35. Memorandum of Discussion at the 298th Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, September 27, 19561
Present at the 298th Council meeting were the President of the United States, presiding; the Secretary of State, the Acting Secretary of Defense; the Director, Office of Defense Mobilization. Also present were the Secretary of the Treasury, the Acting Attorney General (Item 1); the Special Assistant to the President for Disarmament; the Director, Bureau of the Budget; the Under Secretary of [Page 131] State; the Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission (Items 1 and 4); the Director, International Cooperation Administration; the Federal Civil Defense Administrator (Item 1); Assistant Secretary of State Robert Bowie; Assistant Secretary of Defense Gordon Gray; the Director, U.S. Information Agency; the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Acting Director of Central Intelligence, the Assistant to the President, the Deputy Assistant to the President; Special Assistant to the President Clarence B. Randall; the White House Staff Secretary; the Executive Secretary, NSC; and the Deputy Executive Secretary, NSC.
[Here follows discussion of agenda items 1 and 2.]
3. Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria (NSC 5614;2NSC 5436/1;3 Progress Report, dated April 4, 1956 by OCB on NSC 5436/1;4 Memorandum for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated September 26, 1956;5NSC Action No. 15436)
Mr. Lay briefed the Council, pausing at Paragraph 20, to explain to the Council the split views. The majority of the NSC Planning Board wished Paragraph 20 to read:
“Be prepared to offer Morocco and Tunisia reasonable economic and technical aid when required by our direct interests in their political stability bearing in mind the importance of keeping the French informed with a view to obtaining their cooperation.”7
Mr. Lay pointed out that the Treasury and Budget members of the NSC Planning Board proposed the deletion of the reference to economic aid in Paragraph 20. He asked Secretary Humphrey and Mr. Brundage if they wished to add anything to his own explanation of this split of views.
Secretary Humphrey stated that as Mr. Lay had just explained, the Budget Bureau believed that the grant of economic aid should be tied very directly to the maintenance of U.S. bases in Morocco rather than to more general objectives such as political stability.[Page 132]
The President confessed that he was somewhat uncertain as to what specific interests the United States would have in these countries apart from our bases but the President added that these bases would not be very much good to the United States if there were no political stability in the area in which they were located. On the other hand, the President said we certainly could not propose to provide Morocco and Tunisia with economic assistance in the same amount which they had previously received from France. Turning to Admiral Radford, the President said he had a question to put. He pointed out that we had initially negotiated for bases in Morocco and the negotiations having been completed, we had proceeded to build these bases. No sooner had we done this than we had turned and negotiated for the erection of U.S. bases in Spain. Certainly, the President thought, we were more confident as to the stability of the situation in Spain. Why, therefore, could not this be an “either or” proposition. In short, why could not the Spanish bases be a substitute for the Moroccan bases?
Admiral Radford answered that if it proved necessary, we could look upon the Spanish bases as a substitute for the Moroccan bases but he pointed out that the bases in Spain had not yet been completed. Moreover, we were beginning to have certain troubles with the Spanish about our bases there. To this comment the President replied by stating that it seemed to him the more people we had to deal with in our efforts to secure bases, the more blackmail we were exposed to. On the whole it might be better to build a couple of more bases in Spain and get out of Morocco altogether.
Admiral Radford said that he personally agreed with the President’s opinion and he believed that the Chiefs of Staff would also agree with it. Secretary Robertson of the Defense Department pointed out that the United States had a right, under its agreement with Spain, to build two or three additional bases if we want to.
Secretary Humphrey returned to the objection of the Treasury Department to the inclusion in Paragraph 20 of a reference to economic assistance to Morocco and Tunisia. Treasury’s objection, he said, was two-fold. In the first instance, it was based on the feeling that it was idle and useless to make recommendations with respect to giving economic aid to these countries just as the Fairless Committee8 was getting underway with its overall study of our foreign assistance programs. If the recommendation for economic assistance in Paragraph 20 was to be thought of as only a temporary recommendation, Secretary Humphrey said he had no particular objection [Page 133] to its inclusion. On the other hand, he did not wish to prejudge the findings of the Fairless Committee.
The President said that he had no objection to looking upon the possibility of economic aid as a temporary matter pending the findings of the Fairless Committee. Secretary Humphrey then went on to state his second objection to the provision of economic aid. He pointed out that the three paragraphs, 20, 219 and 22,10 all concerned provision of some kind of aid or other to these North African states. The Treasury was therefore afraid that we would end up by paying three times (laughter).
Mr. Brundage said that one of the difficulties which the Budget Bureau encountered in Paragraph 20 was the meaning of the phrase “reasonable economic and technical aid”. Reasonable or otherwise, the curve of the amounts of assistance we were proposing to supply to Morocco and Tunisia moved steadily upward from the present year to FY 1959.
