S/SNSC files, lot 66 D 148, “Solarium”

Memorandum for the Record by the Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (Cutler)1

top secret
  • Subject:
  • Solarium Project

1. Upon the President’s direction and as a matter of urgency, the alternatives outlined in the attachment will be explored and presented to the National Security Council. The undertaking may be referred to as “Solarium”.

2. A working committee of The National Security Council, consisting of W. B. Smith, A. W. Dulles, and R. Cutler, will arrange the detailed plans for:

a. A Panel of about 5 qualified persons to draft precise and detailed terms of reference for each Alternative. Attached is a list of proposed names for such Panel. The Panel should meet for a week or so before May 31st, utilizing the Council offices and Staff. T. M. Koons, of the NSC Special Staff, is available to serve as Executive Secretary for this Panel and for the Teams set up under b.

The terms of reference should include directions to seek out all the factors that would go into planning a major campaign: forces needed; costs in manpower, dollars, casualties, world relations; intelligence estimates; time-tables; tactics in every other part of the world while actions were being taken in a specific area; relations with the UN and our Allies; disposition of an area after gaining a victory therein; influencing world opinion; Congressional action required; etc.

b. A separate Task Force of 3–5 qualified persons for each Alternative to be explored and presented. The preparation should be as for a War College project, and might be done at the War College, [Page 324] utilizing also its top personnel and facilities. The National Security Council would furnish whatever authority was necessary for urgent access to any and all material.

Each Task Force would work up its Alternative in the same spirit that an advocate works up a case for court presentation. In presenting an Alternative to the National Security Council, visual presentation (maps, charts, oral discourse) would be maximized. If possible, the Alternatives would be presented on the same or successive days in the White House. Target date for presentation should be as near July 1 as possible.

3. At the NSC Meeting on May 13, 1953, the President should describe “Solarium” in general terms, and enjoin strict confidence. The Council should realize what is under way for their future guidance.

Robert Cutler


Paper Prepared by the Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (Cutler)

Suggestions for Panel Membership

  • Mr. Robert A. Lovett, Chairman
  • Admiral Leslie C. Stevens
  • Mr. Robert Amory, Jr.
  • Mr. Karl R. Bendetsen
  • Mr. Robert R. Bowie
  • Lieutenant General Thomas D. White
  • Professor Max Millikan

Alternates (also possibilities for Teams)

  • Mr. Paul H. Nitze
  • Mr. William Draper
  • Mr. S. Douglas Cornell
  • Mr. J. R. Dean2
  • General John E. Hull
  • Lt. General Charles P. Cabell
  • Colonel George Lincoln
  • Colonel Charles H. Bonesteel III
  • Mr. T. J. Lanphier, Jr.
  • Admiral Richard L. Conolly
  • Professor Raymond Sontag
  • Major General James McCormack
  • Colonel Paul Carroll
  • Mr. Douglas MacArthur II

Alternative A

To continue the general policy, towards the USSR and its bloc, which has been in effect since 1948; as modified by the determination expressed in NSC 149/2 (April 29/53)3 to bring the Federal budget into balance as rapidly as is consistent with continuing our leadership in the free world and barring basic change in the world situation.

This policy contemplates that, consonant with this fiscal determination, the United States will:

maintain over a sustained period armed forces to provide for the security of the United States and to assist in the defense of vital areas of the free world;
continue to assist in building up the strength of the free world;
oppose expansion by the Soviets and Communist China and deter the power of the Soviets and Communist China from aggressive war;
continue to exploit the vulnerabilities of the Soviets and their satellites;
generally avoid risking a general war;—

all with a view to the ultimate retraction and reduction of the Soviet system to a point which no longer constitutes a threat to the security of the United States.

Subject to modification by Part I of NSC 149/2, this policy is the same policy stated in NSC 20/4, and affirmed in NSC 68/2 and NSC 135/3.4 It is defensive; it seeks to contain Soviet power by building positions of indigenous strength throughout the free world; it trusts by such show of strength to deter Soviet power from aggression until the Soviets shall decay from internal weaknesses inherent in despotic government; it relies that time is on the side of the free world—that if we can “last out” the Soviets will deteriorate and fail.

(The Council has directed the Planning Board to restate and reconcile in one paper NSC 20/4, 68/2, 135/3, and 149/2. This work is under way.)

[Page 326]

Alternative B

To determine the areas of the world which the United States will not permit to become Communist, whether by overt or covert aggression, by subversion of indigenous peoples, or otherwise.

To make clear in an appropriate way that the United States has “drawn a line” about such areas and that we would consider the fall to Communism of any country on our side of such line as grounds for the United States to take measures of our own choosing, including offensive war.

This alternative might be worked out on a grand scale or on a lesser scale. In the first case, the fall of a country on our side of the line to Communism would be a casus belli against the USSR. In the second case, the line might be drawn in a region, such as Asia; and the fall of a country on our side of the line to Communism would involve war against Communist China (but not necessarily global war).

Alternative C

To take actions, against the background of Alternative A or Alternative B, which would seek to restore the prestige of the West by winning in one or more areas a success or successes.

The objective of such positive alternative is to produce a climate of victory, disturbing to the Soviets and their satellites and encouraging to the free world.…

. . . . . . .

  1. This memorandum is accompanied by a covering memorandum dated May 11, from Cutler to Acting Secretary of State Walter Bedell Smith, which reads: “I discussed the attached paper at length with the President today and he approved the same for prompt action. Changes made by him in the personnel suggestions (page 3) are included in this draft. I will telephone you later in the day relative to further action by our ‘working committee.’”
  2. A handwritten notation on the source text reads: “? Gen. John R. Deane, Rtd”.
  3. For text, see p. 305.
  4. For text of NSC 20/4, “U.S. Objectives With Respect to the USSR To Counter Soviet Threats to U.S. Security,” Nov. 23, 1948, see Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. i, Part 2, p. 662; NSC 68/2, “U.S. Objectives and Programs for National Security,” Sept. 30, 1950, see ibid., 1950, vol. i, p. 400; NSC 135/3, “Reappraisal of U.S. Objectives and Strategy for National Security,” Sept. 25, 1952, see p. 142.