436. Memorandum of Meeting With President Eisenhower0

[Here follow paragraphs 1–3 in which Gray reviewed unrelated subjects.]

4. I then indicated to the President that I wished to discuss three matters which involved Berlin, and to some extent, the Foreign Ministers conference in Geneva.

The first related to the level of troops in Berlin and his request that a study be made of what the number might appropriately be. I indicated that I had levied a request on Mr. Murphy and the answer had not been forthcoming, largely because he had difficulty getting a coordinated Defense view. I reported to the President that the JCS had just completed a review and were opposed to any reduction. However, it appeared that Defense was taking a less obdurate view and that I hoped within a few days there would be an answer for him.

I also reported that I was informed that General Norstad and the military in Washington were concerned about a limitation without [Page 984] inspection and verification as a precedent which might be bothersome in later and broader disarmament negotiations. The President indicated that he did not have in mind that there would be any limitation but if there were to be a reduction it would be unilateral and not necessarily permanent.

The second problem concerned the inadequate results in tripartite planning for surface access to Berlin. I reported to the President that in the tripartite planning the UK had, in a sense, taken over, asserting the position that if the initial probe fails this would necessarily mean an allout nuclear war, if the Berlin position is to be maintained. They tended to ignore the intermediate steps contemplated in the planning position put forward by the US. This appears to be an effort to force a Summit meeting. The President said that this coincided with the message he had had from Mr. Macmillan1 and seemed to be a part of the pattern.

I reported to the President that as late as July 10 in a tripartite meeting,2 the UK was not willing to give government approval to the planning paper although at civilian and military staff levels it had been agreed to. The question largely hinges around how much we would let the East Germans operate. The UK is prepared to go much further than our agency concept. As justification for the UK position, Ambassador Caccia cited a conversation between Mr. Lloyd and Mr. Herter in Geneva,3 in which Mr. Lloyd maintained Mr. Herter’s views did not coincide with the planning documents.

I expressed to the President my view that this was a matter of the most serious implications. He agreed and asked me to request Acting Secretary Dillon to present a summary of this situation at the NSC meeting on July 16.

The third item had to do with the Department of Defense’s concern that the State Department was materially weakening the US position with respect to Berlin. I indicated to the President that the JCS had concluded that our negotiating position, from a military point of view, would be stronger now than two and half years from now, and that this was also the conclusion of an ad hoc committee consisting of State, Defense, JCS and CIA. The President found this hard to believe. In any event, I pointed out to him that on the basis of a State Department paper,4 which had been made available to Defense, Defense felt against the background at this time, the State Department was proposing a two and a half year moratorium with respect to Berlin; or alternatively, [Page 985] proposing a “guaranteed free city” or a UN trusteeship for Berlin. Either of the latter courses was felt by Defense to demonstrate a retreat by the US. I pointed out to the President that this matter had been brought to my attention on Saturday afternoon by the Defense Department and they were somewhat concerned that there was a Presidentially approved paper which they had not been privileged to see. I told the President that I had discussed this with Mr. Murphy and that he felt that Defense was unduly excited and if they fully understood the situation, their cause for concern would disappear. The President then asked me who really was raising the issue and I pointed out that it was Defense. He commented that negotiations with respect to Berlin were primarily a State Department matter and that for purposes of this sort Defense was not a policy-making body but an operating body. I responded that I nevertheless felt it my duty to bring to his attention major differences of view in matters of such supreme importance.

He then summoned Mrs. Whitman and asked her if she had a copy of the “talking paper” which he had approved for Mr. Herter’s use in the resumed conferences.5 She did not have such a copy but the President told me that it contained a number of positions which Mr. Herter felt he might be forced to take if there were to be any progress at all towards a basis for a Summit meeting.

[Here follows paragraphs 5 and 6 in which Gray reviewed unrelated subjects.]

Gordon Gray
Special Assistant to the President
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Project Clean Up, Staff Memos. Top Secret.
  2. Document 416.
  3. No further record of this meeting has been found.
  4. See Documents 410 and 411.
  5. Not identified further.
  6. Presumably the President is referring to the draft communiqué; see attachment B to Document 418.