418. Rough notes of Rostow committee meeting, October 261

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—A. Rostow outlined three courses of US action, to be pursued concurrently.

1. The political line. This begins with the latest version of the U Thant proposal and includes the Brazilian resolution on a nuclear-free zone and a possible summit. The objective is to get the missiles out, to give up nothing for it, but to provide the Soviets with such face-savers as we can. Within Rostow’s purview, Henry Owen is chief planning officer on this.

2. The military line. This is a series of actions leading up to an air strike, which should in the meantime be ready on an emergency basis. A further elaboration is needed of an Executive Committee paper which states the pros and cons of a strike plus the political pre-conditions for undertaking it. Jeff Kitchen is responsible for this scenario, will work with DOD, and will draw on today’s ISA paper as a source of suggested intermediate steps.

3. The economic line. This is based upon a POL embargo. Rostow believes that existing estimates underrate the economic effects of this. He lays more stress, however, on the political effects of this move as demonstrating our determination and setting a terminus for the regime which will influence the immediate and continuing estimates of Castroites and the Soviets. Thus this line is designed to crack Cuba politically from within. Bob Hurwitch is in charge.

—B. “Scenarios” on all these lines are to be prepared today and thereafter, perhaps tomorrow, a unified scenario will be done. The common elements or guiding principles governing all three courses are: a focus on the existing missiles as the issue; a steady increase of pressures; a political position which offers the Soviets not concessions [Typeset Page 1228] but some face-saving device, and the failure of which would justify unilateral action.

—C. Hurwitch has an additional task: to head a continuing interagency assessment of stability in Cuba. This is to include representatives of the DD/P and DD/I and is to have completed by c.o.b. today an assessment of the situation in Cuba in the light of events of this week and recommendations for the exploitation of vulnerabilities. INR and USIA are to participate.

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—D. CIA was asked to prepare a short statement on the ability of the Cubans to operate the Soviet missiles, either conventional or nuclear, if they overwhelmed Soviet guards. I have passed this on to OSI (through Gail Stringham) with instructions to send replies directly to Rostow and Henry Rowen.

John Whitman
  1. Three courses of U.S. action—political, military, and economic—to pursue concurrently. Top Secret. CIA Files: Job 84–00499R, Box 1, HS/HC 850B, Vol. II.