45. Memorandum of Discussion at the 362d Meeting of the National Security Council0

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

3. U.S. Policy Toward Poland (NSC 5608/1; Appendix to NSC 5608/1; NSC 5505/1; NSC 5616/2; NSC 5705/1; NIE 12–58; NSC Actions Nos. 1775, 1781 and 1862; NSC 5704/3; NSC 5706/2; NSC 5726/1; [Page 106] NSC 5607; NSC 5802/1; NSC 5808; Memo for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated April 11, 1958)1

General Cutler then turned to the proposed new policy on Poland (NSC 5808). He stated the first major policy decision reflected in the new paper, in the following words: “The U.S. should continue to accept and work through the present Gomulka regime as a means of promoting a gradual evolution in Poland toward greater freedom and independence.” General Cutler’s exposition of the Planning Board’s thinking on this subject provoked no discussion,2 and the Council agreed with the Planning Board decision.

General Cutler raised the second major policy decision reflected in NSC 5808 in the following terms: “The level of U.S. economic aid to Poland, which will best serve U.S. interests, should be approximately as at present, though the U.S. should be prepared to increase the level should significant opportunities arise which would move Poland towards internal freedom and national independence.”

In this case, likewise, the Council accepted the Planning Board decision without comment. Accordingly, General Cutler moved on to the third major policy decision in NSC 5808, which he stated as follows: “The U.S. should continue and further extend the distinctions we make between Communist Poland and the Soviet-dominated Communist nations of Eastern Europe, in our policies and programs relating to East-West trade, East-West exchanges, port security, consular representation [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].”

After explaining the Planning Board’s reasoning in making this decision, and after summarizing reports from the Department of Justice on expanded Polish espionage and intelligence activities, General Cutler called on Secretary Dulles to speak particularly to paragraph 28–a,3 dealing with the future levels of economic and technical aid to Poland.

[Page 107]

Secretary Dulles replied by stating that while there was a deviation in some respects by the Gomulka regime from the usual Soviet line and while such deviations ought to be encouraged in our own interests, this deviation did not go so far as to suggest that the Polish Government’s intelligence services were not coordinated by the Soviet Government. There was no doubt that the Soviet Government did coordinate the Polish intelligence services. Accordingly, we must exercise just as much vigilance vis-à-vis Polish agents as we did with Soviet agents. Nevertheless, the shift that has occurred in Poland since Gomulka had taken over was significant and deserved to be encouraged. There was no doubt that the Soviet Union regarded the satellite areas as the most sensitive in the world from its own point of view. They regard the satellite areas as areas of greatest danger to the USSR. That was why they were pressing in their maneuvers for a Summit Conference to induce the United States to accept the permanence of Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. Eastern Europe may well turn out to be the Achilles’ heel of the Soviet Union. Just as purely defensive policies alone rarely succeed in achieving their objectives, so we must be alive to opportunities to capitalize by more positive U.S. policies toward the Soviet satellites. Foreign trade, where there has already been a tendency on our part to relax some of our restrictions, offers just such an opportunity for the United States to take the offensive and exploit Soviet Bloc vulnerabilities.

Mr. Allen Dulles pointed out that the CIA had some responsibility, in coordination with the State Department, with respect to the policy of Radio Free Europe’s broadcasts to Poland. This had never proved to be an easy task. Radio Free Europe had to walk a tightrope to avoid, on the one hand, fomenting outbreaks in Poland which would cost Polish lives and, on the other hand, to avoid giving the Poles the impression that the United States had abandoned hope of their ultimate liberation. Mr. Allen Dulles went on to say that some of his people in the CIA feared that this proposed new policy on Poland might force a drastic change in Radio Free Europe’s policy with respect to broadcasts to Poland. Mr. Allen Dulles did not quite think he shared this view, because it seemed to him that the proposed new policy paper provided a broad mandate for the broadcasts.

Secretary Dulles said that he had one thing to add to his previous remarks which he had overlooked. He pointed out that while paragraph 28–a dealt primarily with the problem of increasing trade with Poland, the objectives of paragraph 28 were primarily political rather than strictly economic. He therefore hoped that in the implementation of this paragraph, special consideration could be given to the views of the Department of State.

General Cutler then said that he wished to raise the question of the applicability to Poland of the special limited-distribution Appendix to [Page 108] the U.S. policy with respect to the Soviet satellites (NSC 5608/1), dealing with the problem of how to treat violence and manifestations of discontent to the Communist regimes in the satellite nations. General Cutler pointed out that both State and CIA thought that this Appendix should no longer apply to Poland. Defense, on the other hand, thought that the Appendix should continue to apply. General Cutler asked Secretary Dulles to speak first to this problem.

Secretary Dulles indicated that, generally speaking, he thought that the new policy paper on Poland would render the Appendix obsolete as far as Poland was concerned, although he had no very strong feelings on the matter.

Asked for his opinion by General Cutler, Secretary Quarles stated his belief that, in general, the new policy paper on Poland had gone about as far as we could, and perhaps a little too far, in pointing up our change of view on Poland. Certainly he could see nothing in this Appendix which was inconsistent with the proposed new policy paper. He too, however, stated that he did not regard the issue as a fighting matter. Mr. Allen Dulles expressed himself as not caring very much one way or another, as long as a clear decision was reached, though on the whole he thought that the Appendix should continue to apply to Poland.

