S/SNSC files, lot 63 D 351, NSC 162

Report to the National Security Council by the National Security Council Planning Board 1

top secret
NSC 162

Note by the Executive Secretary to the National Security Council on Review of Basic National Security Policy

[Page 490]


NSC Action Nos. 853, 868 and 8862
Memo for NSC from Executive Secretary, subject, “Project Solarium”, dated July 22, 19533
NSC 153/14

The enclosed draft statement of policy on the subject, prepared by the NSC Planning Board with the assistance of representatives of the Department of Justice, the Council of Economic Advisors, the Atomic Energy Commission and the Federal Civil Defense Administration, pursuant to NSC Action No. 868–b, is submitted herewith for consideration by the National Security Council at its meeting on Wednesday, October 7, 1953.

Attention is invited to the divergent views with respect to particular paragraphs in the enclosure, which are presented for resolution by the Council.

It is recommended that the enclosed statement of policy, as adopted by the Council, be submitted to the President with the recommendation that he approve it as a general guide to all appropriate executive departments and agencies, pending the preparation by the NSC Planning Board of more definitive policy recommendations based thereon which would supersede NSC 153/1.

It is requested that special security precautions be observed in the handling of the enclosure and that access to it be very strictly limited on an absolute need-to-know basis.

James S. Lay, Jr.
[Page 491]


Draft Statement of Policy Proposed by the National Security Council

top secret

Review of Basic National Security Policy

general considerations *

The Soviet Threat to the United States

1. The primary threat to the security, free institutions, and fundamental values of the United States is posed by the combination of:

Basic Soviet hostility to the non-communist world, particularly to the United States.
Great Soviet military power.
Soviet control of the international communist apparatus and other means of subversion or division of the free world.

2. a. The authority of the Soviet regime does not appear to have been impaired by the events since Stalin’s death, or to be likely to be appreciably weakened during the next few years. The transfer of power may cause some uncertainty in Soviet and satellite tactics for some time, but will probably not impair the basic economic and military strength of the Soviet bloc. The Soviet rulers can be expected to continue to base their policy on the conviction of irreconcilable hostility between the bloc and the non-communist world. This conviction is the compound product of Marxist belief in their historically determined conflict with, and inevitable triumph over, “world capitalism” led by the United States, of fear for the security [Page 492] of the regime and the USSR, especially in the face of a hostile coalition, of distrust of U.S. aims and intentions, and of long-established reliance on techniques of conspiracy and subversion. Accordingly, the basic Soviet objectives continue to be consolidation and expansion of their own sphere of power and the eventual domination of the non-communist world.

b. Soviet strategy has been flexible and will probably continue so, allowing for retreats and delays as well as advances. The various “peace gestures” so far have cost the Soviets very little in actual concessions and could be merely designed to divide the West by raising false hopes and seeking to make the United States appear unyielding. It is possible, however, that the USSR, for internal and other reasons, may desire a settlement of specific issues or a relaxation of tensions and military preparations for a substantial period. Thus far, there are no convincing signs of readiness to make important concessions to this end.

3. a.5 The capability of the USSR to attack the United States with atomic weapons has been continuously growing and will be materially enhanced by hydrogen weapons. The USSR has [or shortly will have] sufficient bombs and aircraft, using one-way missions, to inflict serious damage on the United States, especially by surprise attack. The USSR soon may have the capability of dealing a crippling blow to our industrial base and our continued ability to prosecute a war. Effective defense could reduce the likelihood and intensity of a hostile attack but not eliminate the possibility of a crippling blow.

b. The USSR now devotes about one-sixth of its gross national product to military outlays and is expected to continue this level. It has and will continue to have large conventional military forces capable of aggression against countries of the free world. Within the next two years, the Soviet bloc is not expected to increase the size of its forces, but will strengthen them with improved equipment and training and the larger atomic stockpile.

c. The Soviet bloc now has the capability of strong defense against air attack on critical targets within the USSR under favorable weather conditions, and is likely to continue to strengthen its all-weather air defenses.

4 a. The recent uprisings in East Germany and the unrest in other European satellites evidence the failure of the Soviets fully to subjugate these peoples or to destroy their desire for freedom; [Page 493] the dependence of these satellite governments on Soviet armed forces; and the relative unreliability of satellite armed forces (especially if popular resistance in the satellites should increase). These events necessarily have placed internal and psychological strains upon the Soviet leadership. Nevertheless, the ability of the USSR to exercise effective control over and to exploit the resources of the European satellites remains intact, so long as it maintains military forces in the area.

b. The detachment of any major European satellite from the Soviet bloc does not now appear feasible except by Soviet acquiescence or by war. Such a detachment would not decisively affect the Soviet military capability either in delivery of weapons of mass destruction or in conventional forces but would be a considerable blow to Soviet prestige and might impair in some degree Soviet conventional military capabilities in Europe.

c. The Chinese Communist regime is firmly in control and is unlikely to be shaken in the foreseeable future by domestic forces or rival regimes, short of the occurrence of a major war. The alliance between the regimes of Communist China and the USSR is based on common ideology and current community of interests. With the death of Stalin and the Korean truce, Communist China may tend more to emphasize its own interests, though limited by its present economic and military dependence on the USSR, and, in the long run, basic differences may strain or break the alliance. At present, however, it appears to be firmly established and adds strategic territory and vast reserves of military manpower to the Soviet bloc.

