The original looks like an nth-generation photocopy of a mimeograph typewritten original. I'm not sure, but that's what it looks like. It was declassified in 1975 by (or under the authority of) Henry Kissinger, and the original resides in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library. The only things I altered were where the page numbers appear and some comments in brackets about illegibility.
Oh, I must excerpt this gem:
C. War. A "preventive" war -- in the sense of a military attack not provoked by an attack upon us -- is repugnant to Americans on moral grounds
Would that it were still so.
Do what you want with this, but I'd love if you linked back here so I heard comments from people.
Behind the lj-cut are six pages of text.
A Report of April 7, 1950
A REEXAMINATION OF UNITED STATES OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGIC PLANS (NSC 68)
With the defeat of Germany and Japan and the decline of the French and [British (handwritten)] imperial systems during the past decade, international power has gravitated to the Soviet Union and the United States. Since the design of the Kremlin is fundamentally one of world domination, further expansion of the area under its control creates the risk that no coalition could be assembled with sufficient strength to frustrate its purpose.
In view of the probable fission bomb capability of the Soviet Union -- and possible thermo-nuclear development -- the issues raised, therefore, are momentous and will not await extended deliberation.
The capabilities of the USSR are being utilized to almost a maximum extent. The Soviet system can do more with less: it has a lower standard of living, its economy requires less to function and its military machine operates effectively with less elaborate equipment and organization.
Soviet economic strength compares with that of the United States on a basis of roughly one to four, this ratio being reflected not only in gross national production but in the production of such key commodities as ingot steel, primary aluminum, electric power and crude oil. On the basis of present policies, while a large U.S. advantage is likely to remain, the Soviet will steadily reduce the discrepancy between its over-all economic strength and that of the United States.
With respect to military capabilities, the Soviet possesses armed forces far in excess of those necessary to defend its national boundaries. Although these forces are probably not yet considered adequate to initiate a war, their strength, coupled with atomic capability, provides the Soviet with great coercive power. Should a major war occur in 1950, the Soviet Union and its satellites could: (1) overrun Western Europe, with the possible exception of the Iberian and Scandinavian Peninsulas; (2) drive toward the oilfields of the Near and Middle East; (3) launch air attacks against the British Isles and sea attacks against the lines of communication of the Western powers in the Atlantic and Pacific; (4) attack targets with atomic weapons in Alaska, Canada and the United States or, alternatively, deny the United Kingdom as an effective base for Allied forces; and (5) prevent a reentry into the Continent of Europe.
MDAP and ECA, at the present rate of implementation, will have no appreciable effect on the ability of Western Europe to resist Soviet aggression prior to 1952, and will e of no substantial effect even by 1960 unless the scale of U.S. and Allied effort is greatly increased.
Estimates indicate that the Soviet fission bomb stockpile will be 10 to 20 by mid-1950, and approximately 200 by mid-1954. The latter date may be critical for the United States, for by then it is estimated that the Russians could deliver between 75 and 125 atomic bombs on targets in the United States, unless defenses are greatly increased.
If it is assumed that the Soviet will strike a strong surprise blow, and if it is assumed further that its atomic attacks will be met with no more effective defense opposition than the United States and its Allies presently have programmed, results of those attacks (in mid-1954) could include: (1) laying waste to the British Isles and thus depriving the Western powers of their use as a base; (2) destruction of vital centers and communications in Western Europe, thus precluding an effective defense; and (3) devastating attacks on vital centers of the United States and Canada.
There is some evidence that the Soviet is acquiring materials essential to research and development of thermonuclear weapons.
U.S. Intentions and Capabilities
A. Intentions -- *Containment*: The United States favors a policy of attempting to develop a healthy international community while "containing" the Soviet system. The former is illustrated by our efforts to rehabilitate Western Europe. The policy of "containment" seeks by all means short of war to (1) block further Soviet expansion; (2) expose false Soviet pretensions; (3) induce a retraction of control and influence to a degree approximating that exercised in 1939; and (4) cause the Kremlin to conform to accepted international standards. The maintenance of a strong military posture is essential to this policy (1) as an ultimate guarantee of our national security and (2) as an indispensable backdrop to the conduct of this policy. These two aspects have not been adequately implemented; that is, Soviet military strength is mounting while ours is declining relatively. The diplomatic impasse and the bolder Soviet approach contribute to this. Without superior military strength, in being and readily mobilizable, "containment" -- which is in effect a policy of calculated and gradual coercion -- is no more than a policy of bluff.
B. Relative Capabilities -- Political and Economic: The military budget of the United States represents 6 to 7% of its gross national product, as against 13.8% for the Soviet. The Kremlin is now allocating nearly 40% of its gross available resoruces to military purposes (14%) and investments (26%), much of which is in war-supporting industries. It is estimated that in an emergency the Soviets could not increase this proportion to much more than 50%, or by one-fourth. The United States, on the other hand, is allocating only about 22% of its resources to defense (6%), foreign assistance (2%), and investment (14%), little of which is in war-supporting industries. In an emergency, the United States could allocate more than 50% to purposes other than civilian consumption, or 5 to [omitted] times as much as at present.
