9. Memorandum of Discussion at the 231st Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, January 13, 19551
Present at this meeting were the President of the United States, presiding (except for Item 8, when the Vice President presided); the Vice President of the United States; the Secretary of State (for Items 1 through 5); the Acting Secretary of Defense; Gen. Porter for the Director, Foreign Operations Administration; and the Director, Office of Defense Mobilization. Also present were the Secretary of the Treasury; the Director, Bureau of the Budget; the Director, U.S. Information Agency (for Items 2 through 8); the Under Secretary of State (for Items 5 through 8); the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Director of Central Intelligence; Mr. Cutler, Special Assistant to the President; Mr. Rockefeller, Special Assistant to the President; Mr. Bowie, Department of State; the White House Staff Secretary; the Executive Secretary, NSC; and the Deputy Executive Secretary, NSC.
There follows a summary of the discussion at the meeting and the main points taken.
[Here follows discussion of agenda item 1, “CIA Quarterly Report.”]
2. Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security
[Here follows a summary of the first portion of the intelligence briefing, given by Director of Central Intelligence Allen W. Dulles, and related discussion concerning Costa Rica.]
At the close of this discussion, Mr. Allen Dulles resumed his briefing with comments on the attack by the Chinese Communists on the Tachen Islands, which he described as the heaviest action by the Communists against the Nationalists since the attacks on [Page 18] Quemoy in September. Between 60 and 100 Chinese Communist aircraft had participated in the attack on the Tachens, and the engagement had lasted nine or ten hours. Mr. Dulles believed that the Chinese Nationalists had been caught somewhat unprepared for the attack, which indicated to him good Communist intelligence with respect to the rotation of Chinese Nationalist troops in the Tachens.
Admiral Radford was inclined to disagree with the view that the Nationalists had been caught off guard. He indicated, however, that they had lost one LST and that another LST, as well as a Nationalist gunboat, had been severely damaged.
Mr. Allen Dulles resumed by pointing out the serious morale effect on the Nationalist garrisons in the Tachen Islands if the Chinese Communist attacks were to continue. Continuation of the attacks would also present the Generalissimo with the problem of determining whether or not to engage a considerable sector of the Nationalist armed forces to defend the Tachen Islands.
Admiral Radford interposed to state that the situation in the Tachens was currently such that they could not be held by the Nationalists if the Chinese Communists succeeded in interdicting the supply lines between Formosa and the Tachens. The answer to this problem appeared to be an increase in the number of F–86 aircraft delivered to the Nationalists by the United States. The United States has already provided a certain number of F–86’s. General Twining, said Admiral Radford, was of the opinion that it was possible to speed up the delivery of other F–86’s so that they could be on hand before April 15, after which date the Nationalists believe that the real Chinese Communist effort to take the Tachens can be expected. Admiral Radford also thought that it would be advantageous from the point of view of the United States if the Chinese Nationalists were successful in producing attrition of the Chinese Communist Air Force. Beyond that, the delivery of an additional wing of F–86’s would enable the Chinese Nationalists to run an effective air patrol over the Tachen Islands on those days in which there were concentrations of vessels in the port.