5. a. The USSR does not seem likely deliberately to launch a general war against the United States during the period covered by current estimates (through mid-1955). The uncertain prospects for Soviet victory in a general war, the change in leadership, satellite unrest, and the U.S. capability to retaliate massively, make such a course improbable. Similarly, an attack on NATO countries or other areas would be almost certain to bring on general war, and in view of U.S. commitments or intentions, would be unlikely. The Soviets will not, however, be deterred by fear of general war from taking the measures they consider necessary to counter Western actions which they view as a serious threat to their security.

b. When both the USSR and the U.S. reach a stage of atomic plenty and ample means of delivery, each will have the probable capacity to inflict critical damage on the other, but is not likely to be able to prevent major atomic retaliations. This could create a stalemate, with both sides reluctant to initiate general warfare; although if the Soviets believed that initial surprise held the prospect of destroying the capacity for retaliation, they might be tempted into attacking.

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c. Although Soviet fear of atomic reaction should still inhibit local aggression, increasing Soviet atomic capability may tend to diminish the deterrent effect of U.S. atomic power against peripheral Soviet aggression. It may also sharpen the reaction of the USSR to what it considers provocative acts of the United States. If either side should miscalculate the strength of the other’s reaction, such local conflicts could grow into general war, even though neither seeks or desires it. To avoid this, it will in general be desirable for the United States to make clear to the USSR the kind of actions which will be almost certain to lead to this result, recognizing, however, that as general war becomes more devastating for both sides the threat to resort to it becomes less available as a sanction against local aggression.

6. The USSR will continue to rely heavily on tactics of division and subversion to weaken the free world alliances and will to resist the Soviet power. Using both the fear of atomic warfare and the hope of peace, such political warfare will seek to exploit differences among members of the free world, neutralist attitudes, and anti-colonial and nationalist sentiments in underdeveloped areas. For these purposes communist parties and other cooperating elements will be used to manipulate opinion and control governments wherever possible. This aspect of the Soviet threat is likely to continue indefinitely and to grow in intensity.

7. Over time, changes in the outlook and policies of the leadership of the USSR may result from such factors as the slackening of revolutionary zeal, the growth of vested managerial and bureaucratic interests, and popular pressures for consumption goods. Such changes, combined with the growing strength of the free world and the failure to break its cohesion, and possible aggravation of weaknesses within the Soviet bloc through U.S. or allied action or otherwise, might induce a willingness to negotiate. The Soviet leadership might find it desirable and even essential to reach agreements acceptable to the United States and its allies, without necessarily abandoning its basic hostility to the non-Soviet world.

Defense Against the Soviet Threat

8. In the face of the Soviet threat, the security of the United States requires:

Development and maintenance of the necessary capability:
To inflict massive retaliatory damage by offensive strategic striking power;
To provide U.S. and allied forces in readiness to move rapidly to counter local aggression by Soviet bloc forces or to hold vital areas and lines of communication in case of general war; and
To provide a mobilization base, and its protection against crippling damage, adequate to insure victory in the event of general war.
Maintenance of a sound, strong and growing economy, capable of supporting through the operation of free institutions such capability over the long pull and of rapidly and effectively changing to full mobilization.
Maintenance of morale and free institutions and the willingness of the U.S. people to support the measures necessary for national security.

9. Within the free world, only the United States can provide and maintain, for a period of years to come, the atomic capability to counterbalance Soviet atomic power. Thus, sufficient atomic weapons and effective means of delivery are indispensable for U.S. security. Moreover, in the face of Soviet atomic power, defense of the continental United States becomes vital to effective security: to protect our striking force, our mobilization base, and our people. Such atomic capability is also a major contribution to the security of our allies, as well as of this country.

10. The United States cannot, however, meet its defense needs, even at exorbitant cost, without the support of allies.

The effective use of U.S. strategic air power against the USSR will require overseas bases on foreign territory for some years to come. Such bases will continue indefinitely to be an important additional element of U.S. strategic air capability and to be essential to the conduct of the military operations on the Eurasian continent in case of general war. The availability of such bases and their use by the United States in case of need will depend, in most cases, on the consent and cooperation of the nations where they are located. Such nations will assume the risks entailed only if convinced that their own security will thereby be best served.
The United States needs to have aligned on its side in the world struggle, in peace and in war, the armed forces and economic resources of the major highly-industrialized non-communist states. Progressive loss to the Soviet bloc of these states would so isolate the United States and alter the world balance as to endanger the capacity of the United States to win in the event of general war or to maintain an adequate defense without undermining its fundamental institutions.
  • U.S. strategy including the use of atomic weapons, therefore, can be successfully carried out only if our essential allies are convinced [Page 496] that it is conceived and will be implemented for the purpose of mutual security and defense against the Soviet threat. U.S. leadership in this regard, however, does not imply the necessity to meet all desires of our allies [particularly in matters where their national interests may be divergent from the basic requirements for the security of the free world.]
  • d.
    Our allies are, in turn, dependent on the United States for their security: (1) they lack that atomic capability which is the major deterrent to Soviet aggression; (2) most lack political and economic stability sufficient to support their military forces. The United States should be able for the foreseeable future to provide military aid, in more limited amounts than heretofore, to our essential allies. It should be possible in the near future, however, generally to eliminate most grant economic aid if coupled with appropriate U.S. economic and trade policies.

    11. a. Under existing treaties or policies, an attack on the NATO countries, Western Germany, Berlin, Japan, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, and the American Republics or on the Republic of Korea, would involve the United States in war with the USSR, or at least with Communist China if the aggression were Chinese alone.

    b. Certain other countries, such as Indochina or Formosa are of such strategic importance to the United States that an attack on them probably would compel the United States to react with military force either locally at the point of attack or generally against the military power of the aggressor. Moreover, the principle of collective security through the United Nations, if it is to continue to survive as a deterrent to continued piecemeal aggression and a promise of an eventual effective world security system, should be upheld even in areas not of vital strategic importance.

    c. The assumption by the United States, as the leader of the free world, of a substantial degree of responsibility for the freedom and security of the free nations is a direct and essential contribution to the maintenance of its own freedom and security.

