2. Memorandum of Discussion at the 234th Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, January 27, 19551

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

At the beginning of the meeting of the National Security Council, Mr. Cutler passed out copies of an analysis indicating the greatly increased number of meetings of the NSC and of actions taken by the Council in the Eisenhower Administration as compared to its predecessor. Mr. Cutler observed that this was an indication that “the workman is worthy of his hire” and was proof of how hard the Council had worked for President Eisenhower. He said, however, that the Secretary of State had commented on this analysis by stating that a quantitative study of the National Security Council threw no light on the quality of its membership and their actions. Amidst laughter, the President turned to Secretary Dulles and said, what you mean is that this analysis merely shows that we are now more verbose. (More laughter.)

1. Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security

The Director of Central Intelligence first pointed out to the Council stresses and strains which had recently become visible in the Moscow scene. There was now occurring the largest call-back of Soviet Ambassadors abroad to Moscow since the death of STALIN. This would indicate quite a diplomatic pow-wow. To judge from their identities, the Ambassadors would probably concentrate their discussion on the London–Paris pacts2 and West German rearmament. They might also discuss the situation with respect to Formosa and the Pacific, but they had been summoned to Moscow prior to the issuance of the President’s statement to the Congress respecting Formosa.3

Another significant fact regarding developments in the Soviet Union was the summoning into session of the Supreme Soviet early in February, a full month ahead of the normal time when that body convened. Significance might be attached to this fact despite the rubber-stamp quality of the Supreme Soviet.

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In addition, continued Mr. Dulles, there still was considerable publicity in Pravda and Izvestia regarding the degree of emphasis to be placed by the Soviet Government on increasing the production of consumers goods, as opposed to emphasis on heavy industry.

Discussing the content of some of this publicity, Mr. Dulles pointed out that Pravda had been plugging heavy industry, whereas until recently Izvestia had championed greater production of consumers goods. This had now ceased, and the Pravda line had apparently won out. In connection with this victory it was possible to attach some significance to the removal of Mikoyan as Minister of Internal Trade of the USSR.4 While there were no indications that Mikoyan had been purged or otherwise disgraced, his removal from his trade post could be an indication that the role of heavy industry was again coming to the fore in the Soviet Union to the disadvantage of the recent emphasis on the production of consumers goods.

A final straw in the wind was the restoration to grace of Andreyev,5 an old Bolshevik who had been in discard for some considerable time. It was possible to interpret his reappearance in authority as a sop to Malenkov and a slap at Khrushchev. In any case, concluded Mr. Dulles, all these indications may point to a return by the Soviet Union to a harsher line, as opposed to the recent stress on co-existence and a “soft” policy.

[Here follow discussion of the political situation in Iran, relations between Burma and mainland China, and the situation regarding the Chinese offshore islands, and a briefing by Admiral Radford on recent United States military moves in the Formosa area.]

2. Exploitation of Soviet and European Satellite Vulnerabilities (NSC 5505; Annex to NSC 5505; NSC 5501, par. 26–c; Memo for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated January 26, 1955)6

Mr. Cutler briefed the Council at very great length and in very great detail with respect to the reference report, reading verbatim [Page 4]many of the key paragraphs and referring explicitly to the dissents in the present draft as well as to the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

At the conclusion of his briefing, certain minor splits in the text were discussed and dealt with by the Council. Mr. Cutler then invited attention to paragraph 4–c, which read as follows:

“c. Thereby convincing the Communist rulers that aggression will not serve their interests, that it will not pay. So long as the Soviets are uncertain of their ability to neutralize the U.S. nuclear-air retaliatory power, there is little reason to expect them to initiate general war or actions which they believe would carry appreciable risk of general war, and thereby endanger the regime and the security of the USSR.”

For reasons, said Mr. Cutler, that he could not understand, the Joint Chiefs of Staff wished to delete paragraph 4–c. While Mr. Cutler believed that this paragraph was not vital to the understanding of the proposed political warfare strategy set forth in NSC 5505, he would have imagined that the Joint Chiefs of Staff would have desired to include this paragraph, the more so since its thought was integral to subparagraphs 4–a and –b which preceded it. He accordingly asked Admiral Radford if he would explain the position taken by the Chiefs.

