193. Memorandum of Discussion at the 445th Meeting of the National Security Council0

[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and agenda item 1.]

2. Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security

Mr. Dulles said that while it was difficult to predict the future actions of Khrushchev, certain developments since the Soviet Premier departed from Paris might shed some light on the current Soviet position. Apparently at the time Khrushchev left Paris he was undecided on his future course of action and wished to leave the door open to various alternatives. In his relatively moderate speech on Friday,1Khrushchev had re-assured the West that he did not intend to revert to the hard Stalin line in foreign policy. This re-assurance to the West had been a disappointment to Khrushchev’s East German audience. Khrushchev’s speech had been postponed a whole day, suggesting that cooler second thoughts might have prevailed after the departure of Khrushchev from Paris. On Khrushchev’s return to Moscow, the customary homecoming speech was omitted for the first time in several years. Soviet propaganda is now echoing Khrushchev’s Berlin speech, making harsh comments on the President and the Administration and insisting that because the American people are peace loving, a new Summit Conference can be held six to eight months from now. The massive Soviet jamming of the Voice of America, which began early last week, has now been abandoned in favor of a more selective jamming; in fact, jamming has been reduced from about eighty per cent to about twenty per cent of VOA broadcasts. There are no indications that the projected reduction of Soviet military forces will be cancelled. Pravda has stated that there will be no increase in the Soviet military budget. Khrushchev’s promise to delay concluding a treaty with East Germany was more explicit than necessary. Accordingly, from all the above facts Mr. Dulles had the general impression that Khrushchev was attempting to prevent a worsening of the international situation. Mr. Dulles thought it was possible that Khrushchev was covering his rear while dealing with problems in the USSR and in the Soviet Bloc. Mr. Dulles added that he had just heard that the U.S. C–47 plane forced down in East Germany and its passengers were being returned by the USSR.2

[Page 506]

Mr. Dulles felt that the collapse of the Summit Conference was bound to have repercussions in the Soviet Union and was sure to affect Khrushchev’s position in some way. Much would depend on Khrushchev’s ability to dominate the Russian leaders who fear a détente with the West. Khrushchev has undoubtedly felt pressure from these leaders and has made concessions to them in the past. Mr. Dulles recalled that at Paris Khrushchev had openly stated that his handling of the U–2 incident was influenced by the internal politics of the Soviet Union. The Soviet people, Mr. Dulles continued, have been led to believe that their prosperity is related to a détente with the West. There is reason to believe that Khrushchev may have serious problems within the Kremlin and that a controversy over the handling of the U–2 incident took place in the Soviet hierarchy. Mr. Dulles believed that the Soviet leaders decided early in May to play up the U–2 incident and to call off the visit of the President to the USSR. On May 12 or 13, after the U.S. had issued its statement3 indicating that reconnaissance overflights of the USSR had high-level U.S. approval, the Soviet leaders apparently decided to wreck the Summit Meeting. One indication of an early Soviet decision to cancel the President’s invitation to visit the USSR is the fact that the magazine, “USSR”, was supposed to carry in its next issue an article welcoming the President but on May 6 the presses were stopped and new pages were printed to replace the welcoming article.

[4-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] In any case, it was clear that the USSR had decided to call off the President’s visit as early as May 6.

[Here follows discussion of unrelated matters.]

3. Statements Regarding the U–2 Incident and the Recent Military Test Alert (NSC Action No. 2231)

[Here follows discussion of unrelated matters.]

The President then referred to the events leading up to the break-up of the Summit Conference. He said that a week prior to the scheduled opening of the Summit Meeting, the Soviet Ambassador had called on General de Gaulle to discuss Summit procedure. General de Gaulle had asked the Ambassador whether the USSR really intended to have a Summit Meeting. The Ambassador had replied that not only did the USSR intend to have a Summit Meeting but believed the forthcoming meeting would be a fruitful one. The President said that on Sunday, before the opening of the Summit Meeting, Khrushchev had made no effort to see him but had called upon Macmillan and De Gaulle to show them a letter containing the Soviet demands upon the U.S. This letter [Page 507] formed the basis of Khrushchev’s speech the next morning, although Khrushchev had added four or five pages of personal abuse to the letter. Secretary Gates said the Khrushchev letter had already been translated into French at the time Khrushchev called upon De Gaulle, suggesting that Khrushchev was ready to release the letter to the French press.