Admiral Radford also indicated the desire of the Chinese Nationalists for eight additional LST’s. He advised that these vessels could and should be sent if the United States desires that the Chinese Nationalists hold on to the Tachen Islands. Admiral Radford concluded by stating that General Chase had informed him that the defenses of the Tachen Islands were very strong, and that the problem of resupply was the real key to the situation.[Page 19]
The National Security Council:
Noted and discussed an oral briefing by the Director of Central Intelligence on the subject, with specific reference to the situations in Costa Rica and in the Tachen Islands.2
3. U.S. Policy Toward Formosa and the Government of the Republic of China (NSC 5441;3 NSC 5434/1;4 NSC 5429/5; NSC 146/2;5 NSC Action No. 1146;6 Memo for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated January 10, 1955;7 Memo for Secretary of Defense from JCS, subject: “NSC 5429/5, ‘U.S. Policy Toward the Far East’”, dated January 12, 1955)8
Mr. Cutler briefed the Council at considerable length on the subject report (NSC 5441), concluding that this policy report was something of a miracle inasmuch as it had been approved without change by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and contained no split views by the members of the NSC Planning Board. (A copy of Mr. Cutler’s brief is filed with the minutes of the meeting.)9[Page 20]
Before the Council began its consideration of this policy paper, Mr. Cutler said he wished to call their attention to a story in The New York Times of January 12 which described a private memorandum which had been circulated to members of the Congress by the Democratic National Committee and which questioned the wisdom of Senate ratification of the mutual defense treaty with the Formosa government. Mr. Cutler then read the chief points made by this memorandum. In the first place, the memorandum argued that ratification of the treaty would for the first time constitute a formal recognition of Formosa and the Pescadores as territories of the Republic of China. Secondly, such formal recognition would support the claim of the Chinese Communists that an armed attack on Formosa and the Pescadores would not constitute international aggression on their part, but only civil war, in which the right and purpose of other nations forcibly to intervene would be open to serious doubt. In conclusion, Mr. Cutler said he thought the matter serious, and would like to have the Secretary of State comment. The President said that by all means Secretary Dulles should comment.
The Secretary of State said that the memorandum which Mr. Cutler had read did indeed indicate an “interesting development”. He would prefer, however, to defer discussion of it until the Vice President (who had momentarily left the meeting) could be present.
Accordingly, Mr. Cutler suggested that the Council look at paragraph 11 of the present paper, because this paragraph posed a certain problem. Paragraph 11 read as follows:
“Refrain from assisting or encouraging GRC offensive actions against Communist China, and restrain the GRC from such actions, except in response to Chinese Communist provocation judged adequate in each case by the President.”
Mr. Cutler explained that the recent attack by the Chinese Communists against the Tachen Islands had provided the first test of the adequacy of the policy set forth in this paragraph. A memorandum to him from the Chief of Naval Operations10 had raised the question as to the validity of current instructions to the Commander-in-Chief of the US. Fleet in the Pacific. There was some question as to whether Chinese Nationalist retaliatory action was to be considered offensive action in the sense of paragraph 11. Furthermore, if paragraph 11 were to be construed in a manner to permit the Chinese Nationalists to engage in retaliatory action against the Chinese Communist mainland, so much time would be consumed in obtaining the judgment of the President that the retaliatory character of Chinese Nationalist action would not be apparent. Mr. Cutler ended by indicating [Page 21] to the Council the President’s view, when he was briefed for this meeting, that a distinction should be made between offensive actions which were in retaliation for Chinese Communist attacks, and other kinds of offensive action, and that CINCPAC should exercise his own best judgment with respect to the mounting of retaliatory actions by the Chinese Nationalists. Accordingly, said Mr. Cutler, he had prepared for Council consideration a revision of paragraph 11 of NSC 5441, as well as a revision of paragraph 5–c of NSC 5429/5,11 which reflected the President’s view. He noted that the Joint Chiefs of Staff had likewise presented a revision of these paragraphs. Mr. Cutler then called on the Secretary of State for his opinion of the proposed revision of these two paragraphs.
Secretary Dulles said that he had no objection in principle to the revised language presented by Mr. Cutler. However, he too had prepared a revision12 which he believed to be more in line with the exchange of notes between the Government of the Republic of China and the United States Government, which had occurred when the mutual defense treaty was being negotiated. His own revision, said Secretary Dulles, made a clear distinction between retaliatory action by the Chinese Nationalists and other varieties of offensive action. After considerable discussion of the various drafts, the Council agreed on a new version of the two paragraphs.[Page 22]
Since the Vice President had by this time returned to the meeting, Mr. Cutler suggested that Secretary Dulles now return to the subject of the memorandum circulated to members of Congress by the Democratic National Committee, discussion of which had been deferred.
