114. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Rubottom) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Murphy)1


  • Policy on Shipment of Arms to the Caribbean Area

You will recall from Mr. Snow’s memorandum to you of March 16 (Tab A),2 which forwarded a proposed circular telegram to the field on the above subject, that ARA believes a limitation on arms shipments to the Caribbean area to be of primary importance in our efforts to ease tensions in that disturbed region. We understand that the Department of Defense will not concur in this policy or in this message.3

In Mr. Snow’s memorandum the possibility was mentioned of applying this policy for the immediate future only to sales of military equipment, whether those sales are arranged commercially or through United States military services under arrangements known as “reimbursable aid”. All sales, of whichever type, are subject to the control of the President in accordance with Section 414 of the Mutual Security Act.4 That provision of law states that:

“The President is authorized to control, in furtherance of world peace and the security and foreign policy of the United States, the export and import of arms, ammunition, and implements of war, including technical data relating thereto, other than by a United States Government agency.”

The President, by Executive Order 10575,5 delegated this control authority to the Secretary of State, and specified that in carrying out this authority the Department should consult with “appropriate [Page 377] agencies of the Government”. The Department of Defense is the applicable agency and this consultation has now been completed. We have the dissent of the Department of Defense, but it is evident that the Department of State has the latitude to deny the issuance of export licenses for military equipment sold to countries in the Caribbean should it consider it important to “furtherance of world peace and the security and foreign policy of the United States”.

ARA believes that careful consideration and limitation of sales of military equipment to the countries in the Caribbean area, while retaining the prerogative of authorizing such shipments when in the U.S. national interest, is important to the attainment of the above-mentioned objectives and recommends that you authorize the dispatch of the revised telegram forwarded as Tab B.6 If you concur in this recommendation,7 you may wish to advise the appropriate officials of the Department of Defense, before the message is released, that the Department is sending this message.8

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 741B.56/3–2659. Confidential. Drafted by Little.
  2. Not attached to the source text; a copy is ibid., 741B.56/3–1659.
  3. Snow’s March 16 memorandum stated in part: “On March 9 copies [of the proposed circular telegram] were made available to the Department of Defense for its consideration and clearance. The primary interest of Defense in this subject, of course, relates to deliveries of MAP grant material to the Caribbean area. ARA was informed on March 11 that the JCS Staff has indicated its desire to make a formal determination on this issue and estimates that this determination will require from ten days to two weeks. We are disturbed at the length of time which may be taken for this review, particularly since the Department’s Munitions Control Division has been under increasingly heavy pressure and embarrassment in not being able to give other than evasive replies to inquiring commercial arms dealers in this country. Further, the British, with whom this matter has been discussed informally, wish to exchange views with us on this question and wish to coordinate their policies with our own.” (Ibid.)
  4. Reference is to the Mutual Security Act of 1954 (P.L. 665), approved August 26, 1954; for text, see 68 Stat. 832.
  5. For text, see 19 Federal Register 7249.
  6. Not attached to the source text; evidently a draft of circular telegram 1141, Document 116.
  7. The source text contains no indication of Murphy’s action on the recommendation, but see infra.
  8. The following handwritten notation, initialed by Loftus E. Becker, appears on the source text: “no legal objection.”