The President said the idea that we could have done anything to save the Summit Conference was ridiculous. Moreover, the idea that the alert called to test our long-range communications facilities wrecked the Conference was also ridiculous.4 The President recalled that at the Cabinet Meeting on May 12 he had told the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense that he would cancel the reconnaissance over-flights of the USSR.5 In Paris it was quickly apparent that Khrushchev did not want only a cessation of the flights; he wanted a cessation of the flights plus an apology plus punishment of those responsible for the flights. Khrushchev’s action was taken in order to scuttle the Summit Conference. The President thought it was undesirable to talk too much about what is going on in the Soviet hierarchy because we can only guess at what motivates the Russians. The President, however, felt sure that Khrushchev deliberately decided to blow up the Summit Conference, knowing that he (the President) could not accept the demands Khrushchev made. The President believed that during any investigation, Administration officials should be calm and clear but should not be expansive and should not permit the investigators to delve into our intelligence system.

[Here follows discussion of unrelated matters.]

4. Policy Issues in the Post-Summit Environment

Mr. Gray said he understood Secretary Herter was prepared to discuss this subject. Secretary Herter said he had tentatively jotted down a number or policy issues. A problem we will be having with our allies was pointed up by an ambassador who visited him yesterday and asked for his views on the possibility of the ambassador’s government taking the initiative in suggesting the re-opening of discussions with the USSR.6 He had told the Ambassador it would be better to let the dust settle; any overtures by the West for a re-opening of discussions with the USSR would be regarded by the Soviets as a sign of weakness. Secretary Herter believed that the strength of the alliance lay in its unity and that we should stick to the statement we had made in Paris, that at a suitable [Page 508] time we would be ready to discuss the world situation with the Soviet Union. The President agreed that since the USSR took the responsibility for scuttling the Summit Conference, we should leave the initiative to the Soviets. Khrushchev had said in Paris that the dust had to settle before further discussions could take place. Khrushchev had even referred to our elections and had indicated that he might prefer to deal with the next U.S. Government or even with the government after that.

Secretary Herter said another issue involved the question whether we should take any abrupt action which might be considered unfriendly. He had in mind particularly East-West Exchanges. It was the feeling in the State Department that exchanges of visits between high officials of the U.S. and high officials of the USSR should be called off while the visits of ordinary citizens of either country should not be affected. In this connection, the next planned exchange of high officials involved a trip by Mr. Stans to the Soviet Union and a visit by Kosygin to the U.S. The President believed the general rule was this: We went to the Summit Conference to improve the world situation; the Summit Conference was broken off; but by and large the situation is now about the same as it was before the break-up of the Summit Conference. Most of the remarks made by Khrushchev in his Monday speech that had not appeared in the letter which he showed De Gaulle and Macmillan the day before had referred to him (the President). After Khrushchev’s long tirade, when the Secretary of State asked him when the cancellation of the President’s visit to Russia would be announced, Khrushchev took off and explained the whole thing over again. Khrushchev made his cancellation of the visit personal. Accordingly, the President felt that if the Soviets desired to send a high official to visit the U.S., we should consider receiving him. Mr. Dillon said it had already been arranged that Kosygin would visit the U.S. Mr. Staats7 said Kosygin was coming here before Mr. Stans visited the Soviet Union.8 The President said that in that case he believed it was desirable to wait and see whether Kosygin came. He thought we did not have to formulate a general policy but should be able to handle high-level visits on an ad hoc basis. Secretary Herter said he understood that in any case we would not for the present interfere with the visits of lesser officials or with the travel of private citizens.

Secretary Herter said another issue was the question of resumption or continuation of the nuclear test agreement negotiations. The scientists [Page 509] in Geneva were continuing their international discussions without interruption. He believed that we should continue these negotiations.

Another issue concerned disarmament. The representatives of the Five Western Powers involved in the disarmament negotiations are meeting on May 30 and an East-West disarmament meeting is scheduled for June 7. Secretary Herter believed we should maintain our position with respect to disarmament and continue to participate in the Geneva negotiations, although he believed these negotiations would prove to be sterile and futile, with the USSR stubbornly adhering to its position in preparation for bringing the matter up as a propaganda exercise in the UN General Assembly this fall. The President agreed with the views expressed by Secretary Herter, saying that the Soviets not the U.S. should be the ones to make the nuclear test negotiations or the disarmament negotiations futile.

Mr. McCone said the nuclear test suspension negotiations differed from the disarmament negotiations in that a mere extension of the nuclear test talks keeps the U.S. in a strait-jacket. He felt we ought to press for decisions on nuclear testing. If no agreement is reached, the USSR can keep us at the conference table indefinitely while the moratorium on nuclear testing continues. Secretary Herter agreed that the nuclear test suspension negotiations did bring up the whole question of the moratorium on nuclear testing. He also agreed that the U.S. could not continue the Geneva negotiations indefinitely because such a continuation would mean that the USSR is obtaining a moratorium on nuclear testing without giving up anything in return. The President said we must eventually set a time limit for completion of the nuclear test negotiations.

