48. Editorial Note

On February 27, as part of a discussion of NSC 5602, “Basic National Security Policy,” at the 277th meeting of the National Security Council, the Council examined the policy of American economic assistance and development aid to less-developed nations. Secretary Dulles stressed the need for administrative flexibility to counter the Soviet Union’s current economic offensive. Rowland R. Hughes, Director of the Bureau of the Budget, indicated that his organization was giving the matter of administrative flexibility “most intense study.” The following discussion then took place:

“Secretary Dulles said that he was glad to hear this, but still believed that the problem required special mention in NSC 5602. With this view the President expressed agreement. Thereupon Secretary Dulles said he would like just to outline a kind of example of what he had in mind. Suppose, for instance, the United States went to the Czechoslovakian Government and said in effect that Czechoslovakia needed a lot of cotton. We would be glad to give this cotton to Czechoslovakia, together with butter, meats, fats, and other foods of which we had large surpluses. We would then propose some kind of a deal by which in return for these commodities Czechoslovakia was to provide us with war goods or other things. Any such proposal as this to Czechoslovakia would simply ‘raise hell’ in the Soviet satellite countries. The Soviets, said Secretary Dulles, are grievously exploiting the satellites. Why can’t we exploit this fact, just as the Soviets are exploiting our allies and the neutral nations? Secretary Dulles pointed out that this, of course, was just an off-the-cuff suggestion and that it had not been staffed. But if the United States were to decide to make such [Page 120] moves as this, they would have to be made quickly if they were to be effective. Under the existing lack of flexibility we simply could not move quickly enough.

“The President inquired whether he could not put some such suggestion as that made by Secretary Dulles in the next message he was to send down to the Congress. Director Hughes added that it would be next to impossible to get the Congress to agree to any such proposal as that outlined by Secretary Dulles.

“The President said that of course the trouble was that the Congress believed that any and all U.S. trade with the Soviet bloc was wrong and bad. On the contrary, the President said, what he wanted to set in motion was centrifugal forces rather than centripetal forces in the Soviet bloc. U.S. trade with the bloc might eventually prove to be such a centrifugal force.

“Secretary Dulles closed the discussion by stating that his plan was only an illustration of the kind of flexibility that the President might need in the future in dealing with the new Soviet tactics.” (Memorandum of discussion by Gleason; Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records)

The complete text of the discussion on NSC 5602 is printed in volume XIX, page 201.

At the 281st NSC meeting on April 5, Secretary Dulles raised the question of assistance to Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe as part of a larger discussion of “International Trade, Including Trade between the Free World and the Soviet Bloc.” Dulles remarked:

“He referred to his suggestion at that time that the United States might cause a great deal of difficulty to the Soviet Union if it were suddenly to offer to Czechoslovakia a large amount of surplus U.S. agricultural commodities. So far as he knew, continued Secretary Dulles, nothing had ever come of this suggestion, and he presumed that it was buried somewhere in the depths of the government bureaucracy.” (Memorandum of discussion; Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records)

For complete text of the discussion of this agenda item, see volume IX, page 174.