139. Memorandum of Conversation Between General Alfred M. Gruenther and Secretary of State Dulles0

We talked about Tunisia, Mutual Security, and so forth. Then I discussed the disarmament situation.1 I said I felt that it was essential that disarmament work should be an integral part of the State Department activity and not operated independently. Disarmament involved too many political considerations, the future of NATO, the future of Germany, and so forth. Gruenther said he agreed. I further said that I was very skeptical about there being any reduction of armament purely as a matter of agreement. There might be reduction for domestic reasons or because some political issues were settled, but the disarmament problem was so complex, the balance so difficult to find, and enforcement so precarious, that I doubted that there could be reduction of armament purely as a result of reciprocal and balanced agreement. Nevertheless, I felt it was vital to continue to seek limitation of armament. I referred to the German attitude prior to World War I and the disastrous consequences to them of being regarded throughout the world as militaristic. General Gruenther [Page 554] indicated his general agreement with this point of view. I then indicated that I was thinking of handling the matter, perhaps through Wadsworth, as far as negotiation was concerned, and through the regular Departmental officers, but I did feel it necessary to have some qualified persons from outside who could serve as kind of an advisory panel to keep us moving and moving in sound directions, taking into account all relevant factors, including public relations. General Gruenther expressed the thought that perhaps some of our allies were making us carry too heavy a public relations burden by getting us to take positions which they wanted but which they were not willing to associate themselves with publicly, e.g. non-suspension of testing. I agreed. I asked General Gruenther whether he would be willing to serve on such a panel and he said that he would if I thought this could be reconciled with his being out of town a good deal of the time. I said I thought it could be. I mentioned General Bedell Smith, and he thought that he would be a good member, subject to the fact that he also was out of town a good deal of the time. General Gruenther suggested Arnold Wolfers as someone here whom he regarded as intelligent and knowledgeable and a student of the subject.

I spoke of Sprague but said I was a little bit concerned because he seemed to be emotional about certain aspects of the matter including shelters. General Gruenther said he had no knowledge of Robert Sprague but did not think we needed to worry much about the shelter program. He said he did not think it would ever take hold or be a popular or political problem. He did express regret that Senator Humphrey had attacked the Administration on the disarmament theme.

I thanked General Gruenther for his willingness to serve and said I would communicate with him later on.2

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, General Memoranda of Conversation. Confidential; Personal and Private.
  2. On February 14, Harold E. Stassen resigned his post as the President’s Special Assistant for Disarmament. In his resignation letter to Eisenhower, Stassen stated that the studies and recommendations that he had been asked to make had been made and were either adopted or “are well understood within the Administration.” (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Administrative Series, Stassen, Harold E., 1957) See the Supplement. Eisenhower’s February 15 letter accepting Stassen’s resignation is printed in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1958, pp. 152–153.
  3. See Document 140.