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8. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)0


  • Quick Thoughts on China

Let’s face it; China problems may not wait for careful, leisurely review. With new UN session coming up, with Brazil wavering, with test ban talks resuming they may begin hitting us all too soon.

Hence, as I see it we should prod State to get started pronto on broad-scale rethinking exercise. Perhaps “task force” approach useful here. Do mention 5-10 year focus.1

As to publicity, since it almost inevitable that we’ll have to change some aspects our China policy, shouldn’t we give a few public hints we’re rethinking now, lest we later look like being dragged into such changes, with resultant loss of favorable impact on rest of world. I realize Congressional and US2 reaction a real problem here but this will be just as great later as now.

My own horseback guess is we must disengage, as skillfully as we can, from unproductive aspects our China policy, e.g., UN membership [Page 20]where we’re likely to get clobbered and later on Offshores in order rationalize our posture for long term struggle with hard-line CPR.

If we move soon we may be able get UK, India, etc. buy enough of a “two Chinas” policy to make Peiping refuse UN membership, thus gaining us credit for being reasonable while shifting onus to intransigeant CPR.

This one is going to be painful as hell to us. But I’m convinced that, with due regard to domestic political realities and importance preserving Taiwan asset, the longer we wait the more painful (and costly) its going to be.3

Bob K.
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, China. Secret. Also sent to Deputy Special Assistant to the President Walt W. Rostow.
  2. This sentence is handwritten on the source text.
  3. The letters “US” are handwritten on the source text in the place of the letters “VP”, which are crossed out.
  4. Komer elaborated his views in a 41-page paper, dated April 7 and entitled “Strategic Framework for Rethinking China Policy.” It recommended “a middle road, aimed at the existing goal of long-run containment of the CPR” and called for “greater tactical flexibility, and disengagement from the least productive aspects of our China policy in order to rationalize it for the long pull.” It recommended acceptance of PRC membership in the United Nations “if we can’t keep it out and can exact a satisfactory price” and Nationalist withdrawal from the offshore islands. (Ibid.)