    12. a.7 The United States should keep open the possibility of settlements with the USSR, compatible with basic U.S. security interests, [Page 497] which would reduce specific sources of conflict,§ or the magnitude of the Soviet threat. [Moreover, to maintain the continued support of its allies, the United States must constantly seek to convince them of its desire to reach such settlements.] But, in seeking to convince our allies that we are anxious to reach acceptable settlements, we must not allow the possibility of such settlements to delay or reduce efforts to develop and maintain adequate free world strength, or to afford breathing-space to the Soviets better to prepare for aggression.

    b. It must be recognized, however, that the prospects for acceptable negotiated settlements are not encouraging. There is no evidence that the Soviet leadership is prepared to modify its basic attitudes and accept any permanent settlement with the United States, although it may be prepared for a modus vivendi on certain issues. Atomic and other major weapons can be controlled only by adequate and enforceable safeguards which would involve some form of international inspection and supervision. Acceptance of such serious restrictions by either side would be extremely difficult under existing conditions of suspicion and distrust. The chances for such disarmament would perhaps be improved by agreements on other conflicts either beforehand or at the same time, or by possible realization by the Soviets, in time, that armament limitation will serve their own interests and security.

    c. The United States should promptly determine what it would accept as an adequate system of armament control which would effectively remove or reduce the Soviet atomic and military threat, and what concession it would be prepared to offer to obtain it.

    Present State of the Coalition

    13. a. The effort of the United States, especially since 1950, to build up the strength, cohesion and common determination of the free world has succeeded in increasing its relative strength and may well have prevented overt military aggression since Korea.

    b. In Western Europe the build-up of military strength and the progress of economic recovery has at least partially remedied a situation of glaring weakness in a vital area. NATO and associated forces are now sufficient to make aggressive action in Europe [Page 498] costly for the USSR and to create a greater feeling of confidence and security among the Western European peoples. But the military strength in Western Europe is not sufficient to carry out its role of preventing a full-scale Soviet attack from overrunning Western Europe. Nor will this goal be fully achieved by continuing present rates of defense spending in Europe and present rates of U.S. military assistance, even with the inclusion of German forces in the presently-planned EDC. It is essential that the Western European states build and maintain maximum feasible defensive strength. The major deterrent to aggression against Western Europe is the manifest determination of the United States to use its atomic capability and massive retaliatory striking power if the area is attacked. However, the presence of U.S. forces in Western Europe makes a contribution other than military to the strength and cohesion of the free world coalition.

    c. In the Far East, military strength of the coalition now rests largely on U.S. military power plus that of France in Indochina, the UK in Malaya and Hong Kong, and the indigenous forces of the Republic of Korea, Vietnam, and Nationalist China. Any material increase will require the revival of the economic and military strength of Japan.

    d. The strength and cohesion of the coalition depends, and will continue to depend, on the continuing strength and will of the United States as its leader, and upon the assumption by each coalition member of a proper share of responsibility.

    14. While the coalition is founded on common interest and remains basically sound, certain factors tend to weaken its cohesion and to slow down the necessary buildup of strength.

    Some of these factors are inherent in the nature of a coalition led by one strong power. The economic and military recovery by our NATO allies from their low point of a few years ago, and the revival of Germany and Japan has given them a greater sense of independence from U.S. guidance and direction. Specific sources of irritation are trade with the Soviet bloc, the level of the defense effort, use of bases and other facilities, and the prospect of the discontinuance of U.S. economic aid without a corresponding change in U.S. trade policies.
    The coalition also suffers from certain other weaknesses and dilemmas. The colonial issue in Asia and Africa, for example, has not only weakened our European allies but has left those areas in a state of ferment which weakens the whole free world. Efforts by the United States to encourage orderly settlements tend to leave both sides dissatisfied and to create friction within the alliance. Age-old issues such as divide France and Germany, or Italy and [Page 499] Yugoslavia, still impede creation of a solid basis of cooperation against the Soviet threat.
    Moreover, allied opinion, especially in Europe, has become less willing to follow U.S. leadership. Many Europeans fear that American policies, particularly in the Far East, may involve Europe in general war, or will indefinitely prolong cold-war tensions. Many consider U.S. attitudes toward the Soviets as too rigid and unyielding and, at the same time, as unstable, holding risks ranging from preventive war and “liberation” to withdrawal into isolation. Many consider that these policies fail to reflect the perspective and confidence expected in the leadership of a great nation, and reflect too great a preoccupation with anti-communism. Important sectors of allied opinion are also concerned over developments within the United States which seem to them inconsistent with our assumed role of leader in the cause of freedom. These attitudes materially impair cooperation with our allies and, if not overcome, could imperil the coalition.
    Fear of what a general war will mean for them is deeply rooted and widespread among our allies. They tend to see the actual danger of Soviet aggression as less imminent than the U.S. does, and some have a fatalistic feeling that if it is coming they will not be able to do much about it. In the NATO countries, many have serious doubts whether the defense requirements can be met without intolerable political and economic strains. Certain of our allies fear the rearmament of Germany and Japan on any large scale, and in Germany and Japan themselves strong currents of opinion oppose it as unnecessary or dangerous. Moreover, in certain countries, particularly France and Italy, grave domestic problems have called into question not only the authority of the governments but also the basic foreign policies and alignments which they have followed. All these factors lead to allied pressure in favor of new major efforts to negotiate with the USSR as the only hope of ending the present tension, fear and frustration. This pressure has increased with recent “peace gestures” of the new Soviet leadership, which has made every endeavor to exploit it. Whether these hopes are illusory or well-founded, they must be taken into consideration by the United States.

