5. Memorandum of Discussion at the 366th Meeting of the National Security Council0

[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and agenda items 1 and 2.]

3. U.S. Policy Toward the Soviet-Dominated Nations in Eastern Europe (NSC 5608/1; Appendix to NSC 5608/1; NSC 5808/1; NSC 5505/1; NSC 5607; NSC 5616/2; NSC 5704/3; NSC 5706/2; NSC 5726/1; NSC 5803; NIE 12–58; NIE 10–58; NSC Action No. 1896; NSC 5811; Memos for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated May 13 and 21, 1958)1

General Cutler briefed the National Security Council at considerable length, stressing in particular the differences of view in subparagraphs 28-c and 28-d of NSC 5811, reading as follows: [Page 13]

“c. Encourage the dominated peoples to seek their goals gradually [and without resort to premature violent actions].*2 [5–1/2 lines of source text not declassified]

“d. Discreetly foster dissident and non-cooperative attitudes; and [do not discourage]**2 non-cooperative activities, including passive resistance.

“* JCS proposal.

“** State-Treasury-Budget proposal.”

(A copy of General Cutler’s briefing note is filed in the minutes of the meeting, and another is attached to this memorandum.)3

When General Cutler had finished explaining that the main issue in this paper focused on these two subparagraphs, he stated that the Joint Chiefs of Staff proposals for rewriting subparagraphs 28-c and-d really constituted a fundamental difference with the view set forth by the present text of these subparagraphs.

The President said that he was unable to understand the difference, and the matter seemed to him essentially an exercise in semantics. Secretary Dulles noted his agreement with the President’s view. General Cutler, however, insisted that if the President and others could not grasp that there was a concrete and substantive difference of viewpoint between the Joint Chiefs’ proposals for subparagraphs 28-c and-d and those of the Planning Board, he had failed to explain adequately the essential differences. The Planning Board had unanimously agreed that the dominated peoples should seek their goals of greater independence from Moscow gradually and generally without resort to violence. The Joint Chiefs, on the other hand, believed that there was no chance of achieving independence in these countries without some fighting. They believed that we should discreetly encourage passive resistance and that violent uprisings, rioting, and guerrilla operations should be encouraged, though only “on a calculated basis when we are ready to cope with the Russian reaction.” Moreover, the Chiefs believe that in the event that a satellite gained some measure of freedom, the United States should be prepared to make unmistakably clear to the Soviets that we will not tolerate any efforts toward reprisal or resubjugation.

After thus summarizing what he conceived to be the differences between the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Planning Board on this issue, General Cutler called first on General Twining.

General Twining said that the Joint Chiefs of Staff were aware that they were getting somewhat out of their military sphere in their comments on subparagraphs 28-c and-d, but that they felt that as these [Page 14] subparagraphs were written in NSC 5811 they were much too weak. It was for this reason that they had recommended their changes.

Secretary Dulles said that he could not quite agree with General Twining’s view and that of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that there was no chance of a satellite securing its independence of Moscow without some fighting. This was a pretty sweeping statement, and while it might be likely, it was not so certain as the Chiefs seemed to think.

Broadly speaking, continued Secretary Dulles, we in the State Department believe that the best hope of bringing about an acceptable evolution toward greater freedom for the satellites is the exertion by the satellites of constant pressure on the Soviet Union and on their own regimes, in the hope of effecting a change in the thinking of the Soviet rulers. Thus the Soviet rulers may ultimately come to realize that it is in their own best interests to be surrounded by free and relatively friendly countries, rather than, as at present, by a series of bitterly hostile satellite states. How to exert this pressure was a very delicate matter, but it seemed reasonably well covered by the limited-distribution Appendix to NSC 5608/1. While it remained true that no enslaved country could ever achieve its freedom if the people of that country were not willing to die for freedom, the example of Hungary showed that the elements that we most depended upon had been liquidated by the resort to violence.

Secretary Dulles stated that he particularly disliked the bracketed phrase in the first sentence of subparagraph 28-c, dealing with premature violence. He felt that the proposed course of action was dangerous, and that the bracketed phrase should be omitted from the final text of the subparagraph.

The President said that he didn’t clearly understand the difference between the bracketed phrase and the first part of the sentence, but he was willing to agree with Secretary Dulles that the bracketed phrase should be deleted.

Turning to subparagraph 28-d, Secretary Dulles commented that he couldn’t get very excited about whether the bracketed phrase, “do not discourage”, was deleted or remained in the final form of the subparagraph. After all, said Secretary Dulles, the difference between “non-cooperative attitudes” and “non-cooperative activities” would have to be drawn by a pretty fine line. He accordingly would not object to the deletion of the bracketed phrase in subparagraph 28-d.

