70. Editorial Note

Upon becoming Chairman of the Policy Planning Council and Counselor of the Department of State in November 1961, Walt W. Rostow supervised the preparation of a series of drafts, all entitled “Basic National Security Policy.” A draft of February 7, 1962, was circulated within the Department of State only. (Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 69 D 121, BNSP Drafts 1/15/62 and 2/7/62) In a memorandum to Secretary Rusk dated February 14, Rostow described the draft as “more analytical than the somewhat oracular texts of earlier basic national security policy papers” and suggested that it might either be circulated by the President after NSC review as an interim guidance, or that a shorter version might be prepared “in the style of an NSC Record of Action.” Rostow believed, however, “that it would be difficult to eliminate explanatory material without leaving the policy prescription cryptic or open to serious misunderstanding.” (Ibid.)

A version dated February 24 is 193 double-spaced pages long. (Ibid., BNSP Draft 2/24/62) The Secretary and other senior Department officers discussed it during a lengthy meeting at Camp David, Maryland, on March 3. For a partial account of this meeting, see Document 73.

In his memorandum for the record of the White House daily staff meeting on March 6, at which McGeorge Bundy presided, Colonel Ewell wrote in part: “The President has read Mr. Rostow’s draft BNSP. He feels it is quite a good paper, and that everyone should study it thoroughly and give Rostow their comments. Mr. Bundy commented that he felt that the arms control and disarmament were treated with rather a thin brush. He also feels that the first 100 pages are rather superfluous, with the last 100 containing the meat.” (National Defense University, Taylor Papers, Daily Staff Meetings Jan-Apr 62)

With a March 26 memorandum to the President, Rostow enclosed a draft BNSP of 285 double-spaced pages, which he described as “semi-final.” Rostow stated that “this phase represents a good time for you informally to leave your personal mark on it, while, of course, reserving your final position on the issues it may raise.” (Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 69 D 121, BNSP Draft 3/26/62) The Department distributed this draft widely throughout the government and to U.S. missions abroad. Many comments received in response are ibid. See also Documents 7579 and 85.

The March 26 draft, like its two predecessors, opens with an exposition of “Doctrine,” or fundamental objectives, and proceeds to a section on “Strategy,” or means of implementing these objectives. A third section sets forth specific national security planning tasks, while the fourth and last section details a procedure for anticipating crises.

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Part One on “Doctrine” sets forth as the major “constructive goal” of U.S. policy an evolving international “free community,” defined as one in which nations effectively cooperate “in their areas of interdependence,” move forward “in their own ways” toward governments based on “consent and individual freedom,” regularly progress in social justice, settle disputes peaceably, increasingly participate in supernational institutions “which transcend and, to some extent, limit the independent powers of the nation-state,” and “move progressively” toward an international legal order. U.S. military power must remain at the center of this community to deal with “the flexible arsenal of Communist techniques of aggression” and to support “diplomatic efforts to curb anarchic nationalist impulses.” Within this framework of U.S. and allied military power, the United States should work for the attainment of the community objectives listed above.

The five major “dimensions” outlined in Part Two on “Strategy” were military policy, policy in the underdeveloped areas, a “framework of organization,” policy toward Communist states, and the “national [U.S.] base.”

Regarding the scale of U.S. strategic retaliatory forces, the paper states that they should be “sufficiently ready and effective so that Sino-Soviet leaders would expect—without question—the Bloc’s power position to be worsened drastically as a result of a general nuclear war.” They must be “sufficiently invulnerable” so that their survival would not depend on a first strike and controllable enough so that automatic response to perceived threats would not increase the danger of war by miscalculation. In “general war, nuclear weapons will be used from the outset, as determined in advance by the President and subject to his direction and control.” Concerning the first strike problem, the paper weighs many issues and concludes that while the United States should not “lock” itself “into first strike plans and assumptions,” it should not “so preclude the possibility of launching the first nuclear blow as to deny ourselves the deterrent advantage of Soviet uncertainty on this point.” The paper states also that the United States “should not set an absolute requirement that [its] strategic forces be able substantially to destroy all Soviet delivery systems in a first strike.” The paper advocates sufficient civil defense to prevent “unnecessary casualties from fall-out” but cautions against “generating unwarranted expectations as to what such programs can accomplish.”

General purpose forces were to be of increased mobility and capable of containing “non-nuclear aggression short of all-out Soviet or Chinese Communist attack, without using nuclear” weapons. “If a balance must be struck in the training and equipping of these forces as between non-nuclear and nuclear combat, that balance should be struck in favor of non-nuclear combat.” A major effort in anti-guerrilla forces, both U.S. [Page 245] and allied, was necessary and it would “not be sufficient to make counter-guerrilla policy an ancillary objective to be pursued only insofar as it does not interfere with more conventional objectives.” While U.S. objectives should be attained whenever possible without nuclear weapons, enemy use of them or overwhelming enemy advantage in conventional forces might compel their use. In such cases, “the primary purpose of the use of a small number of nuclear weapons would be political, rather than military—to convey a signal of U.S. intent” to widen the war, if necessary.

The United States had an interest in arms control and disarmament for the following reasons: a second-strike deterrent could be maintained at lower levels of delivery capability if Soviet reductions in arms matched those of the United States; growing Soviet nuclear capacity; the growing possibility of an expensive nuclear stalemate; the “statistically real if, on the whole, unlikely” possibility of war by accident; and the possibility of nuclear proliferation. Current arms control objectives should “complement our military policy through promoting a stable military environment.”

