285. Memorandum for the Record Prepared by Gen. Taylor, January 221

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  • NSC Meeting, 22 January 1963

1. The meeting was primarily a 40-minute monologue by the President. He was very impressive, using no notes, and speaking lucidly and clearly. He went across the board of international issues.

2. Cuba. He said that one of the lessons from Cuba was the importance of giving the other side time to consider alternatives. He referred to the heated debates in ExCom as to whether we should execute an air strike at once against the Soviet missiles or first blockade the Island. The advantage of taking the second course was the fact that the Soviets had time to consider alternatives and to turn back the ships, thus [Typeset Page 1128] avoiding a spasmodic response which might have initiated nuclear war. For that reason he is pressing hard for conventional forces since he feels that their use have the unique quality of gaining time for a consideration of alternatives. A nuclear exchange would defeat all parties, and only through proper utilization of conventional forces can we avoid such an exchange.

3. He said the time may come for intervention in Cuba, perhaps in the form of a blockade more intense than the previous one, of an invasion or of a reprisal against Cuba in compensation for Soviet aggression elsewhere, possibly in Berlin. He said military action against Cuba is always within the area of possibility; therefore, the military must always be prepared to move rapidly on Cuba. He said we should be ready for military intervention in Berlin and Cuba at the same time.

4. Europe. The President discussed at length the French situation and DeGaulle. Looking back on relations with DeGaulle, he felt there was nothing he could have done by way of reconciling DeGaulle to prevent the present situation. If he had made concessions in the nuclear field they would have been to no avail since DeGaulle had long since been committed to a Western Europe under French leadership. Any concessions would have been interpreted as appeasement and would not have diverted DeGaulle. Thus, the present conflict was inevitable.

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5. The President noted the efforts of DeGaulle to pull the Germans closer to him. This does not really worry him so long as Germany faces the West and is not attracted to the East. The exclusion of Britain from the Common Market is unfortunate but we can live with this exclusion. As a matter of fact, we would have to make rather substantial economic sacrifices if Britain joined the Market. We were for it in order to strengthen the European economic stability. If the Europeans cannot work out the admission of Great Britain, he was sorry but this was not critical. In view of these trends, our policy should be the strengthening of NATO and the development of the multilateral concept. (He did not define the multilateral concept). It is through the multilateral concept that we increase the dependence of the European nations on the United States and tie these nations closer to us. Thus, we thwart DeGaulle who wants to cause a split between Europe and the United States.

6. Economic matters. He urged that all US representatives in economic negotiations be alert for those things which might work against our need to control the gold outflow. He noted that the downward trend in gold continues and that by 1964 this must be under control. By that time, if the rate continues, the dollar will be in real trouble. He said he was not worried about the domestic deficit in the budget but does worry about the international deficit. He reverted to the fact that we were spending too much relatively for the defense of Europe. [Typeset Page 1129] We must resist any proposal adversely affecting the gold reserves. A great deal of our loss of gold was due to the unfair division of effort in the NATO area. If we allow our economic strength to be drained off, we will lose our hold on Europe and will end up at the mercy of our former clients.

7. Neutrals. The President said he was aware of criticisms that we are going to the aid of neutrals at the cost of our allies. The fact is that we are proceeding in accordance with the interests of the United States. He didn’t approve of the leadership of India but it is to our interest to have a sub-continent that can defend itself. The US can’t undertake to settle all quarrels between third parties but it is our policy to keep important neutrals out of the Communist camp. It would look very bad indeed if in the next few years five or six countries would fall to Communism because of the failure of the United States to give them aid.

8. Aid. The President then talked about military and economic aid. He is very much afraid Congress will want to cut the heart out of the aid program. He asked all representatives, particularly the military, to stress [Facsimile Page 3] the security interest of the United States in this program. We don’t aid countries because we like them but because it is necessary to our security. He is counting on getting help from a report by General Clay on this subject.

9. Budget. It looks as though there will be a 12 to 12½ billion dollar deficit in the budget. He is not concerned about the deficit, but he is concerned about the lack of economic growth. On a per capita basis, we have not grown more than 1% per year for the last 10 years. The national debt has increased only 7% in 15 years, whereas the debt of the State of Virginia has increased 300%. He fears another recession which would result in continued gold outflow and loss of morale in the economic field. Hence, the tax cut was very important.

10. Military programs. He realized there is disappointment in some quarters that some programs are not being funded, such as the RS–70, Zeus, and Skybolt. He hoped that the military criticisms would take into account the global effect of the budget in spite of the omission of some programs.

11. Disarmament. He spoke of the importance of a test ban treaty if we could get a serious response from the Soviets. Such a ban would be instituted only with the understanding that if the Chinese started testing, the ban would be lifted. He hoped that a test ban agreement with the Soviets might act as a restraint on the Chinese and either prevent or retard them from becoming a nuclear power. If this potential exists, such a ban might be worthwhile.

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12. In closing, the President expressed appreciation for the help in the past year and said he hoped that mutual confidence had increased. He asked that procedures be improved for speedy decision making.

Maxwell D. Taylor
Joint Chiefs of Staff
  1. Summary of President Kennedy’s remarks to National Security Council on January 22. Top Secret. 3 pp. National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Taylor CJCS Memos.