    The Uncommitted Areas of the World

    15. Despite the Soviet threat, many nations and societies outside the Soviet bloc, mostly in the under-developed areas, are so unsure of their national interests, or so preoccupied with other pressing problems, that they are presently unwilling to align themselves actively with the United States and its allies. Although largely undeveloped, their vast manpower, their essential raw materials and [Page 500] their potential for growth are such that their absorption within the Soviet system would greatly, perhaps decisively, alter the world balance of power to our detriment. Conversely, their orderly development into more stable and responsible nations, able and willing to participate in defense of the free world, can increasingly add to its strength.

    16. In many of these uncommitted areas, forces of unrest and of resentment against the West are strong. Among their sources are racial feelings, anti-colonialism, rising nationalism, popular demand for rapid social and economic progress, over-population, the breakdown of static social patterns, and, in many cases, the conflict of local religious and social philosophies with those of the West. The task of building firm ties with these nations, counteracting neutralism, and solving their problems is complicated by the general unreliability of their governments and volatility of their political life. Outside economic assistance alone cannot be counted on either to solve their basic problems or to win their cooperation and support. In addition, constructive political and other measures will be required to create a sense of mutuality of interest with the free world and to counter the communist appeals.

    U.S. Ability to Support Security Expenditures

    17.8 The United States must maintain a sound economy based on free private enterprise as a basis both for high defense productivity and for the maintenance of its living standards and free institutions. Not only the world position of the United States but the security of the whole free world is dependent on the avoidance of recession and on the long-term expansion of the U.S. economy. Threats to its stability or growth, therefore, constitute a danger to the security of the United States and of the coalition which it leads. Expenditures for national security, in fact all federal, state and local governmental expenditures, must be carefully scrutinized with a view to measuring their impact on the national economy.

    18. The economy of the country has a potential for long-term economic growth. Over the years an expanding national income can provide the basis for higher standards of living and for a substantial military program. But economic growth is not automatic and requires fiscal and other policies which will foster and not [Page 501] hamper the potential for long-term growth and which will operate to reduce cyclical fluctuations.

    19. Excessive government spending leads to inflationary deficits or to repressive taxation, or to both. Persistent inflation is a barrier to long-term growth because it undermines confidence in the currency, reduces savings, and makes restrictive economic controls necessary. Repressive taxation weakens the incentives for efficiency, effort, and investment on which economic growth depends.

    20. Under normal [peacetime]** boom conditions the Federal Government should have a budget surplus. At present, it has a deficit. [At the same time, tax rates are so high and the structure of the tax system so bad that normal economic incentives for long-term growth are seriously restricted.]††

    21. In spite of the reimposition of tax rates at approximately the peak levels of World War II, expenditures have risen faster than tax receipts, with a resulting deficit of $9.4 billion in fiscal year 1953. Despite anticipated larger receipts, without the imposition of new taxes, and assuming substantially unchanged world conditions, a deficit of $3.8 billion is estimated for fiscal year 1954.

    22. a. Under existing law, tax reductions of $5 billion a year will become effective next January. A proposal to impose substitute taxes therefor would be a reversal of policy.

    b. Additional revenue losses of $3 billion a year are due to occur on April 1, 1954. Congress has not acted on the President’s recommendation that these reductions be rescinded. Even if the $3 billion reduction is rescinded, or offset by revenue from new sources, large deficits would occur in FY 1955 and FY 1956 at present levels of expenditures.

    23. The economic problem is made more difficult by the need to reform the tax system in the interests of long-term economic growth. Inevitably, many of the changes necessary to reduce the barriers to growth will lead to a loss of revenue in the years immediately following their adoption. [Because income tax rates are already repressive, and at the upper levels have reached the point of diminishing returns,]‡‡ any additional revenue would have to be secured by new taxation on a broad base.

    24. The present high level of the Government debt further complicates the financial and economic problems of the country. Substantial [Page 502] additional borrowing could come only from sources which would be inflationary.

    25. There is no precise level or duration of Government expenditures which can be predetermined in advance, at which an economic system will be seriously damaged from inflationary borrowing on the one hand or from destructive taxation on the other. The higher the level of expenditures, the greater is the need for sound policies and the greater are the dangers of miscalculations and mischance. These dangers now are substantial.

    26. The requirements for funds to maintain our national security must thus be considered in the light of these dangers to our economic system, including the danger to industrial productivity necessary to support military programs, arising from excessive levels of total Government spending, taxing and borrowing.

    27. Modifications of the foregoing fiscal policies to promote long-term growth may be necessitated for a limited period: (1) to deal with short-term cyclical problems or (2) to achieve overriding national objectives that justify departure from sound fiscal policies.

    The Situation as to U.S. Manpower

    28. a. The national security programs of the United States rest upon the manpower to operate them, the economy to produce the material for them, and the financial resources to pay for them.

    b. In order to carry on our existing military programs we must utilize substantially all the qualified manpower annually coming of military age. Any considerable increase in the military demand for manpower would have to be met through enlarged compulsion on citizens of maturer age, through increased expenditures for enlistment and reenlistment incentives, and through longer enlistments.

    c. The continuing development of more complicated weapons, machines, and devices used by the military greatly increases the need for military manpower possessed of higher skills, and emphasizes the need for expanded technical training and retention of technically trained personnel.

    d.9 The manpower factors mentioned in b and c above present limitations upon our national capacity to operate our present military programs, or to extend their size or technological requirements, unless we are prepared to move towards further restrictions upon the freedom of individual citizens. Significant moves in that direction would tend to alter the character of the free institutions and values which our security programs are designed to preserve.

    [Page 503]


    29. Support for the necessary security programs, based upon a sound productive system, is ultimately dependent also upon the soundness of the national morale and the political willingness of the country to support a government which it feels is holding the proper balance between the necessary sacrifices and the necessary defense.

    policy conclusions

    Basic Problems of National Security Policy 10

    30. a. To meet the Soviet threat to U.S. security.

    b. In doing so, to avoid seriously weakening the U.S. economy or undermining our fundamental values and institutions.

