74. Memorandum of a Conference With the President, White House, Washington, April 18, 1956, 9:30 a.m.1

OTHERS PRESENT

  • Admiral Radford
  • Colonel Goodpaster

The President referred to a memorandum on military and other requirements for our national security which Admiral Radford had [Page 297]sent over yesterday.2 While recognizing that the memorandum did not give a complete treatment of its subjects, he thought that it began to give a better grasp of the overall security problem than we have had up to now. He thought that discussion in the latter sections (particularly those parts relating to more selective application of military aid, and to economic aid) should now be applied to the various areas and countries of the world to see specifically what it would mean. Before doing so it might be desirable to have comment by the Secretary of State or the Planning Board on the document, particularly these sections. Out of such application a more definite schedule of actions might be developed.

Admiral Radford said that, on the basis of reading of State Department cables and military cables, he sees more of the security picture, in all probability, than any other single official. When he sees troubles beginning to show up, he tries to get top people in Government interested in the matter—frequently without much success. An example is the situation in Iceland, which turns on a matter of sale of Icelandic fish. For $10 to $15 million a year this incident could probably have been avoided. The President picked up his comment about the difficulties of arousing interest until a crisis is at hand, and said it showed the fallacy of relying on busy Cabinet officers in this respect. They have no time to think about distant problems and possibilities, but must concentrate on day-to-day activities. He said that he had told the Icelanders in 1951 that he was sure they would never be satisfied until they have some small force of their own—that the presence of sizable foreign forces would always be a difficulty. We could help them with such a force much more easily than in the field of economic aid. Admiral Radford said that a survey is being made to see if we could reduce the number of Americans on the Island, since this would help reduce the problem. (At the present time, Icelanders allow only 120 Americans a day out of the 6000 on the Island off the base area.)

Admiral Radford referred to problems in Latin America, where the countries are obtaining military equipment from the Communist countries. Also, a number of active trade negotiations are going on.

The President spoke at length on his ideas concerning trade. He felt that people approach the matter too narrowly. It is a certainty that nations will trade with each other. We should concentrate on copper and a half dozen items of most advanced machinery and electronics and encourage trade in everything else. There is a feeling that only the Communists would benefit from trade. He is confident that the West has skill in trading such that a net advantage would probably lie with them. He did see positive value in pressing forward with trade with the Satellites in Eastern Europe. Admiral Radford said that we are [Page 298]down to a very few items in terms of trade with the Satellites. We should try, however, to avoid giving them advanced items, thus letting them save the developmental costs which are frequently quite great. The President commented on how he understood Mr. Baruch has completely changed his views as to trade—two years ago he thought we should be very restrictive; today he would make trade completely free. Admiral Radford commented on how the Communists use their trade delegations to “bore in”—also, how they use their trade as a weapon for other objectives. The President said that if it were possible to get agreement between State, Commerce, Defense, and ODM as to what trade means to the world, it might then be possible to get through a national program in spite of the tendencies to demagoguery on this matter and the pressures for restriction arising out of our high prices and high wage rates.

The President next turned to the question of how the new Chiefs of Staff are making out in their work together—in particular, whether there are problems respecting Army attitudes. Admiral Radford said there has been some problem of Army morale, and the President recalled a recent conversation with his son which brought out that the lack of a doctrine that assigns the Army a definite and permanent mission has left them somewhat unsatisfied and even bewildered. Their role is rather hazy to many of them.

Admiral Radford said he is trying to point out to the Army that they have a great future—in terms of mobile warfare. The first step toward that is to streamline their requirements in the field. (Later he mentioned that the Army’s tendency to resist basing its forces on an atomic concept tends to work in just the wrong direction.) The President mentioned some of his recent conversations with General Taylor on Army aviation.3

At this point the President recalled an item he had seen in the newspaper about a new Air Force airplane capable of 1000–1500 miles per hour, and called Secretary Quarles to ask why it is necessary to have a big spread in the papers about this. He stressed strongly the need to avoid this type of thing which leads only to inter-Service “competitive publicity”.

G

Colonel, CE, US Army
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, DDE Diaries. Confidential. Drafted by Goodpaster on April 18.
  2. Supra.
  3. See Document 71.