Learn about the beta

795.00/7–550

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Rusk) to the Secretary of State

top secret

Subject: Check List on Decisions in Korea Crisis

Attached are two copies of a check list1 on decisions made in connection with the Korean crisis. You may wish to hand one copy informally to Mr. Harriman. The purpose of the list is to draw together the more important questions which require decision or action arising out of the Korean situation and applies to the responsibilities of both the Department of State and Department of Defense.

Two main points need emphasis. First, we must be unequivocally clear that we shall press the Korean issue through to a successful conclusion, subject to a reexamination of general strategy if the Soviet Union enters the fighting. Unless we have clearly in mind this basic determination, many day-to-day decisions become impossible to make and the American posture is one of timidity and uncertainty and not one of vigorous leadership.

Second, even though our policy may clearly be to see the Korean matter through to a successful conclusion, that policy cannot be acted upon with assurance by the Secretary of State unless all necessary military and economic action is being taken in support thereof. Our relations with other governments on a large number of details will be directly affected. Further, unless we act resolutely, the political effect upon the Soviet Union will not be what we hoped to produce in the opening days of the Korean conflict.

The attached list is not exhaustive, but if we get clear governmental answers to the questions raised, we shall be considerably ahead of where we are now.

FE will work closely with Mr. Matthews to get the answers which turn upon Department of State action, and Mr. Matthews will work [Page 304]with General Burns to attempt to get many of the military questions answered—although we recognize some of the difficulties in that channel.

  1. Not printed.