Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file

No. 587
Memorandum of Discussion at the 164th Meeting of the National Security Council, Thursday, October 1, 1953

top secret
eyes only

Present at the 164th Meeting of the Council were the President of the United States, presiding; the Vice President of the United States; the Secretary of State; the Secretary of Defense; the Director, Foreign Operations Administration; the Director, Office of Defense Mobilization. Also present were the Secretary of the Treasury; the Director, Bureau of the Budget; the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Director of Central Intelligence; Sherman Adams, The Assistant to the President; Robert Cutler, Special Assistant to the President; C. D. Jackson, Special Assistant to the President; Brigadier General 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 chief points taken.

[Here follows discussion of items 1 and 2, significant world developments affecting United States security and the United States position with respect to Germany. For text of the discussion on Germany, see Document 224.]

3. United States Policy and Courses of Action to Counter Possible Soviet or Satellite Action Against Berlin (Progress Report dated September 10, 1953 by the Secretary of State on NSC 132/11)

Mr. Cutler briefly summarized the progress report and the policy of the United States which it described, ending his remarks by pointing out that United States policy with respect to a Berlin blockade was very strong.

The President agreed that our policy toward Berlin was a strong one and thought that it ought to be strong.…

… Secretary Dulles inquired whether Berlin did not offer another instance where if we made known our position in advance, the chances that the Russians would impose a blockade would be greatly diminished.

[Page 1365]

The President observed that while, for the moment, there was no dark cloud on the Berlin horizon we could never be sure that what the Russians had done once there they would not do again. He reiterated his view that if they re-imposed the blockade and we acquiesced in it, we would sacrifice our leadership of the free world and would appear soft and spineless. On the other hand, if we adopted Secretary Dulles’ suggestion of making our position on Berlin altogether clear to the Russians, such a statement should be carefully worded and discussed in advance of its issuance with the British, the French and Chancellor Adenauer.

Mr. C. D. Jackson said that he had strong objections to the existing policy paper for the same reasons that the President had, namely, that the imposition of the blockade was an act of aggression and the many steps which we would subsequently propose to take might obscure this vital fact.

Mr. Cutler pointed out that the present policy paper on Berlin had been written in 1952 and after reading the main points in the policy paper inquired whether it was the view of the Council that the Planning Board should review this policy. The President said yes. Admiral Radford commented that the only meeting of the NSC which he had ever attended prior to recently becoming Chairman of the JCS was a meeting at which General Clay was also present and which was concerned with the first Soviet blockade of Berlin.2 Admiral Radford pointed out that General Clay had on that occasion expressed the opinion that we should have broken the Soviet blockade by sending a military force through it. Admiral Radford said that he believed that General Clay’s course was the right one then and was the right one now.

The President expressed no clear view on this point . . . .

The National Security Council:

Noted the reference Progress Report on the subject by the Secretary of State.
Directed the NSC Planning Board to review the policy on the subject in NSC 132/1 in the light of the discussion at the meeting.

[Here follows discussion of items 4 and 5, the reported decline in United States prestige abroad and the current budget situation and outlook.]

  1. For text of the Progress Report, see Document 584. For NSC 132/1, see Document 547.
  2. Admiral Radford is presumably referring to the sixteenth meeting of the Council, July 22, 1948.