The Cuban Missile Crisis
Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the Under Secretary of State (Ball) and the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)


Washington, November 21, 1962, noon.

Ball: I had a talk with Jack McCloy this morning.(1)

Bundy: So did I.(2)

Ball: I have a feeling that we may be running down two somewhat divergent tracks here.

Bundy: I have exactly the same worry and was about to call you about it.

Ball: I wonder if we shouldn't get Jack down here for 4 p.m. and try to resolve this before we head into a long week where there can be no resolution.

Bundy: Let's talk about your track.

Ball: There are two schools of thought over here. One of them would be to try to bring this to some kind of a conclusion, even though the formulation would differ from the formulation of yesterday along this line: that if we can be assured either through appropriate UN verification arrangements or through our own means that all offensive weapons are removed and not reinstituted, then Cuba has no fear of an invasion. That suggests that we are not going to invade as long as we keep ourselves . . . .

Bundy: Not going to invade on this ground. We are always going to have to reserve on other grounds. To form language for that is not too tough.

Ball: Yes. Something along this line "As a party to solemn treaty commitments." (Ball reads draft of this morning.)

Bundy: Yes. This is my track, to be honest with you. That is what I would like to do. Does anyone think that we are really going to get much more than that?

Ball: I have Martin here at the moment, for example. He says the Latins will die; they will come to a very bad conclusion--that we shouldn't give any kind of pledge except on a condition of adequate verification and safeguards which of course we are never going to get.

Bundy: That isn't much of a pledge. It seems to me [what] I would say to Martin, and he would say to his Ambassadors, would be "We have said what we always have said." What we did was to reiterate our existing policy in return for which we got 30 bombers and 40 missiles out of there, etc. Those who aren't going to be satisfied with anything short of an invasion of Cuba aren't going to have their views changed by the character of the noises we make while we're not invading Cuba, either.

Ball: I think that may be. We ought to settle pretty solidly on it, however.

Bundy: I agree to that. I don't think there is any doubt what the USUN thinks; if we ask them without Stevenson, we create trouble. If we ask Stevenson, we get filibuster.

Ball: What we can do is try to get it on . . . .

Bundy: Where is the Secretary on this?

Ball: I talked to him earlier. I haven't had time. I don't think we would have difficulty with him on this, but I am not sure. I'd hate to speak for him on this.

Bundy: I'm pretty clear this is the line the President will want to go on. He wants to get a reasonable sort of "well this is all we can give you, because this is all you can give us with the Russians", and then go on with them to wider topics and let Fidel simmer while over the next six weeks . . . I think the President would like to or be prepared to trade a certain thickening of our assurance against a certain thickening of their affirmation that they are leaving.

Ball: Then the language I suggest "so long as we can be assured either . . ." you don't think that would be too bad?

Bundy: No. That is the sort of thing we could give to Kuznetsov to chew on at the end of the day today. Then there would be a hassle in which it is clear that we say to him "Look, we can do this better if your people would do what you haven't been able to get them to do. The best we can do in the light of what we initially said is to say that as long as we're satisfied, we'll be satisfied." Which isn't bad at all.

Ball: All right. I think we ought to be prepared.

Bundy: Why don't you prepare a paper on that framework, and if anyone in the Department wants to argue the case for a more rigorous assertion of interlocking declarations, it is even possible that we could present them both to Kuznetsov and say "Look if you can get this . . ."

Ball: I am sure he would want the alternative because I think they have really given up on the first one.

Bundy: That's right and it seems to me a question of if you spend a day on that or not. I don't frankly see the point in it.

Ball: Let me get it up both ways.

Bundy: You had better have it out with your Secretary.

Ball: Of course, I will.

Bundy: I know McNamara if, in fact, the trend line of Soviet presence in Cuba is downward, he doesn't see much point in trying to bargain for something we are never going to get and would be perfectly willing to give something that perhaps went a shade beyond what the President actually gave yesterday. One way to go at this would be for McCloy to begin with Kuznetsov "Didn't you read the President's press conference?"

Ball: I think that's right. Of course Khrushchev may want something in the SC. I think McCloy has probably indicated . . . .

Bundy: That doesn't break my heart. (He mentioned Stevenson's "rough time" with Kuznetsov yesterday.)(3) We perhaps ought to meet a few minutes before 4 over here to see what we've got. You might send over what you've got in advance.

1 See Document 199. Back

2 No record of Bundy's conversation has been found. Back

3 As described in Document 199. Back

Source: Department of State, Ball Files: Lot 72 D 272. Telephone Conversations--Cuba. No classification marking.

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