Admiral Radford said that personally he didn’t care at all whether paragraph 4–c was or was not included. Indeed, he had not himself taken part in the discussion of this paper with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Beyond that, he added that he was altogether confused by all these wordy papers regarding the exploitation of Soviet vulnerabilities, indicating the view that such papers as these were of very doubtful value to the National Security Council.

Mr. Cutler explained to Admiral Radford that NSC 5505 and its ancillary reports had been intended to provide guidance in the precise field of exploiting Soviet vulnerabilities, a field in which the need of guidance had been felt for a number of years. Thereafter Mr. Cutler went on to explain what the Planning Board recommended as a suitable Council action on NSC 5505. (This proposed action is set forth in the “Note by the Executive Secretary” at the beginning of NSC 5505.7) In the course of summarizing the Planning Board recommendation for Council action, Mr. Cutler said that he wished to propose a slight modification in the recommended Council action, which change had resulted from a conversation he had had the previous evening with Mr. Nelson Rockefeller and Director Hughes of the Bureau of the Budget. (The slight modification suggested by Mr. Cutler amounted to assigning coordination of the [Page 5]implementation of NSC 5505 to a new committee headed by Mr. Rockefeller, rather than to a subcommittee of the Operations Coordinating Board.)

Mr. Hughes pointed out that, working independently of Mr. Cutler, both he and Mr. Rockefeller had come to the same conclusions as Mr. Cutler respecting the best means of effectively implementing this political warfare strategy. Mr. Allen Dulles indicated that the revised proposal was a “perfectly feasible” way of proceeding, while Mr. Hughes said that his long-awaited report on a mechanism for coordinating within the Executive Branch economic, psychological, and political warfare and foreign information, was almost ready for consideration by the National Security Council.8

Mr. Cutler then asked the Secretary of State for any comment he wished to make on NSC 5505.

Secretary Dulles said that he found it difficult to deal confidently with the vast number of abstractions which inevitably arose in such a report as this. Even if he didn’t really understand the abstractions, and particularly the splits in abstractions, he said he was prepared to admit that these abstractions could be very important. Accordingly, he said he would “pass” at this point in the game.

Mr. Cutler attempted once again to explain the heart of the political warfare strategy proposed in this paper, and indicated that the “heart” of it was to be found in subparagraphs 3–c and 3–d, which he insisted expressed a really significant idea, and which subparagraphs he read again to the Council.… Secretary Dulles conceded that at least he could understand this concrete manifestation of the theoretical strategy.

Dr. Flemming said that he tended to share the feeling expressed by the Secretary of State on NSC 5505. While he would be willing to vote for approval of the report, he would not be sure exactly what he was proposing to recommend. He would therefore suggest clarifying language for insertion between subparagraphs c–(l) and c–(2) of the Note by the Executive Secretary. After reading his proposed new language, Dr. Flemming said it would provide the Council with a much clearer idea of the direction in which this political strategy was moving, by giving the Council a chance to look at specific illustrative measures and programs.

Mr. Cutler indicated a lack of sympathy with Dr. Flemming’s proposal, and again apologized to the Council for his apparent inability to explain the contents of NSC 5505 more clearly. He tried once again by suggesting that the heart of this paper consisted of a [Page 6]set of guiding principles for the exploitation of Soviet and satellite vulnerabilities, laid down for the guidance of Mr. Rockefeller’s committee in its task of formulating programs and seeing that these programs were carried out.… Finally, said Mr. Cutler, it was plain to him that we did not want a lot more paper work to come out of Mr. Rockefeller’s committee. Once in their hands, NSC 5505 would promptly enter the area of operations.

The President said that discussion of this paper was taking place in the context of the cold war. While of course we needed paper programs, we could not keep on planning indefinitely for the future. We must have prompt action. He personally could see nothing particularly wrong with NSC 5505. It was in general following the right line. The United States was not in a position to state that it would promote revolution in the Soviet Union What we must try to do is win “these guys” over. Accordingly, he believed it was right to give this paper to the Rockefeller group and have them report to the Council from time to time by way of informing the Council of what the Special Committee had been doing. The progress reports should by all means be specific, and the President was sure that Mr. Rockefeller was precisely the right man to chair this committee to implement NSC 5505.

The Vice President said … Was he therefore correct in supposing that the strategy set forth in NSC 5505 would not necessarily rule out resort to revolutionary methods if they seemed likely to be successful? Mr. Cutler answered that such methods would not necessarily be ruled out if they were likely to achieve success.