Mr. Allen warned the Council that if subparagraph 28-d remained as written, it would constitute guidance to his Voice of America operations. In this circumstance, and if there were another Hungary, the script-writers could only defend themselves against accusations such as had occurred at the time of the Hungarian revolt, by stating in effect that their discreet encouragement of dissident and non-cooperative [Page 15] attitudes was national security policy. On the whole, Mr. Allen felt that the bracketed phrase had better stay in subparagraph 28-d.

Both the President and Secretary Anderson expressed anxiety about leaving the phrase “discreetly encourage” in subparagraph 28-d. The President thought that what was really meant by this phrase was “to look on with a benevolent eye”.

[2 paragraphs (11 lines of source text) not declassified]

General Cutler then went on to speak of paragraph 40, reading as follows:

“40. Seek to establish between the United States and the dominated nations with which the United States has diplomatic relations, more normal economic relations, thereby facilitating a gradual expansion of trade—consistent with ‘Basic National Security Policy’ (NSC 5810/1)4 and ‘U.S. Economic Defense Policy’ (NSC 5704/3)*—as a means of projecting U.S. influence and lessening the dominated nations’ economic ties with and dependence on the Soviet Union.

“* NSC Action 1865-c directed the review of this policy; cf. NSC 5810/1, paragraph 37. For the Department of Commerce suggestions for expanding par. 40, see Annex C.”

General Cutler also noted that the Secretary of Commerce had suggested, in Annex C to NSC 5811, more detailed guidance with respect to the course of action set forth in paragraph 40. General Cutler suggested that if the details of paragraph 40 were adopted by the Council, they should be removed from the Annex and placed in the policy paper.

The President said that it was his understanding that the proposed expanded trade between the United States and the Soviet-dominated nations was designed to achieve U.S. political objectives and had little or nothing to do with any purely economic advantage which might accrue to the United States. If he were right in this assumption, he believed that the initiative in carrying out the course of action in paragraph 40 should come straight from the State Department.

In turn, Secretary Dulles said he felt that the implementation of paragraph 40 would have to be handled with very great care. As the Vice President had just recently pointed out, the Latin American countries were now under very heavy pressure of an economic sort to increase their trade with the Soviet satellite states. If we, the United States, open the door to greater trade with the satellite states, it may well prove to be the Latin American countries which rush through the door. This could have very serious effects on the political orientation of our Latin American neighbors. The President agreed, and said that that was [Page 16] precisely why he felt that State should take the initiative in determining what should be done to carry out the policy in paragraph 40.

Secretary Dulles said that he would be very reluctant to see the National Security Council agree to any sweeping public statements by U.S. officials regarding increased trade with the Soviet-dominated nations, as appeared to be suggested by the Department of Commerce proposals in Annex C. This could have a very serious effect in Latin America. The Vice President agreed with Secretary Dulles’ viewpoint, and said that the leaders of the Latin American countries would on the whole much prefer to trade with the United States, first of all because the machinery we sold them was better than the machinery they got from the Soviet Bloc, and secondly because they did not want a lot of Communist technicians coming into their countries to show them how to operate the machines they had imported from a Soviet Bloc country. The Vice President accordingly agreed that this matter should be handled entirely by the State Department.

Called upon for his views, Secretary Weeks agreed that this was essentially a State Department matter, and that the objective sought, in calling for more normal trade relations with the Soviet-dominated nations, was a political objective and not a commercial one. The paragraphs suggested by the Department of Commerce in Annex C were merely designed to spell out in greater detail what Commerce had supposed to be the State Department’s position in favoring more non-strategic trade, as set forth in paragraph 40; and, moreover, Commerce would of course have to implement the actual commercial operations under paragraph 40.

General Cutler then suggested to the Council that Annex C be omitted. The President, however, thought that the whole matter, both paragraph 40 and Annex C, should not be acted upon at this time by the Council, but should be further studied in the State Department prior to final Council action. The subject matter of paragraph 40 was, in the President’s opinion, the most important matter which had been discussed this morning at the meeting. As he had so often said, the President reminded the Council again that trade was the chief weapon of the diplomat.

