320. Memorandum of a Conversation, White House, Washington, October 24, 1957, 10:30 a.m.1



  • Free World Cooperation; Meeting Presided over by the President and Prime Minister Macmillan


  • American
    • The President
    • The Secretary of State
    • The Under Secretary of State
    • Assistant Secretary Elbrick
    • Assistant Secretary G. Smith
    • Ambassador Merchant
    • Ambassador Whitney
    • Secretary of Defense McElroy
    • Deputy Secretary of Defense Quarles
    • General Twining
    • Admiral Strauss
    • Mr. Allen Dulles
    • Mr. James Hagerty
    • Mr. Marselis Parsons, Jr.
    • Mr. William Dale
  • British
    • Prime Minister Macmillan
    • Foreign Secretary Lloyd
    • Sir Norman Brook
    • Sir Richard Powell
    • Sir Edwin Plowden
    • Sir William Hayter
    • Sir Patrick Dean
    • Ambassador Caccia
    • Admiral Denny
    • Mr. Peter Hope
    • Mr. Fred Leishman
    • Mr. Frederick Bishop
    • Mr. Philip de Zulueta
    • Mr. Denis Laskey
[Page 817]

The President opened the meeting by summarizing results of the conversation of last evening in which the President, Prime Minister Macmillan, Foreign Secretary Lloyd, and Secretary Dulles took part.2 He said they first recognized the need for closer union of the United States and the United Kingdom in order to serve better the cause of the free world and its several defense organizations (NATO, SEATO and the Baghdad Pact). The President stated that recognition of this need suggests the many means by which we should develop ourselves as better partners, almost to the point of operating together under one general policy. The President affirmed that we are anxious to be of service to our allies and do not wish them to think it is in our interest alone that we are endeavoring to consolidate our union with the United Kingdom and with them. We feel, he said, that the whole free world needs a “shot in the arm.”

At the President’s request, Mr. Quarles explained that the United States Government inaugurated yesterday a policy of more complete publicity regarding our scientific military accomplishments. He said that the Defense Department announced yesterday the following achievements: (1) a successful flight of the Army’s Jupiter intermediate range missile; (2) the Navy’s successful test of the main stage rocket designed as the vehicle for the earth satellite; (3) the completion of development of a depth charge to be delivered from the air which is expected to be very effective against submarines; and (4) the successful launching from a balloon of an Air Force research rocket which rose from 1,000 to 4,000 miles in the air. He noted that these are dramatic examples of our progress in missile development.

The President resumed, saying that we are not thinking mainly of this sort of achievement, not of something tied to scientific or material development, but of the spiritual, ethical values which support our type of society. He said that we are thinking of a statement which we [Page 818] could make that would “lift up the chins of our people” over a long period, something which can “light a fire” that will burn steadily for as long as necessary.

[3 lines of source text not declassified] We realize that our two nations, having so much in common and bearing much the same responsibilities, have got to stay together, but this does not mean, he said, that we will not be full partners of other countries as well.

The President cited the example of an Italian doctor who has just won the Nobel Prize to show that there are brains in all free countries which should be mobilized. He added that we must develop closer communications with all our partners, not in our interest alone, but for the interests of all. The President said that he recognized all these objectives pose far from easy problems for us, but that he is confident they can be solved. In fields such as logistics and scientific cooperation we can do much, he believed, for the benefit of all.

Prime Minister Macmillan stated that the President described accurately the results of their talks together. In the free world there are, he added, great resources which we can command and influence which we can exert towards the objectives which the President described. He saw ahead a long period of “leaning up against Communism,” in economic, political and spiritual fields. [2 lines of source text not declassified] He said that we need to devote our resources both towards providing inspiration for the long journey ahead and for establishing more effective organization for cooperation since no country can carry all the load of maintaining the free world’s interests alone. He believed that by pooling our resources so that each country played its appropriate role, we could employ beneficially much human effort that is now wasted.

The Prime Minister raised the question of how these resources could be harnessed for our common benefit. He did not believe that in five or ten years we could create a unified government of the free world but he stressed the necessity of moving toward mobilization of free countries in order to win the “battle of the neutrals.” This general feeling is, he said, that the world has become too small for us to behave as independent units in the way that we did in the last generation. [6 lines of source text not declassified] Mr. Macmillan cited Germany, with its increasing financial strength, as a country which should not be allowed to slip back, but must be bound closer to us to help serve our common purposes.

[1 paragraph (5½ lines of source text) not declassified]

Mr. Macmillan then stated that although we intend to mobilize our strength, we do not wish war with the Soviet Union and are ready to make genuine agreements with them should it become possible. However, we must face the fact that as long as we have “mere words and not deeds” from the Soviets, we must stand closely together and [Page 819] with our other allies. He believed that we should inform other free countries how hard we have tried to obtain agreement with the Soviets on disarmament through repeated negotiations.

[1 paragraph (4½ lines of source text) not declassified]

The President then spoke of the advisability of permitting others to take the initiative so that the US and the UK would be in a position to offer support. In this way he believed that our closer association would operate naturally. He proposed that Mr. Spaak might be helpful in taking an initiative which we could thus support. The President thought that in the nuclear field we could not show too much open coordination since we are the only two free nations possessing a nuclear capability. Our partners could come to envy and suspect an appearance of too exclusive a bilateral arrangement in this field.

