332. Memorandum of Discussion at the 264th Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, November 3, 19551
[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and items 1 and 2, a briefing by Allen Dulles on significant world developments affecting United States security and a discussion of United States policy toward Formosa and the Government of the Republic of China.][Page 654]
3. US Policy on Turkey (NSC 5510/1; Progress Report, dated September 7, 1955, by OCB on NSC 5510/1)2
Mr. Anderson briefed the Council on the reference Progress Report, stressing the two main problems: the military assistance program and the Turkish financial and economic situation. At the conclusion of his briefing (copy of briefing note filed in the minutes of the meeting), Mr. Anderson said that he understood Secretary Robertson wished to say a few words on the subject.
Secretary Robertson briefly outlined the present status of the funding of the program of military assistance to Turkey covering the Fiscal Years 1950 through 1956. He pointed out that the funding for FY 1957 was now under study. He thereafter read a letter which had been prepared for Secretary Humphrey just prior to the latter’s departure for the recent Istanbul Conference.
Secretary Hoover said that in view of the fact that the National Security Council was well aware of the difficulties confronting our program of assistance to Turkey in the past, he would confine his comments to the present situation. The State Department felt that the Turks had very good reason to believe that the United States had actually promised them a great deal more than the $200 million already provided. Accordingly, the State Department foresaw an excellent chance that the Turks would come to a parting of the ways with the United States if we do not shortly reach a firm agreement with them on the nature and extent of the US commitment to provide military and economic assistance to Turkey. Their economic situation, continued Secretary Hoover, was extremely serious. The United States must therefore face up to what we are going to do with Turkey within the next three weeks. This $64-question had been posed. Secretary Hoover recommended that the Administration take a well-thought-out position in this matter and inform the Turks of this position within the time period he had mentioned.
Dr. Flemming inquired about the course of action in the US policy toward Turkey (NSC 5510/1), which permitted the United States to purchase Turkish chrome for the long-term US stockpile. He also noted that the President had been interested in a more vigorous program of barter to the end of assisting the Turkish economy. There was nothing in the Progress Report on either of these matters, and Dr. Flemming asked if any member of the Council could provide any information about them. He believed that the ODM could do something in this field if the Council so desired.[Page 655]
Secretary Hoover said that he had talked with the Turks about the availability of chrome and other materials. The fact of the matter, however, was that the Turks had about reached the limits of their chrome production unless the United States was prepared to provide large capital support to enable the Turks to open additional mines. Such a move might cost the United States $25 million in cash. Moreover, the Turks don’t seem very enthusiastic over this prospect, and we have not been able to extract very accurate information on the subject from them.
Dr. Flemming said that, in short, he was to understand that the responsibility for the failure to take these courses of action rested on the Turks rather than on the United States. Secretary Hoover replied in the affirmative, but nevertheless asked Dr. Flemming to give him a memorandum on how much elbow-room the ODM would have to purchase Turkish chrome and other materials for the long-term stockpile.
Mr. Hughes, referring to Secretary Hoover’s earlier statement, inquired where the Turks could go if they came to a parting of the ways with the United States. Secretary Hoover replied that he did not think they would “go” anywhere, but that they could cease to be satisfactory allies.
Admiral Radford commented that it was well within the realm of possibility that the Turks would withdraw from NATO and embrace neutralism. Such moves would greatly embarrass US policy. Admiral Radford went on to point out that we ourselves were largely responsible for the elevated force goals which the Turks had adopted. Our responsibilities for these force levels stemmed from the fact that our program of military assistance to friendly nations had begun in 1950 on an emergency basis. Accordingly, the Turks now have us over the barrel, and Admiral Radford confessed that he did not know how we were going to wiggle off the hook.
Mr. Rockefeller expressed strong support for the observations of Secretary Hoover and Admiral Radford. He said he believed that the United States was in danger of being accused by its allies and friends of rushing in with all kinds of promises when critical situations arose, and then of leaving its friends in the lurch when the crisis subsided. He believed that we must give some thought to our posture and reputation. We may have to work out something in the way of aid agreements, which did not recommend itself to us as sound from the strict economic point of view.
