Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file

No. 213
Memorandum of Discussion at the 159th Meeting of the National Security Council, Thursday, August 13, 19531

top secret eyes only

The following were present at the 159th Meeting of the Council: The Vice President of the United States, presiding; the Secretary of State; the Secretary of Defense; the Director, Foreign Operations Administration; the Director, Office of Defense Mobilization. Also present were the Acting Secretary of the Treasury; the Acting Director, Bureau of the Budget; General Omar N. Bradley, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (for Item 1 only); General Collins for the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Acting Director of Central Intelligence; Robert Cutler, Special Assistant to the President; C.D. Jackson, Special Assistant to the President; Brig. Gen. Paul T. Carroll, Acting White House Staff Secretary; the Executive Secretary, NSC; and the Deputy Executive Secretary, NSC.

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

[Here follows discussion of items 1–2, the retirement of General Bradley and significant world developments affecting United States security.]

3. United States Position With Respect to Germany (NSC 160;2 Memos for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated August 10 and August 12, 19533)

Mr. Cutler introduced NSC 160 and briefly summarized the background of the present report. He spoke of existing policy statements on Germany and read pertinent paragraphs from these earlier policy statements. He then summarized the difference in point of view between the Department of State and the Department of Defense with regard to NSC 160, and invited the attention of the Council to the Financial Appendix. He concluded his introduction by reading paragraph 11–b of NSC 160 as illustrating the cleavage between Defense and State, and observed that most of the other disagreements in the paper related to the issue of possible unilateral arming of Germany which was raised in paragraph 11–b.

[Page 502]

Secretary Dulles said that the principal objection of the State Department to the alternative language suggested by Defense related to the latter’s desire to fix an arbitrary date for the ratification of EDC. The State Department did not think it wise to set any such arbitrary date, since it would be nothing less than catastrophic to destroy the possibility of realizing an integrated Europe. Secretary Dulles admitted that we ought to have alternatives in mind in the event that EDC failed of ratification. These alternatives, however, should be invoked not on January 1, 1954, as Defense suggests, but whenever it should become clear that EDC could not be achieved. If EDC had not been realized by January 1, but seemed possible at a somewhat later date, there was no sense in abandoning the attempt to secure ratification on the first of January 1954.

Secretary Dulles then observed that there were many people who thought that the United States should rearm Germany by unilateral action. The State Department felt that any attempt to do this would probably result in a Communist France, with all that this implied for the position of our forces in Germany. It was necessary to keep France on our side, and if we failed in the attempt to do so, a unilaterally armed Germany would prove useless to us.

Secretary Dulles then admitted that progress on EDC had slowed up, and that recent developments in Europe were such that no one could see what the future holds. He pointed out, however, that no real effort had been made to get the EDC treaties before the parliaments of the Western European countries until Eisenhower had become President and had thrown his weight behind this great project. Since that time there had been real progress in the Netherlands and in Belgium. We had thought that Italian ratification was sure, until the fall of the de Gasperi government. It was impossible to predict now when Italy would ratify. The French would certainly be the last to accept EDC, but if all the other powers acted favorably, France would probably have no option but to follow suit. In any event, Secretary Dulles reemphasized his conviction that there was no hope for Europe without integration, and that, accordingly, the United States must continue every effort to secure ratification. We must keep the pressure on, but have the alternatives in mind if the cause actually became hopeless.

Mr. Cutler explained that the absence of any consideration of alternatives to EDC in NSC 160 was the result of the State Department’s conviction that the Planning Board ought not to consider such alternatives, in view of the possibility that mere consideration of these alternatives, if it became known, might kill the chances for ratification of EDC. It was for this reason, said Mr. Cutler, that Defense had been so concerned for the inclusion of the cut-off date.

[Page 503]

Secretary Dulles merely replied that we should of course think of alternatives and think of them today.

Secretary Wilson stated that he personally was much confused by NSC 160. He was accustomed to having “better facts” before making up his mind on important problems. He felt that the basic requirement was certainly the requirement for German unification. He also recognized that we must reappraise over-all U.S. basic position and policy. He believed that the forthcoming German elections would cast new light on the German problem and on the attitude of the German people. He recognized, continued Secretary Wilson, the basic weakness of the French Government, and he was greatly disappointed in Italy. We would have in addition to make a reappraisal of the atomic weapon, and there was yet another immediate problem: We have accumulated a very substantial amount of matériel for the use of the hoped-for German divisions. What are we going to do with all these arms? This was one of the factors that influenced Defense to take its position on the January 1, 1954 deadline.

