Eisenhower library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file

No. 311
Memorandum of Discussion at the 167th Meeting of the National Security Council, Thursday, October 22, 1953 1
top secret eyes only

Present at the 167th meeting of the Council were the 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. The Vice President did not attend because of his absence from the country. Also present were the Acting Secretary of the Treasury; Judge Barnes for the Attorney General (Item 4); the Acting Secretary of Commerce (Item 4); the Acting Director, Bureau of the Budget; the Chairman, Federal Communications Commission (Item 1); the Director, U.S. Information Agency (Items 1, 2 and 3); William A. Porter, Office of Defense Mobilization (Item 1); Ralph L. Clark, Central Intelligence Agency (Items 1 and 6); Gen. Porter, Foreign Operations Administration (Items 6, 7, 8 and 9); the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Director of Central Intelligence; The Assistant to the President; Robert Cutler, Special Assistant to the President; C.D. Jackson, Special Assistant to the President; the 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 1–4, electromagnetic communications, implementation of the recommendations of the Jackson Committee, the United States Information Agency, and the source of United States aluminum supply in wartime.]

5. Report by the Secretary of State

Secretary Dulles briefed the Council on his meetings in London over last week-end. The atmosphere had been very cordial and the results satisfactory in most respects. Indeed, the only real disagreement had actually emerged outside of the official meetings with Foreign Secretary Eden and Bidault. This involved the question of the top-level conference with the Russians. Prime Minister Churchill, in his conversation with Secretary Dulles, had indicated his anxiety to press forward with the proposal for a meeting of the heads of state of the United States, Britain, France and Russia. Secretary Dulles explained our reasons for opposing such a meeting [Page 719] at this time, and Sir Winston had subsequently agreed not to press the matter. Basically, continued Secretary Dulles, Sir Winston’s proposal for a conference at the highest level was simply a sleeping pill. Peoples of many of the Western democracies were desperately anxious for such a sleeping pill, and believed that Churchill could give it to them. But if such a meeting were held, with no agenda and no clear positions, its only result would be a dangerous sedative. Such a meeting would have a potentially disastrous effect on both NATO and the EDC, and would enable the Russians to push ahead while the Western democracies dozed. When we all woke up, we would find ourselves in a grave situation, with which President Eisenhower would be left to deal.

Secretary Dulles indicated that Bidault also had opposed a high-level meeting, at least at this time. His position had been that all the talk about holding such a meeting had the effect of compounding the difficulties which he faced in effecting the ratification of EDC. It would be best if no such meeting were to be held, but in any case, we should stop all the talk about it and reach a decision promptly one way or the other. Secretary Dulles stated that he had been somewhat apprehensive as to what Prime Minister Churchill would say on this subject when he spoke about it in Parliament after his conversation with Secretary Dulles. Happily, however, Sir Winston had abided loyally by his agreement with the Secretary of State.

The best result of the meeting had been progress with regard to the proposed meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Four Powers at Lugano. Secretary Dulles said that he and Chancellor Adenauer were both opposed to including any statement in the note to Russia2 mentioning a non-aggression treaty. Accordingly, this statement was removed, and it was decided that the note would concentrate on calling for the unification of Germany. Incidentally, continued Secretary Dulles, Mr. Eden apparently did not agree wholly with Sir Winston with regard to the top-level meeting, and preferred to concentrate at the outset on securing the ratification of EDC. Once this had been achieved, Mr. Eden thought that a high-level meeting would be much less dangerous.

Secretary Dulles said that the meeting had also given consideration to the Trieste problem. The repercussions of the Anglo-American action on Trieste had been much more violent than had been anticipated. Secretary Dulles said that we had relied fundamentally on Mr. Eden’s judgment as to Tito’s reaction to this decision, which had been the subject of discussion when Tito had visited London and when Eden had returned this visit by going to Belgrade.3 [Page 720] Mr. Eden’s judgment, said Secretary Dulles, had proved something less than perfect. In any case, continued Secretary Dulles, we had decided on convening a meeting of the five interested parties in an effort to put through the turnover of Zone A to Italian administration without provoking hostilities. Eden had already met with the Yugoslavs and Italians to broach this proposal, and their reactions had been “not altogether” unfavorable.