The President then went on to say that if the Council did approve the present report it should not expect the new Special Committee merely to carry out this policy slavishly, but to report to the Council on other unforeseen possibilities, as well as proposed measures that had turned out wrong. In response to the President, Mr. Cutler pointed out that NSC 5505 called for a continuous review of the strategy which it proposed. He added that he would get together with Dr. Flemming in order to agree on a wording for his proposed change in the Council action on NSC 5505, Governor Stassen pointed out with emphasis that the established pattern of progress reports by the Operations Coordinating Board covered exactly what Dr. Flemming had in mind in suggesting this change.

Secretary Dulles and Mr. Allen Dulles both stated that they did not wish the guidance provided by NSC 5505, on the exploitation of Soviet vulnerabilities along evolutionary rather than revolutionary lines, to destroy all possibility of seizing opportunities for exploiting a different type of strategy if such opportunities clearly presented [Page 7]themselves. Mr. Cutler replied that this possibility was not excluded in NSC 5505.

Secretary Wilson then added that he had a few notes on this paper, from which he would like to speak to the Council. He said that he was “thoroughly sold” on having the implementation of NSC 5505 placed in the hands of this small group headed by Mr. Rockefeller; but he hoped that they would use their best judgment in meeting various specific situations. In general, he had found NSC 5505 “a little too wordy and verbose”. As he saw it, there were several differing situations to be observed throughout the world: the situation in the USSR, in the European satellites, in Communist China, in the satellites of Communist China, and among “weak allies” of the U.S. elsewhere. If he were carrying out this task he would operate quite differently in these different areas. Obviously the USSR and Communist China represented “touchy ground”. Before carrying out any operations in these areas we should do our best to realize the probable reaction. Other areas were less sensitive. Secretary Wilson also believed, he said, that no additional reports along the lines of NSC 5505 were really necessary, except a list of concrete courses of action which the U.S. could follow in these various areas.

The President said that he shared much of Secretary Wilson’s view, which agreed with his that some one person must constantly follow and be responsible for the actions designed to carry out the strategy set down in the present report. The President then added that it was his view that paragraph 4–c should not be deleted. Admiral Radford repeated the view that he couldn’t see that inclusion or deletion of the paragraph made any significant difference. Governor Stassen complained that the last sentence of paragraph 4–c seemed to him a little overconfident in tone. Secretary Dulles agreed with Governor Stassen, and said he was particularly inclined to question the accuracy of the view that the Soviets would not initiate general war or actions risking general war, in view of the Chinese Communist reaction toward the President’s statement to the Congress respecting U.S. policy in the Formosa area.

The President said he believed that the Soviets were undoubtedly doing all they could to involve the United States in Asia and in a general war with Communist China. Secretary Dulles added that this was why he was so inclined to doubt the validity of the last sentence in paragraph 4–c

With considerable emphasis, Admiral Radford said he wished to point out to the Council that he had been involved for many months in all the major studies and plans which had been formulated by the Joint Chief s of Staff, Never, however, in all this long time, had the Joint Chiefs of Staff planned a U.S. land offensive on the [Page 8]mainland of Communist China. For the life of him, he could not understand why, in the event of a general war between the United States and Communist China, all the worst difficulties would not be on the Chinese rather than on the U.S. side. The great problem of the Chinese in such a war was to “get at us if we don’t choose to be got at.” The only direction in which the Chinese Communists could mount an aggressive offensive on land would be toward the south or in Korea. Accordingly, the general theory that a war with Communist China would involve the United States militarily to very great depths was simply incomprehensible to him.

Secretary Humphrey said that this was all very well, but would Admiral Radford explain to him how, if we got into a war with Communist China, you would end it. Admiral Radford replied that he failed to see how the Russians could be anything else but losers if the United States got into a general war with Communist China. The Chinese Communists would have very little offensive capability against us which we could not counter with the exercise of comparatively little military power. It would, accordingly, be a mistake, really, for the Russians to try to involve the U.S. in war with Communist China.