Finally, continued Secretary Wilson, there are a great many people, like the French, who are really fearful of resurgent German militarism. He himself had seen this phenomenon once, and some safeguard would have to be worked out to prevent a recurrence. In view of all these considerations, Secretary Wilson concluded that it would be best to refer the present paper back to the Planning Board for reconsideration after some of the obscurities he had referred to had been cleared up. There seemed no point for the Council to try to force an unreal agreement on the present report.

Secretary Dulles expressed agreement with Secretary Wilson’s suggestion, and went on to say that if developments in the next six weeks turn out to be bad, we would have not only to re-evaluate our position on EDC, but on much else beside—NATO, for example. Those forces in the European countries which might succeed in blocking EDC would quite possibly do still worse things. For these reasons Secretary Dulles felt it fruitless for the Council to argue about the present report.

The Vice President inquired whether NSC 160 represented something new with regard to Germany, or merely continued previous policy lines.

Secretary Wilson remarked that whatever it represented, it didn’t seem to him relevant to what was going to happen.

In answer to the Vice President’s question, Mr. Cutler pointed out that it was precisely to show to what degree the present report carries out earlier thinking on the subject of European integration, that he had read to the Council excerpts from previous German policy statements.

[Page 504]

Secretary Dulles commented that it was an important consideration that the risk of general war seemed at the moment less than at any time in recent years. The President himself had stated this to be so. Therefore, the urgency to rearm Germany was perhaps not so great as we had thought. While we should, of course, not neglect any real opportunity to rebuild the German army, Secretary Dulles still thought it foolish to try to settle on a German policy here today, in view of the current confusion in France and Italy.

Mr. Stassen then informed the Council that he wished to raise some different questions about NSC 160. It seemed to him that he could detect in the various policy papers on Germany a rigidity of thought which was not justified by the facts of the situation. For example, he thought it erroneous to conclude that we could not make a modest beginning of training and equipping German armed forces, even prior to French agreement on EDC. He pointed out that the schedule for training and equipping the German forces was to commence on October 1, and there would be great confusion if this schedule had to be abandoned. If you started to put together a few units in Germany for future incorporation in EDC, Mr. Stassen believed that this would actually help rather than hinder French ratification. Such a move would also constitute a setback for the neutralists, who would conclude that their only choice lay between a unilaterally armed Germany and a Germany in EDC, and not a choice between an armed and a disarmed Germany.

Another example of too rigid thinking, continued Mr. Stassen, was the thesis that there was no hope of an effective defense of Western Europe without France or with a Communist France. Such a development would of course be desperately serious, but not so serious as surrendering Germany to the USSR. Accordingly, we must indeed think of alternatives to the defense of Europe with France out of the picture. While Mr. Stassen stated his agreement that the danger of global war was just now at a low ebb, he warned that the tide could quickly rise again, and pointed out that a start must be made now on the rearming of West Germany if that country were to have real military strength three years from now.

In summary, Mr. Stassen again expressed his fear that there was too much dogma and rigidity in some of these concepts among the various staff people in the Executive Branch, and expressed the belief that we might well succeed in getting French consent to the initial steps for German rearmament and that this might ultimately lead to French ratification of EDC. Mr. Stassen did, however, express his agreement with Secretary Wilson’s proposal to postpone Council consideration of the paper until after the German elections, in which he predicted a sweeping Adenauer victory.

[Page 505]

General Collins stated to the Council his belief, and that of General Bradley, that this was not the moment to take final action on NSC 160. Observing that the present report contained no real discussion of alternatives to German integration in a European Defense Community, General Collins expressed the view that it would be best to refer the report back to the Planning Board and, pending the elections in Germany, request the Board to examine particularly the military consequences of a neutralized Germany. If Germany were neutralized, continued General Collins, we would be faced with serious problems. Our occupation forces certainly could not stay long in Germany. We could scarcely expect the French to accept six American divisions for billeting in France. Where would these forces go, and how would we defend Germany against a Russian advance?

In response to General Collins’ remarks, Mr. Cutler again reiterated that the State Department had been unwilling to consider alternatives to German rearmament within EDC, and for that reason these alternatives had had to be omitted. He did, however, express agreement that we could hardly tolerate a neutralized Germany, and also stated his agreement to postponement of consideration of NSC 160 until after the German elections.

The Vice President, however, returned to his previous question: What precisely, he asked, will adoption or failure to adopt the current paper do?

By way of reply, Mr. Cutler referred to paragraph 11–b and the possibility of a start on the build-up of the German armed forces.

Mr. Jackson intervened to insist that while there was no magic in a fixed date, there was even less magic in no date at all. Refusal to consider a cut-off date for EDC ratification would involve us in the danger of drifting on forever, and there will never be a time, said Mr. Jackson, when there isn’t some “if” in the future. At some time or other the Council must address itself to alternatives for German integration into a European Defense Community. If the Secretary of State would agree that such alternatives could be considered beginning now, so much the better. But we are at present, with respect to Germany, asking the Russians to accept an almost impossible package, containing EDC, unification, and free elections. Obviously the Russians could not accept this package, and we must find ways and means to regain our own maneuverability. One such course is to begin now the gradual rearmament of West Germany. There may well be other courses.

