PPS files, lot 64 D 563, “Review of Basic National Policy”

Paper Prepared by the Directing Panel of Project Solarium1

top secret

Project Solarium

i. purpose

1.
The President has approved the creation of a project under the direction of the National Security Council to formulate and present alternative courses of action which the United States might presently or in the future undertake with respect to the Soviet power bloc.
2.
In fulfillment of its portion of the project, the Panel has selected and defined in general terms certain courses of action for study, development and evaluation by Task Forces under terms and conditions set forth below.
3.
Each Task Force will prepare and later present its report to the National Security Council in order to assist the Council in making its recommendation of the best courses of action to be adopted by the United States.

ii. general information and guidance

1. U.S. National Objectives.

The objectives pursued by the United States in its relations with the rest of the world are extremely diverse and highly complex, not readily reduced to simple or systematic form. For examples of general [Page 361]statements of the more important objectives, see NSC 153,2 the President’s speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors on April 16, 1953,3 and the Preamble and Articles I and II of the United Nations Charter.

2. Range of Soviet Policies or Courses of Action.

a.
The capabilities of the Soviet bloc will be assumed to be as set forth in National Intelligence Estimate No. 654 supplemented by such other agreed intelligence and pertinent studies as exist within the Government.
b.
In order to avoid differing estimates by the several Task Forces as to Soviet intentions, each Task Force will analyze the course of action assigned to it with reference to the following alternative Soviet lines of action:
(1)
The Soviets may seek a military decision with the West at any time, based either upon a determination to resort to war as an instrument of policy or upon a miscalculation as to free world intentions and capabilities.
(2)
The Soviets may maintain, at some risk of general war, aggressive pressure, continuously or interspersed with active phases of “Peace Offensives”, to extend their control and weaken the free world coalition.
(3)
The Soviets may accept a defensive posture in order to consolidate the present position of the Soviet bloc and to avoid a risk of general war, relying upon and encouraging the divisive forces within the free world.

The Panel has not entirely excluded the possibility that the Soviets will, for reasons of their own, become bona fide peaceful members of the family of nations, but does not consider such action sufficiently likely to include it in the foregoing Soviet lines of action. The Task Forces, however, may find it desirable at least to consider this possibility in examining and developing the policy assigned to them.

3. Factors Used in Selecting U.S. Courses of Action for Study.

a.
The Panel has recognized that courses of action, other than those recommended below for Task Force examination, are conceptually possible and, indeed, may receive support from one or another quarter. The Panel calls attention, therefore, to certain courses which it has excluded from its directives as being in conflict [Page 362]with the realities of the world situation. Examples of those excluded are:
(1)
A course of action which would rest upon a drastic reduction of our armed strength (in the absence of effective international regulation) and a determination not to fight except in the event of invasion of U.S. territory.
(2)
A course of action which would, as a deliberate choice, rely solely upon the economic and military strength of the United States.
(3)
A course of action which would involve a major change in the structure of international organization (Atlantic Union, World Government, etc.).
(4)
A course of action which would contemplate the launching of a preventive war against the Soviet Union on our own initiative.
b.
The Panel has also recognized that the separate courses of action to be studied by Task Forces may be divided and combined in many variations. It seemed to the Panel that its own task could best be performed if it set clearly distinguishable courses before the Task Forces in such a way as to develop a full examination of the factors involved. After the Task Forces have completed their work on specific alternatives, and the National Security Council has had an opportunity for preliminary consideration, it will probably be necessary to attempt a synthesis of the constructive elements of several alternatives, as a basis for final decision.
c.
The Panel would add the comment that vitally important as it is to develop a unity and consistency of effort behind basic courses of action and to project them into the future, no major policy decision can serve the needs of the United States unless subjected to continuous review and modified to exploit changing circumstances.

