Policy Planning Staff Files 1

Memorandum by the Director of the Policy Planning Staff ( Kennan )2 to the Secretary of State and the Under Secretary of State ( Lovett )

top secret

When Mr. Acheson3 first spoke to me about the Planning Staff, he said that he thought its most important function would be to try to trace the lines of development of our foreign policy as they emerged from our actions in the past, and to project them into the future, so that we could see where we were going.

During the first months of the operation of the Staff, I hesitated to undertake any such effort, because I did not feel that any of us had a broad enough view of the problems involved to lend real value to our estimate.

I have now made an effort toward a general view of the main problems of our foreign policy, and I enclose it as a Staff paper. It is far from comprehensive and doubtless contains many defects; but it is a first step toward the unified concept of foreign policy which I hope this Staff can some day help to evolve.

The paper is submitted merely for information, and does not call for approval. I made no effort to clear it around the Department, since this would have changed its whole character. For this reason, I feel that if any of the views expressed should be made the basis for action in the Department, the views of the offices concerned should first be consulted.

This document should properly have included a chapter on Latin America. I have not included such a chapter because I am not familiar with the problems of the area, and the Staff has not yet studied them. Butler,4 who is taking over for me in my absence,5 has had long experience with these problems and I hope that while I am away he and the Staff will be able to work up some recommendations for basic policy objectives with regard to the Latin American countries.

George F. Kennan
  1. Lot 64D563, files of the Policy Planning Staff of the Department of State, 1947–1953.
  2. The Policy Planning Staff of the Department of State was established on May 7, 1947, to consider the development of long range policy and to draw together the views of the geographic and functional offices of the Department With the enactment of the National Security Act of 1947, the Policy Planning Staff undertook responsibility for the preparation of the position of the Department of State on matters before the National Security Council. For additional information on the activities of the Policy Planning Staff and its Director, see George F. Kennan, Memoirs 1925–1950 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1967), pp. 313–500.
  3. Dean Acheson, Under Secretary of State, August 1945–June 1947.
  4. George H. Butler, Deputy Director of the Policy Planning Staff.
  5. On February 26, Kennan departed for Japan to consult with United States officials. Subsequent illness prevented him from returning to the Department of State until April 19.