Memorandum of Conversation, by the Ambassador at Large (Jessup)

top secret

Subject: Notes on Meeting in Cabinet Room at the White House

Participants: The President
The Secretary of State
The Secretary of Defense
Secretaries of Army, Navy and Air
The Joint Chiefs of Staff
Congressional leaders2
Mr. Rusk, Mr. Matthews, Mr. Jessup and Mr. McFall3 accompanied the Secretary of State

The President asked the Secretary of State to summarize the developments in the Korean case which the Secretary did.

The President stressed the prompt action of the UN Security Council. He then read the statement which was subsequently released to the press.4 He said that he intended to release this at the end of the meeting and asked for any expression of views. He added that we could not let this matter go by default. He referred to the fact that the Secretary of State had directed the Ambassador at Moscow to get in touch with the Soviet Government. He still hoped there would be no Soviet involvement in the attack but their possible next moves were being studied.

Senator Wiley asked what forces General MacArthur had sent in.

General Vandenberg supplied details beginning to outline the forces we had available.

Secretary Johnson broke in to say this information was secret and he did not wish details regarding our forces in the Far East to be known.

Senator Wiley said it was sufficient for him to know that we were in there with force and that the President considered this force adequate.

Secretary Pace mentioned that no ground troops had been sent in.

Senator Tydings reported on the action of the Armed Services Committee that morning extending the draft act and giving the President authority to call out the National Guard.

[Page 201]

Senator Connally asked what further UN action was to be anticipated.

Senator Smith commented that our aid is in support of the UN and not the United States.

The President said this was true.

Senator Smith continued that in regard to Formosa and other areas the action was US action and not UN action.

The President again agreed.

Congressman McCormack asked Admiral Sherman whether he thought the Navy should not now be strengthened.

Secretary Johnson said the Joint Chiefs are studying this. He said there was to be balanced program for the three services.

Secretary Acheson reported that the UK had sent a message of support and were discussing the kind of action they could take.5

Congressman Short said he hoped that other countries would join in support of the UN.

Congressman Kee, Senator Connally, and Secretary Acheson discussed the Security Council resolution6 and a possible Soviet veto.

Congressman Mansfield said that we should stiffen Western Europe as well.

Senator Lucas asked what our attitude would be if other nations hung back in giving support.

Secretary Acheson said that we could not expect military help from the French whose hands are already full.

Senator Connally said this was a clear-cut case for the UN. This was an opportunity to test its methods.

Congressman Eaton inquired whether the United States was now committed to defend South Korea from invasion.

The President replied that his statement made this clear.

Secretary Acheson added that we were doing this in support of the UN.

Secretary Johnson said that Senators and Congressmen would be kept posted by the Defense Department on developments with regular briefings.

Secretary Acheson pointed out that the USSR has carefully not committed itself as yet. He referred to the approach made by Ambassador Kirk and pointed out this information was not yet public. He added that we are avoiding publicly engaging Soviet prestige at this time.

[Page 202]

Congressman Kee asked whether any other governments doubted that we were acting in support of the UN.

The President and Secretary Acheson said that this was perfectly clear.

In answer to questions from Senator Connally, Secretary Acheson said that he doubted whether the Russians would attend the next Security Council meeting. He said Senator Austin would be there to represent the United States.

Senator Wiley asked whether the action in regard to Formosa, the Philippines and Indochina was taken under the UN.

The President said no that was United States action.

Senator Wiley inquired whether we had adequate forces.

The President said yes.

Senator [Congressman] Rayburn stated that on leaving the room he would say nothing to the press beyond the statement which the President was issuing.

Senator Connally said that we must be careful in handling the Formosan question not to divert attention from Korea.

The President agreed.

  1. The time is that given in Korean Conflict.
  2. The question of precisely which Congressional leaders were in attendance is in doubt: see the list read by President Truman at the June 26th Blair House meeting, p. 182, and also Truman, Years of Trial and Hope, p. 338; Dean Acheson, Present at the Creation, p. 408; and Glenn D. Paige, The Korean Decision (New York, The Free Press, 1968), p. 187.
  3. Jack K. McFall, Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations.
  4. Infra.
  5. On June 27, Prime Minister Attlee made a statement in the House of Commons supporting President Truman’s course of action; for the text, see Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 5th series, vol. 476, col. 2159.
  6. Reference is to the resolution (U.N. document S/1508/Rev. 1) to be introduced by Ambassador Austin at the 474th meeting of the U.N. Security Council at 3 p. m. on June 27 (see U.N. document S/PV.474).