All Posts By


The 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis – Quemoy

[Referenced in Chapter 2 of The Doomsday Machine]

The 1958 Taiwan Straits Crisis: A Documented History
by Morton Halperin, 1966

From Daniel Ellsberg:

I consulted with my friend Morton Halperin when he began the research for this study, I believe, in 1963. Having participated myself in the Cuban Missile Crisis a few months earlier, I spent most of 1963 and the first half of 1964 doing research on nuclear crises at the RAND corporation in Santa Monica, California, for which Halperin was a consultant. When I joined the Defense Department as a full time employee in August 1964, as special assistant to the assistant secretary of defence for international security affairs (ISA), my purpose was really to pursue my investigation of this subject, in the hopes of reducing the chance of nuclear war in the future. When Halperin completed his study at the end of 1966, my draft notes on the offshore islands crisis of 1963 were a product of my consultation with Halperin in February 1963. In the mid 60s the crisis over Quemoy and Matsu, Offshore Islands in the Taiwan Strait, which is variously described as the Offshore Islands (OSI) Crisis, the Quemoy Crisis, or in the title of Halperin’s study “The 1958 Taiwan Straits Crisis,” was not generally perceived as having been a nuclear crisis, despite the fears expressed publicly by politicians and commentators that it could possibly have erupted into nuclear war. What Halperin discovered in his classified (Top Secret) study, was that the nuclear dimensions of this confrontation were taken very seriously by the Eisenhower administration, and in particular the military advisers and commanders involved. Indeed, Christian Herder, who succeeded John Foster Dulles as secretary of state, was reported to have said later, “The Cuban Missile Crisis is often described as the first serious nuclear crisis, those of us who lived through the Quemoy crisis definitely regarded that as the first serious nuclear crisis.” The reasons for this will be obvious every few pages of this study.

Previously Unpublished Papers and Memos Discussed in “Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers”

(These previously unpublished papers and documents written by Daniel Ellsberg were discussed in Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. The numbers in parentheses refer to the pages of Secrets in which the paper or memo is discussed.)

(pp. 88-97)
Draft Speech for Secretary McNamara July 22, 1965

(pp. 106-108)
Memo to General Lansdale: Mission Council Meeting July 25, 1966

(p. 169)
Memo to General Lansdale: The Challenge of Corruption in South Vietnam, November 23, 1965

(pp. 176-177)
Memo for the Record: Ky’s Candidacy and the Upcoming Elections, May 4, 1967

(pp. 236-243, 275, 367-368, 384, 416-417, 432-437, 451)
Draft of NSSM-1 Questions, January 1969

(p. 246)
Infeasible Aims and the Politics of Stalemate, August 1969

(pp. 281-282, 310-322)
Letter to the New York Times, October 8, 1969

(pp. 282-283)
Letter to Charles Bolté, September 23, 1969

(p. 334)
Revolutionary Judo, January 1970

Other Vietnam Memos and Documents:

Some Prospects and Problems in Vietnam, February 1968

Critical Postures on U.S. Decision-Making in Vietnam, June 1960

Vu Van Thai on U.S. Aims and Interventions in Vietnam, July 1969

Some Lessons from Failure in Vietnam, July 1969

On Pacification, July 1969

U.S. Policy and the Politics of Others, July 1969

Notes on Vietnam Policy: A Strategy for Dissent, January 1970

Escalating in a Quagmire, February 1970

“Coercive Diplomacy” in Light of Vietnam, November 1970

Reflections on Vietnam Policy