With a high level of economic activity, the United States could soon attain a gross national product of 3 hundred billion per year. Progress in this direction would permit, and might itself be aided by, a build-up of the economic and military strength of the United States and the free world; furthermore, if a dynamic expansion of economy were achieved, a build-up probably could be accomplished without a decrease in the standard of living.
U.S. foreign economic policy is an instrument peculiarly appropriate to the cold war and uniquely suited to our capabilities. But the question must be asked whether current and projected programs will adequately support this policy in the future -- in terms both of need and urgency. Although neither side can claim any great advantage in the economic field over its relative position a year ago, several conclusions seem to emerge:
(1) The Soviet is devoting not only a greater proportion of its resources to military purposes than is the United States but also a greater absolute quantity;
(2) The Communist success in China, together with the politico-economic situation in the rest of Asia, provides a springboard for further action in this area;
(3) Russia holds positions in Europe which could be used to do great damage to the West European economy;
(4) While Western Europe has achieved a record level of production, it faces the prospect of a rapid tapering off of assistance without the possibility of achieving by its own efforts a satisfactory equilibrium with the dollar area. Likewise, there has been little progress toward "economic integration," this movement not being rapid enough to provide Western Germany with adequate economic opportunities in the West. Also, strengthening of the U.K. position is needed if it is to be a focus of resistance to Communist expansion in Asia. This improvement is also important to the defensive capabilities of Western Europe;
(5) Throughout Asia the stability of the present moderate governments is doubtful;
(6) Of great importance are the indications of a let-down of U.S. efforts under the pressure of the domestic budgetary situation and disillusion resulting from excessively optimistic expectation about the duration and results of our assistance programs;
(7) There are grounds for predicting that the United States and other free nations will, within a few years, experience a serious decline in economic activity unless more positive governmental programs are developed.
In short, the programs now planned will not meet the requirements of the free nations. Potentially we remain stronger than the whole Soviet system, but only a relatively small fraction of our strength is being utilized. This is true of our military, economic, political and scientific strength.
C. Capabilities -- military: Although the United States possesses the greatest military potential of any nation in the world, military weaknesses of the United States and its Allies vis-a-vis the Soviet are: (1) numerical inferiority of forces, (2) shortage of manpower, (3) lack of tenable positions from which to employ forces in the event of war, and (4) too little munitions power in being and readily available.
If war should begin in 1950, the United States and its Allies will have the military capability of conducting defensive operations to provide a reasonable measure of protection to the Western Hemisphere, bases in the western Pacific and essential military lines of communication, and an inadequate measure of protection to vital military bases in the United Kingdom and in the Near and Middle East.
If the potential capability of the United States and its Allies were effectively developed, sufficient forces could be produced probably to deter war, or to withstand initial Soviet attacks and retaliate with greater impact upon the Soviet. From the military standpoint, however, this would require not only the generation of necessary forces but also the development and stockpiling of improved weapons of all types. Any material increase in U.S. and Allied military power will require a period of from two to three years after appropriations are made available. A question which may be of decisive importance in the event of war is whether there will be time to mobilize our human and material resources for a war effort.
The United States at present has an atomic capability sufficient to deliver a serious blow against Soviet war-making capacity. However, such a blow would not -- even if it resulted in the complete destruction of contemplated targets -- cause the Soviet to sue for terms or prevent its forces from occupying Western Europe.
Within the next four years, as stated, the Soviet union will attain the capability of seriously damaging vital centers in the United States, provided it strikes a surprise blow and provided further that it is opposed by no more effective opposition than we now have programmed. The possibility of a decisive initial attack cannot be excluded. To assure the effectiveness of a U.S. retaliatory blow, an increase in the number and power of atomic weapons is necessary, as is increased general air, ground and sea strength. Increased air warning systems, air defenses and vigorous development and implementation of civilian defense programs would also be necessary to provide assurance that the free world could survive a surprise attack of the type which the Soviet Union could deliver by 195[omitted].
Should the USSR develop a thermonuclear weapon ahead of the United States, the risk of intensified pressure or an attack against the United States will be greatly increased. However, not enough is presently known of the potentialities of thermonuclear weapons to warrant a judgment regarding their use in war. In any case, we [ommitted]uld produce and stockpile them in the event they prove feasible and add to our net capability.
Alternative Courses of Action in the Present Crisis
For the aforesaid reasons, and due to the likelihood that no effective system of international control of atomic energy can be agreed upon under present conditions, four possible courses of action are open to the United States: continuation of current policies with current and projected programs for carrying out these policies; isolation; war; and a more rapid build-up of the political, economic and military strength of the free world than under our present course.
A. Continuation of Current Policies with Current and Projected Programs for Carrying Out These Policies
(1) Military Aspects. From the military point of view, the actual and potential capabilities of the United States, given a continuation of current and projected programs, will become less and less effective as a war deterrent. A building up of military capabilities is a pre-condition to the achievement of our objectives and to the protection of the United States against disaster.