In the underdeveloped world, the United States had a military interest in seeing nations not fall under Communist control, an ideological interest in seeing them “evolve in directions” which would “afford a congenial world environment for our own society,” and an economic interest that “the resources and the markets of these areas are available to us and to the other industrialized nations of the free world.” Toward these ends the draft paper advocated such measures as fine-tuning economic and military aid to the needs of particular countries and encouraging the remaining colonial powers to withdraw gracefully. “In general our basic orientation must be to the modern, progressive, and popularly-based groups within the underdeveloped areas; however, we must recognize that the rise to power of such groups will be a slow and uneven process, and that we may, on occasion, have to accommodate ourselves to less desirable situations.”

The “framework of organization” referred to alliance systems, economic organizations, the United Nations, and all other international organizations that would serve to “weave together the countries of the free community, draw closer those of the Communist Bloc, and pave the way for the stronger international organizations” which were “essential to the evolutionary development of the free community.” The “first and highest priority mission” was to “bind the United States into effective partnership with Europe, Canada, and Japan in the major tasks of defense and modernization within the community of free nations.” The paper terms these nations “the northern hard core.” Goals regarding Europe include European political integration without destroying the Atlantic Community or NATO, a corresponding reduction in the U.S.-U.K. “special relationship,” several of the nuclear sharing schemes then [Page 246] under discussion in NATO, opposition to additional national nuclear programs, and encouragement of the United Kingdom to phase out its independent strategic nuclear program in favor of its participation in a multilateral one.

Even though Japan lacked “the domestic political base” to play as great a defense role as the Federal Republic of Germany, the United States should “engage Japanese energies and resources within the free community” so that “this powerful nation, moving forward at an extraordinary rate” would find “a role of dignified world responsibility.” This engagement should take place “in the whole area from Karachi to Seoul,” in Japan’s bilateral relations with the United States, and “in the common enterprises of the north which fall within the work of the OECD.”

Concerning CENTO, SEATO, and ANZUS the paper observes that “the efforts of the United States to pool the military resources of the area and to provide a feeling of security through regional alliances have not worked out too well,” and suggests that the United States, while continuing to support them “for the time being,” should “seek to promote other, more broadly-based, and less defense-oriented regional links,” with military emphasis being on counter-guerrilla operations.

The paper expresses general support for the United Nations but notes that “the UN can and should only play an ancillary role in the major security issues in conflict between East and West.” When necessary, the United States should risk “running against the current moods and habits in the UN Assembly” in support of its commitments.

Regarding Communist regimes, the draft states that there was both a “new assertiveness,” which stemmed from a growing Soviet military power, and “a certain mellowing” of Soviet policy during the post-Stalin period, partly because of realistic Soviet appreciation of the consequences of nuclear war. It was hence necessary to maintain “a constructive as well as a militant track in relations with Communist regimes.” Fragmentation within the Bloc would in time “open increased opportunities to deal with Communist nations constructively in terms of limited areas in which our national interests overlap with theirs.”

In crises, the United States should “try to meet immediate threats in ways which, if possible, reinforce the long-term direction of our policy and minimize the diversionary consequences of our reactions;” for instance, in “the Vietnamese crisis, to increase the degree of mutual involvement and support among non-Communist nations in Asia.” Regarding relaxation of tensions, while the United States should “welcome temporary and partial accommodations or detentes,” it “should not be diverted by them” from its long-term strategy. The long-term purpose of U.S. policy was to “increase the chance of constructive evolution within that society which might eventually move it to participate in the [Page 247] community of free nations.” The “natural forces of fragmentation” in the Bloc made “this long-run hope not wholly illusory.”

With Eastern Europe, the United States should seek to broaden its contacts and therefore “should play ‘liberation’ in low key,” in order to promote “gradual progress” toward an eventual goal of Eastern European countries becoming “members of the free community by a process of peaceful evolution.” Regarding China, the paper called for avoiding provocations, “informal negotiations” on minor subjects, and doing nothing which might have the effect of halting the Sino-Soviet split: “we should not so openly favor Khrushchev’s point of view as to make it difficult for him to justify it within the Communist camp.” The United States “should make clear” that Sino-U.S. relations could be normalized if China modified “its aggressive stance and behavior” and recognized “de facto the existence of an independent Taiwan.” Removal of the Nationalist Government from the offshore islands (without diluting otherwise the U.S. military commitment to it) should be “a high priority objective,” and the United States should promote the emergence on Taiwan of a “political process increasingly based on popular consent.”

In the section on “The Domestic Base,” the paper called for high domestic growth, “not because rapid growth itself has inherent virtue” but because “a flow of increasing resources” would raise the standard of living, permit the United States to deal with its military responsibilities, and provide a context of prosperity which would make a liberal trading system acceptable to Congress.

Part Three of the draft paper treats “national security tasks,” which were “major unsolved problems” identified in the course of drafting Parts One and Two. Twenty-five tasks are listed, such as NATO nuclear strategy, the military role in underdeveloped areas, policy toward the Sino-Soviet split, the future of Japan, and U.S. productivity.

Part Four, “The Anticipation of Crises,” lists 52 potential crises for advance study in the hope of swiftly executing policy if the need arose. Suggested topics include succession crises in the Soviet Union, China, Spain, Portugal, and a number of other countries; “anti-regime” outbreaks in the German Democratic Republic; Soviet intervention in Albania; threatened Communist takeover in Cyprus; military action in the Arab-Israeli conflict; assassination of King Hussein of Jordan; Ghanaian aggression against Togo, Portuguese defeat in Angola; resurgent neutralism in Japan; and a Peronist return to power in Argentina.