Since 1979 the Department of State has been publishing a comprehensive documentary record of the foreign policies of the Eisenhower administration in its Foreign Relations of the United States series. Volume III, 1958-1960, National Security Policy; Arms Control and Disarmament, published 2 years ago, was the last of more than 60 printed volumes on the Eisenhower presidency. On December 7 the Department of State released a microfiche supplement to this volume containing about 3,200 pages of declassified documents. This publication, the seventh and last of the microfiche supplements to the 1958-1960 subseries of Foreign Relations volumes, completes the documentary coverage of the Eisenhower administration. It presents documents for the last years of the Eisenhower presidency that are important for an accurate and complete understanding of U.S. national security and arms control policies but not so important as to justify inclusion in the print volume.
About one-half of this microfiche publication consists of documents on national security policy, which complement the compilation on the same subject in print volume III; the other half on arms control and disarmament supplements coverage of these subjects in the same printed volume. But because President Eisenhower and his senior aides linked arms control closely to national security concerns, readers interested in the supplementary documents in one compilation in this microfiche publication will also want to consult the other.
The documents presented in this supplement show the Eisenhower administration’s systematic consideration of a wide range of national security policy issues. Initially, it responded to the findings of the Gaither Panel on the future U.S. strategic position relative to the Soviet Union. The military leadership and the National Security Council (NSC) focused on the nation’s offensive and defensive weapons and ways to improve the readiness of the airborne alert forces of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) in the event of a Soviet surprise attack. The Eisenhower administration’s consideration of new weapons systems, such as the B-70 bomber and ballistic missiles, and their impact on the defense budget are also documented in this collection. The NSC also considered continental defense, especially the desirability and extent of a future anti-missile program, and a nationwide fallout shelter plan, although ultimately no major initiatives were undertaken in either area. As senior U.S. officials foresaw a virtual U.S.-Soviet parity in nuclear weapons, they re-evaluated the concept of “massive retaliation” and began to consider the possibilities of limited war. There is also considerable documentation on the reorganization of the Defense Department and the administration’s policies on outer space, the military mobilization base, and nuclear weapons, and its evaluations of Soviet military capabilities and missile programs.
A major theme of the documents on arms control is the ongoing negotiations with the Soviet Union on the curtailment of nuclear testing. The documents detail the administration’s response to the Soviet suspension of nuclear tests in March 1958 and the reservations of the Defense Department, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Atomic Energy Commission to a cessation of U.S. tests. There is also documentation on disarmament negotiations concerning the development of an effective inspection system to detect underground nuclear explosions and U.S.-Soviet disagreement over the number and monitoring of inspections. The relevant correspondence between President Eisenhower and British Prime Minister Macmillan and Soviet Chairman Khrushchev on nuclear testing and other arms control issues is included in the supplement.
This microfiche publication, prepared by the Department of State’s Office of the Historian, is one of 19 volumes and 7 microfiche supplements in the Foreign Relations of the United States subseries documenting U.S. foreign policy during the 1958-1960 triennium. Volume III was published in 1996. Both are available from the U.S. Government Printing Office. For further information, contact David S. Patterson, General Editor of the Foreign Relations Series, at (202) 663-1127 (fax: (202) 663-1289; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). Copies of the microfiche supplement may be purchased from the U.S. Government Printing Office.