Secretary Herter felt we must continue contingency planning with respect to Berlin, particularly with respect to the possibility that the Soviets might put pressure on the Berlin economy. The President believed it would be desirable to ask for an intelligence estimate on the possibility of Soviet pressure on the Berlin economy. He had raised this question with Adenauer but had not been able to elicit a satisfactory response. The President wondered what the Soviets could do to Berlin as a city while remaining within the letter of the international agreements respecting Germany and Berlin. The Berlin airlift of 1949 had barely kept the population of Berlin alive. The President did not know what action we would take if the Soviets cut off Berlin’s trade and restricted all transportation to one road. Adenauer always says we must preserve our juridical position. The President felt that we might end up preserving our juridical position while losing Berlin.

Secretary Herter said that economic counter-measures to be taken by the West in the event of Soviet pressure on Berlin’s economy were very important. We must have a clear understanding with our allies whether or not they will take economic counter-measures against the [Page 510] Soviet Bloc even at the sacrifice of their trade with East Germany. Mr. Gray asked whether Mr. Merchant’s Contingency Planning Group was studying this economic question. Mr. Herter answered in the affirmative. Mr. Gray then reminded the Council that when the existing Berlin crisis first arose, a Contingency Planning Group had been constituted under the Chairmanship of Mr. Murphy, who had been succeeded by Mr. Merchant.

Secretary Gates said he had spent two hours on Saturday going over the military contingency planning for Berlin. Unhappily, he found this planning in an unsatisfactory state because the military planning depended at every stage on political decisions which had not yet been made. There was not even a specified commander for Berlin, the appointment of such a commander being dependent on political decisions. Thus while military plans exist, they are, in Secretary Gates’ view, really ineffective because so much time would be required to obtain political decisions in the event of Soviet action against Berlin. Secretary Gates wondered whether some political decisions could not be obtained in advance.

Secretary Herter said that if we pressed the British too far in connection with political decisions, the British were inclined to begin thinking over much about the possibility of general war over Berlin. The President said Macmillan had said to him: “Do you want the British to go to war for two million of the people we twice fought wars against and who almost destroyed us?”

Secretary Herter believed the Communists would be increasingly aggressive in the Far East during the coming period, particularly in North Vietnam, North Korea, and the Taiwan Strait. The Russians would probably encourage diversionary Communist activity in the Far East and we should be particularly alert for any signs of such activity.

Secretary Herter then turned to the question of enhancing Free World strength. He said he did not know what the Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff had in mind but he felt that any action showing that we are maintaining and increasing our military strength would be very helpful from the standpoint of foreign policy. Secretary Gates said he had been taking the position that the Defense position was not prepared on the assumption that the USSR would make any significant concessions at the Summit Conference. He believed the Defense budget, as currently approved by the President, was satisfactory, subject of course to continuing review. He saw no need to step up the production of long-lead time items although more maintenance and operations funds could be spent to improve our defense posture. We might also be able to increase the strength of our deployed forces.

The President did not believe it would be desirable to increase the strength of our deployed forces. He said we were trying to be stable in [Page 511] our military planning and to have a ten year military program. We should not get excited every time Khrushchev is guilty of worse than usual deportment. He would have no objection to any quiet actions which would improve our military posture but he did not want to take any military action of a more dramatic nature which could be regarded as being caused by the break-up of the Summit Conference. Secretary Herter said he did not have any panicky actions in mind. The President said that before the break-up of the Summit Conference, he had agreed to eighteen more Atlas squadrons and to an increase in Polaris missiles. He felt we should continue these programs and perhaps quietly strengthen them.

Secretary Anderson noted that Administration officials had testified that we would be ready if war came tomorrow. If we should now take military actions which could be attributed to the break-up of the Summit Conference, we should be admitting weakness and causing concern to our allies. Secretary Gates agreed but added that some actions to improve our defense posture could be accomplished quietly with maintenance and operations money. He would not, of course, go to Congress and ask that the deterrent forces be doubled or anything like that. General Twining said our forces were in a better state of readiness at the present time than they had ever been in.

Secretary Herter said our NATO partners are showing an extra-ordinary degree of solidarity with us at the present time. He hoped a decision on Polaris for NATO would soon be made. Such a decision should be helpful to us from the standpoint of our own contributions to NATO.

[Here follows discussion of unrelated matters.]

Mr. Washburn said USIA had been studying world opinion since the break-up of the Summit Meeting. It appeared that both the USSR and the U.S. had lost some of the world’s confidence as a result of the Paris meeting, but the USSR had lost more of the world’s confidence than the U.S. World opinion appeared to be worrying a great deal over what would happen next. Mr. Washburn thought world opinion might be re-assured if the President in his TV speech9 could say we intended to press forward toward an easing of world tension, to continue disarmament negotiations, and to help rebuild U.S. leadership. Secretary Herter said the statement issued by the Three Allies at the end of the Summit Meeting appeared to cover this matter.10 The President said he disliked saying that we had lost leadership. We ought, of course, to be [Page 512] developing our position of leadership, but we should not imply that we had lost it because Khrushchev walked out of the Summit Meeting.

