S/S Files: Lot 63 D 351: NSC 98 Series

Note by the Executive Secretary ( Lay ) to the National Security Council

top secret
NSC 98/1

The Position of the United States With Respect to South Asia

References: A. NSC Action No. 4212

  • B. NSC 98
  • C. Memo for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated January 17, 1951

The enclosed draft statement of policy on the subject, a revision of NSC 98 prepared by the NSC Staff pursuant to NSC Action No. 421, is submitted herewith for consideration by the National Security Council at its meeting on January 24, 1951.3

It is recommended that, if the enclosed statement of policy is adopted, it be forwarded to the President for consideration with the recommendation that he approve it and direct its implementation by all appropriate executive departments and agencies of the U.S. Government under the coordination of the Secretary of State.

James S. Lay, Jr.
[Page 1651]

Draft Statement of Policy Proposed by the National Security Council on South Asia

(India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ceylon and Nepal)

1. The United States objective with respect to South Asia is to improve the security position of the United States. In this connection, India and Pakistan are the key nations of the area.

2. The loss of India to the Communist orbit would mean that for all practical purposes all of Asia will have been lost; this would constitute a serious threat to the security position of the United States. The loss of China, the immediate threat to Indochina and the balance of Southeast Asia, the invasion of Tibet, and the reverses in Korea have greatly increased the significance to the United States of the political strategic manpower and resource potential of the countries of South Asia and made it more important that this potential be marshalled on the side of the United States. India, especially, and Pakistan as well, possess leaders having great prestige throughout the whole of Asia; the future support of these countries diplomatically and in the United Nations is of great importance; India in particular has certain strategic materials of importance to our national defense; all these considerations emphasize the necessity for continuation of free and friendly non-Communist governments in South Asia, especially in India and Pakistan, and of improved stability in the area.

3. Accordingly, the situation in Asia is now so critical that the following inter-related objectives with regard to South Asia should be achieved for the purpose of improving the security position of the United States:

Development of sound enduring friendly relations between the United States and the various countries of the region.
Continuance in power of non-Communist governments in the countries of South Asia and the strengthening of their individual and collective ability and determination to resist communist imperialism in Asia, and their association with the United States and like-minded countries in opposition to communism.
Increased South Asian participation in, responsibility for, and contribution to the solution of problems arising in Asia.
Development of an attitude in South Asia which would assist the United States and its allies to obtain the facilities desired in time of peace or required in the event of war, and which would prevent the USSR from obtaining military support or assistance from these nations, either directly or indirectly.
Access by the United States and friendly countries to the resources and markets of the region and the creation of conditions which would lead the governments of South Asia to deny their resources to the Soviet bloc.

4. Accordingly, the United States, while continuing talks with the [Page 1652] British on the ways and means by which US–UK policies and actions with respect to South Asia can be better coordinated toward achieving mutual objectives, should:

Undertake in the first instance with India and Pakistan and at later stages with other South Asian countries more intimate consultation and encourage those governments to consult more frankly with us.
Support the adherence on the part of South Asian countries to United Nations organizations and give friendly aid to their achieving their rightful place in such organizations.
If a desire for a regional association of non-communist countries arises in South Asia and a basis for its success exists, be sympathetic with the efforts of the leaders and consider to what extent the United States should encourage or associate itself with the movement.
Expand United States information and education programs for South Asia, (giving priority to the program in India and Pakistan) in order to assist in integrating the political, the manpower and the material resources of that area with those of the non-communist world.
While avoiding assumption of responsibility for economic welfare and development, continue to encourage the creation of an atmosphere favorable to economic development in South Asia and to the expansion of trade along multilateral non-discriminatory lines consistent with U.S. security interests, with a view to promoting economic conditions that will contribute to political stability.
Provide economic assistance which will contribute to stability of the area generally, and particularly to the economic progress of India and Pakistan, but for which internal and external public and private investment may not be adequate, having in mind the political urgency of reversing the trend towards economic deterioration and of improving the western orientation of India in particular, and the strategic interest to the United States of greater facilitation on the part of South Asian governments of the transfer to the United States of materials needed for stockpiling or other purposes related to national security.
Provide, as far as practicable in the light of other demands of higher priority, the requirements especially of India and Pakistan and generally of the other South Asian countries for military supplies, equipment and services not available from other sources and required for internal security, legitimate needs for self-defense, or participation in the defense of the area.
Seek to obtain such military rights in South Asia as the U.S. Government may determine to be essential.
Take all possible action consistent with U.S. security interests to prevent the USSR, its European satellites and communist areas in Asia from obtaining through or from South Asian countries supplies of strategic materials and equipment currently being denied them by the United States, placing special emphasis on India.
Continue efforts to improve Indo-Pakistan4 and Afghan-Pakistan relations.5

  1. NSC Action No. 421, taken by the National Security Council at its 80th meeting on January 17, with the President presiding, recorded consideration of NSC 98, a draft paper of January 5 which like the later NSC 98/1 was entitled “The Position of the United States With Respect to South Asia.” Discussed at the meeting were the views and comments of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with respect to NSC 98, as set forth in a memorandum of January 16 to the Secretary of Defense, which in turn had been conveyed to the NSC under cover of a memorandum of January 17 by the Executive Secretary (Lay), neither printed. NSC 98 and the views and comments of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were referred to the NSC Staff for revision in the light of the discussion at the meeting. (S/S Files, Lot 62 D 1, NSC Actions)
  2. NSC 98/1 was adopted by the NSC and the Secretary of the Treasury in NSC Action No. 425, taken at the 81st NSC meeting on January 24, with the President presiding, and was approved by the President on the following day; it was to be implemented by all appropriate executive departments and agencies of the U.S. Government under the coordination of the Secretary of State (S/S Files, Lot 62 D 1, NSC Actions; Lot 66 D 95, NSC Files: Policies of the Government of the United States of American Relating to the National Security, 1951).
  3. For documentation, see pp. 1699 ff.
  4. For documentation, see pp. 1929 ff.