Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file

Minutes of the 155th Meeting of the National Security Council, Thursday, July 16, 19531

top secret

Members Present

  • The President of the United States, Presiding
  • The Vice President of the United States
  • John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State
  • Charles E. Wilson, Secretary of Defense
  • Harold E. Stassen, Director for Mutual Security
  • Arthur S. Flemming, Director, Office of Defense Mobilization

Others Present

  • George E. Humphrey, Secretary of the Treasury
  • Herbert Brownell, Jr., Attorney General
  • Joseph M. Dodge, Director, Bureau of the Budget
  • Lewis L. Strauss, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission
  • Walter B. Smith, Under Secretary of State
  • Roger M. Kyes, Deputy Secretary of Defense
  • Robert T. Stevens, Secretary of the Army
  • Robert B. Anderson, Secretary of the Navy
  • Harold E. Talbott, Secretary of the Air Force
  • General Omar N. Bradley, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Admiral Arthur W. Radford, USN
  • General J. Lawton Collins, USA
  • General Matthew B. Ridgway, USA
  • Admiral William M. Fechteler, USN
  • Admiral Robert B. Carney, USN
  • General Nathan F. Twining, USAF
  • Allen W. Dulles, Director of Central Intelligence
  • Robert Cutler, Special Assistant to the President
  • CD. Jackson, Special Assistant to the President
  • Colonel Paul T. Carroll, Acting White House Staff Secretary
  • Secretariat
  • James S. Lay, Jr., Executive Secretary
  • S. Everett Gleason, Deputy Executive Secretary
  • T.B. Koons, NSC Special Staff Member
  • Task Force A:
  • George F. Kennan
  • Colonel C.H. Bonesteel
  • Rear Admiral H.P. Smith
  • Colonel G.A. Lincoln
  • C.T. Wood
  • J. Maury
  • Captain H.S. Sears, USN
  • Task Force B:
  • Major General J. McCormack
  • Major General J.R. Deane
  • J.K. Penfield
  • P.E. Mosely
  • Calvin Hoover
  • J.C. Campbell
  • Colonel ES. Ligon
  • Task Force C:
  • Admiral R.L. Conolly
  • Lieut. General L.L. Lemnitzer
  • G.F. Reinhardt
  • Colonel K. Johnston
  • Colonel A.J. Goodpaster
  • Leslie Brady
  • Colonel H.K. Johnston
  • Lieut. General H.A. Craig, War College
  • Colonel V.J. Esposito, War College
  • Colonel R. Hackett, War College
  • Robert R. Bowie, Department of State
  • Frank C. Nash, Department of Defense
  • Brig. General F.N. Roberts, Office of Director for Mutual Security
  • William Y. Elliott, Office of Defense Mobilization
  • Elbert P. Tuttle, Department of the Treasury
  • Major General John K. Gerhart, USAF, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Robert Amory, Jr., Central Intelligence Agency


Project Solarium

Noted and discussed oral presentations on three alternative basic national security policies, by the Task Forces constituted under Project Solarium.
Noted the President’s remarks on the presentations, including the great importance he attaches to the work of Project Solarium and his commendation on the excellence of the presentations by the Task Forces.
Referred the presentations, and the reports upon which they were based, to the NSC Staff for preparation of summaries of the principal points thereof, in consultation with members of each Task Force, and report back to the Council for further consideration and instructions.3
[Page 397]


Memorandum by the Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (Cutler)

top secret

Project Solarium


At the conclusion of the question period the President made a statement to all those in attendance:

He never attended a better or more persuasively presented staff job.
He thought that there were many similarities in the three presentations, which he felt more important than the differences between them.
He thought that the only thing worse than losing a global war was winning one; that there would be no individual freedom after the next global war.
If you demand of a free people over a long period of time more than they want to give, you can obtain what you want only by using more and more controls; and the more you do this, the more you lose the individual liberty which you are trying to save and become a garrison state (American model).
The American people have demonstrated their reluctance after a war is ended to take the necessary action properly to occupy the territory conquered in order to gain our legitimate ends. What would we do with Russia, if we should win in a global war?
The United States has to persuade her allies to go along with her, because our forward bases are in the territories of our allies.
If we are to obtain more money in taxes, there must be a vigorous campaign to educate the people—and to educate the people of our allies.

The President indicated that there was still more for the Task Forces to do:

a mass meeting of the Task Forces to see if they could agree on certain features of the three presentations as the best features and to bring about a combination of such features into a unified policy.
consider arranging a presentation to Congressional leaders, recognizing that certain parts would have to be sanitized.
prepare an outline of a major policy plan to be adopted.

At a joint meeting with the Task Forces after the President left:
The Task Forces (especially A and C) were in strong disagreement. The bases upon which each approached the problems differed; the Teams differed on the intentions and objectives of the Russians. While there were external similarities, they knew from 6 weeks’ association that they could not agree. It was not only that [Page 398]they were tired and had over-delayed commitments, some of them; there were fundamental differences which could be compromised into a watered-down position but not really agreed to.
As to presenting to Congress the material, Admiral Conolly said that it would be necessary to sanitize his presentation 90% and take all the specific validity out of it. General McCormack indicated that it would be necessary to sanitize the basic conception of his paper—drawing a line around Russia.
When I reported this back to the President, he seemed very put out and left it to me to work out what I thought best. He told me to tell the Vice President not to go forward with the presentation of the facts and left me the working out of the other details. These matters will be worked out accordingly as follows:
The Special Staff of the National Security Council will make a summary of the principal points in three presentations and in the question and answer period.
On July 21, if possible, selected personnel from each Task Force will review the summary for correctness, improvement, and uniformity. Mr. Koons is obtaining from each Task Force Captain the availability of the members of each Task Force. Apparently, there will be 3 to 5 members of each Task Force constantly available in Washington.
The summary, as thus corrected, will be presented to the Council at its meeting on July 23; with a request that it be studied by the Council members and their NSC Assistants so that at the Council Meeting on July 30, the subject-matter could be discussed with a view toward,
designating the areas which the Council wishes to have worked on further, and
directing the Planning Board to prepare recommendations in those areas.

The Planning Board, in preparing these recommendations would utilize the services of Task Force Members available in Washington.4

Robert Cutler
  1. No memorandum of discussion of this meeting has been found. Copies of the minutes of those NSC meetings held during the Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower are filed in the Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file. They consist of a list of those present along with a record of decisions reached and therefore are much less complete in their coverage than the memoranda of discussion. Although frequent allusion is made in the memoranda of discussion to documents and papers filed with the minutes of a given NSC meeting, such documents have generally not been found with the minutes.
  2. Paragraphs a–c constitute NSC Action No. 853. (S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) files, lot 66 D 95, “NSC Records of Action”)
  3. Copies of the three Project Solarium reports are in the Eisenhower Library, Office of the Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs files, 1952–61. See the memorandum by Lay to the National Security Council enclosing the NSC Staff Summaries of the Solarium reports, infra.
  4. At its 156th meeting on July 23, the National Security Council noted that the summaries were being circulated as the basis for discussion at the 157th NSC meeting on July 30. A copy of the memorandum of discussion at the 156th meeting of the NSC is in the Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file. For pertinent extracts from the memorandum of discussion at the 157th NSC meeting, see p. 435.