Secretary Wilson said he had another consideration he wished to present to the Council. This was his belief that we needed a whole fresh look at the situation, and not a mere splitting of words over old policy positions, which was precisely what the current report [Page 506] seemed to him. Going on, Secretary Wilson warned that the American people were not going to consent forever to paying $50 billion a year for defense and national security. If for no other reason, a complete new look at our policies must be determined upon. He therefore proposed again that NSC 160 be put to one side and guidance given to the Planning Board on a new policy which should be presented in a period of from thirty to sixty days. Such a policy should be broad-gauged and should include discussion of support by the American people and Congress.

Disagreeing with this position, Mr. Flemming emphasized that there were a great many points in NSC 160 on which the members of the Council were in agreement. Why, therefore, should the Council not recommend to the President approval of the agreed portions of NSC 160 and at the same time instruct the Planning Board to commence at once its studies of alternatives, with instructions for the Planning Board to report back to the Council after the German elections?

The Vice President inquired whether there was some reluctance in the State Department at this time to consider alternatives on the ground that we must do everything to push the EDC and preoccupation with alternatives would endanger the chances that EDC would be ratified.

In reply, Secretaries Dulles and Wilson expressed agreement that alternatives to EDC should indeed have been studied earlier, and announced that they were quite in agreement that the study of alternatives by the Planning Board should be started at once. We must, said Secretary Dulles, explore what will happen if France and Italy become unreliable members of NATO. Certain of the alternatives to EDC could at least be used as a means of exerting pressure to secure ratification of the treaties.

Mr. Cutler observed that if the Council could agree on the substance of the present report, omitting all references to dates for the ratification of EDC, it would be a simple matter to adopt the paper minus these dates.

Secretary Dulles replied that unfortunately he could not agree to the language which had been inserted in paragraph 11–b by the Department of Defense.

The Vice President then asked Secretary Dulles for his reaction to the position taken earlier by Mr. Stassen with respect to a slow start on German rearmament.

Secretary Dulles observed that if, after the German elections, the Germans and the other states ratified the EDC treaties, and only the French held out against EDC, then we should have to begin to talk about and even to make a start on rearming Germany. This move, however, must not be regarded as an alternative to French [Page 507] ratification of EDC, but rather as a means of bringing pressure on France to get into the EDC. The Secretary of State added that he himself had already given much thought to alternatives to EDC, but primarily as a psychological move to secure the realization of EDC.

Mr. Stassen inquired as to the nature of more dynamic steps that could be taken prior to the ratification of EDC and which would assist in that process. What was needed was more ingenuity in the NSC staff and the staffs of the departments. There were moves, he was sure, which could be taken which would not be inconsistent with the ultimate ratification of EDC. Suggestions for such moves were precisely what had been lacking in the present and in earlier papers.

Secretary Wilson stated that enough time had elapsed since previous policy papers on Germany had been adopted, and enough things had happened in the world, so that what we now needed was a fresh look, particularly as to United States objectives. He, for one, did not wish to agree to any part of the present report, since to do so would be to freeze these parts. He preferred his original suggestion, that consideration of NSC 160 be delayed and a start made at a new paper.

Mr. Flemming, however, reiterated his proposal to save such portions of NSC 160 as could be agreed upon by the Council, because he was convinced that basically NSC 160 was a very good statement of policy which could be an excellent interim guide pending a clarification of conditions in Europe and the results of the German elections.

Mr. Cutler reverted to his suggestion that it might be possible for the Council to approve the paper if references to fixed dates were removed and if the Defense suggestion for paragraph 11–b were revised to fit the views of Secretary Dulles.

Mr. Stassen expressed agreement with Mr. Cutler’s suggestion and proposed amendments to the Defense draft of paragraph 11–b.

Secretary Dulles agreed with the language suggested by Mr. Cutler and Mr. Stassen.

The National Security Council:

Adopted the statement of policy contained in NSC 160, subject to the following changes:

Page 11, subparagraph 11–b: Add the bracketed section, revised to read as follows: “However, these advantages will be lost if the ratification of EDC is long delayed. Therefore, the United States should review alternative courses of action. Furthermore, it may be desirable to take bilaterally with the West German government certain initial steps in the actual creation and arming of German units, if developments should so indicate [Page 508] and if this can be done without serious repercussions on our relations with France. This, it would be made plain to all EDC signatories, would be to expedite the implementation of EDC when ratified. The implication that such bilateral action would continue even though French ratification was further delayed should provide additional leverage on the French to ratify the EDC treaty at an early date.”