Secretary Dulles stated that he believed what the President and the Prime Minister had said went right to the heart of the matter. He felt that there was a “certain malaise” in the atmosphere prevailing among free countries at the present time. The Secretary believed that the reasons for it could be easily diagnosed and, if we have the determination, he was sure a cure could be effected. Mr. Dulles noted that an element of insecurity prevailing in our own Government was also apparent in our alliances because nobody knows what the effects of the great new force of nuclear power will be. For instance, it is not clear how much it affects the NATO shield concept. The Secretary said that with only two free nations in possession of nuclear weapons, others feel remote from the decisions governing their use and are in a state of considerable confusion.

Our future security, he believed, will be accomplished increasingly by nuclear power delivered over long distances. The decision as to its use lies now largely in Washington. Other countries wonder what place they will have in such decisions, what the effects will be on them, and whether its reckless use will bring destruction on them. The Secretary believed other countries are also concerned whether, in view of nuclear power, their conventional force contributions are any longer worthwhile.

We must solve these questions, he said, not by creating a supranational organization, but through a consultative process which will permit a high degree of coordination. We all face, he stated, the same economic problem now, namely, to meet the costs of modern defense. This may be a long term business lasting perhaps one or two generations. We cannot destroy our freedom for that period without destroying the type of life we are endeavoring to save. Thus we have to maintain a free economy. The Secretary affirmed that we have the ability to retain both adequate defense and sound economy, but not on the basis of everyone trying to do everything. Consequently, we must now pool our resources and divide our tasks according to our different [Page 820] capabilities. This processs requires a high degree of confidence in each other that is difficult to achieve, especially in the United States which comes the nearest to being able to stand by itself. There is always the fear in a pinch somebody will fail to do his part for the common effort. The Secretary believed, therefore, that our greatest task is the development of a greater spirit of fellowship among ourselves and all our partners.

He mentioned that theoretically a single sovereignty is the best solution and that, in fact, we come close to it in war. The need is almost as compelling now, since all that we believe in can be destroyed if our present system of “separateness” continues.

The Secretary maintained that the USSR does not need to fight a great war to achieve domination of the world. The Russians are chess players who are seeking to check-mate us. By penetrating our economies and political systems and by gaining military domination, they hope to force us into a position where we have no alternative but to resign. This may not be as disastrous as being destroyed in war, but it leaves us the ultimate choice of liberty or death.

Britain and the United States, as democracies, know and trust each other. This gives us, said Secretary Dulles, an extraordinary opportunity, assisted by the excellent personal relations among our leaders, to instill greater confidence in Anglo-American and other free world relationships. However, we cannot count on the continuation of personal intimacy for longer than two more years, since under our Constitution the President cannot serve another term and since Prime Minister Macmillan is subject to the political uncertainties of re-election.

The Secretary then mentioned the Prime Minister’s statement of the previous day that we need a “declaration of interdependency” which should be reflected in institutional forms.

Mr. Lloyd stated that he too had noted the existence of “malaise” and agreed to the need for a “shot in the arm.” [12½ lines of source text not declassified]

At this point the President mentioned that he would have a business dinner this evening at about 7:00 p.m.3 to discuss further the items which had been reviewed yesterday evening and this morning. He said that he would like Mr. Quarles and Admiral Strauss to get together with their opposite numbers on the British side to see if they could come up with specific items (rather than generalities) which could be discussed this evening. The President stated that he believed the United States made a great mistake in establishing the legislative requirement for secrecy of information over atomic weapons. He said that he had always tried to correct this, but that the legal restrictions [Page 821] are still there. Personally, he said, he would like to remove all such restrictions so that we could talk about nuclear weapons just as we do about rifles or bayonets. By using NATO, however, he believed that we could find ways of complying with the laws and still accomplish the coordination that is essential for us.

The Prime Minister said it would be useful for this team to start discussing the problem of coordination in research, development, production and control of nuclear weapons both in the context of existing legislation and of changes which might be made. He suggested that the team start work as soon as Mr. Allen Dulles had given his intelligence briefing.

Admiral Strauss commented that he and Sir Edwin Plowden had anticipated this assignment and had already begun talks about the problem yesterday.

[2 paragraphs (11½ lines of source text) not declassified]

The President commented that if the USSR estimates we are relatively stronger now than we will be in three to five years, they may feel we will be likely to jump them if they should try something in the near future. He wondered whether the Russians might not therefore be expected to act with exceeding caution for the next couple of years.

The President then said that someone on each side should be putting his mind on a declaration containing some of the ideas that had been discussed at this meeting. He hoped that we could bring Spaak into our undertaking and make full use of the fortuitous fact of his presence in Washington at this time. The Secretary mentioned that he had told Spaak at the airport that the coincidence of the two visits, although not planned, may turn out to be very useful.4

[1 paragraph (8 lines of source text) not declassified]

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 62 D 181, CF 926. Secret. Drafted by Dale, approved by the White House, and circulated to appropriate U.S. officials on October 24.
  2. See Document 317.
  3. See Document 322.
  4. Spaak visited Washington October 24–26; see vol. IV, pp. 172 ff.