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56. Editorial Note

A paper entitled “The Offshore Islands: Alternative Courses and Probable Consequences,” drafted by Edward E. Rice of the Policy Planning Council and dated August 22, 1961, was sent on August 25 to McGeorge Bundy, who had requested such a paper, and to Secretary of State Rusk. The paper discussed the offshore islands problem and set forth four alternative courses of action which it summarized as follows:

“Theoretically at least, the US might: (a) acquiesce in continued GRC occupation of the offshore islands without extending our present commitments; (b) acquiesce, and in addition extend to the offshores an unequivocal US defense commitment; (c) use all suitable means now at our disposal in an effort to bring about early evacuation of the offshore islands; or (d) pursue the objective of bringing about a GRC evacuation over an extended period of time, using such means as are now at hand or may become available in a patient campaign which we would hope to keep sufficiently low-keyed to avoid a damaging crisis.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S/P Files: Lot 67 D 548, China)

Policy Planning Council Chairman George C. McGhee sent a copy to McGeorge Bundy, with a covering memorandum of August 25, noting that the paper “as requested,” set forth the alternatives and their estimated consequences but made no recommendation. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, China) He sent a copy to Rusk with a covering memorandum of the same date noting that the paper had been prepared at Bundy’s request with terms of reference that precluded making a recommendation between the alternatives, but, “As probably can be determined from reading, there is no question that S/P recommends the fourth alternative.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59,S/P Files: Lot 67 D 548, China) There is no indication of any reaction from Rusk or Bundy. Under Secretary of State Chester Bowles praised the paper in a September 12 memorandum to McGhee, and Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs George W. Ball praised it in a September 25 memorandum to McGhee, which expressed agreement that the fourth alternative was the only feasible one under the existing circumstances. (Ibid.)

A handwritten note of December 29 from Rice to Walt W. Rostow, who had succeeded McGhee, stated that McGhee had “decided this should be held up pending settlement of Chi Rep issue in UN” and asked if Rostow wished to take any action. A note of April 7, 1962, in an unidentified handwriting states that Rostow had not done so. (Both ibid.)