Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file

Memorandum by the President to the Special Assistant to the President (Jackson)


I can think of no reason that would prevent us from beginning the implementation of the things suggested in your memorandum dated December 28th.1 I assume that Secretary Dulles and Chairman Strauss agree with the suggestions you have outlined. If they do, it would seem to me that something could be started instantly on the matter.

As for your letter to me dated December 29th, I cannot agree that the State–Defense quarrel makes much sense even though, as you say, it may be both bitter and deep.

[Page 1322]

The question of total, as opposed to atomic, disarmament is largely academic. Neither can be accomplished without the most rigid and complete system of inspection—this we feel perfectly certain the Soviets would never allow.

Moreover, I should like to discuss with all the so-called “military experts” just what would be the effect on us and our position if atomic weapons could be wholly eliminated from the world’s armaments.

The mere argument that because we are ahead of the Russians in atomic weapons that this one phase of our armament activity should be pushed to the limit, must be taken into account.

Also we must consider the factor that atomic weapons strongly favor the side that attacks aggressively and by surprise. This the United States will never do; and let me point out that we never had any of this hysterical fear of any nation until atomic weapons appeared upon the scene and we knew that others had solved the secret.

Here I am not arguing either side of the particular question that you mention. I am merely pointing out that there needs to be a bit of intellectual analysis of these grave problems rather than screaming support of a position already taken.

At a reasonably convenient date, I hope you will arrange to have Secretary Dulles and Secretary Wilson, together with Chairman Strauss and yourself, meet with me to talk over this general matter. Each of the individuals just named can bring with him one assistant if he so desires.

  1. See the attachment to C. D. Jackson’s letter of Dec. 29 to the President, p. 1316.