With regard to Admiral Radford’s view as to such a mistake by the Russians, Secretary Dulles said that the Admiral’s analysis did not take account adequately of the political advantages which the Soviets might well gain in Europe if we should get into a war with Communist China. Admiral Radford quickly admitted that he was speaking from a military point of view and had not taken these other factors into account. Secretary Dulles went on to enlarge on the very great difficulties that Sir Anthony Eden was facing in the British Parliament in his efforts to back up the new U.S. policy regarding the offshore islands, in the face of the combined opposition of Messrs. Attlee and Bevan. This showed, said Secretary Dulles, that the big danger resulting from a war between the U.S. and Communist China was not to be found in the realm of military action, where he agreed with Admiral Radford’s analysis. The great danger of such a war was the possibility that it would alienate the allies of the United States and might indeed block all our best-laid plans for Western Europe.

Admiral Radford went on to say that his own analysis of the situation induced him to believe that Russia and China were bluffing, and that we would succeed in calling their bluff if we proceeded along the lines of the recent decision respecting the defense of Formosa and certain of the offshore islands. The Russians are perfectly well aware that operations of the kind that could occur in carrying out this new policy might give rise to a situation in which the Russians themselves could become involved in a general war. [Page 9]Since he believed that the Russians did not wish to become so involved, he believed that they were bluffing.

Secretary Wilson said that he, on the other hand, was inclined to look at the situation much as Secretary Dulles did. While he approved the recent move by the President regarding Formosa and the offshore islands, we might presently find out in fact whether the Soviets and Chinese were really bluffing. On the other side of the picture, continued Secretary Wilson, if he had the job of killing a rattlesnake he would try to cut off his head rather than his rattles. There was another aspect of this cold war situation, said Secretary Wilson, that also continually bothered him. He believed that in many of the underdeveloped areas of the world the ordinary run of people were likely to make more progress under a Communist regime than under the traditional types of dictatorships. This was a troublesome fact, but he nevertheless believed that the common people of China were getting along just as well under the present regime as ever they had under the war lords of the old days.

Apropos of the exchange between Admiral Radford and Secretary Dulles, the President said he himself doubted whether the Russians would permit themselves at this time to become involved in a general war. He also doubted if any such general war could be ended in a week or ten days. Perhaps the Russians felt the same way as he did. Nevertheless, if they continued apparently to egg on the Chinese Communists, there must be some good reason for it.

Governor Stassen said that his explanation as to why the Soviets were apparently egging on the Chinese Communists was as follows: The Soviets may fear that if the Chinese Communists permit themselves to be involved in friendlier relations with the Western world, the Soviets may not be able to control the Chinese so effectively. If this were so, the most desirable course of action for the United States was to try to separate the Chinese and the Russians.

Admiral Radford observed that while it was true that the Russians had had ups and downs in their policy toward Europe since 1945, they had made steady progress since that year in their program to subjugate the Far East. The only way to put an end to this steady progress and to secure peace and stability in Asia, was to carry out faithfully the policy which the President had announced to the Congress last week.

Governor Stassen expressed great skepticism as to the likelihood that the Chinese Communists would make serious attacks on Formosa or on the offshore islands which the United States would assist in defending. If this proved to be the case, and after a certain amount of noise the Chinese Communists subsided and took to peaceful ways, this was the moment for the United States to try to broaden our trade with Communist China and to explore other possibilities of opening [Page 10]up contact with them designed to wean them away from their alliance with the Soviets.

The Vice President, speaking of paragraph 4–c which had given rise to this discussion, said that perhaps the concern of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with this paragraph was that it was too confident in its assumption that the Communist rulers would act like normal people. Communists simply do not react normally. Accordingly, said the Vice President, he was skeptical of the possibility of inducing evolutionary change in the Soviet Union or in the satellites if we believed that the strategy set forth in the present report would ever change the minds and the hearts of the Communist rulers.

Mr. Cutler suggested that paragraph 4–c be deleted as not being necessary to the sense of the paper as a whole.

