Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file

No. 93
Memorandum of Discussion at the 139th Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, April 8, 1953 1

top secret
eyes only


Present at the 139th 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; and the Director for Mutual Security. Also present were the Secretary of the Treasury; the Attorney General (for Item 1); the Secretary of the Interior (for Item 1); the Director, Bureau of the Budget; the Acting Director of Defense Mobilization; the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Director of Central Intelligence; the Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs; the Special Assistant to the President for Cold War Planning; the Military Liaison Officer; the Executive Secretary, NSC; and the Deputy Executive Secretary, NSC.

There follows a general account of the main positions taken and the chief points made at this meeting.

. . . . . . .

5. United States Objectives and Courses of Action With Respect to Formosa and the National Government of China (NSC 146 and Annex to NSC 146;2 Memos for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated April 6 and 7, 1953;3 SE-29; NIE 27/14

[Here follows discussion of agenda item 3. “United States Policies in the Far East”, 4. “Analysis of Possible Courses of Action in Korea”, and 6. “United States Objectives and Courses of Action With Respect to Japan”, discussed as a group along with this item. For the first portion of the discussion, which concerned Japan, particularly the question of possible Japanese trade with the People’s Republic of China, see Document 642. During further discussion [Page 181] the Council decided to postpone action on all the papers under consideration; for this portion of the discussion, see volume XII, Part 1, page 298.]

Secretary Dulles then said he had one particular point on Formosa which he wanted an opportunity to discuss. He noted that the United States had just delivered a certain number of jet bombers to the Chinese Nationalist Government, and he emphasized the danger that the Chinese Nationalists might make use of these planes to undertake offensive action against the Chinese mainland, which might well not be in accordance with our conception of our own best interests. It was therefore necessary to secure very quickly a commitment from Chiang Kai-shek that he would not use these aircraft recklessly and in a fashion to embarrass United States policy. Until this commitment had been obtained, Secretary Dulles recommended that the United States stop delivery of any more aircraft to the Chinese Nationalist Government.

General Bradley explained that the Joint Chiefs were cognizant of the situation and that they had already instructed Admiral Radford to secure from the Chinese Nationalist Government the desired commitment. He also noted that General Vandenberg had taken steps to stop delivery of all planes except the twenty which were en route.

Mr. Cutler also noted that the Planning Board report on Formosa made reference to the problem which concerned Secretary Dulles.5

Mr. Stassen noted that the planes had been shipped to Formosa in accordance with a State Department policy of rendering military assistance to the Chinese Nationalist forces.

Secretary Dulles agreed that this was accurate, but said that the State Department policy in question had been the work of the previous Administration.

The President said that this seemed to him beside the point. The real trouble and danger that Chiang Kai-shek might go on the warpath had actually arisen only when the present Administration had taken the wraps off the Seventh Fleet.

Mr. Cutler then inquired as to whether the Council desired to take positive action to stop delivery of further aircraft in the absence of the desired commitment from Chiang Kai-shek. The President answered in the affirmative.

General Bradley pointed out that we should know very soon from Ambassador Rankin what he would be able to obtain by way of commitment, and the President stated that Admiral Radford was to hold up deliveries until the desired commitment had been obtained. [Page 182] Indeed, said the President, this was the first time he had known or that the Council had been informed that the Generalissimo was not already under a commitment to play ball with the United States. Admiral Radford, he said, was a smart fellow, and all that was necessary was to tell him just what we wanted.

[Here follows discussion concerning the Korean war (for text, see volume XV, Part 1, page 892) and a list of actions on agenda items 3 and 4.]

Action on Item 5:

The National Security Council: 6

Agreed that:
The U.S. Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific should be instructed to expedite obtaining a commitment from the Chinese Nationalist Government that the Chinese Nationalist forces will not engage in offensive operations considered by the United States to be inimical to the best interests of the United States.
Pending such a commitment, further shipments to the Chinese Nationalist Government of jet planes from the United States should be stopped and the transfer to the Chinese Nationalist Government of jet planes already shipped should be delayed.
Deferred further action on the reference report on the subject (NSC 146) pending further study.

Note: The action in a above subsequently transmitted to the Secretary of Defense for appropriate implementation.

. . . . . . .

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Prepared by the Deputy Executive Secretary of the NSC, S. Everett Gleason on Apr. 16.
  2. Regarding NSC 146, see footnote 6, Document 86. The Annex, an NSC staff study dated Mar. 30, is filed with NSC 146; the staff study portion of NSC 146/2, Document 150, is a revised version.
  3. For Lay’s Apr. 6 memorandum, see footnote 8, Document 86; his Apr. 7 memorandum transmitted a memorandum from the Joint Chiefs of Staff proposing a minor amendment to NSC 146. (S/SNSC files, lot 63 D 351, NSC 146 Series)
  4. Regarding SE-29, see Document 32; for partial text of NIE-27/1, see Document 13.
  5. See footnote 8, Document 86.
  6. The lettered subparagraphs constitute NSC Action No. 760. (S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) files, lot 65 D 95, “Record of Actions by the National Security Council, 1953”)