567. Letter From the Secretary of Defense (Gates) to the Secretary of State 1
Dear Chris : I know that you have been devoting a great deal of attention to the Cuban problem. Unless and until more direct action is feasible or necessary, our best course seems to lie in future actions in the economic sphere. Since we have crossed one Rubicon with our sugar and oil actions, should we not consider other economic measures that could have a significant impact on Castro’s regime? It would be most unfortunate for the United States to find that we had applied sugar and oil sanctions only to watch the Castro Government—possibly with Soviet help—survive to strengthen gradually its hold on the people and the economy of Cuba and, perhaps as a result, its influence on other Latin American countries. In the event that further actions are to be taken, their effectiveness would be much greater if applied simultaneously than if staggered over a period of time, thereby allowing Castro a breathing space in which to adjust his economy to each one.
In several parts of the world one can observe a disturbing tendency on the part of smaller nations to seek to involve the Soviet Union in their problems in the hope of playing East against West. If we do not follow through with respect to Cuba, we may be encouraging [Page 1035] similar behavior by other countries. This could not only damage our international position but also add signficantly to the risks of a major East-West conflict.
I understand that various economic measures are possible under the Export Control Act of 1949,2 and the Defense Production Act of 1950,3 and through withdrawal from GATT schedules of preferential tariff rates on Cuban products. I am attaching a list of possible economic measures as illustrative of the type of actions I have in mind. In giving you my thoughts on this subject, I recognize that the Cuban problem is a complex one with many considerations which must be balanced. Certainly, there are no easy solutions. But from a long range viewpoint, the risks of all-out economic action seem less than those of stopping with half-way measures.
- Source: Eisenhower Library, Files of the Office of the Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, Cuba. Secret. Copies were sent to the Secretary of Commerce, the Director of Central Intelligence, and Gordon Gray. Gray’s copy is the source text.↩
- Enacted February 26, 1949; for text, see 63 Stat. 7.↩
- Enacted September 8, 1950; for text, see 64 Stat. 798.↩
- Printed from a copy that bears this stamped signature.↩