62. Note From Cutler to Goodpaster1

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For your information, I enclose a draft of some rough notes I made at the Dulles/McElroy Conference Tuesday afternoon.

Obviously, these should be very closely held.

Robert Cutler


Notes Prepared by Cutler

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CONFERENCE—June 17, 1958

Sec/State; Under Sec/State; Sec/Defense; Deputy Sec/Defense; Service Secretaries; Joint Chiefs; Smith; Sprague; Cutler; Irvin; Triebel; Randall.

Concluding Recommendations of Study

Increase capability of CRAF for limited war—also parallel shipping facilities.
Notify enemies of intention in limited war action.
Public information to place in proper context use of nuclear weapons.

Secretary of State

We do have a strategic concept for use of limited war.
We are in reasonably good shape as to capabilities to wage limited war in twelve areas studied: Far East (4), Mid-East (4), Europe (2), South Asia (2).
Query as to capability in Iran. Iran is worried and we have no real plan. Do a little extra preparatory work in this regard.
Big question is as to Europe and NATO allies.
Little chance of limited war in Europe—he does not quarrel with this judgment.
However, growing concern if U.S. will accept general war alternative when it comes, especially when USSR has ICBM capability [Typeset Page 225] and we do not. This doubt is increasingly expressed by governments and demagogic mass leaders. Reads Sandys’ statement at Copenhagen (based on Cabinet submitted paper) to above effect (i.e., after U.S. is under USSR ICBM capability of attack, will it go to help Turkey or Western Europe). Cannot rely indefinitely on our nuclear retaliatory attack to preserve peace?
France pushing nuclear programs (a) to get in nuclear club; (b) sharing Sandys’ doubts, it wants own capability to invoke nuclear defense of France. What will JFD say when he visits de Gaulle in July.
Time is soon coming when our NATO allies will not be satisfied that U.S. will surely go to general nuclear war to defend them, if attacked, and risk American devastation; and will demand a surer strategic concept. They do not yet know what they will do: [Facsimile Page 3]
Probably try to develop own nuclear stocks so as to create nuclear war, if they wish, regardless of U.S.
Dangerous situation if we do not have common strategic concept to use in defending our common alliance.
France can’t financially afford to be an independent nuclear power. Can the British or Italians? Will public opinion permit West Germans to do so? Perhaps the four together could.
Is an area defense in Europe based on use of tactical nuclear weapons a feasible enough arrangement to calm our allies? If they have somewhat greater right to use nuclear weapons in area defense, would that suffice? Otherwise, a futile brief effort on their part to become nuclear powers, followed by trend to neutralism. Dulles feels this trend is inevitable, within a few years (not in next one or two).
The European doubt is rational—will U.S. return to isolationism? Would another President than Eisenhower take the awful risk of damaging so much America to go to help Turkey?
Dulles does not have answer to problem. All he says is to doubt whether Europeans will long continue to rely on the military concept that U.S., after ICBM capability of USSR to plaster U.S., will come to help an attack on Europe by USSR.
McElroy: Is not the continued presence of U.S. troops in large numbers in Europe a gage that the U.S. will respond to protect them in Europe.
Dulles: If a conventional war starts in Europe, would we involve in nuclear retaliation or would we consider slaughter of U.S. troops overseas? Neither he nor McElroy could answer this question.
He does not consider preventive war as a solution to the problem. (Even with preventive war, the U.S. cannot be safe from terrible harm. (Quarles))
Quarles: Does not neutralism endanger a European country more than association with the U.S., and punishment resulting?
McElroy: Can you use tactical nuclear weapons in Europe without spreading into general nuclear war? Dulles thinks not. But he says many people might think the U.S. more likely to get into defense of Europe, if gradually by using tactical weapons, instead of a massive sudden nuclear retaliation.
Retention of American forces in Europe should be a great assurance to Europeans. (McElroy)
Douglas: If our allies in Europe had sufficient limited nuclear capability to defend themselves against conventional attack by USSR, would they not be less fearful of the outcome? (Meaning, if we increased their capability.)
Dulles thinks we should explore a wider internationalization in NATO of nuclear capability. Max Taylor—this is the ultimate answer: act on it and believe in it.
Have we been too focused on massive nuclear retaliation with large weapons to realize our current, increasing ability with tactical nuclear ability, carrier forces, mobile marine battalions? (McElroy) Perhaps 30% of our money is going into this kind of capability. Should we emphasize this capability more to our allies and to the public and to the Congress?
Dulles: We are planning to make small nuclear weapons in quantity. For what purpose?
McElroy: To use against conventional forces which would overwhelm us.
JFDulles: We will have time if this comes in 1961–1962 and allies know we have this intended capability and use it.
Quarles does not think small war preparations would hinder going on into general war, but that going into a general war would limit your limited war capability.
Twining: You can’t say that there will never be a limited war in Europe. But you must never let Russians think that we won’t use our nuclear retaliatory capability, toy with idea of limited war. Only solution is to get comprehensive safeguarded arms control system.
Burke: Our allies want a mortgage on us, as security we will come to help. Our forces in Europe are hostages. Must we give a new, different, or bigger mortgage? Perhaps giving them a nuclear capability of their own or in common control.
What will JF Dulles tell de Gaulle? He will require France to have a greater nuclear independence or to have an independent foreign policy.
Dulles always tells our allies we’re going to help you because if we don’t we’ll be crowded and crowded against our own interest. They are convinced as to this in the case of present Administration.
Quarles: We should make clear to de Gaulle (a) not part of our policy to prevent France from acquiring independent nuclear capability, [Facsimile Page 5] (b) our equipping them is a different thing. But would de Gaulle be in a good posture unless France had enough by itself to defend France? No, in a better posture to share in our common nuclear power in NATO. Perhaps let him have a few to bolster his morale.
JFDulles: De Gaulle will ask—“Why should I spend a lot of money to get a few inadequate weapons? Why don’t you give me some?”
(Our law does not permit us to give weapons to France now.)
McElroy: Desirability of supporting indigenous forces in non-identifiable national units (as mercenaries?) for use in limited wars throughout the world.
Dulles: A useful concept, though not an answer to the main question. Volunteer Freedom Corps referred to. Perhaps this concept should be restudied.

Can we recruit from our various alliances certain elements to function on behalf of Free World, like UN force for UN world? Macmillan interested in idea. Idea of usable forces other than distinctly national U.S. forces.

  1. Source: Strategic concept for the defense of Europe. Top Secret. 5 pp. Eisenhower Library, White House Office Files, Records of the Office of the Staff Secretary, Nuclear Exchange.