The National Security Council:9

Discussed the subject on the basis of the statement of policy contained in the reference report (NSC 5505) in the light of the Annex to NSC 5505 and the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff transmitted by the reference memorandum.
Noted the “Report on the Exploitation of Soviet Vulnerabilities” (Annex to NSC 5505), dated November 30, 1954, prepared by a Special Committee appointed by the Chairman of the NSC Planning Board, in agreement with the Under Secretary of State, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and the Director of Central Intelligence, and the “Summary” thereof, prepared by the NSC Planning Board, contained in NSC 5505.
Adopted the statement of policy contained in NSC 5505, subject to the following changes:
Paragraph 3–f: Include the bracketed phrase, revised to read as follows: “in so far as this can be done prior to such change without impairing the carrying out of these principles.”; and delete the footnote relating thereto.
Paragraph 3–h: Delete, including the footnote relating thereto.10
Paragraph 4: Insert an additional third sentence, to read as follows: “It is to be emphasized that no political warfare strategy can in any sense substitute for adequate military, political, and economic programs designed to strengthen the Free World.”
Paragraph 4–c: Delete.
Recommended that the President designate, as the coordinating agency for the statement of policy in NSC 5505, a Special Committee chaired by the Special Assistant to the President, Mr. Nelson A. Rockefeller, and composed of the Under Secretary of State, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and the Director of Central Intelligence (who may be represented in day-to-day operations by deputies appointed by them), and with the participation as appropriate of representatives of the Department of Justice, the Foreign Operations Administration, the U.S. Information Agency, and other interested departments and agencies, for the purpose of:
Reviewing current programs and developing new programs to carry out the statement of policy contained in NSC 5505, and ensuring coordination of actions taken thereunder.
Making periodic progress reports to the National Security Council; including evaluations of the adequacy of the policy in relation to existing or anticipated conditions, and the need for any modifications in the policy, together with illustrative examples of current and projected programs.
Referred the “Report” in the Annex to NSC 5505, and the “Summary” in NSC 5505, noted in b above, to the Special Committee referred to in d above, to use as background material relevant to carrying out its assignment.

Note: NSC 5505, as amended, approved by the President as a basic guide to all appropriate executive departments and agencies in exploiting discontents and other problems in the USSR and the European satellites, in conformity with paragraph 26–c of NSC 5501, which paragraph states one element of the general strategy contained in NSC 5501. NSC 5505, as amended and approved, subsequently circulated as NSC 5505/1 and transmitted to the Special Committee referred to in d above as the coordinating agency, together with the Annex to NSC 5505 pursuant to the action in e above.

[Here follow items 3–4.]

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower Papers, Whitman File. Top Secret. Prepared by Gleason on January 28.
  2. Reference is to the agreements of the Nine-Power and Four-Power Conferences at London, September 28–October 3, 1954, and at Paris, October 20–23, 1954; see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. V, Part 2, pp. 1294 ff. and 1404 ff.
  3. For text of this message, transmitted by the President on January 24, see Department of State Bulletin, February 7, 1955, pp. 211–213.
  4. Mikoyan’s resignation as Soviet Minister of Trade was announced on January 25. He retained his position as Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers.
  5. A.A. Andreyev had been deposed from the Politburo in 1952.
  6. NSC 5505, “Exploitation of Soviet and European Satellite Vulnerabilities,” January 18, is not printed. (Department of State, S/SNSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5505 Series) NSC 5505 is essentially the same, with some minor revisions, as NSC 5505/1, Document 4.

    NSC 5501, “Basic National Security Policy,” dated Jan. 6, 1955, is scheduled for publication in volume xix.

    Lay’s memorandum of January 26 transmitted to the Council a copy of Radford’s memorandum of January 25 to the Secretary of Defense containing the views of the Joint Chiefs on NSC 5505. (Department of State, S/P–NSC Files: Lot 62 D 1, Soviet Vulnerabilities)

  7. Not printed.
  8. Reference is to Hughes’ report to the President on March 3 and the establishment by the President on March 10 of a Planning Coordination Group (PCG) headed by Nelson Rockefeller.
  9. Paragraphs a–e constitute NSC Action No. 1314, approved by the President on January 27, 1955. (Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 148)
  10. Paragraphs 3–f and 3–h of NSC 5505 read as follows:

    “f. Because substantial change in basic conditions in the USSR or the Satellites (including the imminent threat or initiation of general war) might render these principles inappropriate, they should be continuously reviewed. In order to be prepared to meet any such substantial change, the U.S. should continue to develop and maintain capabilities which would be required in the event of such change, [in so far as this can be done without impairing the carrying out of these principles.]”

    “[h. Application of the principles set forth in subparagraphs a through e above does not preclude experimentation with such overt anti-regime measures as might be applicable to substantially changed circumstances. The U.S. can take apparently contradictory lines of action, provided it avoids solidifying the conviction that the U.S. is determined to overthrow the whole system by direct intervention.]”

    The following footnote was inserted in the source text after the two bracketed portions: “The Defense member and the JCS Adviser propose deletion.”