Secretary Dulles said that this memorandum represented a most interesting development, discussion of which he wished the Vice President to hear. There seemed, said Secretary Dulles, to be a somewhat nebulous group of former members of the State Department—including Messrs. Acheson,13 Adrian Fisher,14 Myron Cowen,15 Paul Nitze,16 Benjamin Cohen,17 and possibly Finletter18—whose purpose it was to purvey various ideas to the Democratic National Committee. The first of these attempts to purvey ideas critical of the Administration’s foreign policy was represented by this memorandum on the mutual defense treaty. This memorandum was plainly designed to obfuscate the issues and to throw monkey wrenches into the Administration’s plans. Secretary Dulles then discussed the substantive points made in the memorandum, and went on to say that both these points had been most carefully considered when the treaty was being discussed with the Government of the Republic of China. Indeed, we had used the precise language we had chosen because such language involved no final commitment as to the actual transfer of title to Formosa and the Pescadores to the GRC.
Secretary Dulles then went on to express with some indignation his fear that the memorandum in question would spearhead organized opposition to the ratification of the mutual defense treaty in the United States Senate. The President inquired whether it would not be well to prepare a statement to meet the issues raised by the Democratic memorandum, and perhaps get someone like Senator Mansfield19 to make it public. Secretary Dulles agreed that it would be wise not to let too much time pass before countering the points raised in the memorandum.
The Vice President inquired, what forum? Perhaps the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Secretary Dulles expressed the opinion that a public meeting of that Committee would be a logical place, adding that he would first, however, have a private conversation with Senator George, who had known about the treaty from its inception. [Page 23] Secretary Dulles then said that in his opinion the activities of the group which had written this memorandum bordered on the traitorous—at a time when our national security policies were faced with such severe difficulties.
The President said to Secretary Dulles that he saw no reason why it was necessary to forego the possibility of a public statement because the Secretary desired to deal directly with Senator George or Senator Mansfield. The best plan was to show these two what Secretary Dulles intended to say at a public hearing. Indeed, one of these two Senators might well be induced to denounce the activities of this cabal at the time when we most desperately needed bi-partisan support of our foreign policy.
The Vice President observed that it was obvious to him that this whole thing was a calculated political maneuver. Much the same technique had been used to criticize the President’s State of the Union message, only in this case the group elected to leak the criticism to the press instead of coming out with a direct public statement. The Vice President went on to state that whoever was selected to make public reference to this breach of bi-partisanship, it should certainly not be either the President or the Secretary of State. Perhaps the best thing would be for some Senator who was not involved, or some well-known press figure, to make the statement.
Secretary Dulles said that in any event the first thing for him to do was to talk to Senator George.
The National Security Council:
- Discussed the subject on the basis of the reference report (NSC 5441) by the NSC Planning Board, in the light of the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff transmitted by the reference memorandum dated January 10, and the reference memorandum dated January 12 distributed at the meeting.
Adopted the statement of policy contained in NSC 5441, subject to the following amendment:
Paragraph 11: Revise to read as follows:
“11. Do not agree to GRC offensive actions against mainland Communist China, except under circumstances approved by the President. Agree to GRC actions against Communist China which are prompt and clear retaliation against a Chinese Communist attack; provided such retaliation is against targets of military significance which meet U.S. criteria as to feasibility and chance of success and which are selected with due consideration for the undesirability of provoking further Chinese Communist reaction against Formosa and the Pescadores.”
- Agreed that the Joint Chiefs of Staff should in the light of the statement of policy adopted in b above, review currently-approved force goals for Formosa, and that any resulting policy recommendations [Page 24] with respect to military assistance and supporting programs for Formosa should be reflected in the overall review of military assistance programs provided for in NSC 5434/1.20
Note: NSC 5441, as amended, approved by the President, subsequently circulated as NSC 5503,21 and transmitted to the Operations Coordinating Board as the coordinating agency. The action in c above, as approved by the President, subsequently transmitted to the Secretary of Defense for implementation.
