The Cuban Missile Crisis
Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the Under Secretary of State (Ball) and the Chairman of the Coordinating Committee (McCloy)


November 14, 1962, 10:10 a.m.

McCloy--You have seen this report.(1) This is my reading on it. In the first place on the overflights, I haven't been quite able to make up my mind whether it was just a formal protest or whether it is something we have to look rather seriously at. But it might be no more than the former, although it is not too clear.

Ball--It is possible that it is something they had to do to help Mikoyan out.

McCloy--Well I wouldn't be surprised. But they are going to put that in as a condition of their taking out the IL-28's.

Ball--That is your impression?

McCloy--That is my impression. I think we should resist that.


McCloy--But this is what is coming and it perfectly clear to me, after reading that full message from K the other day,(2) together with this thing here, that they are going to take the IL-28's out but they want to take them out now at the end of the road rather than immediately. My instinct on this would be to tell Kuznetsov and not tell him at one of these formal meetings, to say "Now look here, we have done our damnedest here to relieve your situation, you are talking a lot about the quarantine, you have balled up the business on the Red Cross because you kind of insist on your definition of offensive weapons, we have done something now that is really beyond what we agreed to do." Respond to that, don't talk to us any more about your having done everything and we have done nothing. "And that you get those things out of there and we will do as we say, we will raise the quarantine the minute that you give the order."


McCloy--But I would do that on a sort of another walk basis rather than on one of these damn meetings at which Zorin is present and the whole damn works are present.

Ball--Yes. I think that is right.

McCloy--You all get tensed up and the hell with this feeling of dignity. This is just an oil--it is just a different approach that may very well bring the thing about. Now that is what I would do, if I had a free hand on this thing.

Ball--Let me talk to Dean and the President about it. I am going to be seeing them both in a few minutes.

McCloy--Yes. I would just go in and say "Look Mr. K come on down and I will give you lunch and I will show you downtown New York" and incidentally put that in his ear.


McCloy--Now that would be my way of coping with this. And then the second thing I have got in mind is I am damn sure that we are going to be faced with the necessity of drafting something on the guaranty or the assurances. To put something down on paper.


McCloy--Because we are trying to get it very shortly from the Soviets and it is going to be a pretty elaborate document.


McCloy--I always believe in getting out first draft. I think we shouldn't postpone that any longer.

Ball--Well we have got a draft of some stuff.

McCloy--Get it crystallized if you can, as soon as you can because I think that is going to be the first order of business.

Ball--Right. Don't you think we can avoid any kind of protocol?

McCloy--Yes. I would--Zorin is the devil in the play on that. I would just say no, and fortunately we have got the UN with us on it and we will hold out on that. In the last analysis I would suppose--I don't know what you mean by protocol--the form of the thing doesn't make a great deal of difference, but I think we are going to get away with a declaration.

Ball--Yes. The only difference is if you get into a highly formal argument then the amount of comments is going to be terrific.

McCloy--Yes, and moreover I got a letter from Herman Phleger(3) that caused me a little concern. He said you know if you make a pledge of non-invasion that that has to take the form of a treaty because it is the impairment of the Congress' authority to declare war and that this has to be approved by the Senate. That is something that I think Chayes ought to be looking at.

Ball--All right.

McCloy--You know Phleger is a pretty good lawyer and he was very serious about this because he didn't see how we could get around it, in view of Congress' authority to declare war.

Ball--Well, I will get the boys working on it.

McCloy--Yes, get them working on that. There is one thought that they all take comfort in, they say well all we are doing is what we have already done under the Rio Pact and the UN Charter. But that may not be so because we are in an awkward position there because under the UN Charter and the Rio Pact we still supported an invasion from the Bay of Pigs and we defended it. Now is this something more or how do you avoid going to Congress. I think the lawyers ought to be looking at it.

Ball--OK, fine.

1 Regarding the report of Stevenson and McCloy's meeting with Kuznetsov and Zorin, see footnote 1, Document 175. Back

2 Document 171. Back

3 Not found. Back

Source: Department of State, Ball Files: Lot 74 D 272, Telephone Conversations--Cuba. No classification marking.

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