263. Memorandum From the Regional Planning Adviser in the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs (Green) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Robertson)0


  • Defense Recommendation for Reviewing U.S. Policy Toward Offshore Islands

The Defense Department has submitted, in connection with the NSC Planning Board’s discussion of “Lessons Learned from the Lebanon and Quemoy Operations,”1 the following recommendation among others:

“U.S. prestige has become closely identified with the maintenance of the Chinese Nationalist position on the Offshore Islands. In view of the general lack of Allied support for this position and the questionable strategic importance of these islands, the desirability of a review of U.S. policy toward the Offshore Islands seems to be indicated.”

I told Howard Furnas (who handles NSC problems for State) that I thought NSC Planning Board and Council discussion of this subject would involve a lot of people who have no direct interest in this highly sensitive issue. He agreed.

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Furnas thought the best procedure in handling this Defense recommendation would be quietly to let it ride. Furnas did not think it would be passed on to the Council for action because it was too inexplicit. If it was passed on to the Council for action, he thought the best way to handle it would be for the State representative to say that he had no doubt the Offshore Islands question would be considered in the course of our general review of NSC 5529 on Far East policies scheduled for April. Such a recommendation from State would be no doubt accepted.

I am inclined to agree with Furnas’ suggested approach.

In any event, I suppose we had better start taking a long and hard look at this problem in FE, operating within a very small group and scrupulously preventing any word getting around that the matter is under review here. If we don’t take the lead, somebody else will and with less understanding of the problem. Any approach must be based on an intimate understanding of the realities.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 793.00/2–1859. Top Secret. Sent through Parsons, who passed it on to Robertson with a handwritten note endorsing Green’s recommendation.
  2. JCS drafts and related materials are in National Archives and Records Administration, RG 218, JCS Records, CCS 319.1 (11–19–58).
  3. A draft by Green and Martin, entitled “Considerations Affecting a Reconsideration of Our Policies Toward the Offshore Islands,” March 5, proposed two possible courses of action: first, an effort by Robertson and Felt to persuade Chiang to evacuate the islands, which was expected to fail, and second, a move to take the offshore islands problem to the United Nations in the event of another crisis or in advance of one. A covering memorandum of March 5 from Green and Martin to Parsons noted that these could be either complementary or alternative courses of actions. Parsons forwarded the draft to Robertson, stating that he had discussed it with the authors and thought Robertson should see it “in the light of gathering indications that the problem is being worried on more and more at home and abroad.” (Department of State, Central Files, 793.00/3–559) A revised draft dated April 1, similar in substance, bears no indication of its disposition. (Ibid., 794A.5/4–159; see Supplement)