6. National Intelligence Estimate0

NIE 1-61


[Here follow sections entitled “I. Introduction,” “II. The Communist World: A. Soviet Progress and Policy,” and “II. The Communist World: B. Chinese Communist Growth and Aspirations.”]

C. Sino-Soviet Relations and the Future of Communism

The character of Sino-Soviet relations in the years ahead will have a profound effect upon the future of communism and thereby on the world situation. The quarrel with Peiping has put the Soviet leaders in a difficult situation. They cannot condone Chinese contumacy without losing control of the Communist movement. They cannot permit an open break without losing what influence they still possess over the Chinese and without gravely weakening the international Communist movement as a whole. The Soviet leaders would consider an open break calamitous, but we do not believe that they would go so far in trying to avoid it as to surrender to the Chinese position; both the USSRʼs determination to preserve its supremacy in the Communist movement and Soviet national interest in avoiding serious risk of general war would preclude such a course. We also do not believe that the Chinese would submit fully to the Soviet position; their pride, self righteousness, and national aspirations are too heavily committed to permit it.
The issues between the partners are basic, and will probably not be resolved in any clear-cut fashion. The meetings in Moscow in November, 1960, clearly did not produce a complete agreement, or one which is likely to be lasting. The estrangement seems likely to continue, with ups and downs as new issues arise and temporary solutions are developed, and possibly moving toward a looser connection. If the Sino-Soviet relationship does in fact develop in this way, there will probably be a tendency for recurrent stresses and strains to weaken the Communist world posture and to diminish the effectiveness of world communism outside the bloc. In particular, factionalism would be stimulated in the Communist movement, with parties or factions in various countries tending to identify either with the USSR or with Communist China. The two countries [Page 18] would compete with each other for influence in a variety of arenas, from revolutionary movements to world organizations. A further widening of the Sino-Soviet split, if it should occur, would dim the image of the bloc as a great and growing power center and thus reduce the pressure upon peripheral countries to accommodate to the Communists.
The cohesive forces between the USSR and China are strong, and we believe that the two states will not abandon their alliance against the West. The Soviet leaders would be confronted with a most serious dilemma, however, if the Chinese pursued independently such a militant policy as to become engaged in a major war. Caught between a desire to avoid Soviet involvement, with its attendant dangers, and desire to preserve a Communist state, with its attendant opportunity to re-establish Soviet influence in China, the Soviet leaders might tend toward the latter course. Thus a wider Sino-Soviet divergency would not necessarily lead to a less dangerous world.
It is impossible to predict with confidence the course of Communist policy in the decade ahead, particularly in the light of the uncertain future course in Sino-Soviet relations. We believe that the USSR will stick to its present policy of seeking to win victories without incurring serious risks, and of alternating or combining shows of anger and bellicosity with poses of reasonableness and compromise. We say this largely because we believe that the relationship of power between the US and USSR will cause the Soviet leaders to desire to avoid general war, and that within the limits which this desire places on their action there will be constantly shifting ideas of the potential risks and gains involved in the various situations which will arise. A danger exists, of course, that in assessing the risks involved in particular situations or proposed courses of action, the Soviet leaders might overestimate their position while underestimating that of the West. In particular, they might misjudge Western will and determination in the face of Soviet threats or encroachments. Such a political miscalculation could lead to the incurring of serious risks without the intention to do so; it could even lead to general war.
We believe that China will persist in pressing the USSR for a more militant bloc policy. It will continue its hostility to the US, and as it becomes stronger—especially after it acquires a nuclear capability—it might press its objectives much more aggressively than at present. On the other hand, the Chinese have in recent years assessed risks carefully, and despite their bellicose talk they have refrained from actions which involved serious risk of large-scale military operations. Thus, their militancy has been tempered by some degree of prudence, and this tendency toward prudence might in time become somewhat stronger as they become more familiar with the dangers of nuclear war and as they come to recognize the vulnerability of their developing industrial capacity. On the whole, however, we do not expect a general shift in the Chinese domestic [Page 19] or world outlook for some time to come, and Chinese militancy will continue to create a serious danger of local or general hostilities in the Far East, and even of general war.
Over the next decade at least, there appears to be a greater likelihood of flexibility in Soviet than in Chinese policy. The Soviet leadershipʼs desire to prevent a general war, the wider range of Soviet contacts with the outside world, the continuing pressure at home for liberalization, and the growing capacity of the USSR to provide its citizens with a more comfortable life—these factors taken together may tend toward moderation in foreign policy and toward a recognition of some areas of common interest with the West. It is even possible that the Soviet leaders will come to feel that the USSR has little in common with China except an ideology which the Chinese interpret in their own way, and that by 1970 Communist China, with nuclear weapons and a population of almost 900 million, will be a dangerous neighbor and associate.

