360. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Rusk and the Ambassador to Belgium (MacArthur)1


M said he was here with the Prime Minister and friends. M said they recognize that neither of us have precise information on all details of what is happening to the people in that next place; they feel if it does not go tonight and we go back to stop 5, the chances are very slim that one would be able to do something; they feel that given the circumstances it would not be understood if a force so close stopped; they feel that subject to the possibility of getting out very quickly by the day after tomorrow, if there is certitude we do not get stuck, their desire and inclination is to go ahead with it; they would like to get out in the next 2–3 days. Sec said he would talk to his principal then on the basis that they would like to do it. M said unless it is very dubious that we can get out by Friday night. (There was much conferring with and in the background on both sides during the call.) M reported to Spaak that we do not have any judgment and we believe the Belgians would have more knowledge on that factor than we. M said they think we should [Page 522] put it right away to the two military there whether they can give a reasonable guarantee we can be out in 48 hours; if not, they would not be inclined to go ahead. M said the Prime Minister said we should ask a guarantee; if not, let’s put it off and think about it and have 24 hours . . . ; if they can give the guarantee, we should go and go quickly; if impossible to give that guarantee tonight, postpone for 24 hours, return to Kamina and see how it looks; it would not be much more difficult from there than from a secured Stan. They discussed communications possibilities; not possible to get an answer back in 35 minutes. Sec said we are the junior partner here but it might be hard to explain why this force moves back before the job is done; if we say nothing, we will still make the decision, which will be not to do it. Sec said you could always give the order to come out. M said on the military responsibility, their people say it is feasible if our air people continue to agree it is feasible. Sec said our people say on strictly military side it is feasible. M said if military feel it is feasible to wind up in 48 hours, and be out, they would like to go. Sec will call back.2

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Conversations. No classification marking. Prepared by Carolyn J. Proctor.
  2. At 5:45 p.m., Rusk telephoned MacArthur and said that “the boss” shared their feelings, that he hoped it could be done as quickly as possible, and that this was the last one. There should be no waiting around for anyone to join them on the ground and no taking of local prisoners. It was to be purely a rescue operation. MacArthur agreed and said that they were very grateful on this. Rusk said that Washington would flash the word. (Ibid.)