425. Telegram 587 from Ankara, October 261
Eyes Only Secretary and Ambassadors Finletter and Reinhardt. Reference: Department telegram 445.
As recognized reference telegram removal Jupiters from Turkey in context Cuban situation would present major problem not only in terms of bilateral Turkish-American relationships but also NATO association. Problem would be partly psycho-political, partly substantive; psycho-political, in sense that Turks are proud, courageous people who do not understand concept or process of compromise. It is this quality of steadfast, even stolid, courage in both spirit and policy, together with traditional Turkish military skill which is actually their greatest asset to US and to West generally and by same token it is here that we would have most to lose if in process of Jupiter removal Turks should get the impression that their interests as an ally were being traded off in order to appease an enemy. Furthermore, as brought out in conversation with Foreign Minister Erkin yesterday, Turks deeply resent any coupling of Turkey and Cuba on ground that situations completely different and that suggestions to that effect, especially when coming from western sources, are both inexcusable and seriously damaging; and all the more so when associated with idea that Turkish relationship with US can be equated with stooge status of Cuba with USSR.[Facsimile Page 2]
Problem is also substantive in sense that Turks, as we well know, set great store on arms which they feel necessary meet their needs and were adamant in refusing our suggestion last year that Jupiter project not be implemented. No indication in meantime that their position has changed and can therefore be assumed that if we insist to contrary, demand for arms to fill vacuum would be specific and sizeable.
In so briefly outlining Turkish side of matter, I am of course mindful of significant non-Turkish considerations and that in particular the idea of being able to use what some regard as a dubious and waning asset in the form of Turkish Jupiters as a negotiating counter to effect removal of immediately dangerous Soviet missiles in Cuba has strong attractions. In bolstering this point of view, I would also venture to suggest that, as a bargaining asset, Turkish Jupiters might be a more potent factor in Soviet eyes than they are in fact for simple reason that propinquity tends to magnify as we have repeatedly seen in Soviet reaction to [Typeset Page 1238] military installations on their periphery irrespective of their defensive purpose. It is also recognized that timing is an important element since assets of terminal value must be exploited, if at all, sufficiently in advance of expiration of usefulness, either real or imagined.[Facsimile Page 3]
Unfortunately this is situation where attempt illuminate essential facts tend emphasize obscurity of road ahead. However, following alternatives are suggested in order of increasing difficulty.
1. Easiest solution would be resolution of Cuban problem without bringing Turkish missiles into picture. Not only would this avoid causing complications in Turkey’s US and NATO relationships but it would also be in accord with officially announced policy to effect that “there is no relation between the situation in Cuba and the situation elsewhere in the world” (Circular 738, October 24) which missions authorized to use in denying validity of reports that the US might be willing to negotiate bases in Cuba for bases in Western Europe but which, in view of general character of reply and Turkey’s NATO membership would also be equally valid in respect of Turkey.
Realized, of course, that reference telegram was differently directed but believed desirable emphasize that this is solid position from which deviations present varying degrees hazard.[Facsimile Page 4]
2. Second alternative would be a phasing out of Jupiter program and replacement by some presently non-existent but prospective alternative such as seaborn multilateral nuclear force within NATO mentioned in reference telegram. Understood, however, that although this idea might be sold to Turks on merits, it would have limited bargaining value with Soviets since (a) implementation would take place later and (b) it would have to be kept secret and would therefore have no public relations value.
3. Third alternative would be directed to earlier and more specific dismantling of Jupiters and in more obvious relationship to Cuban situation but would be on strictly secret basis with Soviets. Fact that Turks have chosen keep Jupiters secret so far could be of some help but problem of negotiations with Turks would be difficult since we would necessarily be venturing on to the sensitive ground of coupling Turkey and Cuba and stipulation of secrecy might not be too convincing since would involve good faith of Soviets who would always have option reveal to detriment US-Turkish relations. However, proceeding dubious assumption that these non-substantive hurdles could be overcome, would be foreseeable that Turks would feel need of material filling of void created by loss Jupiters. Possible that in that case they might have some interest in Polaris or seaborn nuclear force but doubtful if they would feel adequate compensate for loss of Jupiters and foreseeable that alternative or supplemental requests for military hardware would be made.[Typeset Page 1239]
4. Fourth alternative would be arrangement where there would be relationship, implicit or otherwise with Cuban situation and where, although there would be effort handle discreetly, publicity would be anticipated. This would be most difficult of all. Not only would we have difficulty reconciling with our own principles but hard see how Turks could stomach and retain their self respect, not to mention compensation in form of additional military assistance which might be expected.[Facsimile Page 5]
As regards tactics in respect of any of these alternatives it is suggested that the following additional points should be borne in mind.
1) Given Turkish attachment to NATO a matter of basic policy, it would be desirable, perhaps even necessary, to present any idea re Jupiters in a NATO context.
2) British abandoning of Thors and possible Italian agreement dismantle Jupiters could be helpful in approaching Turks.
3) In order be effective, argumentation for dismantling Jupiters and means of remedying resulting situation should be given primarily military rather than political emphasis. SACEUR could be helpful since both Norstad and Lemnitzer well and favorably known here.
4) In opening Jupiter issue, we should be prepared for subsequent demands in respect of our other installations in Turkey to which we attach high priority. Such demands could come from either Soviets or Turks depending on type or proposal made.[Facsimile Page 6]
To conclude, it is my feeling that, if proper means could be found, good case could be made for removal of Jupiters from Turkey as counter for removal of Soviet missiles from Cuba. Problem is in finding means but, try as I can, I have been unable to hit upon a suggested solution other than gradual elimination which would not present acute difficulty in terms of our own relationship with Turkey and the maintenance of its position as an ally of the West, as well as the chain reaction which so doing would have not only in Turkey but also elsewhere. I say this most regretfully since I have no brief to make for Jupiters. However, to suggest their elimination in terms of the Soviet-Cuban conspiracy presents problems of substance and principle which seem to be inescapable and to involve inescapable consequences.
In submitting this appraisal, I realize that other minds are focussed on this problem and would anticipate that different ideas might be generated from other points of view, possibly for instance in framework some broader disarmament scheme. If so, I should be happy, with benefit of such information, to dig into question further.
- Embassy assessment of removal of Jupiter missiles from Turkey in exchange for Soviet removal of missiles in Cuba. Secret. 6 pp. DOS, CF, 611.3722/10–2662.↩