4. Memorandum From the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Bowie) to the Secretary of State1


  • Basic National Security Policy

As the Council has already considered the basic issues of NSC 5440/12 at two meetings in November and December,3 the discussion on Wednesday4 probably will be devoted largely to clearing up remaining points of disagreement in the paper and giving it final approval.


Many of the unagreed points are changes proposed by the JCS by their memorandum of December 17.5 The latest JCS memorandum of December 30,6 however, states that even these proposed revisions [Page 7] would not meet their basic objections, which apply to the present draft (NSC 5440/1) as well as to its predecessor (NSC 5440).

The new JCS memorandum also notes that no “cognizance” has been taken of the JCS recommendation, first made on November 12, that an ad hoc or existing agency of the NSC be charged with formulating a statement of the methods of implementing para. 45 of NSC 162/2.7 This is the paragraph which states: “…8 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.”

Although the JCS remain dissatisfied with the national strategy outlined in NSC 5440/1 they have yet to state what strategy they would propose instead. You raised these questions at the meeting of December 21, but General Twining did not amplify the JCS position.


As Section A is in the nature of an intelligence estimate, General Cutler will suggest leaving it as it is, without an attempt to have the Council resolve the splits in it. In case any member should wish to have one or more of these points discussed, however, the following brief comments may be helpful:

Page 1, preliminary para. This statement, based on the intelligence estimate which follows, should be retained.

Page 2, para. 6. The version in the main text makes the point necessary to the argument. This is not the place for discussing the composition of the forces necessary to provide the deterrent to aggression.

Page 5, para. 14. The addition proposed by the JCS unnecessarily singles out one of many aspects and would clutter up the clear-cut listing of Soviet objectives.

Pages 6–7, para. 17. The discussion of current Soviet policy is balanced and cautious. While pointing out the advantages to the U.S.S.R. of the “peace offensive” and the possible motives behind it, the text also stresses the flexibility of Soviet policy.

Pages 7–8, para. 20. The difference between the two versions is largely one of emphasis. While the point necessarily involves speculation, the version in the footnote seems preferable in that it gives more [Page 8] emphasis to (a) the importance in Soviet calculations of the attitudes of our allies, and (b) continuing Soviet caution in pursuing aggressive policies that might lead to nuclear war.


The following are the principal unagreed points in the policy sections of the paper which the Council will be asked to resolve:

Page 9, para. 21. Recommend: deletion of the bracketed words. The phrase “fundamental values and institutions” includes our free enterprise economic system. Inclusion of the reference to the economy proposed by Treasury would set an absolute limit on the basic objective of preserving national security. The point is covered adequately in the statement of basic problem (para. 23).

Page 9, para. 25. Recommend: retention of bracketed phrase. “Other basic Communist military strength” refers principally to the Chinese Communist armies and to the total satellite addition to the power of the Communist bloc. If the estimate is correct (paras. 7, 8, 14b, 15, 16), it is hard to see how this power can be significantly reduced without large-scale war.

Page 10, para 26(c). Recommend: retention of the present text. The JCS footnote raises their basic objection to the paper and reverts to the proposals made in paragraphs 3 and 4 of their memorandum of December 17.

FE also has some comments on this paragraph and is submitting a separate memorandum to you on it.

Page 10, para. 27. Recommend: deletion of the bracketed sentence, which is harmless but unnecessary.

Page 11, para 32. Recommend: deletion of the proposed JCS addition, which is redundant and confusing.

Page 12, para. 35. Recommend: retention of the sentences in brackets. They are of great importance in that they point to the need, and the reasons, for avoiding actions generally regarded as provocative. It is not enough merely to reject preventive war or acts “intended to provoke war.”

Page 15, para. 42. Recommend: deletion of the bracketed sentence. It is unacceptable for a long-term policy paper in that it sets an absolute limitation and allows no flexibility. If it is considered advisable to include reference to the desirability of reducing foreign economic aid, the present sentence could be accepted with the additional words: “so far as is consistent with U.S. security objectives,” which appear in the corresponding sentence of NSC 5422/2 (para. 23).9

[Page 9]

Page 16, para. 48. There is no disagreement on this paragraph. However, the present wording may be somewhat misleading, since the paragraph really refers to negotiation rather than to the entire political strategy. Recommend: that you propose revising the opening clause, for clarification, as follows: “In using negotiation as a means of carrying out this strategy with respect to Communist China …”.

  1. Source: Department of State,S/SNSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5440/1. Top Secret.
  2. NSC 5440/1 is not printed. (Ibid.,NSC 5440 Series) NSC 5440 is printed in Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. II, Part 1, p. 806.
  3. For texts of the memoranda of discussion, see ibid., pp. 787 and 832.
  4. See infra.
  5. For text, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. II, Part 1, p. 828.
  6. Transmitted under cover of a January 3 memorandum from Lay to the National Security Council, the JCS memorandum of December 30 stated: “Although minor revisions have been effected and certain of the general comments of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are referred to in footnotes, it is considered that the basic policy as outlined in the original version of NSC 5440 has not been significantly altered in its revision.” As a result, the comments expressed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in their December 17 memorandum, inasmuch as they were addressed to the general orientation of basic national security policy and set forth the factors that they believed should control its formulation, “remain valid and are generally applicable to the draft policy as revised.” (Department of State, S/SNSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5440/1).
  7. For text of NSC 162/2, dated October 30, 1953, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. II, Part 1, p. 577.
  8. All ellipses in this document are in the source text.
  9. “Guidelines Under NSC 162/2 for FY 1956,” August 7, 1954; for text, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. II, Part 1, p. 715.