Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file

Memorandum of Discussion at the 131st Meeting of the National Security Council, Wednesday, February 11, 1953 1


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eyes only

Present at the 131st meeting of the Council were The President of the United States, presiding, The Vice President of the United States, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the Director for Mutual Security. Also present were the Secretary of the Treasury, the Director, Bureau of the Budget, the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Acting Director of Central Intelligence, the Administrative Assistant to the President for National Security Matters, the Military Liaison Officer, the Executive Secretary, NSC, and the Deputy Executive Secretary, NSC.

There follows a general account of the main positions taken and the chief points made at this meeting.

. . . . . . .

6. Review of Basic National Security Policies (NSC 20/4; NSC 68/2; NSC 135/3; NSC 141; Memo for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated February 6, 19532)

Mr. Cutler explained the several briefs which had been provided as a basis for discussion of this item, and recapitulated the position of the previous administration as being peaceful coexistence with a Soviet Union which had changed to some degree its character.

The President explained to the Council the value of NSC 141 as a legacy from three important members of the previous administration who had no personal interest in having its proposals adopted. From this point the President went on to state that the great problem before his administration was to discover a reasonable and respectable posture of defense. If we can find such a level it may be possible to secure the money and resources necessary to enable the world to reach a decent economic position. In short, it may be possible to figure out a preparedness program that will give us a respectable position without bankrupting the nation.

Secretary Humphrey stated very emphatically his belief that from now on out this Government must pay its way, and that all major policy recommendations should be accompanied by an estimate of how much it will cost to execute them. Moreover, it was highly desirable that an estimate be prepared of just what resources [Page 237] will be available from tax sources to this Government over the next ten years. Such an estimate was necessary before we could decide on these major programs for national security. For his part, Secretary Humphrey stated that our “take” in goods and services is already over the limit.

Mr. Stassen seemed not to agree with this latter statement, and pointed out the capacity of the American economy to expand and to meet the obligations imposed upon it.

Mr. Cutler suggested that the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of the Budget provide a written statement of their position in this respect, since it would enormously facilitate the labors of the NSC Staff in the process of revising national security policy and programs.

The National Security Council:

Discussed the subject on the basis of the documents transmitted by the reference memorandum, and agreed to continue discussion at the next meeting of the Council.3

. . . . . . .

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Drafted by Deputy Executive Secretary Gleason on Feb. 12.
  2. For Lay’s memorandum, see p. 223; concerning the various National Security Council papers under reference, see footnote 1 to that memorandum.
  3. This paragraph constitutes NSC Action No. 712. (S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) files, lot 66 D 95, “NSC Record of Actions”) For further information on the continuing review of national security policy during the early winter and spring of 1953, see the editorial note, p. 244.