No. 609


Draft Report by the NSC Staff Assistants to the NSC Senior Staff1

top secret

[Subject:] Report to the Senior NSC Staff by the NSC Staff Assistants on NSC 88, “United States Courses of Action in the Event the Soviets Attempt to Close the Baltic.”


NSC 88, Note by the Executive Secretary of October 17, 1950, to the NSC enclosing a memorandum on the above subject by the JCS.
Record of Meeting of Senior NSC Staff, October 19, 1950 paragraph 4.
Memorandum for the Senior NSC Staff, January 2, 1951, by the Executive Secretary, enclosing NSC Staff Study on the subject.
Record of Meeting of Senior NSC Staff, January 18, 1951, paragraph 3.

At its meeting on January 18, 1951, the Senior NSC Staff referred the draft report of January 2, 1951, prepared in the Department of State, to the Staff Assistants for revision.

The following report is in response to the Senior NSC Staffs request:

The conclusion is that no national security policy recommendations by the Senior Staff to the Council are required by the problem raised of possible Soviet attempt to close the Baltic.

The problem resolves itself into two phases, for either of which existing national policies provide ample authority for action by the Executive Branch. These two phases are: [Page 1214]

A closed Baltic as a Soviet thesis of international law;
Closure of the Baltic by the Soviets as a deliberate act of war, or of force accompanied by a willing acceptance of the risk of war.

As to the first phase, the present discussion, and that in the Department of State’s report of January 2, indicate that the Baltic will not be closed merely by the publication in a Soviet journal of a Soviet thesis that the Baltic is a closed sea, or by a Soviet pronouncement of such thesis. The political, maritime and economic interests of the Baltic powers other than the USSR have undergone no modification which renders less vigorous the traditional thesis of those powers in support of an open Baltic.

Neither the courses of action set forth in paragraphs of the State Department’s report of January 2, 1951, nor the dispatch of U.S. naval vessels or military aircraft to friendly Baltic countries, to show the flag, require security policy recommendations. Established policies and practices provide the authority for diplomatic approaches to and support of the Baltic countries, for encouragement of the publication of scholarly treatises on the international character of the Baltic, and for clearing of visits of U.S. public vessels and aircraft.

With respect to the second phase, should the USSR resort to force, and Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty were invoked, the United States Government would presumably prepare to put into effect its emergency war plans.

It is, therefore, recommended that no report on the subject to the National Security Council be submitted, and that this project be dropped.

  1. The source text bears no indication of date or authorship. No other papers have been found to confirm that this paper was actually circulated within or accepted by the NSC Senior Staff, the NSC Executive Secretariat, or any other part of the NSC apparatus. The source text was attached to a memorandum of February 2 from Walmsley (S/A) to Bonbright (EUR) and Nitze (S/P) which stated in part that at a meeting of the NSC Staff Assistants (presumably on January 23) the NSC Executive Secretariat suggested that the JCS and Department of State combine on drafting a report on NSC 88.
  2. Regarding the documents under reference here, see footnote 2, Document 600, and the memorandum from Jessup to Perkins, Document 603.