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Photograph of George Ball

Ball, George W. 1909- 1994

George Wildman Ball was U.S. Undersecretary of State in the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He is best known as the voice against the Vietnam War during the escalation in the 1960s. Ball also served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations for a period in 1968.

Photograph of George Ball

Popular Documents

August 8, 1963

Memorandum from Under Secretary of State George W. Ball to President Kennedy, 'A Further Nuclear Offer to General De Gaulle'

Undersecretary Ball outlines for President Kennedy the reasons why assisting the French nuclear program is not in America's interests. It suggests that De Gaulle would only accept assistance if there were no political conditions attached, and to do so would jeopardize US interests in Europe and NATO.

January 16, 1963

Memorandum to the Secretary of State [Dean Rusk] from McGeorge Bundy

During the luncheon for Fanfani, Bundy sent Rusk this short memo about the Fanfani-Kennedy conversation, noting the former’s concern that removing the Jupiters could lead to attacks from the right about “softness toward left-wingers who want the missiles out.” When Kennedy spoke with McNamara after the meeting, he asked him to emphasize to Fanfani the military advantages of replacing the Jupiters with Polaris. McNamara wanted to emphasize that very point to offset any talk of a “nefarious Cuban bargain” with the Soviets. Bundy also highlighted the debate between George Ball and McNamara over whether Jupiters and Polaris should be mentioned in the communique on the Fanfani-Kennedy discussions.

May 28, 1962

Memorandum by Edward Biegel, Bureau of Western European Affairs, 'WE Answers to the Ball Questionnaire'

Edward Biegel of the Bureau of Western European Affairs answers Undersecretary Ball's questions on French nuclear ambitions and Western European collective security. He makes the arguments against nuclear sharing, and also mentions the fact that a Baltimore Sun article likely alerted the Soviets to the fact that the US deployed tactical nuclear weapons on the German front.

January 8, 1963

Department of State Telegram 1241 to the American Embassy Rome

In this “limited distribution” message, George Ball informed Ambassador Reinhardt of the developing plans to deploy three Polaris boats in the Mediterranean with the missiles on station by April 1. Polaris would supersede the less effective Jupiters. The Ambassador should seek agreement with the Italian Government to take the “necessary steps” to dismantle the two Jupiter squadrons. The Italians “may be quite willing” to move in this direction, Rusk suggested, having already shown they recognized the value of replacing Jupiters with Polaris. Reinhard should advise the Italians that the U.S. government was treating the matter with “great secrecy” and was making a parallel approach to Ankara.
The Italians would not be surprised by this initiative in light of Andreotti-McNamara discussions at the recent NATO meeting, which also covered U.S. interest in modernizing tactical nuclear delivery systems (Sergeant for Corporal missiles). U.S. views would also be repeated to Fanfani when he visited Washington, D.C.

The day before, and probably as a related move, President Kennedy invited Italian Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani for talks in Washington. During mid-December, Fanfani had expressed interest in speaking with Kennedy about the world situation, and a meeting would provide an opportunity for the President to secure a commitment on the Jupiter issue.

December 19, 1962

Memorandum of Conversation, 'Skybolt'

This memorandum details an extensive conversation between representatives from the U.S. and Great Britain about President Kennedy's decision to cancel work on "Skybolt," or a surface-to-air missile that the British were invested in. The meeting was an attempt to placate a "looming crisis" in Anglo-American relations.