4. Current U.S. Policy Toward the Far East (NSC 5429/5)
The National Security Council:
Adopted the following amendment of the last sentence in paragraph 5–c of NSC 5429/5:
“However, do not agree to Chinese Nationalist offensive actions against mainland Communist China, except under circumstances approved by the President. Agree to Chinese Nationalist actions against Communist China which are prompt and clear retaliation against a Chinese Communist attack; provided such retaliation is against targets of military significance which meet U.S. criteria as to feasibility and chance of success and which are selected with due consideration for the undesirability of provoking further Chinese Communist reaction against Formosa and the Pescadores.”
- Adopted the following amendment of paragraph 7–d of NSC 5429/5:22
End the sentence after the word “estrangement” in line 6; delete the remainder of the paragraph, substituting therefor the following:
“However, do not agree to Chinese Nationalist offensive actions against mainland Communist China, except under circumstances approved by the President. Agree to Chinese Nationalist actions against Communist China which are prompt and clear retaliation against a Chinese Communist attack; provided such retaliation is against targets of military significance which meet U.S. criteria as to feasibility and chance of success and which are selected [Page 25] with due consideration for the undesirability of provoking further Chinese Communist reaction against Formosa and the Pescadores.”23
Note: The above amendments to NSC 5429/5, as approved by the President, subsequently circulated for insertion in NSC 5429/5.24
[Here follows discussion of agenda items 5 through 8: “United States Policy on Berlin,” “U.S. Policy Toward Iran,” “Security Requirements for Government Employment,” and “Report by the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.” In Admiral Radford’s oral report on a recent trip to various Asian countries, he stated that “he had nothing in particular to add to what he had earlier said about the situation on Formosa and in the Tachen Islands.”]
- Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. Drafted by Gleason on January 14.↩
- This constitutes NSC Action No. 1300. (Department of State, S/S–NSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95)↩
- For text of NSC 5441, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. xiv, Part 1, p. 1051.↩
- For text of NSC 5434/1, see ibid., vol. i, Part 1, p. 786.↩
- For text of NSC 146/2, see ibid., vol. xiv, Part 1, p. 307.↩
In NSC Action No. 1146 of June 3, 1954, the National Security Council agreed to amend NSC Action No. 1136–b of May 27, 1954, to read as follows:
“b. Noted that the President has authorized elements of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, as a routine incident to their patrol of the Formosan area, to pay friendly visits to the Tachen Islands lying off the east coast of China, which are held by the Chinese Nationalist Government and are closely related to the defense of Formosa, in order to make a show of strength that might deter the Chinese Communists from attacking these islands.”↩
- The memorandum under reference enclosed a memorandum of January 6 from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense stating the JCS view that those portions of NSC 5441 having military implications were consistent with basic national policy and were acceptable from the military point of view. (Department of State, S/S–NSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5441 Series)↩
The memorandum under reference stated the JCS view that subparagraph 5–c of NSC 5429/5 “will prove to be a bar to timely Chinese Nationalist reaction, and in addition will place a burdensome load on the highest officials of the U.S. Government each time an incident of Chinese Communist aggression, however minor, occurred”. It recommended that paragraph 5–c should be revised so that the last sentence would read, “However, refrain from assisting and encouraging offensive actions against Communist China, except in retaliation for Chinese Communist provocation, provided that such retaliation can be promptly applied and is both feasible and enjoys reasonable chance of success” and recommended that a similar modification should be made to paragraph 11 of NSC 5441. (Ibid., NSC 5429 Series) Paragraph 11 of NSC 5441 reads as follows:
“Refrain from assisting or encouraging GRC offensive actions against Communist China, and restrain the GRC from such actions, except in response to Chinese Communist provocation judged adequate in each case by the President.”↩
- Not attached to the source text and not found in Department of State files.↩
- See the attachment to Document 6.↩
- Not attached to the source text.↩
A draft revision of paragraph 5–c of NSC 5429/5, found attached to Cutler’s memorandum of January 11 to Dulles, reads as follows:
“In the event of Chinese Communist attack against the offshore islands, the Senior U.S. Commander of the Pacific area should be authorized to acquiesce in Chinese Nationalist retaliation therefor, provided that:
- “a. Such retaliation can be initiated with sufficient promptness and carried out in such a manner as to leave no doubt that it is in fact a retaliation for the specific Chinese Communist attack; and
- “b. That any target selected for retaliation be limited to military targets, meet criteria fixed by him as to feasibility and prospect of success, and take due account of the undesirability or provoking Chinese Communist reaction against Formosa itself.”
