< Return to October 18

Theodore Sorensen's memorandum

Two big questions must be answered, and in conjunction with each other:

1. Which military action, if any:
-- Limited air strike: Rusk, probably Ball and Johnson, Acheson originally
-- Fuller air strike: McNamara and Taylor (who convinced Acheson) Bohlen's 2nd choice
-- Blockade: Bohlen, Thompson, probably Martin, probably McNamara and Taylor 2nd choice

2. Should political action -- in particular a letter of warning to Khrushchev -- precede military action?
-- If blockade or invasion, everyone says yes
-- If air strike -- Yes: Bohlen, Thompson (also K. O'Donnell)
-- No: Taylor, McNamara, presumably Acheson
-- Undecided: Rusk These questions could be focussed upon by considering either the Rusk or the Bohlen approaches.

Rusk favors the limited or "surgical" air strike without prior political action or warning. This is opposed by 3 groups.

-- By the diplomats (Bohlen, Thompson, probably Martin) who insist that prior political action is essential and not harmful
-- By the military (McNamara, Taylor, McCone) who insist that the air strike could not be limited
-- By advocates of the blockade route Bohlen favors a prompt letter to Khrushchev, deciding after the response whether we use air strike or blockade -- All blockade advocates would support this, and some of the air strike advocates
-- Taylor would oppose this, unless the decision had already been made to go the blockade route
-- If you accept the Bohlen plan, we can then consider the nature of the letter to K.

Also ask Pentagon to develop:
1. Extent to which military problems are increased by the advance warning a note to Khrushchev would touch off
2. Hard necessity of follow-up sortie to initial "surgical" attack
3. Possibilities of commando-type raid by parachute or helicopter