Page 11: Delete the footnote.

Page 12, subparagraph 11–d: Revise the first line to read: “If and whenever it becomes clear that”, and delete the double asterisk in the next to the last line on the page and both footnotes.

Page 15, subparagraph 13–c: In the next to the last line on the page, change the word “some” to “major”.

Page 17, paragraph 14: Delete the brackets around the word “preferably”, insert a comma before it, and delete the asterisk and the footnote to which it refers.

Page 17, paragraph 16: Delete the double asterisk and the footnote to which it refers.

Page 18, paragraph 21: Delete the bracketed wording and the asterisk and the footnote to which it refers.

Noted that, on page 3 of the Financial Appendix circulated by the reference memorandum of August 10, 1953, the Navy program does not provide the full EDC complement, which has not been developed but may include 70 or more additional naval units.
Agreed that the policy as adopted in NSC 160 should be reviewed not later than the first Council meeting in October, including a review of the Financial Appendix.

Note: The statement of policy in NSC 160 as adopted subsequently approved by the President and issued as NSC 160/14 for implementation.

[Here follows discussion of items 4–10, evacuation of United States civilians abroad prior to hostilities with hostile regimes, report by the President’s committee on International Information Activities, United States psychological strategy with respect to the Thais of Southeast Asia, future courses of action with respect to Austria and United States policy in the event of a blockade of Vienna, Project Solarium, the NSC meeting on August 20, and the status of NSC projects.]

[Page 509]


Memorandum by the Special Assistant to the President (Cutler)

top secret

I gave the President a very thorough briefing on NSC 160 (the Germany paper). We spent about 30 minutes on this one paper. I outlined the existing policies in NSC 82 and NSC 115;5 the cleavage between State and Defense at the PB level (reading my memo of August 4, par. 3, just as I did at the Council); the principal points raised by Dulles, Wilson, Stassen, and Jackson (which I had taken down in pencil at the Council Meeting).

It was apparent that the President, as I talked for 15 minutes, was sympathetic to the State point of view. I then had him carefully read par. 11.b, as approved at the Council Meeting, because it clearly focuses the issue of a deadline date or no deadline date for French ratification and the issue of bilateral action to rearm W. Germany as a “primer” for EDC.

When he had read the first two sentences of par. 11.b (“The United States should support with all available means the creation of the European Community and the ratification of the EDC Treaty. No satisfactory substitute for this solution has been found”), he exclaimed that these sentences were just right and a good policy.

When I spoke of the despair in some quarters of getting France to act, and the use of bilateral action to rearm W. Germany as a “primer” for EDC, he pointed to the conditional clause in the third sentence from the end of par. 11.b. (“, if this can be done without serious repercussions on our relations with France”) and said he thought this sentence rather effectively cancelled out the possibility of such bilateral action. I said that Foster Dulles had suggested the conditional language and the Council had accepted it; that at least the concept of bilateral action was now in the paper, and would be one of the matters for reconsideration when the paper was reviewed in October.

He then proceeded to read the basic objectives and courses of action in full, as approved at the Council Meeting. He said he thought them quite satisfactory.

I continued to press him on what we should do if France continued to drag her feet or even worse “went communist” in her Government. I quoted the sentence in General Bradley’s great speech [Page 510] at Springfield, Mass.: It is time America began sailing by the stars and not by the driftwood floating by. Should we just wait for events and make policies to meet them or should we have alternatives worked out in advance? The latter, of course, he replied. When I asked him again about a continuing non-ratifying or even communist France, he said that such a situation would call for an entirely new defense posture in Europe.…

In view of the Council action requiring review by October 1, in view of Dulles’ assertion that of course we should study alternatives now, in view of the President’s last-mentioned remark, should not the PB now outline (with the military) alternatives.

Adenauer elected and a favorable Court decision; France still delaying or communist.
Adenauer elected and an unfavorable Court decision; France still delaying or communist.
Adenauer defeated and German participation in EDC postponed.

Perhaps there are other and better alternatives to be proposed by the PB. The basic alternative is still: our policy if W. Germany wants to participate and France continues dragging into next year.

R. Cutler
  1. Drafted on Aug. 14.
  2. Not printed; see NSC 160/1, infra.
  3. Neither printed; the first transmitted a financial appendix to NSC 160 (regarding this appendix, see footnote 1, infra); while the second transmitted the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on NSC 160. These views are presented in the memorandum of discussion printed here. (S/SNSC files, lot 63 D 351, NSC 160 Series)
  4. Infra.
  5. Regarding NSC 82, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iii, p. 273, footnote 1. Regarding NSC 115, see the memorandum to the President, ibid., 1951, vol. iii, Part 1, p. 849.