    [Page 504]

    Nature of the Soviet Threat

    [Page 505]
    §§31. The Soviet threat to United States security has two aspects: a. With increasing atomic power, the Soviets have a mounting capability of inflicting very serious [and possibly crippling]║║ damage on the United States. The USSR will also continue to have large military forces capable of aggressive action against countries of the free world. Present estimates are, however, that the USSR will not deliberately initiate general war during the next several years, although general war might result from miscalculation. ¶¶ 31. a. With increasing atomic power, the Soviets have a mounting capability of inflicting very serious [and possibly crippling]║║ damage on the United States. The USSR will also continue to have large military forces capable of aggressive action against countries of the free world. Present estimates are, however, that the USSR will not deliberately initiate general war during the next several years, although general war might result from miscalculation.
    b. The Soviets will continue to seek to divide and weaken the free world, and to isolate the United States, using cold war tactics and the communist apparatus. Their capacity for political warfare against the United States as well as its allies* will be enhanced by their increased atomic capability. b. The Soviets will continue to seek to divide and weaken the free world, and to isolate the United States, using cold war tactics and the communist apparatus. Their capacity for political warfare against the United States as well as its allies* will be enhanced by their increased atomic capability.
    (The members other than Treasury and Budget consider that the points in para. 32 opposite are adequately covered in para. 39 below.) 32. a. A sound, strong, and growing U.S. economy is necessary to support over the long pull a satisfactory posture of defense in the free world and a U.S. capability rapidly and effectively to change to full mobilization. The United States can dangerously weaken its economy, its capacity for high productivity for defense, its free institutions, and the incentives on which its long-term economic growth depends, either:
    (1) By spending for defense against the Soviet threat, over a sustained period, largely in excess of its annual revenues; or
    (2) By adding substantial new or higher taxes to its high tax rates and bad tax system, over a sustained period, in an attempt to avoid inflationary deficits.
    b. A recession in the level of U.S. economic activity could seriously prejudice the security of the free world.
    c. Our existing military programs utilize substantially all our qualified manpower annually coming of military age and call for increasingly higher technological skills. Significant increases in military manpower might tend to alter the character of the free institutions and values which our security programs are designed to preserve.

    Defense Against Soviet Power and Action

    33. In the face of these threats, the United States must develop and maintain, at the lowest feasible cost, requisite military and nonmilitary strength to deter and, if necessary, to counter Soviet [Page 506] military aggression against the United States or other areas vital to its security.

    The risk of Soviet aggression will be minimized by maintaining adequate offensive retaliatory strength and defensive strength. This must be based on massive atomic capability, including necessary bases; an integrated continental defense system; ready forces of the United States and its allies suitably deployed and adequate to deter or counter local aggression; and an adequate mobilization base; all supported by the determined spirit of the U.S. people.
    Such strength is essential to counter the Soviet divisive tactics and hold together the coalition. If our allies were uncertain about our ability or will to counter Soviet aggression, they would be strongly tempted to adopt a neutralist position, especially in the face of the atomic threat.

    34. In the interest of its own security, the United States must have the support of allies.

    The military striking power necessary to retaliate depends for the foreseeable future on having bases in allied countries. Furthermore, the forces required to counter local aggressions must be supplied largely by our allies and cannot be furnished by the United States.
    The loss of major allies by subversion, divisive tactics, or the growth of neutralist attitudes, would seriously affect the security of the United States.

    35. United States policies must, therefore, be designed to obtain the cooperation of our allies and strengthen the cohesion of the free world.

    • a. Our allies must be genuinely convinced that our strategy is one of collective security. The alliance must be rooted in a strong feeling of a community of interest and firm confidence in the steadiness and wisdom of U.S. leadership.
    • b. Cooperative efforts, including equitable contributions by our allies, will continue to be necessary to build the military, economic and political strength of the coalition and the stability of the free world.
    • c. Constructive U.S. policies, not related solely to anti-communism, are needed to persuade uncommitted countries that their best interests lie in greater cooperation and stronger affiliations within the rest of the free world.
    • d. To enhance the capacity of free world nations for self-support and defense, and to reduce progressively their need for U.S. aid, [Page 507] the United States should assist in stimulating international trade, freer access to markets and raw materials, and the healthy growth of underdeveloped areas. In this connection, it should consider a modification of its tariff and trade policies.
    • [e.11 In subsequent fiscal years the United States should further curtail economic grant aid and loans to other nations of the free world.]§

    36. a. In Western Europe, a position of strength must be based mainly on British, French and German cooperation in the defense of the continent. To achieve a stronger Europe, the United States should support, as long as there is hope of early success, the building of an integrated European Community (including West Germany and if possible a united Germany), linked to the United States through NATO. In Western Europe the United States should press for a strong, united stable Germany, oriented to the free world and militarily capable of overcoming internal subversion and disorder and also of taking a major part in the collective defense of the free world against aggression.

    The United States must continue to assist in creating and maintaining agreed European forces, but should reduce such assistance as rapidly as the United States concludes that the European economies can assume this burden. Progressively lessened military aid should be given to the regional grouping in Western Europe.

    b. In the Far East, strength must be built on existing bilateral and multilateral security arrangements until a more comprehensive regional collective security becomes feasible. The United States should stress assistance in developing Japan as a major element of strength. The United States should maintain the security of the off-shore island chain and continue to develop the defensive capacity of Korea and Southeast Asia in accordance with existing commitments.

