Policy Planning Staff Files

Memorandum by the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Kennan) to the Secretary of State and the Under Secretary of State (Lovett)

top secret


I have just seen the final draft of Senator Vandenberg’s proposed Senate Resolution on international peace and security matters.1

I think it regrettable that paragraph (5) has been included.2

The Planning Staff is about to recommend that this Government make no independent move to place at the disposal of the Security Council forces under Article 43.3 We are unable to see what practical purpose this could serve; and it is our view that it is unprofitable for this Government in the long run to strike attitudes, for the sake of appearing virtuous, when there is no intrinsic consideration of national interest involved. The real problems of world security at this juncture are plainly the ones created by the policies of the Soviet Union itself. The Security Council is generally powerless to act in these matters; and even if it were able to take decisions, no forces which might be placed at its disposal in present conditions could conceivably be great enough to enable it to enforce its decisions against the will of the Soviet Union.

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As for disarmament, we consider it useless and misleading to speak of the regulation and reduction of armaments before peace treaties have been concluded to liquidate the recent war and before there has been a general and adequate relaxation of tension between the Soviet Union and the western world.

If a favorable opportunity should present itself, I would still urge that an effort be made to induce the Senator to omit or modify this passage. The phrase about disarmament, for example, could be modified by the words: “as soon as the world situation permits.”

There are other points in the language of the resolution which I would have wished could have been omitted; but I assume that Senator Vandenberg is already so deeply committed to most of these formulae that there is no use in trying to get him to depart from them.

George F. Kennan
  1. Reference is to the version of the “Vandenberg Resolution” approved by the President on May 7, 1948; for text, see vol. iii, p. 118. For additional documentation on the preparation of the resolution, see ibid., pp. 1351 ff., passim. For text of the resolution, very nearly identical to the May 7 text, reported by Senator Vandenberg in the Senate on May 19 and passed by the Senate on June 11, as Senate Resolution 239, 80th Cong., see footnote 7, p. 25.
  2. Paragraph (5) indicated that the Senate reaffirmed the policy of the United States to expend “Maximum efforts to provide the United Nations with armed forces as contemplated by the Charter, and to obtain agreement among member nations upon universal regulation and reduction of armaments under adequate and dependable guarantees against violation.” Senate Resolution 239 contained substantially the same provision.
  3. See PPS/34, June 29, p. 359.