iii. specific instructions

1.
Each Task Force will prepare its study as a proposed coordinated policy for the United States, to the extent possible in terms of specific actions or projects. It is important that each Task Force take into account not only the mechanical and material factors involved in its proposed policy but also the psychological, philosophical and ideological intangibles which may effect the cohesion and common purpose with which the nations of the free world face the challenge and threat of Communism.
2.
Each Task Force should consider such of the following questions as are relevant to its proposed courses of action, using its own discretion as to how such questions should be handled in its final report:
a.
What general results are expected to be accomplished by the proposed policy? Over what general time period?
b.
What specific actions (diplomatic, political, military, economic, administrative, or other) should be undertaken by the United States to implement the proposed policy? What is the time phasing of such actions?
c.
What major lines of action now being carried out by the United States should be abandoned in order to act economically and to remain consistent with the proposed policy?
d.
What is the approximate magnitude and rate of expenditure of U.S. resources which would be required to carry out the proposed actions? What is the comparative probability and general magnitude of U.S. casualties involved?
e.
Which features of the proposed policy and actions can be made public, and what elements should remain secret?
f.
To what extent would the proposed policy and lines of action be supported by U.S. public opinion and by the U.S. Congress, assuming vigorous leadership on the part of the principal officers of government? Would the proposed actions require additional major legislation?
g.
What is the estimated effect of the proposed policy and actions upon U.S. relations with (1) the Latin American governments, (2) the NATO governments, (3) other Western European governments, (4) the governments of Japan, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand, (5) countries of the Asian-Arab bloc and others not now allied with the United States? What action can be taken to increase the support of world opinion for the proposed policy and to minimize adverse effects?
h.
Are the proposed actions consistent with the United States commitments under the United Nations Charter, other treaty obligations, and the general rules of international law?
i.
How would the leaders of the Soviet Union be expected to interpret and react to actions by the United States under the proposed policy? Of Red China?
j.
To what degree would the proposed actions reasonably safeguard the security of the United States and of its principal allies regardless of the line of action adopted by the Soviet Union?
k.
To what degree would the proposed actions affect the risk of general war?
l.
Would the proposed actions weaken or strengthen the cohesion of the Iron Curtain coalition? What effect would these actions have on the people of those countries? What steps can be taken to enlist the support of populations behind the Iron Curtain?
m.
In the event action is directed toward an area now behind the Iron Curtain, what disposition is to be made of the area in the event of success? What are the problems created by (1) success, (2) failure?
n.
Are the proposed actions based upon well-established facts as regards our own capabilities and those of the non-Soviet world? What additional studies must be initiated?
o.
Under the proposed policy, which questions would require negotiation with the Soviet Union? What safeguards or sanctions would insure performance by the Soviet Union of resulting agreements? What type of negotiations with the Soviet Union would be precluded by the proposed policy?
p.
In what specific ways would it be possible to confront the Soviet Union with necessary choices between alternatives other than general war, any of which would work to the advantage of the United States and its allies?
3.
Any assumptions made by a Task Force should be clearly stated and promptly coordinated with other Task Forces concerned.
4.
Each Task Force will develop the presentation of the policy assigned to it in the same manner that a responsible advocate works up a case for court. Though the arguments in favor of the policy will be marshalled as effectively as possible, each Task Force is also charged with disclosing the weaknesses inherent in that policy and the countervailing arguments. Consultation between Task Forces and mutual criticism of each others’ work are encouraged.
5.
The essential elements of the policy, courses of action and arguments will be set forth in a paper; the Task Forces will focus their efforts particularly on making an effective oral presentation to the National Security Council, using maps, charts and other visual aids to the maximum extent.

iv. security

The highest security should be maintained concerning the existence of the project and its objective. To this end the Task Forces should operate under a suitable “cover plan”. Special identity passes should be issued to all persons working on the project, and the area in which they work should be under special security guard.

v. alternative policies assigned to task forces

1. Alternative “A”.

a.
The policy of the United States, as elaborated more fully in NSC 153, would be:
(1)
To 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;
(2)
To continue to assist in building up the economic and military strength and cohesion of the free world; and
(3)
Without materially increasing the risk of general war, to continue to exploit the vulnerabilities of the Soviets and their satellites by political, economic and psychological measures.
b.
For purposes of analysis and study by the Task Force, it is assumed that this policy would be interpreted and administered on the following bases:
(1)
Time can be used to the advantage of the free world, if we can build up and maintain the strength of the free world during a period of years, Soviet power will deteriorate or relatively decline [Page 365]to a point which no longer constitutes a threat to the security of the United States and to world peace.
(2)
In seeking to deter and oppose further expansion by the Soviet bloc, the policy would include the utilization of military operations, as necessary and feasible, even at the grave risk of general war. However, an attempt would be made to localize such military operations as far as possible.

