Policy Planning Staff Files

Memorandum by the Deputy Under Secretary of State ( Rusk ) to the Director of the Policy Planning Staff ( Nitze )

top secret

Here are some superficial comments on the attached paper.1

I. First paragraph. I doubt that we should confine the revolutionary process of the past 35 years to the Russian and the Chinese revolutions. If anything, we have had two broad streams of revolution. On the one hand we have had a continuation of a national-liberal-democratic revolution which has extended into new areas. On the other, we have had communist revolution or counter-revolution in certain areas.

Also in the same paragraph, I doubt that it is accurate to say “the complex balance of power” was destroyed. There was never a balance, if by balance we mean equilibrium. If by a balance we mean contending forces which express themselves at times in war and at times in peace, then we have had several basic rearrangements of the balance of power in the span of one generation.

[Page 168]

The gist of the above comment is that the first paragraph appears to be over-simplified as a statement of what happened.

II. In the statement of fundamental purpose it appears that we are saying that the United States will stand or fall as a democracy and that we do not anticipate United States survival as something other than a democracy. I have no doubt but that our policy should be stated that way and that present action should be based upon that policy. I see no particular point in our debating now what alternative forms might develop in the event of a fatal shock to “our free and democratic system”—but we can be reasonably certain that 150 million people will not perish and that, before doing so, they will bring about basic changes in both ideology and political structure.

III. I am not at all sure that we have forced the Soviet Union to confess to its own fundamental design. It would obviously be a major diplomatic effort to drive them into such a corner that they would be compelled to confess their true purpose. But if we are to mobilize the strength and spirit of the “free world”, it should be our objective to force such disclosure by the Kremlin which would be just as clear and understandable as the designs of Hitler came to be.

IV. This section on the underlying conflict in the realm of ideas and values is a first-class job and should be used as the basis for a nationwide statement by the Secretary on the elementary principles of our foreign policy. Since I understand it will undergo further revision, I will not comment upon details at this point.

Dean Rusk
  1. The attachment does not accompany the source text and has not been specifically identified. It was an early draft or partial draft of the study on United States objectives and programs for national security, being prepared by the State–Defense Policy Review Group. For the final version of the study, NSC–68, April 7, see p. 235. The four sections of Rusk’s memorandum correspond to the first four sections of NSC–68.