Also during the course of the London meetings, continued Secretary Dulles, had come the bad news of the savage Israeli attack on the Arab village in Jordan. As a result, it had been determined to ask the UN Security Council to take cognizance of the matter, since it seemed sufficiently grave to risk the collapse of the existing armistice between the Israelis and the Arabs. Secretary Dulles emphasized, however, that the decision of the United States not to allocate mutual security funds earmarked for Israel had not been related to this specific incident, but had been the result of Israeli defiance of the UN with regard to the irrigation project.

Secretary Dulles said that he and his British and French colleagues had also given careful consideration to the problem of the political conference on Korea. Secretary Dulles had stressed most emphatically the necessity for unanimity by the three powers on this problem, and specifically to avoid raising again the question of Indian or other neutral participation in such a conference. The Communists would be sure to exploit this issue in order to widen the rifts among the Western allies, and to give in to them on it would certainly not enhance the prospects of holding the conference. The need was to close ranks, Secretary Dulles had said, and if the three powers did so he predicted that there was a pretty good chance that the political conference would actually be held.

Bidault had reported on the military and political situation in Indochina. In the course of the Saturday meeting had come the news of the resolution adopted by the National Congress of the Vietnamese, denouncing the French Union. Initially, Bidault had been completely dismayed by the report. The situation, however, by Sunday morning seemed to him less serious, since by then the tone of the resolution had been much modified. Nevertheless, the upshot of all this had not been very hopeful. Premier Laniel had failed to forestall debate in the French Parliament on the Indochina war. It was quite possible, said Secretary Dulles, that this debate could end in the overthrow of the Laniel government and the consequent ruin of our ambitious plan to bring the war in Indochina to a successful conclusion.

[Page 721]

With specific regard to the military situation in Indochina, Bidault had expressed to Secretary Dulles and Mr. Eden his great anxiety about reports that jet planes would soon be made available to the Vietminh from Communist China. Secretary Dulles said that United States intelligence does not support French apprehensions in this regard. Our intelligence reported no airfields in Indochina capable of handling jet planes. If these planes were flown into Indochina from Chinese airfields, it would constitute direct and overt Chinese Communist intervention in the hostilities.

. . . . . . .

Finally, said Secretary Dulles, he had lunched at the American Embassy with fifteen principal British editors and had talked with them about U.S. policy in various parts of the world.4 It was clear, said Secretary Dulles, that our real position has been seriously misrepresented in England, and he believed that his talk with the editors had helped to put things aright.

The President’s only comment on Secretary Dulles’ briefing was to ask how the Secretary accounted for the violent outburst of anti-American feeling in Jordan despite the fact that we had announced the suspension of further aid to Israel. Various members of the Council undertook to explain this outburst, and it was pointed out that news of the suspension of aid had not reached Jordan in time to affect reaction to the Israeli outrage. In any case, the President commented, the cutting off of aid to Israel struck him as a very logical step in the circumstances.

The National Security Council:

Noted and discussed an oral report by the Secretary of State on the recent meetings which he attended in London, with particular reference to a possible high-level meeting of the Four Powers; the proposed meeting of the Foreign Ministers at Lugano; the Trieste situation; the tension between Israel and Jordan; prospects for the political conference in Korea; the military and political situation in Indochina and its impact on the domestic political situation in France;.…

[Here follows discussion of items 6–9, significant developments affecting United States security, the security of strategically important industrial operations in foreign countries, the Government Employee Security Program, and the implications of Soviet nuclear weapons tests in 1953.]

  1. Drafted on Oct. 23.
  2. Document 279.
  3. Eden visited Belgrade in September 1952 and Tito visited London in March 1953.
  4. No record of this luncheon has been found in Department of State files.