Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file

Memorandum of Discussion at the 157th Meeting of the National Security Council, Thursday, July 30, 1953 1


top secret
eyes only

The following were present at the 157th meeting of the National Security Council: The President of the United States, presiding (except for the first part of Item 1, which was presided over by the Vice President); the Vice President of the United States; the Secretary of State; the Secretary of Defense; the Director for Mutual Security; the Director, Office of Defense Mobilization. Also present were the Secretary of the Treasury; the Attorney General; the Secretary of Commerce (for Item 1); the Assistant Secretary of Commerce (for Item 1); the Director, Bureau of the Budget; the Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission (for Item 5); the Federal Civil Defense Administrator (for Item 5); Robert R. Bowie, Department of State (for Item 5); Walter S. Delany, Office of the Director for Mutual Security (for Item 1); Kenneth R. Hansen, Economic Defense Advisory Committee (for Item 1); the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Director of Central Intelligence; Robert Cutler, Special Assistant to the President; C. D. Jackson, Special Assistant to the President; Col. Paul T. Carroll, Acting White House Staff Secretary; the Executive Secretary, NSC; Marion W. Boggs, Coordinator, NSC Planning Board Assistants.

There follows a summary of the discussion at the meeting and the chief points taken.

. . . . . . .

5. Project Solarium (Memo for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated July 22, 1953; NSC Action No. 853)2

Mr. Cutler introduced this subject by noting that the Solarium reports had been distributed to Council members and that summaries had been prepared by the NSC Staff pursuant to NSC Action No. 853. Mr. Cutler then distributed a two-page memorandum on the subject3 which contained first a summary of the basic concepts of the three Task Forces, and subsequently a proposed new basic concept.

[Page 436]

Mr. Allen Dulles informed the Council that CIA was preparing a coordinated estimate as to whether time was on our side.4 He summarized several of the conclusions of this forthcoming estimate as follows:

If the USSR continues its present policies it will close the economic gap now existing between it and the United States. From this point of view, time is on the side of the USSR.
The U.S. and the USSR will each acquire weapons capable of crippling the other. Hence the U.S. is losing its invulnerability to direct attack.
As Western defense capabilities in overseas areas near the Soviet Union increase, the relative position of the U.S. is improved, and from this point of view time is on the side of the U.S.
While no collapse within the Soviet bloc can be foreseen, the USSR may lack vitality over the long run. From this point of view time may be on the side of the U.S., but this factor will not show up critically for 10 or 15 years yet.

Secretary Dulles, referring to the proposed new basic concept on the second page of the paper distributed by Mr. Cutler, felt that further study was required on such an obviously complicated subject. He also felt that it would be premature at this time to concentrate on a grouping of nations centered on Japan in the Far East. For some time yet we must deal individually with Far Eastern countries and not alienate them by pushing Japan out in front. He added that of course Japan eventually would become the power center of the Far East.

The President thought it would be desirable to study the proposed new basic concept very seriously. He asked, however, whether the lack of any mention of Greece or Turkey in the proposed new basic concept meant that we were deserting those countries.

Mr. Stassen also expressed anxiety at the omission of the Near East from the paper. He felt that we must not neglect the Near East and the Middle East in our assistance policies.

Secretary Humphrey asked whether the first paragraph of the proposed new basic concept meant a big build-up of U.S. military force. He felt that we should consider less expensive means of carrying out our policy. He agreed with Mr. Stassen that we could not neglect the Near East. Aside from these remarks, he felt that the new basic concept was a good general approach. He added, however, with reference to paragraph 3 of the paper, that he felt U.S. assistance [Page 437] to other countries should be on the decline in the near future.

The President said that our aid to Europe would be on the decline if we could get Europe to go in for political and economic union. If Europe would do what it should do, conceivably it could by itself defeat Russia. This would not be the case, however, in other areas of the world which could not be built up as military centers.

Mr. Stassen felt that if it should become possible to decrease aid to Europe, the expenditures thus saved should be used in the Middle East and in Latin America, where U.S. access to the sources of raw materials was very important.

General Bradley felt that the Planning Board committee which would work on Project Solarium should not be given too much guidance. The committee would need to approach the question with an open mind and devote careful thought to it.

The President agreed that this was something that could not be done in a big area.5

Secretary Humphrey reverted to paragraph 1 of the proposed new basic concept, and asked whether there couldn’t be less rather than more military build-up.

The President said that it was part of our policy to build up our capability for action. He agreed that whoever worked on this project in the future should have the broadest possible directive.

Secretary Wilson noted that the new Joint Chiefs of Staff should have an opportunity to comment. He was assured by Mr. Cutler that this would be the procedure.

On the question of timing, Secretary Dulles said that this project would have a profound effect on the next budget. If a new line of policy should be decided upon, the plans and the costs must be known soon.

The President said that probably all military aid should be put in the Defense budget. Under this concept, Mr. Stassen would be an executive agent for both State and Defense. The President said it had a fatal effect on Congress to call a bill a foreign aid bill. Even a member of the Administration, i.e., the Secretary of the Treasury, calls aid bills “give-away bills”. The President felt that if military assistance were put in the context of the Defense budget it would sell itself.

Secretary Humphrey agreed that the military budget should be confined to military expenditures and should include all military items.

[Page 438]

Secretary Wilson said he was prepared to agree to the proposed new basic concept for the time being if it didn’t settle anything.

