Policy Planning Staff Files


Memorandum by the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Hare) to the Under Secretary of State (Webb)

top secret

Subject: Comments on documents entitled “Draft Report to the President” and “State–Defense Staff Study”.

In compliance with your memorandum of March 30, 1950, the following are my comments on the two accompanying documents entitled “Draft Report to the President” and “State–Defense Staff Study”.

The facts adduced are alarmingly convincing. I would raise the question, however, whether the dispassionately analytical approach used may not result; in overlooking certain less tangible considerations which might temper the conclusions reached. For instance, are we yet certain that the Soviet venture in China will strengthen the U.S.S.R. to the extent now feared? Have we, in fact, adequately explored the question of whether there may not be a critical point in Soviet expansion beyond which the benefits to the U.S.S.R. will turn to disadvantage?
I realize that the heavy responsibility devolving on the authors of documents of such seriousness does not permit of wishful thinking but one cannot study international affairs for long without being impressed by the importance of imponderables arising out of vagaries in mass behavior. Let us suppose, for example, that mid-1954: should arrive with Soviet military strength increased as predicted without adequate build up by the United States. I should imagine that the U.S.S.R. would still give serious consideration to the morale factor in the United States and friendly countries and that decision might well be reached on whether our courage and unity was high or whether we were dispirited and disunited. I would not suggest that the paper be revised to include speculation on such intangibles but I would suggest that they be borne in mind in final evaluation.
I have similar misgivings regarding the limited scope of the recommended course of action. As between the four alternatives mentioned, I agree that the more rapid build-up course is clearly indicated in the political, economic and military fields. I feel however that we will have to go much further if we are going to get the support we need from the American and friendly peoples. In the “Draft Report to the President”, what we seem to be aiming at is a stepped-up “cold war”. I don’t think we can get the response we need from the American people by such an approach. What we have to do is to convince not [Page 221] only their minds but their hearts. What we need to do is to make the “cold war” a “warm war” by infusing into it ideological principles to give it meaning. I realize that this idea is not ignored in these papers; in fact, there are several excellent passages on the subject in the “Study”. The “Draft”, however, is regarded as deficient in this respect and I feel might be revised to advantage.

I would also suggest that in considering the suggested course of action, we should place greater emphasis on friendly countries becoming real partners in building up the free world. Their limitations are obvious but there is also danger of an imaginative limitation on our part in exploring every available step which our friends as well as we might take.

My general thought in making the foregoing observations is that what we are really up against is a conflict of basic concepts of which the present and prospective power threat to our security is a product. Granted that we must, of course, avoid the danger of a shift in the balance of power in favor of the U.S.S.R., it is obvious that at the same time we have a tremendous problem of making sure that our self-confidence, courage and steadfastness are commensurately strong. We must work at that too.

[Here follow comments on specific points in the Draft Report and the Staff Study.]

I should like to say in conclusion that I am in basic agreement with both the papers and that such suggestions as I have ventured to make have been with reference to emphasis and detail. I might add that, although the “Draft” and the “Study” are basically similar, I found the presentation in the “Study” more forceful.