S/PNSC files, lot 61 D 167, “Review of Basic Natl Sec Policy, Sept–Dec, 1954”

Memorandum by John C. Campbell of the Policy Planning Staff to the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Bowie)

top secret
  • Subject:
  • Planning Board Meeting on Review of Basic National Security Policy

Last week in the Planning Board we went over the first half of the NSC Staffs compilation of paragraphs on basic national security policy,1 and the Board Assistants have recently gone through the rest of it. I bring the following points to your attention:

In general the document copies textually paragraphs from 162/22 and subsequent papers and is therefore an accurate statement [Page 737] of policy as established by those papers. In some cases the various documents say roughly the same thing in different words, and choices have been made between such versions; in no case does there appear to be an omission of important statements of policy or a distortion through choice of one text over another.
Paragraph 45 of 162/2 has been included as a “basic problem” at the beginning of the paper along with the two classic basic problems enshrined in 162/2. We saw no objection to this; in fact it struck us as a good idea.
Mr. Cutler was not satisfied with paragraph 7, which is a staff redraft of paragraph 13 of 162/2. He apparently wished to see a clear policy statement as to what the U.S. should do in case of attack on various specified countries. He also wished the paragraph brought up-to-date in view of the extension of our commitments through the Manila Treaty. I think we should resist any proposal to put down on paper specifically where we would fight and where we would not in case of attack. I have some recollection that it was in order to avoid doing this that the paragraph in 162/2 was given the form it has and was included among the general considerations, as stating a situation, rather than among the policy conclusions. Moreover very great difficulties are involved in attempting to make definitive lists of countries, indicating those instances where we would ultimately engage in general war, probably would do so, would only engage in limited war, etc., nor would it be possible to make sharp distinctions between our obligations to fight under the various formulas contained in our NATO, Manila and other treaty obligations. Would it not be best, on all counts, to retain the paragraph more or less as it was in 162/2; with certain minor changes for clarification which appear in the attached redraft?
In paragraph 10 the first sentence is taken from paragraph 39 (b) of 162/2. It was agreed that some addition will have to be made in order to take account of the subsequent decision of the President. Mr. Lay’s suggested wording that the President shall determine how nuclear weapons shall be used does not seem adequate. The following is suggested: “The actual decision for such use will be made at the time by the President (Presidential memorandum of January 4, 1954)”.
The last sentence of paragraph 39, taken from 5422/2,3 emphasizes the progressive reduction of economic assistance. This paragraph of the guidelines, so far as I know, was not intended to supplant paragraph 36 (e) of 162/2, which states merely that economic [Page 738] aid should be based on the best interests of the U.S. It would be a good idea to include this thought in the composite paper.
You may wish to take up privately with General Cutler the idea that a general Council discussion of basic policy before the various agencies have submitted their specific proposals would not be useful and that it would be better for the Council merely to take note of the agreed statement of existing policy and request the agencies to submit proposals for its revision.

  1. On Sept. 22 NSC Executive Secretary James S. Lay, Jr., circulated to members of the National Security Council Planning Board a summary statement of existing basic national security policy which represented a compendium of conclusions culled and subsequently weaved together from previous NSC reports. In a covering memorandum of transmittal, Lay noted that the summary statement was being sent to the Planning Board for initial review and when agreement had been reached by the Board an agreed draft statement would then be circulated to the NSC in advance of its Oct. 21 meeting, where Cutler would summarize the principal elements of existing basic national security policy and request Council members to submit changes as they thought necessary to the NSC at the Nov. 18 meeting. A copy of Lay’s memorandum is in S/PNSC files, lot 61 D 167, “Review of Basic Natl Sec Policy, Sept–Dec, 1954”.

    On Oct. 5, Lay circulated to the Planning Board a “revised summary statement of existing basic national security policy, prepared by the Board Assistants in light of Planning Board consideration of the September 22 draft.” The revised summary statement, like its predecessor a compendium of existing policy statements, was scheduled for final review at the Planning Board meeting on Oct. 8. The revised summary statement was the subject of a number of memoranda in early October in anticipation of the Oct. 21 discussion in the National Security Council. The first of these memoranda was that by Campbell to Bowie. A copy of Lay’s memorandum of Oct. 5 transmitting the revised summary statement of existing basic national security policy is in S/PNSC files, lot 61 D 167, “Review of Basic Natl Sec Policy, Sept–Dec, 1954”.

  2. Dated Oct. 30, 1953, p. 577.
  3. Dated Aug. 7, p. 715.