Policy Planning Staff Files

Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Eastern European Affairs (Reinhardt) to the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Kennan)1

top secret

With reference to PPS/33 dated June 23, 1948, EE is of the opinion that the conclusion reached in the study is still valid. The conclusion, furthermore, is supported by the most recent report of the Moscow Embassy JIC entitled “Soviet Intentions” and transmitted under [Page 294]cover of Embassy Top Secret despatch no. 202, April 6, 1949,2 which summarizes the results of its study in the following terms:

“The Soviet Union will not resort to direct military action against the West in the near future and expects and counts on a period of several years of peace.”

Although the conclusions of PPS/33 are still valid, the evidence and data on which they are based have been modified somewhat by events since its publication. With a view to bringing the general substance of the argument up to date, EE makes the following suggestions:

In the list of factors militating against the likelihood of Soviet armed action include:

The growth of western unity and strength under the aegis of the ERP, the North Atlantic Pact and US rearming and armed assistance to Western Europe.
The possession of the atomic bomb by the United States together with a growing capacity to deliver it and a growing stockpile of bombs.
Communist successes in China would seem to reduce the possibility of Soviet initiative in that area which might start a war without materially increasing the likelihood of such an initiative in other areas.
The defecton of Yugoslavia, while it may increase the likelihood of local armed actions within the “Iron Curtain” would seem to reduce the likelihood of overt Soviet aggression in the West outside the Iron Curtain.
on page 5 should be eliminated.

In the list of factors militating for the likelihood of Soviet armed action in the near future it might well be pointed out that despite the traditional preference of the Kremlin for subversive political and economic aggression rather than overt military aggression to obtain its objectives, the only areas outside its frontiers which the Soviet Union has succeeded in communizing have been areas which have experienced the occupation of Soviet armed forces. It would not be unreasonable if this historical fact effected some modification in the Kremlin’s point of view.

The statement at the top of page 6 that “a certain revival of armed strength will also take place in western Europe” should be pointed up in view of the North Atlantic Pact and the impending arms assistance program.

In paragraph (c) on page 73 a reference to Yugoslavia should be substituted for the reference to Berlin and Vienna. The possibility of a miscalculation, mentioned in the sentence in brackets in the same [Page 295]paragraph, is materially reduced by the North Atlantic Pact and other evidences of US determination.

With reference to the first paragraph at the top of page 10, EE agrees with LET’s comment.4 This comment equally applies to the next to the last sentence in this long bracketed passage.

The final sentence in the long bracketed passage on page 10 seems to imply, and it is believed would in any event be taken by the military to imply, that the atomic bombing of urban populations would be effective in destroying the Soviet will to resist. EE is of the opinion that this hypothesis is questionable.

In the second sentence of the bracketed paragraph on page 11 the statement that our international positions must seem to the Soviets to contain a margin of excessive demand implies an extreme lack of objectivity on the part of the Soviets in assessing what we must regard as our national interest and thus a failure to note that our international positions do not in fact contain any margin of excessive demand over what our interests require. Possibly the passage of time and the growth of experience in dealing with the US has reduced the Soviet tendency to credit the US with placing such a margin of excessive demand in its international position.

In Section D, pp. 16–18, Part 15 seems to be less successful in defining what the US defense effort should be than Part 2 is in stating what it should not be. It is felt that this lack of definiteness together with the language of the first full sentence on page 16 and of the conclusion at the bottom of page 18 may be interpreted by the military as endorsing an effort to maintain a higher degree of sustained readiness for immediate war than either the international situation or our resources would justify. It is therefore suggested that it would be well to reword the first full sentence on page 15, perhaps along the following lines:”. . . we will require an establishment in an optimum posture to wage war successfully if it should be forced upon us, considering both the long term nature of the struggle for power in which we are engaged and the factor of limited resources.”

With respect to Part 1 (page 16) it is suggested that the following ideas might be incorporated:

Taking into account the limitations imposed on the size of the US NME by both political and economic considerations, as well as the impossibility of sustaining a maximum measure of preparedness in time of peace, the optimum level for the US defense effort would seem to be one sufficiently high (1) to retain the confidence of our friends and allies and enable the US to fully play its role as a great power, and (2) to provide sufficient guarantee that no sudden and unannounced [Page 296]attack could paralyze the US and preclude the full expansion and exploitation of the US war potential.

Finally it is suggested that the last paragraph on page 186 be reworded by substituting for the word “adequate” some phraseology less susceptible of misinterpretation by the military.

[G.] F[rederick] Reinhardt
  1. Regarding the circumstances leading to the preparation of this memorandum, see footnote 1 to the memorandum from Thompson to Kennan, supra.
  2. For partial text of despatch No. 202, see vol. v, p. 603.
  3. See footnote 4 to Thompson’s memorandum to Kennan, supra.
  4. See Thompson’s memorandum, supra, and footnote 5 thereto.
  5. PPS 33, Section D, Part 1, was entitled “A U.S. defense effort founded on the principle of a long-term state of readiness”.
  6. The paragraph under reference is the final paragraph in PPS 33. It commented upon the need for the “maintenance of a permanent state of adequate military preparation.”