Truman Library, Truman papers, PSF–Subject file

No. 14
Memorandum for the President on the Discussion at the 114th Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, April 2, 19521

top secret


The following notes contain a summary of the discussion at the 114th Meeting of the National Security Council, at which you presided. [Page 26]Under Secretary Foster attended the meeting for the Secretary of Defense; Under Secretary Foley attended for the Secretary of the Treasury, and Deputy Director Dulles attended for the Director of Central Intelligence. Admiral Dennison attended the meeting for the discussion of Item 2 only.

. . . . . . .

The President then turned to the agenda item on Formosa.

1. Formosa (NSC 128,2 NSC 48/53)

The President pointed out that the problem had been placed on the agenda only for a preliminary discussion. It was therefore, in the President’s words, only at the “argument stage”. He asked Secretary Acheson if he had any comments.

Secretary Acheson called attention to a report dated September 5, 1951,4 in which the Secretaries of State and Defense recorded their agreement respecting the production of progress reports on the implementation of the policy set forth in NSC 48/5. He then read the paragraph which indicated the joint responsibility of the Secretaries of State and Defense to keep this policy under review. In the light of this agreement Secretary Acheson suggested by way of recommendation that it was reasonable to ask the two Departments concerned, State and Defense, to undertake preparation of a report in response to the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and of the Acting Secretary of Defense in NSC 128.

Secretary Acheson then turned to the substantive content of NSC 128, and outlined U.S. policy toward Formosa as set forth in NSC 48/5. After having read the pertinent paragraphs of NSC 48/5, Secretary Acheson expressed the opinion that current U.S. policy toward Formosa seemed to him to be both clear and affirmative. He was therefore at a loss to understand whether the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were merely intended to endorse our present policy, or whether they were inviting changes in it. In any case, Secretary Acheson pointed out, their views contained political as well as purely military considerations.

Secretary Acheson then rehearsed the five paragraphs which stated the military views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Formosa, and pointed out in each case the difficulties which they raised. For example, did sub-paragraph c of the Joint Chiefs of Staff views mean that they favored abandonment of the neutralization policy? Did the statement in sub-paragraph e refer to the offensive potential of the Chinese regime on Formosa, and did it mean that we [Page 27]ought to put the Formosa regime back on the mainland? If so, said Secretary Acheson, we ought to take a long and careful look at that recommendation.

Summarizing his views, Secretary Acheson said that the Joint Chiefs of Staff report raised a good many more questions than it answered. It required a very careful going over by State and Defense before recommendations could be submitted to the National Security Council.

The President then asked Secretary Foster for his views.

Secretary Foster said he would not deny that NSC 128 needed careful consideration. Referring to Secretary Acheson’s recommendations as to procedure, he said that he was in agreement with the proposal to have the report worked over by the Departments of State and Defense, although it seemed to him better to give it to a steering committee of the Senior NSC Staff.5 With reference to Secretary Acheson’s observations on the substantive content of NSC 128, Secretary Foster said that it was obvious that we have all too few assets left in the Far East and that the Chinese Nationalists on Formosa represented one such asset. It seemed to him that we had not actually developed the potentialities of this asset, and it was urgently required that we do so to the degree possible.

The President expressed the view that NSC 128 should be referred by the Council to the Senior NSC Staff for preparation of a report.

Secretary Acheson, however, requested that the Departments of State and Defense be permitted to do some preliminary work on such a report prior to Senior Staff consideration of it.

The President agreed to Secretary Acheson’s proposal, and expressed the opinion that it might not prove necessary to refer the report to the Senior NSC Staff.

Mr. Dulles at this point remarked that the Central Intelligence Agency had certain responsibilities with respect to the area in question, and certain of its programs were based on Formosa. Moreover, he pointed out the part that the Director of Central Intelligence had played in the formulation of NSC 128. He therefore requested that at an appropriate time representatives of the Central Intelligence Agency be invited to participate with the State and Defense Departments in the preliminary discussion of our policy toward Formosa and the considerations raised in NSC 128.

[Page 28]

Secretary Acheson said he would be happy to have CIA participate with the other two Departments.

Mr. Lay then explained briefly the normal Staff procedure with respect to the preparation of reports, and inquired specifically whether it was the Council’s desire to have the report on Formosa referred to the Senior Staff for consideration subsequent to the preliminary study by the Departments of State and Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency.

The National Security Council:6

Discussed the reference report by the Acting Secretary of Defense on the subject (NSC 128).
Directed the NSC Staff, after preliminary discussion by the Departments of State and Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency, to prepare a report for Council consideration in the light of a review of NSC 48/5 in so far as it pertains to United States policy toward Formosa, the Chinese Nationalist Government, and other anti-Communist Chinese forces, and in the light of the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff contained in NSC 128.

. . . . . . .

  1. Prepared on Apr. 3, presumably by the NSC Secretariat. According to the minutes of the meeting, which consist of a list of participants and a brief list of decisions taken at the meeting, the following members of the Council attended: President Truman, presiding, Vice President Alben W. Barkley, Secretary of State Acheson, Acting Secretary of Defense Foster, Director for Mutual Security W. Averell Harriman, and Chairman of the National Security Resources Board Jack Gorrie. Others present included Acting Secretary of the Treasury Edward H. Foley, Jr., Acting Director of Defense Mobilization John R. Steelman, Special Consultant to the President Sidney W. Souers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Omar N. Bradley, and Acting Director of Central Intelligence Allen W. Dulles. (Minutes of the 114th meeting of the NSC, Apr. 2, 1952, Truman Library, Truman papers, PSF–Subject file)
  2. See the memorandum by Foster, Document 11.
  3. For text of NSC 48/5, May 17, 1951, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. vi, Part 1, p. 33.
  4. Not printed.
  5. The Senior NSC Staff consisted of representatives of the Departments of State, Defense, and the Treasury, the National Security Resources Board, the Mutual Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Office of Defense Mobilization, with an adviser representing the Psychological Strategy Board.
  6. The lettered subparagraphs constitute NSC Action No. 624. (S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) files, lot 66 D 95, “Record of Actions by the NSC, 1952”)