Report by the National Security Council on the Position of the United States with Respect to Soviet-Directed World Communism

the problem

1. To assess and appraise the position of the United States with respect to Soviet-directed world communism, taking into account the security interests of the United States.


2. The ultimate objective of Soviet-directed world communism is the domination of the world. To this end, Soviet-directed world communism employs against its victims in opportunistic coordination the complementary instruments of Soviet aggressive pressure from without and militant revolutionary subversion from within. Both instruments are supported by the formidable material power of the USSR and their use is facilitated by the chaotic aftermath of the war.

3. The defeat of the Axis left the world with only two great centers of national power, the United States and the USSR. The Soviet Union is the source of power from which international communism chiefly derives its capability to threaten the existence of free nations. The United States is the only source of power capable of mobilizing successful opposition to the communist goal of world conquest. Between the United States and the USSR there are in Europe and Asia areas of great potential power which if added to the existing strength of the Soviet world would enable the latter to become so superior in manpower, resources and territory that the prospect for the survival of the United States as a free nation would be slight. In these circumstances the USSR has engaged the United States in a struggle for power, or “cold war”, in which our national security is at stake and from which we cannot withdraw short of eventual national suicide.

4. Already Soviet-directed world communism has achieved alarming success in its drive toward world conquest. It has established satellite police states in Poland, Yugoslavia, Albania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania, and Czechoslovakia; it poses an immediate threat to Italy, Greece, Finland, Korea, the Scandanavian countries, and others. The USSR has prevented the conclusion of peace treaties with Germany, Austria,4 and Japan; and has made impossible the international control of atomic energy and the effective functioning of the United Nations. Today Stalin has come close to achieving what Hitler attempted in vain. The Soviet world extends from the Elbe River and [Page 547] the Adriatic Sea on the west to Manchuria on the east, and embraces one-fifth of the land surface of the world.

5. In addition, Soviet-directed world communism has faced the non-Soviet world with something new in history. This is the worldwide Fifth Column directed at frustrating foreign policy, dividing and confusing the people of a country, planting the seeds of disruption in time of war, and subverting the freedom of democratic states. Under a multitude of disguises, it is capable of fomenting disorders, including armed conflicts, within its victim’s territory without involving the direct responsibility of any communist state. The democracies have been deterred in effectively meeting this threat, in part because communism has been allowed to operate as a legitimate political activity under the protection of civil liberties.

6. In its relations with other nations the USSR is guided by the communist dogma that the peaceful co-existence of communist and capitalist states is in the long run impossible. On the basis of this postulate of ultimate inevitable conflict, the USSR is attempting to gain world domination by subversion, and by legal and illegal political and economic measures, but might ultimately resort to war if necessary to gain its ends. Such a war might be waged openly by the USSR with her satellites, or might be waged by one or a combination of the satellites with the avowed neutrality or disapproval of the USSR, though with her covert support. However, the Soviet Union so far has sought to avoid overt conflict, since time is required to build up its strength and concurrently to weaken and divide its opponents. In such a postponement, time is on the side of the Soviet Union so long as it can continue to increase its relative power by the present process of indirect aggression and internal subversion.

7. In view of the nature of Soviet-directed world communism, the successes which it has already achieved, and the threat of further advances in the immediate future, a defensive policy cannot be considered an effectual means of checking the momentum of communist expansion and inducing the Kremlin to relinquish its aggressive designs. A defensive policy by attempting to be strong everywhere runs the risk of being weak everywhere. It leaves the initiative to the Kremlin, enabling it to strike at the time and place most suitable to its purpose and to effect tactical withdrawals and diversions. It permits the Kremlin to hold what it has already gained and leaves its power potential intact.