    [Page 508]

    c.12 In the Middle East, a strong regional grouping is not now feasible. In order to assure during peace time for the United States and its allies the resources (especially oil) and the strategic positions of the area and their denial to the Soviet bloc, the United States should build on Turkey, Pakistan and, if possible, Iran, and assist in achieving stability in the Middle East by political actions and token military and limited economic and technical assistance to other countries in the area.

    d. In other areas of the free world the United States should furnish token military aid, and limited technical and economic assistance, to other free nations, according to the calculated advantage of such aid to the U.S. world position.

    [Page 509]
    37.13 a. A partial redeployment of U.S. forces from Europe and the Far East might contribute to continental defense, increase mobile reserves, and lead to a better division of defense burdens among the allies. 37. a. As presently deployed in support of our commitments, the armed forces of the United States are overextended, thereby depriving us of mobility and initiative for future military action in defense of the free world.
    b. Under present conditions, however, any major withdrawal of U.S. forces from Europe or the Far East would be interpreted as a diminution of U.S. interest in the defense of these areas and would seriously undermine the strength and cohesion of the coalition. b. Our diplomacy must concentrate upon clarifying to our allies in parts of the world not gripped by war conditions that the best defense of the free world rests upon the mobility of U.S. forces, centrally based; upon our political commitment to strike back hard directly against any aggressor who attacks such allies; and upon such allies’ own indigenous security efforts.
    c. Continued study of our strategic concepts will determine the most effective deployment of our military forces. c. A determine should be made whether, with the understanding of our allies, it would better promote the national security reasonably soon to initiate, and during the next few years to carry out, the redeployment toward the United States of the bulk of our land forces and other forces not required to guard overseas bases. Such redeployment cannot be instituted from the Far East, until an acceptable settlement is there obtained of existing war conditions.

    38. a. In specific situations where a warning appears desirable and feasible as an added deterrent, the United States should make clear to the USSR and Communist China, in general terms or with reference to specific areas as the situation requires, its intention to react with military force against any aggression by Soviet bloc armed forces.

    b.14 The United States should use special weapons whenever they are required by the national security; it should make known this intent at an appropriate time, and secure as far as possible the understanding and approval of this decision by friendly governments and peoples.

    [Page 510] [Page 511]
    Protection of US. Economic System** Defense Against the Threat to the U.S. Economy and Institutions††
    39.15 a. A strong healthy and expanding U.S. economy is essential to the security and stability of the free world. In the interest of both the United States and its allies, it is vital that the support of defense expenditures should not seriously impair the basic soundness of the U.S. economy by undermining incentives or by inflation. 39. a. Barring basic changes in the world situation, the Federal Government should bring its total annual expenditures into balance, or into substantial balance, with its total annual revenues and should maintain over-all credit and fiscal policies designed to assist in stabilizing the economy.
    b. The United States must, however, meet the necessary costs of the policies essential for its security. The actual level of such costs cannot be estimated until further study, but should be kept to the minimum consistent with the carrying out of these policies. b. The form of Federal taxation should be changed to encourage long-term economic growth; but the over-all level of Federal taxation should remain sufficient to achieve a substantially balanced federal budget.
    c. If defense costs do not materially exceed current levels, it is believed that they can be met without serious damage to the free economic system of the United States if they are financed by appropriate tax and fiscal measures. Without minimizing the strong opposition to high taxation, it is believed that the United States public can be expected to support the requisite measures and expenditures if our security needs are fully understood.

    d. [c.]16 Every effort should be made to eliminate waste, duplication, and unnecessary overhead in the Federal Government, and to minimize Federal expenditures for programs that are not essential to the national security.

    e. [d.] The economic potential of private enterprise should be maximized by minimizing governmental controls and regulations, and by encouraging private enterprise to develop natural and technological resources (e.g. nuclear power).

    f. [e.] The United States should seek to maintain a larger and expanding rate of economic activity at relatively stable price levels.


    40. To support the necessarily heavy burdens for national security, the morale of the citizens of the United States must be based both on responsibility and freedom for the individual. The dangers from Soviet subversion and espionage require strong and effective security measures. Eternal vigilance, however, is needed in their exercise to prevent degeneration which might involve the intimidation of free criticism. It is essential that necessary measures of protection should not be so used as to destroy the national unity based on the lasting values of freedom, not on fear.

    [Page 512]

    Reduction of the Soviet Threat 17

    41. While the United States must seek to improve its relative power position and may succeed in doing so, the Soviet threat can be substantially reduced only through settlements which both the United States and the USSR find it in their interest to accept. Obviously, any acceptable settlements must not compromise the basic security of the United States.‡‡ 41. Short of initiating general war, substantial reduction of the Soviet threat over a longer period can be accomplished only by actions designed to bring about a negotiating attitude in the USSR and its resulting accomodation to the security of the United States and that of the free world.§§
    The United States should, therefore, keep open the possibility of negotiating with the USSR and Communist China acceptable and enforceable agreements, whether limited to individual issues now outstanding or involving a general settlement of major issues, including control of armaments.
    The willingness of the Soviet leadership to negotiate acceptable settlements, without necessarily abandoning hostility to the non-Soviet world, may tend to increase over time, [if Soviet stability and influence are reduced and]║║ if the United States and its allies develop and increase their own strength, determination and cohesion, maintain retaliatory power sufficient to insure the destruction of the Soviet system should the USSR resort to general war, and prove that the free world can prosper despite Soviet pressures.
  • To maximize the chances of settlement, the United States and its allies should make clear to the leaders and people of the USSR that they are prepared to accept a settlement recognizing the territorial integrity and internal political and economic organization of the USSR, provided that the USSR foregoes external expansion and domination of other peoples and joins in an effective program of arms limitation under proper safeguards.
  • 42. As a means of reducing Soviet capabilities for extending control and influence in the free world, the United States should:

    Take overt and covert measures to discredit Soviet prestige and ideology as effective instruments of Soviet power, and to reduce the strength of communist parties and other pro-Soviet elements.
    Take all feasible diplomatic, political, economic and covert measures to counter any threat of a party or individuals directly or indirectly responsive to Soviet control to achieve dominant power in a free world country.
    Undertake selective, positive actions to eliminate Soviet-Communist control over any areas of the free world.

