203. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Robertson) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Policy Planning (Bowie)1


  • February 28 Draft of Policy Paper on Korea2

My comments and recommendations on this draft are:


I am particularly concerned by the effort being made by Treasury and the Bureau of the Budget to modify the language in paragraph 1,3 which sets forth our long-range objective in Korea. Their desire to substitute “limited initial” for “strong” resistance here and in paragraph 24c4 with respect to the desired capability of the ROK armed forces strikes at the very heart of our objectives and intentions in Korea and, in fact, in the entire Far East area.

In Korea, at tremendous expense and effort, we have created the largest, most effective and most reliable military force in the Far East. [Page 405]This force serves and will serve not only as a positive deterrent to a renewal of Communist aggression in Korea but at the same time ties up large Communist forces in north Korea and Communist China, which otherwise would be free for deployment and possible aggression elsewhere.

The will to resist Communism is stronger in Korea by far than in any other Far Eastern country. This will to resist depends largely on the confidence of the Korean people in the ability of their own armed forces successfully to hold renewed Communist aggression in check until outside assistance on their behalf can be brought to bear. Understandably, such resistance must be capable of preventing the Korean peninsula from being overrun as was the case in 1950. It is my understanding that our own military planning is also based on the maintenance of sufficient ROK armed strength to prevent the loss of the peninsula until our own retaliatory measures can be brought to bear against the aggressor.

I consider it extremely important, therefore, that the present language in paragraphs 1 and 24c be retained and that State vigorously support the majority view on this point at today’s Planning Board meeting.

I also feel we should support the majority in the split with Defense on paragraph 15b.5 ROK expenditures for national defense are approximately 80% of the ROK revenues in the General Account Budget. A larger contribution would be financially and economically unsound and would only tend to retard the economic development and to increase the inflationary pressures.
With respect to paragraph 19c,6 I recommend that “and the Secretary of Defense” be inserted after “Secretary of State”.
In paragraph 23, I believe subparagraphs e and f,7 which come from the old paper, NSC 5514, are unnecessary and should be deleted. Paragraph 23e is particularly bad. It is inconceivable to me that the United States or the United Nations would inform the Communists [Page 406]of any decision regarding the extent to which south Korea is to be defended. To take such action would put the Communists in an advantageous position vis-à-vis the free world and would be most unwise.

  1. Source: Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 62 D 1, US Policy Toward Korea (NSC 5702, 5702/1, 5702/2). Top Secret. Drafted by Nes and Parsons.
  2. See footnote 2, Supra.
  3. The agreed portion of paragraph 1 of the February 28 draft reads: “1. Long-range Objective: To bring about the unification of Korea with a self-supporting economy and under a free, independent, and representative government, friendly toward the United States and other countries of the Free World, with its political and territorial integrity assured by international agreement and with.” A majority of the Planning Board Assistants felt that the paragraph should conclude with the following language: “armed forces sufficient for internal security and capable of strong resistance in event of attack by a foreign power.” The representatives of the Bureau of the Budget and the Department of the Treasury proposed concluding language which would permit a greater reduction in American aid: “sufficient strength for internal security and limited initial resistance in event of attack by a foreign power.”
  4. The majority version of paragraph 24c of the February 28 draft indicated that, in order to achieve a unified, democratic, independent, and friendly Korea, the United States should be prepared, inter alia, to “accept a level of Korean armed forces sufficient for internal security and capable of strong resistance in event of attack by a foreign power.” The representatives of the Bureau of the Budget and the Department of the Treasury proposed the substitution of the phrase “limited initial” for the word “strong” in the language of paragraph 24c.
  5. The majority version of paragraph 15b called for the United States to encourage the Republic of Korea, through economic and technical aid programs, to “continue to provide support for its military force.” The Department of Defense version of the same paragraph looked for the Republic of Korea to “assume an increasingly greater proportion of the cost of supporting its armed forces.”
  6. In paragraph 19c, the Secretary of State was given responsibility for determining the timing and the rationale for the contemplated modernization of American forces in Korea.
  7. Paragraphs 23e and 23f dealt with a hypothetical situation in which the Republic of Korea, despite American restraints, unilaterally renews hostilities in Korea. Paragraph 23e contemplated the open dissociation of the U.N. Command from the South Korean action, with the caveat that the U.N. Command would be prepared to defend its own forces. Paragraph 23f stipulated that, in the circumstances contemplated, the United Command would renew hostilities with Communist forces only if necessary to protect the security of U.N. Command forces.