PPS files, lot 65 D 101, “China”
Memorandum by the Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff (Radford) to the Secretary of Defense (Wilson)
- U.S. policy regarding off-shore Islands held by Chinese Nationalist Forces, NSC Action 1206-f.
- As a result of NSC Action 1206–f taken at their meeting on 18 August 1954, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were requested by the Acting Secretary of Defense to forward their views on United States policy in regard to the islands close to the mainland of China now held by the Chinese Nationalist forces. In their memorandum of 2 September 1954,1 the Joint Chiefs of Staff forwarded split views to the Secretary of Defense. The Chief of Staff U.S. Air Force and the Chief of Naval Operations held one view. The Chief of Staff U.S. Army held another. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff concurred in the views of the Chief of Naval Operations and the Chief of Staff U.S. Air Force. The Marine Corps was represented in the discussions which led to the preparation of this split paper but did not express a direct interest and therefore their views did not appear.
- In accordance with an understanding between the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense a discussion of the differing views contained in the memorandum of 2 September 1954 was held with the Acting Secretary of Defense on 3 September 1954 and prior to the formal submission of the split views therein. At the time this discussion was held the first dispatches on Chinese Communist action directed against Quemoy Island had come in, and as a consequence there was some discussion of this situation. Later in the afternoon of 3 September 1954, the Acting Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff conferred with the Acting Secretary of State in regard to the situation posed by the Communist action against Quemoy Island. As a result of this conference, the Acting Secretary of Defense dispatched a message to the President which outlined the Communist action against Quemoy, described in general terms the military situation there, and gave the President an outline of the Joint Chiefs of Staff memorandum of 2 September 1954 in regard to off-shore Islands, pointing out that it had been written before reports of Communist action against Quemoy had been received. Copies of this dispatch [Page 599] were sent to the Secretary of State in Manila, the Secretary of Defense, Admiral Felix B. Stump (CINCPAC), and delivered to the State Department in Washington.
The Secretary of State in telegrams from Manila on September 4th and 5th2 expressed certain views in regard to the situation at Quemoy and in these messages propounded two cogent questions:
- Do the Joint Chiefs of Staff feel that from a military point of view the defense of Quemoy Island is substantially related to the defense of Formosa?
- Do the Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that Quemoy Island is defensible by the Chinese Nationalists with U.S. assistance?
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff after conferring with the Acting Secretary of Defense decided that the Joint Chiefs of Staff should prepare their views on these two questions as soon as possible. Two special meetings of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were held on Sunday, 5 September 1954, and Monday, 6 September 1954. These meetings again resulted in split views. Forwarded herewith as Enclosure (A) are the views of the Chief of Naval Operations, Chief of Staff U.S. Air Force, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Enclosure (B) contains the views of the Chief of Staff U.S. Army. The comments of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Enclosures (A) and (B) are contained in the appendix to this memorandum.
- The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is firmly convinced that the decision of the United States to act with military force, if necessary, in support of the Chinese Nationalists in this instance will have far reaching implications—politically, psychologically, and militarily—vis-à-vis the Communist regimes. Initially this reaction will serve United States interests with respect to the Chinese, subsequently in other areas of the Far East, and ultimately on a global basis. He considers that the policy recommended in Enclosure (A) to the memorandum of 2 September 1954, and reflected in Enclosure (A) to this memorandum, will enhance the position of the free world and will lead to a deterioration of that of the Communists. On the other hand, to follow the policy advocated by the Chief of Staff U.S. Army will lead to further deterioration of the posture of the United States and to greater and greater accretions to Communists strength and influence worldwide.
- The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff concludes that the
question involved in a decision pro or con on the use of United
States forces to assist in the defense of Quemoy and other
off-shore [Page 600] Islands now
held by the Chinese Nationalists is fundamental in the following
- It affects the broad context of U.S. policy not only in the Far East but throughout the world;
- As specifically related to the Far East, it affects the policy to be adopted by the United States in regard to that part of the world as a whole and particularly towards Communist China. Collaterally, the issue involves the will of the United States to support the defensive military operations of the Chinese Nationalists as an ally and to sustain the viability of the Nationalist Government of the Republic of China;
- The decision regarding Quemoy Island should be made in the light of our determination to resist the further spread of Communism. If we decide to resist such a limited aggression, we do risk an enlarged conflict. If we fail to resist this aggression, we commit the United States further to a negative policy which could result in a progressive loss of free world strength to local aggression until or unless all-out conflict is forced upon us.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommends that the Secretary of Defense support the position taken in Enclosure (A) to this memorandum and in Enclosure (A) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff memorandum of 2 September 1954.[Page 605]
- Not printed, but see the message from Anderson to Eisenhower, Document 270.↩
- Dulte 1 and Dulte 5, Documents 273 and 278.↩
- Numbered paragraph 3, the third subparagraph in Enclosure A below.↩
- Reference is to the last sentence in the subparagraph cited in footnote 3 above.↩
- Extracts apparently taken from a message from Hull to the Joint Chiefs of Staff; ellipses and bracketed material are in the source text. The date of the message is not indicated.↩
- Not printed.↩