164. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • The President
  • The Secretary
  • The Under Secretary
  • General Goodpaster
  • Major Eisenhower
  • Mr. Greene
I showed the President the draft of the statement which I proposed to make following our discussion, and with the changes in the last two paragraphs shown on the attached copy, he approved it.1 (Mr. Hagerty was present for this item.)
The President expressed discouragement at the level of the efforts the other NATO countries are making to the common defense and expressed the belief that at the forthcoming Ministerial Meeting in Paris I should chide them a bit. He suggested that the other NATO Governments be reminded that the United States is maintaining the principal deterrent power and, through the Mutual Security Program a great portion of the expense of the defense posture of the free nations around the periphery of the Sino Soviet bloc. Notwithstanding this, the President felt that our allies are not manning their own fronts.

There was some discussion, in which Mr. Herter participated, of the extent of the shortfalls of the NATO countries’ defense efforts. Mr. Herter noted that these are expected to some extent in all the European countries and noted that while the United States might have to transfer two battle groups from existing divisions to the status of service troops to man the NATO atomic stockpiles, during 1959, this did not contemplate reduction in our overall force strength in Europe. The President recalled that when he first went to SHAPE, there had been talk that the United States assistance to the NATO countries’ defense efforts would be for a “maximum” of five years. Since then the NATO countries have come to depend overly on the United States; the President reiterated [Page 371]that it is time for us to begin to wean our allies from overdependence upon us and to encourage them to make better efforts of their own.

In this connection I showed the President Ambassador Burgess’ estimate (Polto 1646)2 and General Norstad’s message to me (ALO 1111).3 The President expressed his agreement that we should not back down from the commitments undertaken in MC 70, and approved our adhering to those goals for calendar year 1959. The President alluded to the pressures on the U.S. fiscal position and the difficult problem this posed for our budget. I said that notwithstanding these, I thought it important that we take this position because among other reasons it would be dangerous if we allowed the impression of great United States strength to be dissipated.

[Here follows discussion of unrelated matters.]

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, Meetings with the President. Top Secret; Personal and Private. Drafted by Dulles. The time of the meeting is taken from another memorandum of this conversation, prepared by Major Eisenhower on December 15. (ibid., Whitman File, DDE Diaries) Major Eisenhower’s memorandum apparently served as the basis for his recollections of this conversation, printed in Strictly Personal, pp. 216–217.
  2. Not printed. For the approved draft as released to the press on December 12, see Department of State Bulletin, December 29, 1958, pp. 1040–1041.
  3. Polto 1646 from Paris, December 11, contained Burgess’ summary and comment on the agenda of the forthcoming NATO Ministerial Meeting in Paris. Burgess added:

    “Despite present shortfalls in some countries I believe the goals set by M.C. 70 are attainable. There will be strong voices in support, including, I expect, Norstad, Staf, Spaak, Brentano, Zorlu, and others, but attitude expressed by U.S. will have enormous weight.” (Department of State, Central Files, 110.11–DU/12–1158)

  4. Not found.