Memorandum by the Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for Intelligence (Armstrong) to the Acting Secretary of State

  • Subject:
  • NIE–100–54: Probable Effects of Increasing Nuclear Capabilities Upon the Policies of US Allies1
The Intelligence Advisory Committee adressed this estimate to the probable effect upon the policies of the principal US allies of a general conviction that the US and the USSR each had acquired nuclear capabilities more than sufficient to cripple the other.
Under such circumstances, the IAC concluded that US allies will:
probably seek to obtain greater influence over US policy, in order to ensure a cautious and non-provocative attitude toward the Communist states;
be even more insistent than at present that every effort be made to limit the scope and area of local conflicts, and be more unwilling than at present to participate in repelling local Communist aggression;
almost certainly support the position of the US in the event of international crisis involving grave danger of general war, as long as they believe that firm maintenance of the alliance will probably avert war.
The IAC found itself unable to estimate the probable courses of action of US allies if an international crisis should develop to the point where general war seemed to them virtually certain and no longer to be averted by firm maintenance of the alliance. The IAC believes that most allied governments, if confronted with certain national destruction as the sole alternative to an accommodation with the USSR, would choose the latter. It believes it unlikely, though possible, that the major allies of the US would become convinced that the alternatives facing them were so limited and so clear-cut as those described.

This estimate will not be released to any other governments.2

W. Park Armstrong, Jr.
  1. Not printed.
  2. A handwritten notation on the source text by Jeffrey C. Kitchen of the Policy Planning Staff reads as follows: “S/S–R: in light para 3 not submitted as against other demands on Acting Secy’s time.” Secretary of State Dulles was in Europe attending the opening sessions of the Geneva Conference of Apr. 26–July 21, 1954; for documentation on that Conference, see volume xvi .