The Cuban Missile Crisis
Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Gilpatric) and the Under Secretary of State (Ball)

238. Washington, December 8, 1962, 11 a.m.

G: My reaction to this latest set of messages from New York(1) has not been one of immediately going along with it.

GB: No, I think it is terrible. It seems to me they have gone directly contrary to what we agreed at the Ex Com meeting also. As a matter of fact, there is a message in from the President to that effect--which Brom Smith was going to pass on to you.(2)

G: He called me.

GB: He had already drawn up over here, even before we got these messages down, some instructions(3) which attempted, based on our conversation with McCloy, that said in effect since the Soviet Union is taking this line which means watering down what we feel are essential reservations and trying to get them out in a way where they wouldn't be nearly effective that we just can't buy this and that a move ought to be made now to fold this up as quickly as possible on a basis of unagreed statements, preferably filed with the Security Council. There are really three possibilities: (1) is unagreed statements filed with the Security Council; (2) a meeting of the SC in which these statements would be made orally; and (3) nothing done in the SC but simply to go back to a press statement and reaffirmation. Of those three the first is the one we would strongly support.

G: I would also choose in that order.

GB: What we think is the meeting of the SC is not a good idea. I would take one and three against two, because the meeting of the SC would almost certainly mean the Cubans would come in and it would be out of control. I would propose to try to get out this afternoon to the Ex-Com some suggested draft instructions in the hope that those could be the subject for the discussion at the meeting Monday afternoon.(4) Stevenson is coming down for the meeting because he is going to a concert in Washington that night. I don't think McCloy will be here; but I think we just have to go ahead.

G: There is no doubt about it all. I was rather surprised, because I thought Jack was so clear that no matter what happened to put in the proviso about overflights and that if we couldn't make any progress with the Soviets on restatement with the changes he had in mind, we would go on other basis. I know he is getting impatient and wants to get back into law practice.

GB: I can well understand his feeling, and I think he would like to feel he had folded the thing up now. Any normal good workman would in a situation like this.

G: Sure. We all like to draw lines under things, but this is one where I don't think we're doing any good for ourselves.

GB: I agree. And this is the line which Dean [Rusk] and I are prepared to take, and if it meets with your and Bob's [McNamara] approval, then we will try to circulate something so that you will get it Monday morning.(5)

G: I am sure from a conversation with Bob that he agrees with me. Bob is leaving Monday night and will be there Monday afternoon.

1 Apparent reference to Documents 235 and 237. Back

2 No written record of this message has been found. Back

3 Apparent reference to a draft telegram to USUN, December 6. (Department of State, Central Files, 737.56361/12-662) See the Supplement. Back

4 See Document 241. Back

5 See Document 239. Back

Source: Department of State, Ball Files: Lot 72 D 242, Telephone Conversations--Cuba. No classification marking.

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