The President agreed with those who thought the paper did not sufficiently emphasize the Middle East. He said there was no better nation in the whole world to have on our side than Turkey. The President also felt that the language of the proposed new basic concept did not give guidelines for subsequent work on Project Solarium, but rather tended to direct and form the policy. The President asked whether the word “limited” could not be deleted from paragraph 3, since he didn’t know what “limited” meant in that context.

The Attorney General said he hated to let paragraph 4 of the proposed new basic concept go by. He thought we should say that we would decide the areas in which an advance by the Soviets beyond present borders would be considered a casus belli. He felt, however, that we could not draw a line and announce it to the world.

Secretary Dulles pointed out that the Council was not agreeing with this paper as policy, but as guidance to a Planning Board committee.

The President said that was indeed the case. He suggested the following sentence might be put at the top of the page: “This is a staff exploration based on the following assumptions:”. In effect we were setting up Task Force D, which would prepare a report on the basis of the work of Task Forces A, B and C. He suggested that the Planning Board should start work on the project on the basis of guidelines revised in the light of the discussion at the meeting.

Mr. C. D. Jackson then noted that the Solarium studies contained many bits and pieces of desirable actions which should not wait for the preparation of a complete new policy paper. The preliminary steps toward taking some of these actions would cost nothing. For example, the Department of State could investigate the diplomatic possibilities of detaching Satellite X without waiting for the adoption of a new policy.

The President wondered whether a permanent evaluation committee, that is a continuous small staff, might be needed to keep going over the Solarium proposals and recommending those that might be implemented. The President added that if we need to do something, let’s do it now; if something should be done, even 24 hours delay is too much.

Mr. Cutler asked whether the situation in Guatemala was the kind of thing Mr. Jackson had in mind.

This prompted the Vice President to inquire whether the proposed new basic concept covered such situations as that existing in [Page 439] Guatemala, where the Communists took subversive action and we had to take some kind of action as a counter measure.

Mr. Stassen said one part of our concept should be to reduce indigenous Communist power outside the Soviet bloc.

Mr. Jackson agreed with this, and suggested that the Planning Board scrutinize the Solarium studies and extract any items on which action should be taken at once, and make appropriate recommendation to the Council. He added that sometimes every agency in Washington waited for some other agency to take an action which should be taken.

Mr. Allen Dulles said that the present U.S. action in Guatemala was blocked by the reluctance of other countries in the area to go along with us: Consequently, new policy decisions were needed. He said that a paper on Albania had already been sent to PSB.

Secretary Dulles said that in case any action were taken with respect to Albania, it should be in the hands of a task force headed by one competent individual.

The President said Albania was a very difficult case because of the question of who gets it and who gets hurt.

Secretary Dulles said a start could be made on a more positive policy in Albania without the risk of war. Such was not the case in Hainan, which could be taken only by overt military action.

Secretary Wilson said he would like a special study group on Iranian oil. Defense was very unhappy about the situation in Iran. The suits against the oil companies were damaging us seriously in the Middle East.

The President said that studies had been going on for the last five or six years. He had seen all kinds of estimates, and there must be many that he had not seen. He suggested that an inventory might be made in the various departments of studies on the Middle East. The Council might be given a list of these studies and told what they are about, particularly if they contain proposed solutions to our problems.

Mr. Stassen said that Iran would soon bring up some very tough policy decisions. The basic decision was how to keep the Iranian economy afloat without a deal with the British.

Secretary Humphrey said that everyone had been working on the Middle East oil problem for some time. The British had been adamant because of the possible effects on British world-wide prestige. There was no easy way for the U.S. to get around Churchill and avoid worsening our relations with the British.

The President said that the British view was that it would be better to lose the oil, even to the Soviets, than to surrender to Mossadegh.

[Page 440]

The National Security Council: 6

Discussed the three alternative national security policies presented by the Solarium Task Forces on the basis of the reference memorandum, and a new basic concept proposed by the Solarium Working Committee and circulated at the meeting as a discussion basis.
Directed the NSC Planning Board, with the assistance of representatives of the Solarium Task Forces:
To draft for Council consideration a new basic national security policy with courses of action, in the light of the above discussion.
Pending the completion of (1) above, to recommend for Council consideration any details of action proposed by the Solarium Task Forces which should be implemented at once, including proposed specific actions with respect to particular Communist-controlled nations.
Noted the President’s request that an inventory be made of all recent studies by the various departments and agencies which contain proposed solutions of the problems affecting national security in the current Near East oil situation.

. . . . . . .

Marion W. Boggs
  1. Drafted by Coordinator Boggs of the National Security Council Board Assistants on July 31.
  2. For Lay’s memorandum of July 22, see p. 399. For NSC Action No. 853, see footnote 2, p. 396.
  3. Not found; but see Cutler’s memorandum infra which is apparently the final version of the reference memorandum.
  4. The estimate under reference cannot be identified with precision because several papers were being prepared at this time on the general topic of Soviet capabilities. Presumably the reference estimate was either NIE–90, “Soviet Bloc Capabilities Through Mid-1955” of Aug. 18, 1953, or, more likely, SE–36/1, “Soviet Capabilities for an Attack on the US Before Mid-1955” of Aug. 3, 1953. For documentation on Soviet capabilities, including relevant NIEs and SEs, see volume viii .
  5. A handwritten notation on the source text at this point reads: “arena?”.
  6. Paragraphs a–c constitute NSC Action No. 868. (S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) files, lot 66 D 95, “NSC Records of Action”)