Policy Planning Staff Files

Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Webb)1

top secret

The enclosed papers are the result of the work of a State–Defense Study Group pursuant to the President’s directive of January 31, 1950, to the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, which called for a reexamination of our objectives in peace and war and of the effect of these objectives on our strategic plans, in the light of the probable fission bomb capability and possible thermonuclear bomb capability of the Soviet Union. The longer paper, entitled, “State–Defense Staff Study”,2 has been approved by the Chairman of the working group, Mr. Paul H. Nitze, and by Major General T. H. Landon, a representative from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The staff study represents the basic background for the shorter paper, entitled “Draft Report to the President”, which consists primarily of a summary of the first nine chapters of the staff study, together with conclusions and recommendations identical to those in the staff study.3 Although it is planned that both papers should go to the President, the President’s approval will be sought only for the latter.

Your written comments are to be forwarded no later than Wednesday noon, April 5, to the Secretary, through me, with a copy to Mr. Nitze. Keeping in mind the relationship between the two papers, you should feel free to comment on both to the extent that you consider your comments will be of assistance to the Secretary. You should personally prepare these comments. If you feel that you can comment more profitably by consulting selected members of your staff, please do so without disclosing to them the nature of the conclusions or the recommendations and without showing the text to anyone.

It is imperative that the extraordinary security precautions which have been observed to date in connection with this study be continued at least until the President has received the report formally from the [Page 211] Secretaries of State and Defense and has had an adequate opportunity thoroughly to study it and to come to a decision with regard to the major conclusion. If his decision is affirmative, it is assumed that the various agencies of the Government will be instructed, under the coordination of the NSC, to develop programs in connection therewith; and at that time the full machinery of the Department will be called into action. If the President decides in the negative, no one in this Department will refer to that fact or talk about this study.

  1. This memorandum was addressed to Messrs. Armstrong, Rusk, Kennan, Butterworth, Fisher, Thompson and/or Perkins, Bohlen, Barrett, Miller, Hickerson, Byroade, Thorp, Ambassador at Large Philip C. Jessup, and Raymond A. Hare (Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs).
  2. On April 7, the “staff study,” with minor changes, was submitted to President Truman as the analysis portion of the Report to the President; for text, see NSC 68, April 14, p. 234.
  3. In a memorandum to the Secretary of State dated April 6, Nitze recommended that the summary here under reference be eliminated as unnecessary and confusing. General Landon, Nitze stated, concurred. A corrigendum of April 7 indicated that the shorter paper was in fact discarded. No copy of the document has been found in the files of the Department of State. (Policy Planning Staff Files)