142. Memorandum of a Conversation Between the Secretary of State and Senator Walter George, Department of State, Washington, March 7, 19551

I reviewed briefly the impressions of my trip, the overriding impression of the danger from Communist subversion and aggression, and the importance of our standing firm. I said that I felt that under present conditions it would be impossible for us to stand by and do nothing while the Chinese Communists took Quemoy and Matsus by force. I said the psychological repercussions on Formosa and in Southeast Asia would, I thought, make it almost certain that most of Asia would be lost to us. I then said that an effective defense of these islands would require the use of atomic weapons because it would not be possible to knock out airfields and gun implacements with conventional weapons in the face of Chinese manpower and capacity to replace and rebuild. Senator George said he assumed this did not include any mass destruction weapons, and I confirmed that this was the case. I said that the missiles we had in mind had practically no radioactive fall-out and were entirely local in effect. Senator [Page 338] George indicated his agreement with my analysis, although he seemed to share my own feeling that it would be preferable if the importance of these coastal positions could be diminished through changed policies of Chiang. He asked about the situation on the island, whether I thought there was much subversion there. I indicated that I feared subversion and also relations between the native Chinese on the island and the new group that had come over with Chiang, particularly the Army people, were not very good.

Senator George said that his Committee would like to hear me and asked if it would be agreeable for me to meet with them Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.2 I said I would do so. Senator George said they would try to pin me down about Quemoy and the Matsus. I said I would try to maintain a flexible position.

[Here follows discussion of several unrelated matters.]

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, Senator Walter George. Top Secret. A notation on the source text indicates that this conversation took place at breakfast.
  2. For the record of the Secretary’s meeting with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 8, see Executive Sessions of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, vol. VII, pp. 387–413.