    43. a. Measures to impose pressures on the Soviet bloc should be designed primarily to create [should take into account the desirability of creating]¶¶ conditions which will induce the Soviet leadership to be more receptive to acceptable negotiated settlements.

    b. Accordingly, the United States should take feasible political, economic, propaganda and covert measures designed to create and exploit troublesome problems for the USSR, impair Soviet relations with Communist China, complicate control in the satellites, and retard the growth of the military and economic potential of the Soviet bloc.

    [c. The United States should not, however, initiate aggressive actions involving force against Soviet bloc territory. Limited actions within our capabilities would not materially reduce the Soviet [Page 514] threat even if successful. Moreover, they are likely materially to increase the risk of general war, would place serious strains on the coalition, and might well destroy the chances of agreement with the USSR on the more fundamental aspects of the Soviet threat.]*

    44. In the face of the developing Soviet threat, the broad aim of U.S. security policies must be to create, prior to the achievement of mutual atomic plenty, conditions under which the United States and the free world coalition are prepared to meet the Soviet-Communist threat with resolution and to negotiate for its alleviation under proper safeguards. The United States and its allies must always seek to create and sustain the hope and confidence of the free world in the ability of its basic ideas and institutions not merely to oppose the communist threat, but to provide a way of life superior to Communism.

    45. The foregoing conclusions are valid only so long as the United States maintains a retaliatory capability that cannot be neutralized by a surprise Soviet attack. Whenever there is substantial evidence that the USSR is likely to develop the capability to knock out our atomic striking power, the entire policy of the United States toward the USSR will have to be radically re-examined.

    1. Copies to the Secretary of the Treasury; the Attorney General; the Directors of the Bureau of the Budget and Central Intelligence; the Chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisers, the Atomic Energy Commission, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and the Federal Civil Defense Administrator.
    2. For NSC Action No. 853, see footnote 2, p. 396; for NSC Action No. 868, see footnote 6, p. 440. NSC Action No. 886, taken during the course of the 159th meeting of the NSC on Aug. 13, noted that the Council had received an oral report by C.D. Jackson with reference to several proposed specific actions under Project Solarium and that the Council had directed that the Psychological Strategy Board be authorized to assume responsibility for those specific actions. (S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) files, lot 66 D 95, “NSC Records of Action”)
    3. For text, see p. 399.
    4. Dated June 10, p. 378.
    5. Treasury and Budget propose the following as a paragraph of “General Considerations” to be inserted before the section “The Soviet Threat to the United States,” with subsequent paragraphs renumbered accordingly:

      1. The principal threats to the survival of the fundamental values and institutions of the United States are:

      The formidable power and aggressive policy of the communist world led by the USSR; from which may result either (1) a prolonged stalemate, during which each side increases its armaments and reaches atomic plenty, and the balance of relative power positions may radically alter; or (2) a general war possibly initiated by a surprise attack by the USSR upon the United States.
      Either (1) the serious weakening of our economy as a result of spending for defense over a sustained period largely in excess of our revenues, or (2) the change in our way of life through increasing our fiscal and manpower burdens for defense over a sustained period.

      The United States must strike a proper balance between the risks arising from these threats. [Footnote in the source text. An earlier draft of this “General Considerations” portion of NSC 162, dated Sept. 28, is in S/PNSC files, lot 61 D 167, “Solarium”.]

    6. A typewritten notation on the margin of the source text reads: “Paragraph 3a— The phrase in brackets could well be deleted in view of current intelligence estimates.”
    7. Deletion proposed by the ODM Member and the FCDA Observer. [Footnote and brackets in the source text.]
    8. The State Member and the CIA Adviser wish to delete this clause. [Footnote and brackets in the source text.]
    9. A typewritten notation in the margin reads: “Paragraph 12a—Negotiated settlements which would remove specific sources of conflict are clearly desirable if ‘Compatible with basic U.S. security interests’.” Another typewritten notation reads: “Paragraph 12a—The sentence in brackets is correct and consistent with the rest of the paper. It is largely, but not entirely, covered in the next sentence.”
    10. The Defense, Treasury and ODM Members and the JCS Adviser favor deletion of the phrase “specific sources of conflict, or” if it conveys the same meaning as the word “tension”. [Footnote in the source text]
    11. The Defense Member proposes deletion of this sentence. [Footnote and brackets in the source text.]
    12. The term “coalition” refers to those States which are parties to the network of security treaties and regional alliances of which the U.S. is a member (NATO, OAS, ANZUS, Japan, etc.), or are otherwise actively associated in the defense of the free world. [Footnote in the source text.]
    13. A typewritten notation on the source text reads: “Paragraphs 17–27—These paragraphs on the national economy were drafted by Treasury and Budget with the help of the Council of Economic Advisers. The bracketed sentences in paragraphs 20 and 23 contribute to the general impression that the defense effort is about to wreck the economy and destroy our liberties. The revisions are intended to give a fairer picture, in line with paragraph 39 as proposed by the agencies other than Treasury and Budget.”
    14. Proposed by the State, Defense and FOA Members, and the JCS, CIA and OCB Advisers. [Footnote and brackets in the source text.]
    15. The State, FOA and ODM Members and the OCB Adviser propose “At the same time, the rates and structure of the present tax system tend to restrict normal economic incentives for long-term growth.” [Footnote and brackets in the source text.]
    16. The State Member and the CIA Adviser propose deletion. [Footnote and brackets in the source text.]
    17. A typewritten notation on the margin reads: “Paragraph 28d—The final sentence overstates the case already adequately made and might seem to bar additional use of manpower resources for the national security. It is recommended that you propose deletion of this sentence.”
    18. Typewritten notations on the margin at this point read as follows:

      Paragraphs 31 and 32—The main issue here is paragraph 32, as proposed by Treasury and Budget. Their idea is that the statement on the Soviet threat should be matched by one on the internal threat. The threat to the economy, however, is adequately treated in paragraph 39. The inclusion of paragraph 32 is repetitious and distorts the balance of the paper.

