Memorandum by Robert P. Joyce of the Policy Planning Staff to the Under Secretary of State (Webb)
Subject: Possible Deterrents to a Soviet-satellite attack on Yugoslavia
The strategic and political advantages to the Soviet Union of overrunning Yugoslavia and Greece are entirely clear. In addition, there is probably an emotional factor involved which might influence the Kremlin’s calculations, ie in case of Yugoslavia a desire to eliminate heretic Tito and in the case of Greece a desire to reverse the humiliating failure of the communist effort to take over Greece in 1948 and 1949.
The Kremlin may believe that it might be able to take over Yugoslavia without unleashing a general conflict, perhaps on the basis that Yugoslavia is a Slav state and that an attack against Tito the Communist might be considered as a “family quarrel” within the Soviet world, at least to the extent that there would not be a total reaction on the part of the Western Alliance of which Tito is not a member.
It would appear that the following measures might be considered as deterrents to the Kremlin:
- The NAT group should prepare at once to build up an impressive stockpile of arms and equipment earmarked for Yugoslavia. This stockpile could be concentrated in Trieste, which is only five miles from the Yugoslav land frontier and accessible by sea to the Dalmatian Coast, which the Yugoslavs would hold in case that country should be attacked. Such equipment earmarked for Yugoslavia could be blended in with the stockpile and presently existing American and British ordnance depots in Trieste. It is believed that this could be done secretly in the initial stages. When the stockpile is in existence, it is believed that Tito himself would desire the information to become public that there was such a stockpile in existence and it was available to him in case he should be attacked.
- If it should appear in the spring or summer of 1951 that Yugoslavia was on the point of being invaded, some public statement might be made by the President and by the heads of the Western European Governments to the effect that any aggression in Europe would destroy the fabric of the peace, etc. (In July, 1950, the President made a public statement along these lines applicable to the Korean situation.) It could also be forcefully stated, with particular reference to Yugoslavia, that that country is a member of the United Nations.
- In case an attack against Yugoslavia appears to be imminent, Western naval and air demonstrations in the eastern Mediterranean and in the Adriatic might serve as a most sound deterrent.