182. 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 item 1, a report by Allen Dulles on China.]

2. Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security

The Director of Central Intelligence remarked that the revolution in Costa Rica had begun to take on a certain opera bouffe quality, what with the challenge to a duel by President Somoza of Nicaragua. These characteristics should not hide the seriousness of the situation. Mr. Dulles went on to say that the present revolution was the most publicized of any Latin American revolution in history. President Somoza had advised us when it would occur, three days before it broke out.

Mr. Dulles then described the air raids mounted by the rebels, and also the military action at Villa Quesada. Rumors of landings by the rebels at ports on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Costa Rica had not yet been confirmed. Mr. Dulles added that it seemed hard to believe that Nicaragua and Venezuela could be lending their support to what appeared to be so small and ineffectual an operation. However, he warned, the present operation by the rebels may prove only a preliminary to larger-scale action.

Secretary Dulles commented that while it one sense the revolution in Costa Rica was decidedly minor, it was of very considerable [Page 597] importance because it raised basic principles and the issue of U.S. good faith. At present this Government was taking the position that in so far as the revolution in Costa Rica was a domestic matter, it would keep its hands off. Nevertheless, this Government feels that it ought to cooperate with the Organization of American States (OAS) to try to prevent one country in Latin America from being used as a base of military operations against another. Not least important in our thinking was a desire to prevent the United Nations from meddling in the situation, as several members of the UN would be only too glad to do.

On the whole, Secretary Dulles thought that the situation in Costa Rica was moving satisfactorily, and it looked to him as though the revolution was failing.…

The Vice President inquired of Secretary Dulles whether the CIO was playing any part in the developments in Costa Rica. Secretary Dulles replied that the U.S. labor organizations in general were strongly backing President Figueres because of his opposition to dictatorship and because he has pursued so-called “liberal” policies—in this case retroactive income taxes and a capital levy.

Mr. Rockefeller inquired whether it would be possible to have this Administration make public its position of adherence to the principles of the OAS. Such a statement would be advantageous in counteracting current rumors to the contrary. Secretary Dulles replied that we had already tried to make such a statement, but that it had been poorly timed and had not gotten much of a play in the press. He thought he might try to make another statement on the subject at his next press conference.

[Here follow a resumption of discussion of China (for text, see volume II, page 17), and discussion of items 3–8 which covered the Far East, Berlin, and Iran.]

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. Prepared by Gleason on January 14.