      “The two versions of paragraph 31 are the same, except for omission of the introductory sentence in the Treasury version to conform to its insertion of paragraph 32 as part of the Soviet threat.

      Paragraph 31a—The words ‘and possibly crippling’ are justified here and make the sentence consistent with paragraph 3a.

      Paragraph 31b—The main point of the paragraph is the effect of growing Soviet atomic capability on our allies. The phrase in brackets (ODM) obscures this.”

    19. Proposed by Members other than Treasury and Budget. [Footnote in the source text.]
    20. Proposed by the State and ODM Members and the CIA Adviser. [Footnote and brackets in the source text.]
    21. Proposed by the Treasury Member and the Budget Adviser. [Footnote in the source text.]
    22. Proposed by the State and ODM Members and the CIA Adviser. [Footnote and brackets in the source text.]
    23. Proposed by the ODM Member. [Footnote and brackets in the source text.]
    24. Proposed by the ODM Member. [Footnote and brackets in the source text.]
    25. Proposed by the Treasury Member and the Budget Adviser. [Footnote in the source text.]
    26. The ODM Member calls attention to the fact that “continental defense” is not treated in detail in this paper because it has been the subject of a separate and recent NSC Report (NSC 159/4). [Footnote in the source text. For text of NSC 159/4, Sept. 25, see p. 475.]
    27. A typewritten notation on the source text at this point reads: “Paragraphs 35e and 36a—The objection to the proposals of Treasury and Budget is that they require curtailment of aid without reference to the situation in the receiving countries and to economic policies which will serve as a substitute for aid. These points are more adequately covered in the present agreed text of paragraph 35d and the proposed last sentence of 36a (left-hand column).”
    28. Proposed by the Treasury Member and the Budget Adviser. [Footnote and brackets in the source text.]
    29. Proposed by Members other than Treasury and Budget. [Footnote in the source text.]
    30. Proposed by the Treasury Member and the Budget Adviser. [Footnote in the source text.]
    31. A typewritten notation in the margin reads: “Paragraph 36cNEA has proposed a redraft of the second part of the second sentence as follows: ‘… The U.S. should continue to build on Turkey as the strongest security element in the region, and should try to add Pakistan as another element of strength. Between these two cornerstones, it should try to develop stability and further elements of strength wherever conditions make it possible (with special attention to Egypt and Iran) by political actions and limited military, economic and technical assistance.’”
    32. A typewritten notation in the margin at this point reads: “Paragraph 37—.The version on the left was accepted by all members of the Planning Board, including the JCS representative, as being in line with the present policy considerations. The version on the right was put forward by Mr. Cutler, on the basis of Admiral Radford’s report to the President and the Council. The point made in subparagraph b in the left column would make it unwise to proceed now with such specific steps as are proposed in subparagraphs b and c of the right-hand version.” Admiral Radford’s reference report was presumably the same as that made to the NSC at its 160th meeting on Aug. 27; for the memorandum of discussion, see p. 443.
    33. A typewritten notation on the margin at this point reads: “Paragraph 38b— This paragraph, which raises the issue of the use of special weapons, is a particularly important one for the Council to discuss. If adopted, it should be revised to begin ‘In the event of hostilities resulting from aggression …’”.
    34. Proposed by members other than Treasury and Budget. [Footnote in the source text.]
    35. Proposed by the Treasury Member and the Budget Adviser. [Footnote in the source text.]
    36. A typewritten notation in the margin reads: “Paragraph 39—The two versions embody the basic difference between Treasury–Budget position and that of the other agencies. The left-hand version states the need to meet the necessary costs of policies essential for security, and the belief that the American public will support such expenditures if the security needs are fully explained and understood (subparagraphs b and c). The Treasury version (the right-hand column) omits these points and puts its whole emphasis on a balanced budget and the maintenance of credit and fiscal policies, with the implication that these must be the controlling factors.”
    37. Brackets in the remaining paragraphs of Section 39 are in the source text.
    38. Typewritten notations in the source text at this point read:

      Paragraph 41—It is recommended that you support the left-hand version which merely states the proposition that settlements are the only way, short of war, in which the Soviet threat can be substantially reduced, and stipulates that such settlements must not compromise the security of the U.S. The version on the right (Defense, JCS and ODM) implies that we can expect a completely one sided accommodation by the USSR to our views.

      Paragraph 41aFE questions the reference to Communist China.

      Paragraph 41b—The phrase in brackets implies that we can undermine Soviet stability which is inconsistent with other parts of this paper.”

    39. Proposed by the State Member and the CIA Adviser. [Footnote in the source text.]
    40. Proposed by the Defense and ODM Members and the JCS Adviser. [Footnote in the source text.]
    41. Proposed by the Defense and FOA Members and the JCS and OCB Advisers. [Footnote and brackets in the source text.]
    42. Proposed by the Defense, ODM, and FOA Members and the JCS Adviser. [Footnote and brackets in the source text.]
    43. The Defense, ODM and FOA Members, and the JCS Adviser propose deletion of this paragraph. [Footnote and brackets in the source text.]