Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 184

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State
top secret

The primary subject of discussion was the topic raised in the proposed candor speech,1 the use of the atomic bomb and missiles.

In the main, Mr. Churchill and Mr. Eden expressed the view that our thinking on the subject was several years ahead of theirs, and that they were ahead of the rest of the world. They felt there was danger of our taking action which would be morally repellant to most of the world. It would be much better if there were an attack in any area which permitted of delay and possible localization if we did not instantly react with atomic weapons but waited for public opinion to develop, which it probably would do very quickly.2

John Foster Dulles
  1. Presumably President Eisenhower is referring to a speech he was scheduled to make before the United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 8; for the text, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953, pp. 813–822 or Department of State Bulletin, Dec. 21, 1953, pp. 847–851.
  2. In a brief note to President Eisenhower, dated Dec. 6, Churchill commented as follows on the speech:

    “I think it is a very fine speech and tackles the terrible problems which confront us with your usual courage and candor. I think it will help toward the ‘easement’ of which I have sometimes spoken and it may well be that the contacts which may develop will be useful. It is a great pronouncement and will resound through the anxious and bewildered world.

    “Naturally I do not like what appears on page 11. History will, I am sure, make a different appraisement.

    “About page 7. I hope we may have some further talk, for I know you understand the reservations I have to make in the light of our exposed position. Circumstances, proportion and the fate of friends and allies would never, I am sure, be absent from your mind.” (Eisenhower Library, C.D. Jackson Papers, Box 24) See also John Colville, Footprints in Time, London, 1976, pp. 240–241 and The Churchillians, London, 1981, pp. 106–107.