Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file

No. 737
Memorandum of Discussion at the 185th Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, February 17, 19541

top secret
eyes only


The following were present at the 185th meeting of the Council: The President of the United States, presiding; the Vice President of the United States; the Acting Secretary of State; the Acting Secretary of Defense; the Acting Director, Foreign Operations Administration; the Director, Office of Defense Mobilization. Also present were the Secretary of the Treasury; the Attorney General (for Items 1, 2 and 4); the Secretary of Commerce (for Item 4); the Director, Bureau of the Budget; the Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission (for Items 1, 2 and 4); the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Research & Development); Mr. Slezak for the Secretary of the Army; the Acting Secretary of the Navy; the Acting Secretary of the Air Force; the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. Bolte for the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army; the Chief of Naval Operations; the Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force; the Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps; the Director of Central Intelligence; Gen. John E. Hull, Department of Defense (for Item 7); Gen. Willard S. Paul, Office of Defense Mobilization, and Mr. Shapley, Bureau of the Budget (for Items 1 and 2); Mr. Sullivan, Department of Defense, Mr. Ash, Office of Defense Mobilization, and Mr. Hurley, Office of Defense Mobilization (for Items 1 and 2); the Assistant to the President; Robert Cutler, Special Assistant to the President; the NSC Representative [Page 1606] on Internal Security; Richard L. Hall, NSC Special Staff Member; Bryce Harlow, Administrative Assistant to the President; the Executive Secretary, NSC; and the Deputy Executive Secretary, NSC.

A summary of the discussion at the meeting follows, together with the main points taken.

. . . . . . .

7. U.S. Civil Administration in the Ryukyu Islands (Memo for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated February 16, 1954,2 NSC 125/6,3 para. 4; NSC Actions Nos. 824–b4 and 965;5 Memo for NSC from Executive Secretary, subject: “The Japanese Treaty Islands”, dated June 15, 1953)

Mr. Cutler commented that after eight long months the lion and the lamb had at last agreed to lie down together, since he was informed that the Departments of State and Defense had reached agreement as to the directive in question. Whether the lion was actually on top of the lamb, as had been hinted, was something which he would leave Secretary Smith to state.

Secretary Smith said that four days ago, when the text of the directive had been presented to him, it had included five foolscap pages of disagreements between State and Defense. Happily, General Hull had been on hand in Washington, and a conference had been arranged which had ironed out all these disagreements. Accordingly, when the text had left this conference Secretary Smith had believed that it represented complete agreement between the two departments. Since then, however, Secretary Smith gathered that Defense had suggested one additional “slight change”. To this, which called for the nomination of the Governor of the Ryukyus by the Secretary of Defense, the State Department disagreed. State still believed that the President should appoint the Governor on the recommendation of the Secretary of Defense.

Mr. Dodge said that while he had got his copy of the draft directive only at 5:15 the previous day, a brief glance was sufficient to make the Budget Bureau fear that it moved too far away from the area of civilian control and placed too much authority in the hands of the Defense Department.

Secretary Kyes replied that if the arrangement in the present draft prevailed and the Defense Department revision was not accepted, the President would be obliged to have his candidate for the [Page 1607] Governorship confirmed by the Senate, even though by terms of the directive this Governor was to be a military officer. This seemed a needless complication.

Secretary Smith disagreed with the view of Secretary Kyes, and the President added that of course he made a good many appointments without Senate confirmation.

General Hull commented that quite possibly all this was a mere fuss over wording. As far as he was concerned—and, of course, among the hats he was now wearing was that of Governor of the Ryukyus—either wording would be appropriate.

Secretary Smith reminded the Council that the Secretary of State had felt very strongly that the Governor of the Ryukyus should not be a military man. In view of the many modifications and concessions which he had already made to meet the views of the Defense Department, Secretary Smith suggested that it would be best if the Council postponed action until Secretary Dulles returned from Berlin.

The President stated that of course there was no use kidding ourselves that we were holding on to Okinawa for any other purpose than to protect our security in the Pacific. For that reason we needed a military commander there.

Secretary Smith added that all those who had participated in the conference to reach agreement on this text, including himself, had agreed that the present draft constituted a satisfactory and decent arrangement. It provided, on the one hand, for the Department of Defense the control that it needed in the interests of security; while, on the other, it gave at least a flavor of civilian administration. He then reiterated his belief that the Governor of the Ryukyus should be appointed by the President and not by the Secretary of Defense.

The President said that, above all, he did not want another row such as had occurred between MacArthur and Taft in the Philippines in 1908 because a civilian administration for these islands had been set up too early. Furthermore, continued the President, he didn’t think that the formula for appointment of the Governor was really the guts of the problem. He had some doubts as to whether it was wise to name a military man at all. Would it not be better to name as Governor a civilian, perhaps an Assistant Secretary of Defense?

Secretary Kyes said that of course the main thing was to assure adequate control of operations by the Department of Defense, since Okinawa was our great bastion of defense for the Pacific. Moreover, said Secretary Kyes, we feel that political pressures will generate and make things very difficult for us if we proceed too rapidly in creating a genuine civilian administration in the Ryukyus.

[Page 1608]

The President said that in any event he did not see that any particular urgency attached to the problem at this precise moment. It would become urgent only when our forces were removed from Japan and Okinawa became the more important base. Accordingly, the President said he was not inclined to make any decision until Secretary Dulles returned. He was, after all, a very “wise fellow” in these affairs. The question of who appointed the Governor of the Ryukyus, continued the President with some force, was nobody’s business but his. Whether or not he delegated to the Secretary of Defense his prerogative of appointment was wholly his decision.

General Hull asked the President’s permission to offer a few points for his consideration. General Hull said that he had recently been obliged, in his capacity as Governor, to appoint certain judges for the Ryukyus. The candidates from whom he had to make his selection were of pretty poor caliber. This was an indication that the peoples of the Ryukyus not only did not understand democracy, but were incompetent to run their own affairs. Since our only real reason to be in these islands was a military reason, he had no personal concern as to who appointed the Governor. But he felt that it would be useful for the President to know about his experience with these recent appointments.

The President concluded the discussion by indicating the need to make a judgment between the military requirements and the political appearances.

The National Security Council:6

Discussed the draft directive on the subject prepared by the Departments of State and Defense and transmitted by the reference memorandum of February 16, 1954.
Noted that the President would make a final decision regarding the draft directive after further discussion with the Secretaries of State and Defense.

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Drafted by Gleason on Feb. 18.
  2. Not printed; it distributed to members of the Council the draft directive discussed in the memorandum, supra.
  3. Document 657.
  4. See footnote 10, Document 655.
  5. See footnote 4, Document 723.
  6. The lettered paragraphs constitute NSC Action No. 1047. (S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) files, lot 66 D 95, “National Security Council Record of Actions, 1954”)