The President, consulting the Financial Appendix, agreed that the curve did mount upward and inquired why the upward curve was so sharp. Mr. Lay suggested that Mr. Hollister might be able to throw light on this problem. Mr. Hollister observed that the only explanation he could give of the amounts allocated to Morocco and Tunisia was that these were the largest amounts of U.S. assistance that Morocco and Tunisia would be able to absorb. In short, we did not believe that they could spend our money any faster. The President replied that the outlook suggested to him that we should make every effort to help France maintain a sufficient position in these newly independent countries to be able to help them meet their budgetary deficits.[Page 134]
Secretary Humphrey then turned to the Financial Appendix and pointed out the “terrific jump” in the amount of U.S. resources devoted to North Africa. It was a jump, according to Secretary Humphrey, from the approximate figure of one million a year at the present time to fifty million a year in FY 1959. Secretary Humphrey said he hated to see such plans and programs because it was morally certain that if we went on with them, other countries in which we had bases would quickly turn and blackmail us into providing additional sums of money.
The President said he could not deny this possibility but that it seemed to him a very good investment of fifty million dollars if as a result of the investment we succeeded in keeping the Communists out of this vast and very important strategic area of North Africa. The trouble, said the President, was that we might not be able to stop at fifty million. The level might rise still higher. Particularly, the President said, we met difficulties in maintaining bases in newly independent countries without a corollary that these new countries become completely dependent economically upon us. On the other hand, the situation was much less difficult when we had our bases in more mature areas such as the United Kingdom. Accordingly, the President recommended that very careful study should be made of the North African area. It was certainly vital to our national safety but on the other hand, we were not yet in a position to make clear projections as to what we ought to pay in order to secure our bases in Morocco.
Secretary Dulles pointed out that as far as he had ever known, approval of a policy paper by the National Security Council did not commit the Administration to any fixed amount of military or economic assistance to be rendered the country in question. He predicted nevertheless that we should have to give some economic aid to Morocco and to Tunisia although it might actually prove better to shift to bases in Spain.
Mr. Brundage said he thought that the Secretary’s point was covered by the first sentence of Paragraph 22 which indicates that we would maintain U.S. base rights in Morocco by all feasible means, being prepared if necessary to offer reasonable quid pro quos therefor. Secretary Dulles replied that it had never been the practice of the Administration to tie the maintenance of U.S. bases to any particular amount of economic assistance. In point of fact, this was something of a fiction but nevertheless a fiction that it was important to maintain.
Governor Stassen then suggested certain language revising Paragraph 20 which he believed might make the paragraph acceptable to Secretary Humphrey and to Mr. Brundage. In turn Secretary Dulles read to the Council the statement which appears at the beginning of [Page 135] all Financial Appendices to the effect that approval of a policy statement did not indicate approval of cost estimates in the Financial Appendix.
Secretary Humphrey stated that after all this was not such a serious matter and the President indicated that a sensible solution was to have the Record of Action indicate that decision as to the amount of assistance to be provided to Morocco and Tunisia should be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Concluding the discussion of this paragraph, Secretary Dulles warned that the United States may soon be obliged to commence negotiations with respect to the Moroccan bases and that these negotiations might drag out for a very long time.
Mr. Lay then directed the Council’s attention to the split of views in Paragraph 21. He explained that the Treasury and Budget members of the NSC Planning Board were opposed to the majority view which called upon the United States to consider the provision of U.S. military aid to Morocco and Tunisia if such a course of action appeared to be the only way by which the United States could retain its position in these countries. After a short discussion, Secretary Humphrey said that he would not insist upon the Treasury position and would agree to accept Paragraph 21 as written if the phrase “if this fails” were inserted at the beginning of the second sentence of the paragraph.
Mr. Lay then explained to the Council the split view in Paragraph 22 where the Treasury and Budget objected to the lengthy statement with respect to the manner in which the United States would propose to conduct its base negotiations with the Moroccans.
The President promptly expressed his view that the details respecting the manner in which the negotiations would be conducted lay already in the domain of the State Department. Mr. Lay proceeded to point out the view of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the United States should seek bilateral negotiations with the Moroccans rather than trilateral negotiations including the French as now provided for in Paragraph 22. The President’s comment on the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was to indicate that we could hardly seek to exclude the French from these base negotiations and at the same time expect the French to help pay the future budget deficits of Morocco and Tunisia.
Secretary Dulles stated his belief that the language outlined in Paragraph 22 was too rigid a description of the manner in which we would conduct our forthcoming negotiations with Morocco although he added that the tactics set forth in Paragraph 22 were actually the tactics now proposed by the State Department for the conduct of the negotiations. The President then suggested that the material dealing with the tactics of the negotiations be stricken from the paragraph [Page 136] and that indication be made in the Record of Action or elsewhere that these tactics were in consonance with the plans currently being considered by the State Department.
Secretary Dulles then called the Council’s attention to Paragraph 27 which called on the United States to
“be prepared to vote for discussion of the Algerian issue in the United Nations, if that appears to us likely to facilitate progress toward a settlement”.
Secretary Dulles pointed out how highly complex was the matter of inscribing an item on the UN agenda. There were many other considerations than that of facilitating a solution which the United States would have to take account of before it carried out the course of action proposed in Paragraph 27. Accordingly, Secretary Dulles recommended deletion of the paragraph as being too narrow and as being inappropriate in a policy paper. The President agreed with Secretary Dulles.
