S/PNSC Files: Lot 61 D 167: NSC 58 Series1

Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Webb) to the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (Lay)2

top secret

Subject: First Progress Report on the Implementation of NSC 58/2, “United States Policy Toward the Soviet Satellite States in Eastern Europe”3

The National Security Council policy document on “United States Policy Toward the Soviet Satellite States in Eastern Europe” (NSC 58/2) sets out both long term and short term objectives of US policy in this area. The long term goal is the development of independent non-totalitarian governments in Eastern Europe willing to accommodate themselves to participate in the free world community. There are, however, great obstacles to our making any immediate or spectacular progress toward that goal in view of the presence in those countries of Soviet armed forces as instruments of intimidation and the police power in the hands of the present satellite governments. The NSC paper recommends that the US do what it practically can do to keep alive the anti-Communist sentiment and hope of the non-Communist majorities. This we have continued to do, both before and since NSC 58/2 was approved, by such means as radio broadcasts, official statements in UN bodies and elsewhere, and through exploitation of the human rights issue by diplomatic and other means.

Since action in pursuit of the long term objective is not likely to achieve early results, NSC 58/2 is more particularly directed toward the short term objective of disrupting the Soviet-satellite relationship and in this way weakening the Soviet grip in these countries. This is a difficult problem and one on which tangible results of our measures are not always apparent. It is not easy to judge what success we are having. However, the wave of purges involving Communists as well as non-Communists in these countries indicates that the Soviet leaders may well be worried over the prospects of large-scale “deviationism” and that their local Communist puppets are not at all secure in their position. In the atmosphere of suspicion and fear it may be open to us to widen some of the cracks which are appearing in the structure of Soviet control by psychological, economic and other means. In the brief period since the adoption of NSC 58/2 various studies have been initiated in order to determine which means are best suited for such use.

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As it is stated in NSC 58/2 the methods and tempo must differ among the several countries of the Soviet orbit. Officers of the Department of State with particular responsibility for the affairs of individual countries in this area are presently making detailed studies and recommendations for possible measures directed toward those countries. Meanwhile, the Department has proceeded on a more general basis in implementing for the whole area the recommendations of the document.

The Department of State is preparing a paper based on the policies set forth in NSC 58/2 and addressing itself to the problem of formulating general US information policy objectives with respect to the Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe. This document is being drawn up as a confidential statement for the ultimate use of the Voice of America and other media of US information policy both in the US and abroad. The contemplated guidance will include analysis of the problem along the lines of NSC 58/2 from the point of view of information policy, with particular attention to the relative strengths and weaknesses of both the US and the USSR in relation to public sentiment in the area. The statement will include recommendations for propaganda operations, with particular emphasis on the exploitation of the hostility to Soviet domination and of rifts which have appeared or may appear between Moscow and the local Communists.

In accordance with the directive contained in paragraph 55 of NSC 58/2 there has been initiated at Department of State as a matter of priority an over-all study of the vulnerabilities of the economies of the Satellite States and of economic factors which might be employed to weaken the Soviet-Satellite relationship. Invitations to cooperate in this latter study are going forward to the Departments of Treasury and Commerce, the NSRB and the ECA.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

James E. Webb
  1. Lot 61 D 167 is a serial file of memoranda relating to National Security Council questions for the years 1950–1961, as maintained by the Policy Planning Staff of the Department of State.
  2. This memorandum was circulated to the National Security Council as a Council Progress Report dated February 3.
  3. For the paper under reference here, dated December 8, 1949, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. v, p. 42.