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 (Webb)

top secret

There is attached a draft of a report prepared by the NSC Staff on “Measures Required To Achieve U.S. Objectives With Respect to the U.S.S.R.”.1

During the early stages of this project, the State Department representative on the NSC Staff consistently advanced the view that no useful purpose would be served by attempting to draft a detailed paper of this kind. Moreover, at a meeting of the NSC Consultants on January 17, 1949, Mr. Butler2 took the position that such a report would lead to rigidity of U.S. position rather than to the flexibility of operations which is essential under present world conditions. However., in view of the feeling of the other Consultants that the Council had instructed the NSC Staff to prepare such a paper, no further effort was made by State to stop the preparation of the report on the understanding, concurred in by the other Consultants, that the final document would be distributed to interested Departments and Agencies merely as a check list and not for implementation.

However, on seeing the final document, I think it dangerous to give State Department approval to it, and feel that we must make an issue of it in the NSC—rather on a point of principle concerning the basic approach to foreign policy problems than on the merits of the provisions of this particular document.

For this, I would like a wider background of authority than my own opinion, and suggest that the matter be placed on the agenda of the Under Secretary’s Staff meeting.3

George F. Kennan
  1. Of March 30, p. 271.
  2. George H. Butler, Deputy Director of the Policy Planning Staff.
  3. The following marginal notation by Butler appears opposite the last paragraph on the source text: “Mr. Souers was requested not to put report on NSC agenda pending a discussion of it among Mr. Webb, Mr. Kennan and Mr. Souers.” References are to Sidney W. Souers, Executive Secretary of the National Security Council and James E. Webb, Under Secretary of State.