S/SNSC files, lot 63 D 351, NSC 121 Series

No. 819
Memorandum by the Planning Board of the National Security Council to the National Security Council 2

top secret
NSC 121

Statement of Policy Proposed by the National Security Council on the Position of the United States with Respect to Scandinavia and Finland

Scandinavia is of strategic importance to the defense of Europe and to the security of the United States. It is therefore, in the interest of the United States that the component parts, Norway, Denmark and Sweden, be in the best possible position to resist Soviet pressure or aggression. The actual expression of United States interest in this regard, however, must necessarily differ in its application between Norway and Denmark on the one hand and Sweden on the other, since Norway and Denmark have formally declared [Page 1759] their adherence to the concept of collective defense by joining in the NATO.
With respect to Norway and Denmark, the United States should:
Continue to extend military and economic aid to these countries as appropriate.
Continue through the NATO and bilaterally to develop closer military cooperation with these countries and stimulate their efforts to contribute to their own and to collective defense.

Sweden, on the other hand, while demonstating the firm intention to defend her own national independence and integrity, is attached to the concept of “neutrality.” As a consequence, although the Swedes are traditionally anti-Russian and ideologically anti-communist, Sweden has not joined in the common defense effort represented by NATO. Although on balance, and primarily because of the advantage to the organization of Scandinavian defense, it would be to our interest to have Sweden in NATO, we must for the predictable future accept as a political fact Sweden’s policy of avoiding great power military alliances . . . .

. . . . . . .

With regard to Finland, it is in our interest that she maintain her independence. Although the Finns value highly their independence and are intensely anti-Soviet, this country’s freedom of action in its foreign relations is drastically curtailed by its proximity to Soviet power and by various treaty obligations which Finland has been forced to undertake. The key to U.S. policy is to avoid any steps which would threaten the delicate balance of Finnish-Soviet relations . . . .
United States security interests in the Spitzbergen Archipelago lie in supporting Norway in maintaining her sovereignty over these islands, and in preventing their military use by a hostile power.
  1. This memorandum, designated on the source text as a draft, was based on an earlier paper drafted in the Department of State. In addition to the Statement of Policy presented here, NSC 121 consisted of a cover sheet, a note by Lay to the National Security Council, an 18-page NSC Staff Study, and an Annex in which Section 408 (e) (1) of the Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949 was reproduced. President Truman approved NSC 121 on Jan. 17. Lay’s covering note indicated that the NSC Staff intended the proposed Statement of Policy, if adopted, to supersede NSC 28/1, “the Position of the U.S. With Respect to Scandinavia,” Sept. 3, 1948, and NSC 32/1, “The Situation of the U.S. With Respect to Negotiations with Denmark and Norway,” Nov. 17, 1948. Lay explained further in his note that the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as expressed in NSC 88, “U.S. Courses of Action in the Event the Soviets Attempt To Close the Baltic,” Oct. 17, 1950, were taken into account in the preparation of the proposed Statement of Policy. The conclusions to NSC 28/1 are printed in Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. iii, pp. 232234. NSC 88 is printed ibid., 1950, vol. iv, p. 58. NSC 32/1 is in S/SNSC files, lot 63 D 351, NSC 32 Series.