>III. The Emerging Areas

A. The Political and Social Milieu

It is one of the key points in the Soviet estimate of the world situation that conditions are favorable for Communist gains in the colonial and ex-colonial areas of the world; there is much to support this Soviet view. The nationalist revolutions in such areas as Africa and the Arab states have been directed largely toward revamping political and social systems in order to modernize societies and to achieve a place in the sun. The Communist revolutions in Russia and China arose from broadly comparable aspirations. Indeed, the system in these countries is widely admired in the newer nations of the world because it has been demonstrably effective in achieving rapid modernization, while the West is associated in their minds with the colonialism which they blame for most of their problems and miseries, both real and fancied.
Many of these countries in emerging areas—especially in Africa and the Middle East—are in the charge of revolutionary-minded leaders; in others of them such leaders are making a bid for power. These leaders are members of an intelligentsia who have frequently had an education along Western lines, some of it in military schools, and who have become aware through travel and education—or through observation of the mode of life of Westerners in their midst—of the backwardness of their countries and the poverty of their people. Out of a sense of obligation, frustration, and impatience, they have adopted a revolutionary attitude or taken revolutionary action against the old order—whether it was colonial or indigenous. Despite the Western nature of their youthful training, they tend to be resentful of Western influence and critical of Western methods. They therefore are tempted by communism insofar as it is anti-Western and an effective method of bringing about rapid change.
Nevertheless, the revolutionary intelligentsia are generally chary of embracing communism. Some of them have accepted Communist advisers, economic aid, and diplomatic support, and some have even sided with the Communists against the West. But, for the most part they do not wish to accept all that now goes with the Communist ideology—the goal of a classless society, wholesale social reorganization, Soviet interference in or dictation of domestic policy, complete identification with the Soviet Bloc in international politics, and exclusion from Western economic aid and technical assistance. Moreover, many of them have become aware of their own nationʼs history—in some cases a distinguished history—and they see themselves as national figures capable of resurrecting some features of that past and binding them into the new fabric being created. Thus, they see themselves, not as capitalists, Communists, or exponents of any other borrowed ideology, but as nationalists carving out their own destinies and selecting from the past and from other societies the elements with which to fashion new states and new societies of their own.
There are, of course, wide variations within the emerging world, not only as among major areas—Latin America is quite different from Africa—but even within major areas. There are wide diversities of all kinds in social structure, degree of advancement, extent of revolutionary feeling, degree of pressure upon available resources, extent of implantation of Western institutions, and cultural backgrounds. Whereas Latin America is Christian, is predominantly Western in language and culture, and has a long history of independence, Africa is a melange of languages, religions, and cultures, and is only now emerging from foreign domination. Even within a continent such as Latin America, there are societies which have passed through a major social revolution and others which still possess small social elites and a large mass of illiterate and poverty-stricken peasants and tribes.
There is, however, a large common denominator in the underdeveloped world. This is the political and social instability which is either manifest or dormant and which arises from the rapidity with which knowledge is growing and from the revolutionary manner in which large numbers of people are reacting to the changes in the world around them. Nearly all the nations of the underdeveloped world—whether in Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Africa, or Latin America—are beset by problems springing from population growth, lack of development capital, rising popular expectations, internal political strife and competing ideological pressures, lack of political prowess and administrative and technical competence, and an inadequate sense of national identity. While some states, especially those barely emerging from tribalism, as in Africa, suffer more intensely than others from these assorted ills, even states such as India and the more advanced Latin American [Page 21] countries confront several of them to a most serious degree. Many states have adopted strongly socialist methods; some have held to constitutional methods of government with only the greatest difficulty; some have thrown out bloody dictators only to acquire equally distasteful successors; some have taken halting and others more dramatic steps toward the establishment of democratic governments.
In states confronted by these enormous problems, the tendency toward some blend of authoritarianism and socialism seems likely to continue. Revolutionary leaders attempting to deal with backwardness, tribalism, feudalism, corruption, economic pressures, and ineptitude often have no alternative but to stifle political opposition. Western states which set store by economic individualism and political freedom will probably be increasingly shocked by methods which will be adopted, but in the eyes of local leaders Western standards of political and economic conduct are likely to be irrelevant to the problem. Revolutionary leaders are likely to expect the West to judge them more by what they are trying to do than by the manner in which they are doing it. If the West does not understand and help them, they will tend to rely more and more heavily upon the Communists, until a point is reached when they can no longer extricate themselves from the Communist embrace.
Of all the problems confronting these nations that of the relation between population and economic growth may be the most difficult. Indeed, population growth is a grave world problem, with present rates making for a doubling of the worldʼs population every 35-50 years. In 1930 the world population was two billion; today it is three billion; in twenty years it will probably be four billion; in forty years it may be six or seven billion. Growth is most rapid in the underdeveloped areas, where nearly everywhere it exceeds two percent a year. Ten years ago almost no nation had a population growth rate of three percent; now such rates are not uncommon and there is no reasonable prospect that they can be significantly reduced in the next decade, whatever means might be tried. These increases impede capital formation in the areas where it is needed most, since increases in production simply go to keep alive the larger numbers of unproductive old people and children. In some cases total GNP grows while per capita GNP falls. Standards of living are declining in some countries at precisely the time when the revolutionary leaders now in charge must begin to meet the expectations which have arisen in their own and in their fellow countrymenʼs minds.
The problem of maintaining standards of living and even that of satisfying to a degree rising economic expectations probably can be met with substantial infusions of outside aid and with the execution of national development programs. However, even if these countries received outside aid in massive quantities, they would still confront the grave political and social problems of backward and uprooted societies. Indeed, [Page 22] these problems will inhibit both the receipt and proper use of needed economic assistance. The present revolutionary leaders must surmount this great complex of problems if they are to sustain the nationalist character of their revolutions; if they fail, they may be replaced by Communist leaders ready to use Draconian methods and determined to impose permanent totalitarian institutions.

