Policy Planning Staff Files

Record of the Eighth Meeting (1950) of the Policy Planning Staff of the Department of State, Washington, February 2, 1950, 11 a. m. to 1 p. m.

top secret
Present: Paul Nitze1 Dorothy Fosdick6
Ware Adams2 Robert Hooker7
Lampton Berry3 Carlton Savage8
George Butler4 Harry H. Schwartz9
John Davies5

Mr. Scammon, R10

Mr. Schwinn, P11

Mr. Nitze said that at the Secretary’s Meeting this morning12 his opinion had been asked as to the danger of war, and he had replied [Page 143] that it seemed considerably greater than last fall. In general, his thesis was that it is always possible but that historical precedents may have become inaccurate as criteria by which to judge the degree of probability. In the discussion that followed several points were brought out: there are an increasing number of signs of toughness on the part of the Kremlin; the informal opinion of the Joint Chiefs now is that the Soviet Union could begin a major attack from a standing start so that the usual signs of mobilization and preparation would be lacking; there are increasing indications that some of the basic elements of Communist dogma no longer hold, i.e., that the Communist bastion has infinite time in which to achieve its purpose, that capitalist nations carry within themselves the seeds of their own destruction which require watering but not planting by the Soviet Union, that the Red Army is used only when a revolutionary atmosphere makes the situation right for the coup de grâce, etc.

The Planning Staff is immediately to prepare a paper analyzing the probability of a war in the immediate future, which is to be drafted in the first instance by Mr. Davies.13

  1. Director of the Policy Planning Staff.
  2. Member of the Policy Planning Staff.
  3. Member of the Policy Planning Staff.
  4. Robert G. Hooker, Jr., Member of the Policy Planning Staff.
  5. James Lampton Berry, Member of the Policy Planning Staff.
  6. Member of the Policy Planning Staff.
  7. George H. Butler, Deputy Director of the Policy Planning Staff.
  8. Executive Secretary of the Policy Planning Staff.
  9. John Paton Davies, Jr., Member of the Policy Planning Staff.
  10. Richard M. Scammon, Chief of the Division of Research for Europe.
  11. Walter K. Schwinn, Acting Chief, Public Affairs Policy Advisory Staff.
  12. Secretary Acheson customarily met several times a week with Under Secretary Webb, Nitze, Deputy Under Secretary Rusk, Kennan, Assistant Secretary McFall, and others to coordinate Departmental activities, exchange information, and occasionally render policy decisions. The summary of the Secretary’s meeting of February 2 does not describe the discussion here mentioned by Nitze (Secretary’s Daily Meetings: Lot 58D609)
  13. Paper not identified.