The National Security Council:11
- Discussed the draft statement of policy on the subject contained in NSC 5614 prepared by the NSC Planning Board pursuant to NSC Action No. 1543, in the light of the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff transmitted by the memorandum of September 26, 1956.12
- Adopted the statement of policy in NSC 5614 subject to the following amendments:
- Page 9, paragraph 20: Delete the brackets and the footnote thereto.
- Page 9, paragraph 21: Delete the brackets and the footnote thereto; and insert at the beginning of the second sentence the words “If this fails,”.
- Pages 9 and 10, paragraph 22: Delete the entire section contained in the brackets; and the footnote thereto.
- Page 10, paragraph 27: Delete, renumbering subsequent paragraphs accordingly.
- Noted the President’s statement that the mutual security programs developed for Morocco and Tunisia, pursuant to the policy in NSC 5614 as amended would, as in the case of all other mutual [Page 137] security programs, be subject to the normal budgetary process in each instance and to review after receipt of the reports by the President’s Citizen Advisers on the Mutual Security Program, headed by Mr. Benjamin Fairless.
- Noted the statement by the Secretary of State that, in any negotiations regarding U.S. base rights in Morocco, it was the present plan of the Department of State to seek to obtain recognition of these base rights, satisfaction of Moroccan sovereignty, and determination of the future status of existing French contractual rights. If formal negotiations prove necessary, the U.S. would express a preference for a single trilateral negotiation. If such a negotiation should not be politically feasible, the U.S. would be prepared to deal bilaterally with the Moroccans as the sovereign host government, recognizing in this event that any U.S. agreement with Morocco must be contingent on settlements by the U.S. and by Morocco of related base right problems with France.
- Noted the President’s request that the Department of Defense study the feasibility of developing the U.S. bases in Spain as a substitute for the U.S. bases in Morocco.
Note: NSC 5614, as amended and approved by the President, subsequently circulated as NSC 5614/113 for implementation by all appropriate Executive departments and agencies of the U.S. Government, and referred to the Operations Coordinating Board as the coordinating agency designated by the President.
The action in d, as approved by the President, subsequently transmitted to the Secretary of State for appropriate action.
The action in e, as approved by the President, subsequently transmitted to the Secretary of Defense for appropriate action.
[Here follows discussion of agenda items 4–6.]
- Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records, Top Secret. Drafted by Gleason on September 28.↩
- NSC 5614, September 17, was a draft statement of policy on Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria. It was intended, if adopted, to supersede NSC 5436/1, and was transmitted to the members of the NSC on September 17 under cover of a note by James S. Lay, Jr. (Department of State, S/S–NSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5614 Series)↩
- Dated October 18, 1954; see footnote 3, Document 25.↩
- Document 34.↩
- A covering memorandum by Lay transmitting to the NSC a memorandum of September 25 by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense submitting JCS comments and recommendations on NSC 5614. (Department of State, S/S–NSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5614 Series)↩
- See footnote 1, supra.↩
- Paragraph 20 of NSC 5614 reads as quoted here, except that the words “economic and” were enclosed in brackets. A footnote to the source text at this point indicated that “Treasury and Budget propose deletion” of the two words in brackets.↩
- Benjamin Fairless was the coordinator of a citizens committee appointed by the President to review foreign assistance programs. It reported on March 1, 1957.↩
NSC 5614 reads:
“Seek to maintain France as the source of military equipment and training assistance for Moroccan and Tunisian armed forces to the extent feasible without impairing U.S. relations with Morocco and Tunisia. [Consider providing U.S. military aid to Morocco or Tunisia only if this becomes necessary to retain the U.S. position in Morocco or Tunisia.]”
A footnote to this paragraph indicated that “Treasury and Budget propose deletion” of the portion enclosed in brackets.↩
NSC 5614 reads:
“Maintain U.S. base rights in Morocco by all feasible means, being prepared, if necessary, to offer reasonable quid pro quos therefor. [In any base negotiations, seek to obtain recognition of U.S. base rights, satisfaction of Moroccan sovereignty, and determination of the future status of existing French contractual rights. If formal negotiations prove necessary, express a preference for a single trilateral negotiation. If such a negotiation should not be politically feasible, be prepared to deal bilaterally with the Moroccans as the sovereign host government, recognizing in this event that any U.S. agreement with Morocco must be contingent on settlements by the U.S. and by Morocco of related base right problems with France.]”
A footnote to this paragraph indicated that “Treasury and Budget propose deletion” of the portion enclosed in brackets.↩
- The following paragraphs and Note constitute NSC Action No. 1610.↩
See footnote 5 above. The Joint Chiefs indicated their concurrence in NSC 5614, but concluded that given the extensive military facilities in Morocco that technical aid might be insufficient to retain their use. Regarding paragraph 22, the Joint Chiefs suggested that it read as follows:
“Maintain U.S. base rights in Morocco by all feasible means, being prepared, if necessary, to offer reasonable quid pro quos therefor. In any base negotiations seek to deal bilaterally with the Moroccans as the sovereign host government, recognizing in this event that any U.S. agreements with Morocco must be contingent on settlements by the U.S. and by Morocco of related base rights problems with France.”↩