8. As an alternative to a defensive policy the United States has open to it the organization of a world-wide counter-offensive against Soviet-directed world communism. Such a policy would involve first of all strengthening the military potential of the United States, and secondly, mobilizing and strengthening the potential of the non-Soviet [Page 548] world. A counter-offensive policy would gain the initiative and permit concentration of strength on vital objectives. It would strengthen the will to resist of anti-communist forces throughout the world and furnish convincing evidence of US determination to thwart the communist design of world conquest. It should enlist the support of the American people and of the peoples of the non-Soviet world. It would be consistent with the national objectives of the United States. This policy, in fact, would be the most effective way of deterring the USSR from further aggression. Such aggression might ultimately require the United States, in order to sustain itself, to mobilize all of its resources against the continued threat of war, resulting in the creation of a vast armed camp within its borders. In the latter eventuality, rigid economies, regimentation and a fear psychosis might easily promote the very conditions in the United States that we are determined to eliminate elsewhere in the world. The measures adopted under a counter-offensive policy need not be inconsistent with the purposes and principles of the United Nations. We would continue to support the United Nations within the limits of its capabilities, and seek to strengthen it.


9. The defeat of the forces of Soviet-directed world communism is vital to the security of the United States.

10. This objective cannot be achieved by a defensive policy.

11. The United States should therefore take the lead in organizing a world-wide counter-offensive aimed at mobilizing and strengthening our own and anti-communist forces in the non-Soviet world, and at undermining the strength of the communist forces in the Soviet world.

12. As immediate steps in the counter-offensive, the United States should take the following measures:

  • a. Domestic
    Strengthen promptly the military establishment of the United States by:
    Initiation of some form of compulsory military service.
    Reconstitution of the armaments industry.
    Maintain overwhelming US superiority in atomic weapons. (In the event of international agreement on the control of atomic weapons this conclusion should be reconsidered.)
    Urgently develop and execute a firm and coordinated program (to include legislation if necessary) designed to suppress the communist menace in the United States in order to safeguard the United States against the disruptive and dangerous subversive activities of communism.
    To the extent necessary to implement (1) above, initiate civilian and industrial mobilization.
    Vigorously prosecute a domestic information program, designed to insure public understanding and non-partisan support of our foreign policy.
  • b. Foreign
    In our counter-offensive efforts, give first priority to Western Europe. This should not preclude appropriate efforts in the case of other countries of Europe and the Middle East, which are immediately threatened by world communism and where loss of freedom would most seriously threaten our national security.
    Urgently adopt and implement the European Recovery Program.
    Strongly endorse the Western Union and actively encourage its development and expansion as an anti-communist association of states.
    Work out an appropriate formula which will provide for:
    Military action by the United States in the event of unprovoked armed attack against the nations in the Western Union or against other selected non-Communist nations.
    Initiation of political and military conversations with such nations with a view to coordination of anti-Communist efforts.
    Assist in building up the military potential of selected non-communist nations by the provision of machine tools to rehabilitate their arms industries, technical information to facilitate standardization of arms, and by furnishing to the extent practicable military equipment and technical advice.
    When we have developed a program for suppressing the communist menace in the United States (12-a-(3) above), cooperate closely with governments which have already taken such action and encourage other governments to take like action.
    Encourage and assist private United States citizens and organizations in fostering non-communist trade union movements in those countries where that would contribute to our national security. Measures of assistance should include consideration of individual income tax deductions for that purpose.
    Intensify the present anti-communist foreign information program.
    Develop a vigorous and effective ideological campaign.
    Develop, and at the appropriate time carry out, a coordinated program to support underground resistance movements in countries behind the iron curtain, including the USSR.
    Establish a substantial emergency fund to be used in combatting Soviet-directed world communism.
    Make unmistakably clear to the Kremlin at an opportune time, and in an appropriate manner, United States determination to resist Soviet and Soviet-directed communist aggression so as to avoid the possibility of an “accidental” war through Soviet miscalculation of how far the Western Powers might be pushed.

13. Effectuation of the above policies requires bi-partisan support.

  1. Documentation on efforts to secure peace settlements for Germany and Austria is included in volume ii .