Policy Planning Staff Files

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs ( Perkins ) to the Secretary of State

top secret

Subject: Draft report to the president and the State–Defense Staff Study1

I have not had time to go through the State–Defense Staff Study, but, however, I have read the draft report to the President. I have also had an opportunity to read Mr. Thompson’s comments of this date on this paper. In general, I agree with the position which he has indicated. There are a few other points which I might add.

First, the question of whether or not an intensive drive in the United States to step up activity in the cold war would have adverse repercussions [Page 215] in Europe was discussed at the Rome meeting.2 It was the feeling of the group assembled there that there would not be adverse repercussions provided we had really thought through what we intended to do and had a feasible plan laid out. They felt, however, that the effects would be extremely bad if we started such a campaign without a clear idea of what we were going to accomplish and how we were going to accomplish it. They therefore urged strongly, although this was not included in the report of the meeting, that a thorough study be undertaken of both the economic and military requirements in the cold war before any other action was started. This, I understand, is in accordance with recommendation B in the Report to the President.3

On page 24, the second paragraph, point 4, there is an indication that economic assistance programs will have to be increased somewhat. I would question this seriously. It seems to me that the present size of the programs is wholly adequate and probably appreciably larger than will be necessary in the future. What we need to recognize is that the need for economic assistance will be a continuing one and in substantial amounts.

On the question of increased military expenditure, there was considerable talk in Europe about what was referred to as “a poor man’s war”. It was the general feeling that we could not meet Soviet forces tank for tank or necessarily match them in other items of equipment without destroying the economy and consequently the civilization we are trying to protect. This implied the importance of developing in expensive but effective weapons which could be used effectively in defense. Some progress has certainly been made in this direction, but it may well be as General Gruenther4 said to Ted Achilles5 that what we need is a Manhattan project to produce an inexpensive defense. If this is correct, and it may well be, it is possible that a substantial increase in military expenditure may not be necessary but rather reallocation of present available funds.

At the bottom of page 7 and at the top of page 8 of the conclusions in the report to the President, there is an indication that after we have built up strength we might successfully undertake negotiations with the Kremlin. I would seriously question the possibility of this until such time as the Kremlin has changed its philosophy. I do not believe that this change will come about through outside pressure but will result [Page 216] from a disintegration of the dictatorship, as has always happened in the past. I think what we must recognize is that we must keep our belts tight until such time as this disintegration does occur, which may well be a very long period of time. The inherent difficulty in this situation is that the Kremlin cannot afford to let their people come in contact with Western ideas and Western people as this would destroy their existing hold on the situation. I cannot conceive of any settlement with the Kremlin which would be satisfactory which did not Involve the lifting of the Iron Curtain. There is also an implication in this paragraph that we should not enter into negotiations with the Kremlin until we have built up strength. Although recognizing the futility of such a negotiation at this time or for any foreseeable future, I am of the opinion, and this I think was shared in by the Ambassadors in Rome, that we should be willing to talk at any time but do it in an atmosphere where it is perfectly clear that it is they and not we who are blocking a settlement.

In going through the report to the President, I picked up several detailed points which I attach on a separate sheet.6 These may or may not be of sufficient importance to justify their consideration.

  1. The documents under reference are described in Under Secretary Webb’s memorandum of March 30 and footnotes 2 and 3 thereto, p. 210.
  2. For documentation on the meeting of United States Ambassadors at Rome, March 22–24, 1950, see vol. iii, pp. 795 ff.
  3. See NSC 68, April 14, recommendation b, p. 292.
  4. Lt. Gen. Alfred M. Gruenther, Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans, United States Army.
  5. Theodore C. Achilles, Director of the Office of Western European Affairs.
  6. Attachment not reproduced.