The Pentagon Papers
Gravel Edition
Volume 1
Document 42, Report by Secretary of State Dulles on Geneva and Indochina, NSC 195th Meeting, 6 May 1954, p 499-500

NSC 195th Meeting
6 May 1954

ITEM 1 (For Discussion)


1. Secretary Dulles, who was rather pessimistic, in reporting to the President yesterday morning on the Geneva Conference, made the following points: (a) there is no responsible French Government with which to deal; (b) the British have declined to take a position regarding a Southeast Asia regional grouping until after the Geneva Conference; (c) the British however are willing to proceed with secret talks with us regarding the political and military scope of our plans for SEA; (d) the expected Communist proposal re Indo-China will call for evacuation of all foreign troops and elections to be supervised by a joint Vietminh-Vietnam Commission; (e) French have no particular form of settlement in mind; UK is still thinking in terms of partition.

2. It is not clear how the NSC discussion will develop, but it seems desirable that certain questions be clarified at the meeting. They are along this line:

a. Should the U.S. resign itself to being unable to influence any further the French and U.K. positions at Geneva? (i.e., is it still not possible to stiffen their spines by any conceivable means--Presidential talks, threats, sending Mr. Dulles back with a new mandate, etc.--so as to assure they will not accept a dangerous compromise.)

b. Is or is not the U.S. prepared to commit its combat forces in the near future, in some form of regional effort if possible, to save the partition or loss of Indo-China? (A decision in principle seems necessary now. As the situation is at present we are saying we will consider this if the parliaments of Australia, New Zealand, etc. agree, but it is not clear whether we mean before or after Indo-China is lost.)

c. Is the U.S. prepared to acquiesce in the clearly engineered Communist aggression in and taking over of Indo-China--with Red Chinese support--even though we evaluate this loss as very serious to the free world and even though we have the military means to redeem the situation? (The A-bomb)

3. The Joint Chiefs of Staff sent you a memorandum several days ago (see TAB A) recommending that you "secure governmental acceptance" of the following position:

In the event of a cease fire in Indochina, the shipment of military end items under U.S. MDAP . . . will immediately be suspended, except for such spares and associated maintenance items necessary to the maintenance of equipment in operations. The entire question of U.S. aid to Indochina will be re-examined in the light of circumstances then existing.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (ISA) has suggested you forward the memo to the NSC saying you concur, but you have not yet acted on the matter. You may wish to raise it during the discussion.

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