60. Memorandum of Discussion at the 254th Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, July 7, 19551

[Here follows a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting.]

Basic U.S. Policy in Relation to Four-Power Negotiations (NSC 5524; Annexes to NSC 5524; Memos for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated July 1 and 5, 1955; NSC Action No. 14192)

[Here follows discussion of matters unrelated to economic defense policy.]

Mr. Anderson then went on to brief the Council on the paragraphs dealing with the U.S. position on East-West trade at the conference, noting the split of views in paragraph 27–a, where the majority proposal indicated that if the United States considered that its interests would be advanced thereby, the United States might agree to adopt a more liberal policy with respect to the export of non-strategic goods in conjunction with a demonstrated Soviet willingness “to expand East-West trade in non-strategic goods”. The Defense proposal, as opposed to the majority proposal, stated that the United States should not agree to such a ore liberal policy in [Page 240] the export of non-strategic items except in conjunction with Soviet willingness “to ameliorate the fundamental sources of tension between East and West”.

After Mr. Anderson had explained the difference in these two viewpoints, the President expressed the opinion that this was one which must be played by ear. Secretary Dulles added that there was certainly a considerable difference of opinion as to the importance the Soviets attached to the relaxation of East-West trade restrictions. He said that it was his own feeling that our willingness to relax our trade controls was a strong negotiating card for us vis-à-vis the Soviets.

Secretary Humphrey said that in place of either of the proposed versions, he would substitute the phrase that we would adopt a more liberal trade policy in non-strategic goods “whenever the United States believed that its interests would be advanced thereby.” The President added that that was precisely his view, of course, though he was willing to accept the version proposed by the majority.

Admiral Radford said that wasn’t it a matter of what was strategic and what wasn’t? All that the Soviets really wanted out of East-West trade were strategic items and stuff that contributed to their war potential. In reply, Mr. Anderson read sub-paragraph d, which pointed out that in no event should the United States reduce or eliminate its embargo on arms, ammunition, implements of war, atomic energy materials, or advance prototypes of strategic items.

The President observed that the topic of East-West trade seemed to him to arise at nearly every meeting of the National Security Council; hence the U.S. delegation to Geneva would be very familiar indeed with the views of the Council and there was not the slightest danger of making a mistake in this area, although in the area of East-West trade we might find ourselves on one side of the argument while our allies and the Soviets were on the other.

Mr. Anderson then turned to sub-paragraph e, dealing with the problem of being prepared to discuss trade with Communist China and pointing out that we should not at the Geneva Conference undertake to discuss this matter, for reasons set forth in the subparagraph. Mr. Anderson indicated that Mr. Joseph M. Dodge, Chairman of the Council on Foreign Economic Policy, had expressed his agreement with the views set forth in this sub-paragraph.

Governor Stassen said he believed that the allied attitude toward trade controls vis-à-vis Communist China was more favorable to the U.S. view than it had been two years ago. The President said that the fact of the matter was that we were not going to talk about these issues at Geneva.

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Secretary Dulles said that he had that very morning suggested to Under Secretary Hoover that he take up with Mr. Dodge’s Council those questions of economic policy and East-West trade that might come up for negotiation after the conclusion of the Summit Conference. Governor Stassen pointed out that unfortunately the Council on Foreign Economic Policy did not have any representation from the Central Intelligence Agency or from the Department of Defense, both of which had a legitimate interest and responsibility on the subject of East-West trade. He therefore suggested that instead of the Dodge Council, Mr. Hollister’s people in the State Department provided the best forum for discussions on the U.S. position with respect to East-West trade and similar economic problems. The Hollister people could work out the U.S. position, in which process they would have representation from all the interested agencies. After the position was formulated, Governor Stassen thought that some kind of subcommittee of the Big Four powers would provide the best vehicle for the subsequent international negotiations. The important thing, in any event, said Governor Stassen, is that no single department of the Government can really advise the President on these matters.

The President took issue with Governor Stassen’s argument, and said he believed that Mr. Dodge’s Council, with the additional elements of representation from Defense and CIA, was the best instrumentality for formulating U.S. policy in this field. Mr. Hollister and his people had too many heavy operating responsibilities. In fact, said the President, it was for precisely such matters that we had set up the Dodge Council.3

[Here follows discussion of matters unrelated to economic defense policy.]

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. Drafted by Gleason on July 8. For the complete text of this memorandum of discussion, see vol. V, p. 268.
  2. Regarding NSC 5524 and its annexes, see ibid., p. 247. The memoranda of July 1 and 5 circulated copies of Allen Dulles’ memorandum and the comments of the JCS, July 2, which are indicated in the discussion. (Department of State, S/PNSC Files: Lot 61 D 167, NSC 5524 Series) NSC Action No. 1419, taken at the 253d meeting of the NSC on June 30, recorded actions to be taken by Stassen on disarmament.
  3. As a result of this meeting, the NSC adopted the paper under discussion, as amended, as 5524/1. For text, see vol. V, p. 287.