On the source text, the words “offshore islands” were substituted, in what is apparently Dulles’ handwriting, for the words “Tachen Islands or Quemoy”. Another copy of the draft revision indicates that it was drafted by Bowie and that it was discussed at the NSC briefing in the Secretary’s office on January 12. (Department of State, PPS Files: Lot 66 D 70, China) A draft revision of paragraph 11 of NSC 5441, also found attached to Cutler’s January 11 memorandum, reads as follows:
“11. Not to agree to GRC offensive actions against Communist China except under circumstances approved by the President.
“a. To authorize actions against Communist China which are promptly and clearly retaliatory, which are against military targets and which are not judged to involve a wasteful expenditure of assets, all in the judgment of the United States Commander in the Pacific area.”
The words “and clearly” appear, in what is apparently Dulles’ handwriting, on the source text.↩
- Dean Acheson, former Secretary of State, 1949–1953.↩
- Adrian S. Fisher, former Legal Adviser, 1949–1953.↩
- Myron M. Cowen had served between 1948 and 1953 as Ambassador to Australia, the Philippines, and Belgium.↩
- Paul H. Nitze, former Director of the Policy Planning Staff, 1950–1953.↩
- Benjamin V. Cohen, Counselor of the Department of State, 1945–1947.↩
- Thomas K. Finletter, Secretary of the Air Force, 1950–1953.↩
- Senator Mike Mansfield of Montana.↩
- The lettered subparagraphs constitute NSC Action No. 1301. (Department of State, S/S–NSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95)↩
- Document 12.↩
Paragraph 7–d of NSC 5429/5 of December 22, 1954, reads as follows:
“d. Utilize all feasible overt and covert means, consistent with a policy of not being provocative of war, to create discontent and internal divisions within each of the Communist-dominated areas of the Far East, and to impair their relations with the Soviet Union and with each other, particularly by stimulating Sino-Soviet estrangement, but refrain from assisting or encouraging offensive actions against Communist China, and restrain the Chinese Nationalists from such actions, except in response to Chinese Communist provocation judged adequate in each case by the President.” (See Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. xii, Part 1, p. 1062)↩
The lettered subparagraphs constitute NSC Action No. 1302. (Department of State, S/S–NSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95)
A memorandum of January 17, 1955, from Lay to the Director of Central Intelligence stated that at the NSC meeting of January 13, 1955, the President, on the recommendation of the Council, agreed that paragraphs 5–c and 7–d of NSC 5429/5 and paragraph 11 of NSC 5503 “did not preclude the continuation of small scale raids undertaken by the Chinese Nationalists for intelligence purposes.” (Ibid., S/S–NSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5503 Series)↩
With a memorandum of January 15 from Lay, which stated that the President had that day approved the amendments. (Ibid., NSC 5429 Series)
On March 24, 1955, in NSC Action No. 1361–b(1), the Council agreed that the statement of policy in NSC 166/1, “U.S. Policy Toward Communist China”, November 6, 1953, should be regarded as superseded by the approval of NSC 5429/5. (Ibid., S/S–NSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95) For text of NSC 166/1, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. xiv, Part 1, p. 278.↩