v. alternative policies assigned to task forces

2. Alternative “B”.

a.
The policy of the United States would be:
(1)
To complete the line now drawn in the NATO area and the Western Pacific so as to form a continuous line around the Soviet bloc beyond which the U.S. will not permit Soviet or satellite military forces to advance without general war;
(2)
To make clear to the Soviet rulers in an appropriate and unmistakable way that the U.S. has established and is determined to carry out this policy; and
(3)
To reserve freedom of action, in the event of indigenous Communist seizure of power in countries on our side of the line, to take all measures necessary to re-establish a situation compatible with the security interests of the U.S. and its allies.
b.
The Task Force should consider:
(1)
Where the line should be drawn; if it excludes countries now outside the Iron Curtain, the effect of such exclusion upon such countries and U.S. interest therein.
(2)
Whether aggression across the line in particular regions should be met at the outset by general military action against both the Soviet Union and China or only against the one most directly involved.
(3)
The nature of the measures to be taken by the U.S. in various circumstances of indigenous Communist takeover of countries on our side of the line drawn.
(4)
If a line is drawn which excludes countries now outside the Iron Curtain, the attitude and action of the United States, short of armed intervention, toward Communist encroachment upon such countries.
(5)
Whether or not to consult with certain or all of our allies and other free world powers in advance of the adoption of this policy, to ask certain or all of them to associate themselves with it, or to make this policy contingent upon their acceptance.
c.
As a phase of its assignment the Task Force will (1) explore the effects of drawing a line to include only the minimum areas necessary to U.S. security, without consideration of present obligations, sentiment or past association; (2) determine to what extent the flexibility and capabilities of the U.S. would be affected by reducing its commitments and permitting it to act without consulting a large group of allies or associated states; (3) analyze the degree to [Page 366]which Soviet strength would be enhanced or dissipated by specific extensions of its territorial limits or political controls which might result from such a policy.
d.
As an additional phase, the Task Force will explore the effect of a complete isolation or outlawry of the Soviet bloc from the rest of the world. This policy would accept the risk of military conflict between the world community and the “outlaw” bloc, but it would attempt to make as costly as possible the decision of the Soviet bloc not to conform to the minimum standards of conduct essential to peaceful co-existence. The Iron Curtain countries would be sealed off for all political, economic, cultural and other purposes which may be advantageous to them; Iron Curtain countries would not participate in international organizations and could claim no protections or benefits from international law. The policy would envisage, in effect, two worlds.

v. alternative policies assigned to task forces

3. Alternative “C”.

a.
The policy of the United States would be:
(1)
To increase efforts to disturb and weaken the Soviet bloc and to accelerate the consolidation and strengthening of the free world to enable it to assume the greater risks involved; and

. . . . . . .

vi. memorandum on basic issues

The Panel has recognized that, in setting forth the foregoing alternative policies for study, it has not been possible to deal specifically with certain basic issues which cut across all lines of action and upon which a judgment will be needed when final decisions are made.

Some of these issues are outlined in the attached paper5 (Memorandum on Basic Issues). The Panel does not recommend that these questions be referred to a specific Solarium Task Force, although the Memorandum might be furnished each Task Force as a matter of interest. The NSC Working Committee may wish to consider whether some or all of these issues should be examined by other means which would permit more time than is available to Solarium.

  1. The source text contains no information pertaining to the identity of the drafting officer(s) or the time or place of drafting. However, reference to “the Panel” in Part I, paragraph 2 would indicate that the paper was produced by the Directing Panel in accordance with instructions given in Part III, paragraphs 2 and 3 of the memorandum from the President to the Secretary of State, May 20, 1953, p. 353. The title page of the source text, not printed, contains the handwritten notations “Recd 6/9/53” and “Secy Dulles”.
  2. Regarding NSC 153, see the memorandum from Bowie to the Secretary of State, June 8, p. 370. For text of NSC 153/1, June 10, see p. 378.
  3. Regarding the President’s “Chance for Peace” speech, see the editorial note, p. 1144.
  4. NIE–65, “Soviet Bloc Capabilities Through 1957”, June 16, is scheduled for publication in volume VIII.
  5. Not printed.