Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file

Memorandum of Discussion at the 199th Meeting of the National Security Council, Thursday, May 27, 19541

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Present at the 199th meeting of the Council were the President of the United States, presiding; the Vice President of the United States; [Page 943] the Secretary of State; the Acting Secretary of Defense; the Director, Foreign Operations Administration; and the Director, Office of Defense Mobilization. Also present were the Secretary of the Treasury; the Attorney General (for Items 1 through 6); the Director, Bureau of the Budget; the Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission (for Items 5 and 8); Assistants Attorney General Barnes and Rankin; Mr. Herbert Hoover, Jr., Department of State (for Item 2); the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Director of Central Intelligence; Mr. Robert Cutler, Special Assistant to the President; the Deputy Assistant to the President; Mr. Robert Amory, Jr., Central Intelligence Agency; the White House Staff Secretary; Mr. Bryce Harlow, Administrative Assistant to the President; 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.

. . . . . . .

10. Southeast Asia (NSC 5405; NSC Actions Nos. 1086-b and -c, 1104–b, 1110 and 1112)2

Mr. Cutler then asked the Secretary of State if he would report any recent developments regarding the Geneva Conference.

Secretary Dulles replied that he had nothing of significance to report from Paris or Geneva. Everything was awaiting the return of General Ely from Indochina, which had just occurred. General Trapnell had reached Paris at about the same time, but had not yet seen General Ely.3

Dr. Flemming inquired of Secretary Dulles the significance of Mr. Eden’s proposal at Geneva for a cease-fire. Secretary Dulles replied that acceptance of the Eden proposal would bring about a de facto partition of all three of the Associated States. Beyond that, the Communists would certainly infiltrate the areas assigned to the other side, with the result that sooner or later they would obtain complete control of all three States.

Secretary Dulles went on to express his great concern over the deterioration of the Bao Dai regime, and mentioned the possible need for “drastic action” if Bao Dai did not regain control of his government.

[Page 944]

The National Security Council:

Noted oral remarks by the Secretary of State on developments in France and at the Geneva Conference with respect to Indochina.4

11. Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security

. . . . . . .

Mr. [Allen] Dulles commented on intelligence reports which suggested the presence of a certain number of Soviet advisers with the Vietminh as early as April 29. He then went on to point out that the redeployment of the Vietminh forces from Dien Bien Phu toward the Delta had proceeded more rapidly than originally anticipated, so that the bulk of these forces was now likely to arrive early in June. Whether or not they would attack the French position in the Delta wasn’t yet clear. Meanwhile, the French were reinforcing the Delta with troops from other parts of Indochina. Plans for further reinforcement from the Metropole or North Africa would await the report of General Ely. The French were also studying plans to reduce the size of their defense perimeter in the Delta.

Mr. Dulles’ final point was to emphasize the near chaotic situation in Saigon, which was actually more unstable than at Hanoi or Haiphong. A significant development was that the Saigon press had now taken a very strong anti-American position.

. . . . . . .

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Prepared by Deputy Executive Secretary Gleason on May 28.
  2. For the text of NSC 5405, Jan. 16, 1954, “United States Objectives and Courses of Action With Respect to Southeast Asia,” and related documentation, see volume xii.

    For texts of NSC Action Nos. 1086–b, Apr. 6, 1954, and 1104–b, Apr. 29, 1954, see footnotes 4 and 5, p. 705. For discussions in the NSC and actions taken on NSC 1086 and 1104, see memoranda of conversations, in volume xiii.

    For NSC Action Nos, 1110 and 1112, see memorandum of discussion at the 196th meeting of the NSC, May 8, ibid. For the text of 1110–a, see telegram Tedul 43, May 8, p. 731.

  3. For an account of General Trapnell’s meeting with General Ely the morning of May 27, see telegram 4566 from Paris, May 27, in volume xiii.
  4. This sentence constitutes NSC Action No. 1142.