The President spoke in favor of having the Appendix continue to apply to Poland. Secretary Dulles said that he was not necessarily opposed to this, but he would like to study the wording of the Appendix before making up his mind. A copy of the Appendix was provided to Secretary Dulles to read.

Meanwhile, the President pointed out that while we were trying to do our best to encourage Poland to break away from the Soviet Union, we must not have any illusions on the point that Poland was still essentially a satellite of the USSR.

General Cutler then turned to the fourth of the major policy decisions recommended by the Planning Board in NSC 5808, dealing with “the nature of the U.S. response to imminent or actual Soviet military action against Poland.” [2 lines of source text not declassified]

[1 paragraph (17-½ lines of source text) not declassified]

General Cutler likewise pointed out that the Joint Chiefs of Staff had recommended deletion of paragraph 38,4 on the ground that this paragraph was an incomplete representation of the consideration set forth in Annex A as being the basis for paragraphs 38 and 39. He called on General Taylor to expand on the views of the Joint Chiefs. General Taylor said he had nothing to add to the written views, and he personally could not see much hope in any of the actions proposed to be taken [Page 109] by the United States in the event of Soviet military action against Poland. In response, General Cutler explained the great difficulties foreseen by the Planning Board in the contingency of Soviet military action against Poland. These difficulties were applicable whether we took positive action ourselves or avoided taking any positive action.

Asked for his opinion on the inclusion of paragraph 38, Secretary Dulles said that the paragraph struck him as pretty negative in tone, and not altogether suitable for inclusion in a policy paper, inasmuch as it did not really concern itself with policy guidance.

Secretary Quarles said he was inclined to favor the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with respect to paragraph 38, not so much because what it says was wrong, but because it was so negative in tone and because it did not constitute policy guidance. He was inclined, therefore, to agree with a suggestion from General Cutler that paragraph 38 be removed from the policy paper proper and put in the Appendix.

The President said that he could not see that the inclusion of paragraph 38 did any harm, although of course it wasn’t possible in a policy paper to cover all the contingencies which might arise in the event of Soviet military action against Poland. The President perceived no objection to transferring paragraph 38 to the Appendix. However, after brief further discussion, it was agreed to omit paragraph 38 altogether.5

At the end of the meeting, Secretary Dulles said that he had now reread the words in the special limited-distribution Appendix to NSC 5608/1, and he saw nothing in this Appendix which made it inapplicable to Poland.

The National Security Council:6

Discussed the draft statement of policy on the subject contained in NSC 5808; in the light of the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff thereon, transmitted by the reference memorandum of April 11, 1958.
Adopted the statement of policy in NSC 5808, subject to the deletion of paragraph 38.
Agreed that the provisions of the special limited-distribution Appendix to NSC 5608/1 should continue to apply to Poland.
Noted without dissent the Secretary of State’s observation that the views of the Department of State should be given special consideration in implementing the policy guidance set forth in paragraph 28–a of NSC 5808, because of its primarily political objective.

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Note: NSC 5808, as amended by the action in b above, subsequently approved by the President; circulated as NSC 5808/17 for implementation by all appropriate Executive departments and agencies of the U.S. Government; and referred, together with the action in d above, to the Operations Coordinating Board as the coordinating agency designated by the President. The action in c above, as approved by the President, subsequently circulated to all holders of the Appendix to NSC 5608/1.

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. Prepared by Gleason on April 15.
  2. NSC 5608/1, July 18, 1956; NSC 5616/2, November 19, 1956; and NSC 5706/2, March 8, 1957, are printed in Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. XXV, pp. 216221, 463469, and 584588, respectively. NSC 5705/1 was not declassified. NSC 5505/1, January 31, 1957, and NSC 5607, June 29, 1956, are printed Ibid., vol. XXIV, pp. 2022 and 243246, respectively. NSC 5705/1 was not declassified. For text of NIE 12–58, see Part 1, Document 2. NSC Actions No. 1775, 1781, and 1862 are in Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council. NSC 5704/3, September 16, 1957, is printed in Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. X, pp. 495498. Copies of NSC 5726/1, December 9, 1957; NSC 5802/1, February 19, 1958; and NSC 5808, March 25, 1958, are in Department of State, S/SNSC Files: Lot 63 D 351. The April 11 memorandum transmitted the views of the JCS on NSC 5808. (Ibid.)
  3. In Cutler’s briefing paper, April 14, he discussed revisions of NSC statements of policy on Poland and Yugoslavia, and noted that the revisions indicated that U.S. policy was to assist a Communist country to retain its independence or seek to decrease dependence on the Soviet Union. Copies of this briefing paper and another almost identical one are in the Eisenhower Library, Special Assistant for National Security Affairs Records, Chron–1958.
  4. Paragraph 28–a of NSC 5808 was not amended in NSC 5808/1, Document 46.
  5. [text not declassified]
  6. Paragraph 39 of NSC 5808 was renumbered paragraph 38 of NSC 5808/1, Document 46.
  7. Paragraphs a–d and the Note that follows constitute NSC Action No. 1896, approved by the President on April 16. (Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council)
  8. Document 46.