Secretary Robertson stressed that the Defense Department felt that it would be a grave mistake not to keep the Turks tied to us. If they prove to be willing to undertake the necessary economic reforms, we should design a realistic program which would call for another $100 million over and above what we have already given [Page 656] them, to meet the commitments we have made to Turkey. Secretary Robertson warned, however, that this move could not be made if it was proposed to limit the over-all figure for US military assistance world-wide to $500 million.
The Vice President said that although the United States could not afford to overlook costs, it must keep firmly in mind its major objectives with respect to such allies as the Turks. He presumed that the State Department shared this view. The Turks were certainly among our best allies and could not be permitted to become disenchanted. The Vice President said that he further assumed that the new committee being set up at the Assistant Secretary level under OCB would take a hard-headed look at the Turkish problem, but that the committee would in the end realize that it must make a deal with the Turks.
Secretary Hoover confirmed the Vice President’s conviction that an acceptable deal with Turkey must be arranged. Dr. Flemming wondered whether it was not desirable for the Planning Board to review our present Turkish policy (NSC 5510/1). Secretary Hoover replied that for the present, at any rate, our policy was sufficiently broad, but if Assistant Secretary Gordon Gray and other members of the new OCB committee found it desirable for the Council to review the Turkish policy, this should be done.
Admiral Radford said that he wanted to reenforce the statements which Secretary Robertson had made. The United States simply could not gracefully get out of the commitments for military aid which it had earlier made to friendly countries all over the world.
Secretary Hoover expressed thorough agreement with Admiral Radford’s statement, and went on to point out that for every dollar of US hardware given to an allied country the United States had to pay another for the support of the soldier who uses the military hardware. He explained that he meant that US economic support had to be given to enable the economies of many of our allied states to support the military establishments which we desired them to maintain. This was more or less true everywhere, and particularly so in the case of Turkey.
Mr. Hughes said that while this might be so, we should take into consideration the reforms which the Turks must undertake to carry out if our assistance to them was to be meaningful. While of course we wanted the Turks as friends, we wanted them to be permanent and not temporary friends.
Mr. Anderson pointed out that Turkey was but one of a number of countries where we had problems with respect to our military assistance programs. He indicated that the Council would [Page 657] presently be presented with a review of the whole extent of our military assistance programs world-wide.
Dr. Flemming pointed out that, particularly in view of the serious deterioration in the Middle East, this was no time for the United States to have to answer charges of bad faith from our friends.
The Vice President expressed agreement with Dr. Flemming, but also said that he felt that Mr. Hughes had made a good point. In short, the United States could not agree to demands upon it which, if fulfilled, would end up by doing the Turks more harm than good. The United States was going to be obliged to make a deal that “we can sell them on.” Secretary Hoover pointed out that the difficulty was compounded by the fact that if we try to build up Turkish forces amounting to 20 divisions, this move would require US economic assistance which will cost as much again as the figure for the military aid. He could see no solution except an effort to try to reduce the proposed force levels for Turkey.
Admiral Radford pointed out the difficulty of such a move, in view of the fact that it was the United States itself that had pushed the Turks into accepting the presently agreed military force levels. Moreover, the same thing was true in the case of Korea, Formosa, and Indochina. We would have to have very good reasons indeed to explain why we have changed our minds and have now come to feel that these countries no longer need as large military forces as we had initially urged on them.
Mr. Rockefeller felt that the best solution might be to cut our military aid program to Turkey and increase our economic assistance.
The National Security Council:
- Noted and discussed the reference Progress Report on the subject by the Operations Coordinating Board, in the light of supplementary statements by the Acting Secretaries of State and Defense.
- Noted that an interdepartmental committee at the Assistant Secretary level is developing a US position for early negotiations with Turkey on the Turkish military and economic situation and US aid programs related thereto.
[Here follow items 4–6, the Arab-Israeli situation, the situation in Brazil, and the status of National Security Programs.]
- Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. Prepared by Gleason on November 4.↩
- NSC 5510/1 is printed as Document 320. The Progress Report is in Department of State, OCB Files: Lot 62 D 430, Turkey 1955.↩