General Cutler then suggested approval of all of NSC 5811 as amended, including paragraph 40, but suggested the omission of Annex C. The details of the implementation of paragraph 40 could safely be left to the Operations Coordinating Board, where the State Department could take the lead. The President said he could not agree with General Cutler’s suggestion, and felt that the State Department would have to make up its own mind as to how it wished to make use of increased trade with the Soviet-dominated nations in order to achieve our political objectives. Secretary Dulles agreed, and stated that in its present form [Page 17] paragraph 40 seemed too sweeping, and he would like an opportunity to look at the problem at greater length. General Cutler asked the President if he was agreeable to Council adoption of all of NSC 5811 as amended, except for paragraph 40 and Annex C. Council action on paragraph 40 and Annex C would be suspended until the Secretary of State had had an opportunity to study further the implications of this paragraph. This proposal was approved.

The National Security Council: 5

Discussed the draft statement of policy on the subject contained in NSC 5811, including a supplementary draft statement of U.S. Policy Toward Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (Lithuania B to NSC 5811), in the light of:
The views of the Chairman, Council on Foreign Economic Policy, with particular reference to paragraph 40 and Annex C of NSC 5811, transmitted by the reference memorandum of May 13, 1958; and
The views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff thereon, transmitted by the reference memorandum of May 21, 1958.
Adopted the statement of U.S. Policy Toward the Soviet-Dominated Nations in Eastern Europe, and the supplementary statement of U.S. Policy Toward Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, subject to:
On page 16, deletion of the bracketed words in the first sentence of subparagraph 28-c, and the footnote thereto.
On page 17, deletion of subparagraph 28-d and the footnote thereto.
On page 20, deferral of action on paragraph 40 and (on pages 31 and 32) on Annex C, pending further study by the Secretary of State of the foreign policy implications of expanding non-strategic trade with the Soviet-dominated nations for primarily political purposes, and a report on the results of such study for Council consideration at the June 19 meeting.
Agreed that the provisions of the special limited-distribution Appendix to NSC 5608/1, as amended at this meeting, should apply to Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Rumania.

Note: NSC 5811, as adopted by the action in b above, subsequently approved by the President; circulated as NSC 5811/1 for implementation by all appropriate Executive departments and agencies of the U.S. Government; and referred to the Operations Coordinating Board as the coordinating agency designated by the President.

The action in b-(3) above, as approved by the President, subsequently transmitted to the Secretary of State for appropriate action.

[Page 18]

In accordance with the action in c above, as approved by the President, the special limited-distribution Appendix to NSC 5608/1, as amended at this meeting, subsequently issued as a special limited-distribution Appendix to NSC 5811/1.

In accordance with NSC Action No. 1896-c, the special limited-distribution Appendix to NSC 5608/1, without the amendment adopted at this meeting, issued as a special limited-distribution Appendix to NSC 5808/1 (Poland).

[Here follows agenda item 4.]

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Prepared by Gleason on May 23.
  2. The following are printed in Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. XXV: NSC 5608/1, “U.S. Policy Toward the Soviet Satellites in Eastern Europe” (without the appendix), July 18, 1956, pp. 216–221; NSC 5706/2, “U.S. Policy on Defectors, Escapees, and Refugees From Communist Areas,” February 26, 1957, pp. 584–588; and NSC 5616/2, “Interim U.S. Policy on Developments in Poland and Hungary,” November 19, 1956, pp. 463–469. NSC 5607, “East-West Exchanges,” June 29, 1956, is printed ibid., vol. XXIV, pp. 243–246. NSC 5704/3, “U.S. Economic Defense Policy,” September 16, 1957, is printed ibid., vol. X, pp. 495–498. NSC 5803, “U.S. Policy Toward Germany,” February 7, 1958, is printed in vol. IX, Document 243. NIE 12–58 and NIE 10–58 are printed as Documents 2 and 3. NSC 5808/1, “U.S. Policy Toward Poland,” April 16, 1958, is in Part 2, Document 46. Regarding NSC Action No. 1896, see the memorandum of NSC discussion, April 14, ibid. NSC 5726/1, “U.S. Civil Aviation Policy Toward the Sino-Soviet Bloc,” December 9, 1957, is in Department of State, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5726 Series. Lay’s May 13 memorandum transmitting a memorandum from the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers on portions of NSC 5811 is ibid., NSC 5811 Series. NSC 5811 and Lay’s May 21 memorandum are not printed. (Ibid.)
  3. Brackets in the source text.
  4. Brackets in the source text.
  5. Not printed. The minutes of all National Security Council meetings held during the Eisenhower administration are in National Archives and Records Administration, RG 273, Records of the National Security Council, Official Meeting Minutes File.
  6. NSC 5810/1, “Basic National Security Policy,” May 5, 1958, is scheduled for publication in volume III.
  7. Paragraphs a-c and the Note that follows constitute NSC Action No. 1914. (Department of State, S/S-NSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council)