206. Memorandum of Discussion at the 251st Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, June 9, 19551

Present at the 251st Council meeting were The President of the United States, presiding; the Vice President of the United States; the Secretary of State; the Secretary of Defense; Mr. Robert E. Matteson for the Director, Foreign Operations Administration; the Director, Office of Defense Mobilization. Also present were the Secretary of the Treasury; the Acting Attorney General (for Items 1 and 2); the Director, Bureau of the Budget; the Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission (for Items 1 and 2); the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Director of Central Intelligence; Special Assistants to the President Anderson and Rockefeller; the NSC Representative on Internal Security (for Item 1); the White House Staff Secretary; the Deputy Assistant to the President; the Executive Secretary, NSC; and the Deputy Executive Secretary, NSC.

[Page 443]

There follows a summary of the discussion at the meeting and the main points taken.

[Here follows discussion of items 1. “Emergency Relocation Plan—National Security Council”; 2. “Report by the Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission”; and 3. “Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security”.]

4. U.S. Policy on All-Vietnam Elections (NSC 5405; NSC 5429/5; NSC 5519; NSC Action No. 1316–d; memo for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated June 2, 19552)

As Mr. Dillon Anderson began to brief the National Security Council on the content of the subject report (NSC 5519), the President interrupted to inquire of Secretary Dulles whether this was not the report which he, Secretary Dulles, desired to postpone. Secretary Dulles acknowledged that he had suggested postponement of Council consideration of this problem because the situation was not sufficiently clear to warrant Council action at this time. The British and the French, not to mention the Government of Free Vietnam, had not yet made their positions clear with respect to the election problem. If the Council were to consider this paper now, it would only be obliged to go through the process again at a later date.

Secretary Wilson said that the people in the Department of Defense felt exactly the same way as the Secretary of State about this matter.

Mr. Anderson then briefly explained that the Planning Board had submitted the present draft report as a result of a Council directive of last January. He said that he too had entertained doubts as to whether the technique and details of the election problem in Vietnam were properly in the realm of NSC policy. He said accordingly he was perfectly happy to defer action on this aspect of the problem, but that he did feel that it would be useful if the Planning Board were authorized to study the paragraph in our basic policy on Vietnam (paragraph 5–d of NSC 5429/5) which was concerned with the more general matter of what the United States should do in the event that the Communists renewed aggression in Vietnam. This question was not altogether clear, and was certainly suitable for NSC action.

Secretary Dulles nodded agreement to Mr. Anderson’s proposal.

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The National Security Council: 3

Noted the draft statement of policy contained in the reference report (NSC 5519) and the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff transmitted by the reference memorandum of June 2.
Agreed that Council recommendations as to U.S. policy on all-Vietnam elections are not required at this time.
Noted that U.S. policy in the event of a renewal of hostilities by the Communists in Vietnam would be governed by the provisions of paragraph 5–d of NSC 5429/5, pending a review of that paragraph by the NSC Planning Board.

Note: The actions in b and c above, as approved by the President, subsequently transmitted to the Council for information.

[Here follows discussion of item 5, “Deployments and Strength of U.S. Ground Forces in the Far East”.]

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. Drafted by Gleason on June 10.
  2. This memorandum, which transmitted the views of the JCS on draft NSC 5519 to the NSC, is not printed, but see footnote 3, Document 203.
  3. The following paragraphs and note constitute NSC Action No. 1415, a record copy of which is in Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95.