[Here follows discussion of unrelated matters.]

The Vice President noted that in terms of world opinion and U.S. opinion any discussion which concentrated primarily on the past would induce people to think about the past rather than about the future and about the real culprit in Paris, namely Khrushchev. The only way to focus attention on the future instead of the past was to change the subject of public discussion from the break-up of the Summit to Khrushchev’s probable actions with respect to Berlin, the Near East, the Far East, and Africa. We should focus attention on what Khrushchev may do in the future and what we are going to do to counteract his moves. We should talk about the future instead of the past.

[Here follows discussion of unrelated matters.]

The National Security Council:11

Discussed the subject on the basis of an oral statement by the Secretary of State as to the position which the U.S. should take on various policy issues.
Noted the President’s approval of the following U.S. positions in the post-Summit environment:
The President went to the Summit meeting in an effort to achieve some improvement in the international situation. Despite the break-up of the Summit meeting by Khrushchev, the international situation should be considered by and large to remain essentially as it was before the Paris meeting.
U.S. allies should be advised that the initiative for further high-level meetings to improve the international situation must come from the Soviets, since Khrushchev scuttled the Summit meeting and efforts by our allies in this regard would be interpreted as a sign of weakness.
In general, the United States should continue its policy regarding the East-West exchange program, including agreed exchanges of high-level officials. Any change in that program should be the result of Soviet initiative, thereby placing the onus for change on the Soviets. In the event of such change consideration of the exchange of high-level officials should be on a case-by-case basis.
The United States should maintain its current position on the reduction and control of armaments, and should be prepared to continue participation in the Geneva negotiations on that subject. If the negotiations should prove futile, it should be clearly the responsibility of the Soviets for causing this result.
The United States should continue to seek completion of the Geneva negotiations on nuclear testing, but should make clear that these [Page 513] negotiations and the U.S. moratorium on nuclear testing cannot go on indefinitely without decision. The United States should determine at what time or at what stage of these negotiations it should seek to place a time limit on their duration.
The United States should continue its studies and preparations for possible contingencies relating to Berlin, since Khrushchev, despite his recent speech disavowing action on Berlin for six or eight months, may still make some unexpected move, possibly an effort to put pressure on the Berlin economy. It was noted that the State–Defense–JCSCIA planning group, under the chairmanship of Under Secretary of State Merchant, was engaged in a restudy of Berlin contingency planning, including the possibility of economic pressures on Berlin.
The United States should be on the alert for the possibility of aggressive Sino-Soviet Bloc activity in the Far East, especially by the Chinese Communists.
The military program as currently approved by the President continues to provide for an adequate defense posture in the post-Summit environment. However, certain operational steps to improve the state of readiness of U.S. forces should be considered in the ordinary course, but any changes deemed necessary should be undertaken quietly without unnecessary publicity.
The reconnaissance satellite program should be reviewed in connection with expediting achievement of an operational capability as soon as feasible, but no programs are to be undertaken on a crash basis until scientific analysis demonstrates real promise of success. If an issue is raised as to whether development and use of reconnaissance satellites is a provocative act, Khrushchev’s statement might be quoted in which he said that he was aware of the U.S. satellite photographing the USSR, that he had not protested and that it could take as many pictures as we wanted.
Noted the President’s request that the Special Assistant to the President for Science and Technology consult with the Department of Defense with regard to the feasibility of expediting the reconnaissance satellite program, and report the results to the President.

[Here follow the remaining agenda items.]

Marion W. Boggs
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. Drafted by Boggs on May 25. For another account of the discussion on the summit, see Kistiakowsky, Scientist, pp. 333–336.
  2. See Document 192.
  3. The C–47, its passengers, and crew were released on May 25.
  4. For text of this statement, May 9, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1960, pp. 418–20.
  5. The alert took place on May 15.
  6. The minutes of the Cabinet meeting of May 12 are in the Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Cabinet Series.
  7. Secretary Herter was referring to the Italian Ambassador to the U.S. [Footnote in the source text. A memorandum of Heater’s conversation with Brosio is in Department of State, Central Files, 396.1–PA/5–2360.]
  8. Elmer B. Staats, Executive Officer of the Operations Coordinating Board.
  9. Kosygin was scheduled to attend a textile convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, early in June, but his visit was canceled by the Soviet Union. Maurice Stans, Director of the Bureau of the Budget, was scheduled to visit the Soviet Union at the end of May and in early June, but his visit was also canceled.
  10. See Document 192.
  11. For text of this statement, May 17, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1960, p. 431.
  12. Paragraphs a–c constitute NSC Action No. 2238, approved by the President on May 26. (Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council)