British cooperation can be obtained. British opposition appears to be based on the fact that they do not share our assessment of the security and political factors involved and attach importance to the penetration of Soviet-controlled territory by Western European air carriers.

We are now confronted with the decision whether to exert heavier pressure upon the British at higher levels to obtain their cooperation. The Department considers that before making such a decision, it would be advisable to secure the current views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as to the extent to which security factors justify further efforts to implement this policy in Western Europe, despite British opposition.

It is therefore requested that you transmit to the Joint Chiefs of Staff the request of the Department for an expression of their views. It is believed that the attached background memorandum2 will be of assistance to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in their consideration of this matter.

Sincerely yours,

James E. Webb
  1. Regarding the paper under reference, see editorial note, p. 184.
  2. The three page memorandum under reference here, dated May 20 and prepared by the Department of State, is not printed. It summarized the points made in the memorandum of conversation by Carter, May 5, p. 198.