Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file

Memorandum by the Secretary of State 1

top secret

Our collective security policies require urgent reconsideration.


From the U.S. standpoint there is need of:

Increased continental defense.
Increased emphasis on effort to lead in non-conventional weapons (A–H–guided missiles, etc.).
Increased strategic reserves in lieu of committals abroad never intended to be permanent.
Budgetary balance and monetary stability.
Adaptation to man-power shortage.

[Page 458]


The availability to SAC of bases in other countries must be reappraised. Many are not available except with a consent which is becoming increasingly unlikely. As Soviet A and H power increases the countries containing these bases increasingly look upon them as lightning rods rather than umbrellas.


The semi-permanent presence of U.S. land forces with dependents abroad is an irritant, now acute only in Japan but eventually troublesome elsewhere.


From the standpoint of European Allies the NATO concept is losing its grip because:

NATO assumed U.S. atomic supremacy, which Churchill called the “supreme deterrent” saving Europe. NATO supplemented this by assuring that there could not be a conquest of Europe so quick and easy that it would not lead to an all-out U.S. effort, which, it was assumed, the Soviet Union would not risk. That assumption is now shaken.
A and H and guided missile developments in Russia increasingly frighten nearby areas where there is no defense against quick attack. Also, they feel U.S. vulnerability is becoming such that we might stay out if Europe were attacked first. And if the U.S. were attacked first, Europe might prefer to stay out.
Our allies budget problems are even more acute than ours and are no longer being relieved by such U.S. liberality as put $30 billion of economic aid into Europe during the six years, 1946–51.


Against the above background, the Soviet “peace offensive” invites wishful thinking, on the part of NATO partners and Japan, that the danger is past and that neutralism and military economy are permissible.


A U.S. shift of emphasis, reflected by new military dispositions and changed budgetary approaches in favor of increased continental defense and greater strategic mobility, would probably be interpreted abroad as final proof of an isolationist trend and the adoption of the “Fortress America” concept. I doubt that any eloquence or reasoning on our part would prevent disintegration and deterioration of our position, with our growing isolation through the reaction of our present allies. The resources of the free world would then no longer be in a common fund to be drawn on for community [Page 459] security, and the balance of world power, military and economic, would doubtless shift rapidly to our great disadvantage. We would not in fact have gained greater security, and expenditures would have to mount very sharply, so that any economy would be shortlived.

However, for reasons above given, we cannot avoid a major reconsideration of collective security concepts.


An alternative which could be explored is the possibility of taking this occasion to make a spectacular effort to relax world tensions on a global basis and execute such mutual withdrawals of Red Army forces and of U.S. forces abroad as would itself make possible:

Stabilization of NATO forces and of prospective German forces at a level compatible with budgetary relief.
Creation by U.S. of strategic reserve in U.S.

The plan would include limitation of armament and control of weapons of mass destruction.

Within the framework of such a settlement the results desired could be achieved with an increase rather than a decline of U.S. influence and without risk of our being isolated. It would also end the present state of strain which breeds distrust and intolerance, which undermine our traditional American way of life.


The present is a propitious time for such a move, if it is ever to be made, because we will be speaking from strength rather than weakness.2

The Armistice achieved in Korea, in an atmosphere of our willingness to enlarge the war unless the armistice was accepted.
The major reversal of Soviet expectations in Iran.
The presumptive willingness of the French, with our cooperation, to be more vigorous in Indochina, rather than to withdraw as most had expected.
The Adenauer victory in Germany.

Also the full impact of Soviet advances in non-conventional weapons has not yet been felt in Europe and Japan. Also NATO, while nervous, is holding on awaiting the Council meeting in December.

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Our new revealing budget will not have to be unveiled until the year end.

General Concepts

Broad zone of restricted armament in Europe, with Soviets withdrawn from satellites and U.S. from Europe.
Satellites politically freed, but oriented (friendly) to U.S.S.R. (note. Finland)
International control of A–H–and guided missiles.
End “world revolution” mission of Soviet Communist Party.
Open up East-West trade.
Indochina—Formosa—Red China.


  1. The source text does not indicate to whom this memorandum was addressed. However, the President saw it and commented upon it; see his memorandum to Secretary Dulles, infra. Accordingly to his appointment book, Dulles met at his home separately with Bowie and MacArthur during the afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 6, before boarding a plane for Denver. This memorandum could have been drafted either in Washington, en route, or the evening of Sept. 6, after arrival at the “Summer White House”. (Dulles papers, “Daily Appointments”)

    A notation on the source text reads: “not indictment.”

  2. A handwritten notation in the margin reads: “This, I think, is important!”