B. International Outlook

If, as we suggest above, the emerging countries will be preoccupied with their own problems, their attitudes toward the outside world will be determined largely by the way in which they feel the outside world impinges upon these problems. These countries and their leaders will not be concerned so much with ideological, moral, and cultural considerations as they will with manipulating outside influences in order to protect themselves or to advance their particular interests. The two great powers are likely to be viewed largely in terms of the threat or succor which they will afford.
Some of the emerging states have clearly aligned themselves with one or another of the two great powers. Many of these are states on the periphery of the Sino-Soviet Bloc—Iran, Pakistan Thailand, South Vietnam, and South Korea—and their leaders have aligned themselves with the US in order to obtain that military and economic assistance which they hoped would enable them to keep any domestic enemies at bay and to stand up against pressures from their powerful neighbors. Cuba alleges similar reasons for aligning itself with the USSR.
In general, however, those who thought they could safely do so have chosen neutralism, and indeed some of them have made quite a profitable thing of it. In their desire to achieve and maintain national independence they have sought to avoid commitment to either side, and they have recognized the value to both sides of their not falling under the domination of the other. This has permitted some of them successfully to seek economic assistance from both and some others to seek assistance from one side by suggesting that they might appeal to the other. Nevertheless, many of these countries, in the course of their colonial or semicolonial history, have been subjected to Western influences and institutions and have therefore come to feel that “neutralism” requires a pronounced reaction away from these influences and some closer relationship with the Sino-Soviet Bloc.
This trend has been accelerated by increased Soviet willingness to compete with the West in providing economic assistance and diplomatic support. Bloc economic assistance overall is still considerably less than the US equivalent, but the USSR in particular can substantially enlarge its program. Moreover, the USSR has some advantages over the US in carrying out aid programs; it can move more quickly and without regard to a variety of politically-imposed restrictions which characterize [Page 23] US activities. On the other hand, as Soviet aid becomes more commonplace and taken for granted, the USSR is beginning to encounter some of the criticisms and problems which the US has faced in its foreign aid programs.
We believe that if the present trend toward neutralism is not reversed, it will become so strong that it will draw away from the West some of those nations now associated with it. This might come about through revolutions in some of these countries—for example Iran or South Vietnam—with seizure of power by nationalist-neutralist forces; it could occur because existing regimes might decide to seek the supposed benefits and safety of neutrality; it could come about because these nations might decide that the US was becoming inferior to the Sino-Soviet Bloc in military power and therefore would no longer be willing or able to support them.
The neutralist posture of these countries seems to us likely to produce in the decade ahead some most serious policy problems for the US. Aside from the probability of withdrawal from Western association and attempts to balance Western with Soviet or Chinese influence, there will be continual pressures for economic aid and political support, for denunciations of colonialism, for concessions on disarmament, and for further Western retreat from positions of predominance or influence. The US position in the UN will probably become increasingly difficult, particularly since many of these countries—including such influential members as India and the UAR—now appear to believe that the UN machinery has been used by the major Western powers and especially by the US as an instrument of national, and hence in their view “imperialist,” policy. For this reason, the idea of revising the UN charter and proposals to bring in Communist China have received widespread sympathy among the emerging nations. Their numbers are now so great that when their views become more crystallized—as now seems unavoidable—the hitherto predominant Western influence in the UN will be greatly reduced.
It is obvious that neutralism as a principle is fundamentally incompatible with the Soviet objective of a Communist world. Nevertheless, neutralism may often provide Communists with opportunities for penetration and subversion. Particularly in the areas of the new states, the Communists will seize upon rivalries among nations and tribes, upon the need for economic and technical aid, and upon the naivete and weaknesses of inexperienced leaders. Hence the problem for neutralist states is to keep out of Communist clutches. Nevertheless, insofar as the new and underdeveloped nations can overcome their problems, they may take on a strength and stature which will enable them to maintain their neutrality against Communist pressures.
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[Here follow sections entitled “IV. Problems of Western Alliances” and “V. The Military Problem.” The latter is printed in Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, volume VIII, pages 310.]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, O/DDI Registry: Job 79-R01012A. Secret. The Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, Army, Navy, Air Force, and Joint Staff participated in the preparation of the estimate, which was submitted by the Director of Central Intelligence and concurred in by all the members of the USIB, except the Atomic Energy Commission representative and the Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who abstained because the subject was outside their jurisdiction.