(2) Political Aspects. Atomic capabilities of Russia, together with its success in the Far East, have led to an increasing confidence on its part and to an increasing nervousness in Western Europe and elsewhere. Should the belief or suspicion spread that the free nations are not able to prevent Russia from aggression, there would be an increasing temptation for them to seek a position of neutrality. A continuation of present trends will mean that the United States, and especially other free countries, will tend to shift to the defensive, or to follow a dangerous policy of bluff. Such a process is likely to lead, therefore, to a gradual withdrawal under the pressure of the Soviet Union until we, by lack of the necessary decisions and actions, fall back to isolation in the Western Hemisphere. This course would at best result in a brief respite and would be ended either by our capitulation or by a defensive war -- on unfavorable terms from unfavorable positions -- against a Soviet empire comprising all or most of Eurasia.
(3) Economic and Social Aspects. Present foreign economic policies and programs will not produce a solution to the problem of international economic equilibrium.
[illegible three-letter acronym] has been successful in assisting the restoration and expansion of production. However, little progress has been made toward the resumption by Western Europe of a position of influence in world affairs commensurate with its potential strength. Progress will require integrated political, economic and military policies and programs, which are supported by the United States and the Western European countries, and which will require a deeper participation by the United States than has been contemplated.
Point IV and other assistance programs will not adequately supplement, as now projected, the efforts of other important countries. The regimes in India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines, for instance, will probably be unable to retain their popular support unless they are assisted in bringing about a more rapid improvement.
The Executive Branch is now undertaking a study of the U.S. balance of payments problem. This project should have a high priority, but unless it is supplemented by an equally far-sighted and vigorous political and military program, we will not be successful in checking the Kremlin.
B. Isolation. With the United States in an isolated position, we would have to face the probability that the Soviet would dominate most of Eurasia, probably without armed resistance. It would thus acquire a potential superior to our own, and would promptly proceed to develop this potential with the purpose of eliminating our power, which would, even in isolation, remain as a challenge. Isolation would in the end condemn us to capitulate or to fight alone, with drastically limited offensive and retaliatory capabilities. These are the only possibilities, unless we are prepared to risk the future on the hazard that Russia will spontaneously destroy itself from within.
C. War. A "preventive" war -- in the sense of a military attack not provoked by an attack upon us -- is repugnant to Americans on moral grounds. Furthermore, our ability to launch effective offensive operations is limited to attack with atomic weapons. It is estimated that this alone would not force the Kremlin to capitulate, however, and that it would still be able to dominate most or all of Eurasia. This would mean a long struggle during which many free institutions and people would be destroyed and the regenerative capacity of Western Europe crippled. Victory in such a war would have brought us little if at all closer to victory in the fundamental ideological conflict.
D. A Rapid Build-Up of the Political, Economic, and Military Strength of the Free World. A more rapid build-up of the political, economic, and military strength and thereby confidence in the free world than is now contemplated is the only course which is consistent with progress toward achieving our fundamental purpose. The frustration of the Kremlin design requires the free world to develop a successfully functioning political and economic system and a vigorous political offensive against the Soviet union. These, in turn, require an adequate military shield under which they can develop. It is necessary to have the military power to deter, if possible, Soviet expansion, and to defeat, if necessary, aggressive Soviet or Soviet-directed actions of a limited or total character.
The immediate objectives are a renewed initiative in the cold war and a situation to which the Kremlin would find it expedient to accommodate itself, first by relaxing pressures and then by gradual withdrawal. The other free countries must carry their part of the burden of providing the resources for such a build-up, but their ability will depend on U.S. strength and on the adequacy of its foreign political and economic policies.
(1) Military Aspects. As indicated, U.S. military capabilities are strategically more defensive in nature than offensive and are more potential than actual. From an analysis of weapon development, however, it is evident that there is now and will be in the future no absolute defense. Offensive forces are needed to attack the enemy and to keep him off balance.
Two basic requisites which must be met by forces in being or readily available are support of foreign policy and protection against disaster. To meet the second, such forces must be able, at a minimum, to perform the following tasks: (a) to defend the Western Hemisphere and essential Allied areas in order that war-making capabilities can be developed; (b) to provide and protect a mobilization base while offensive forces are being built up; (c) to conduct offensive operations to destroy Soviet capacity, and to keep the enemy off balance until full offensive strength can be brought to bear; (d) to defend and maintain lines of communication and base areas, and (e) to provide essential aid to Allies.
Specifically, it is not necessary to match item for item with the Soviet Union, but rather to provide an adequate defense against air attack on the United States and Canada and defense against air and surface attack on the United Kingdom and Western Europe, Alaska, the Western Pacific, Africa and the Near and Middle East, and along the lines of communication to these areas. And it is mandatory that we enlarge upon our technical superiority.
Thus, it is clear that a substantial and rapid building up of strength in the free world is necessary to support a firm policy intended to check and to roll back the Kremlin's drive for world domination. Unless our combined strength is rapidly increased, our allies will tend to become increasingly reluctant to support a firm foreign policy on our part and increasingly anxious to seek other solutions, even though they are aware that appeasement means defeat.
A program for rapidly building up strength will be costly. Budgetary considerations will need to be subordinated to the stark fact that our survival as a nation may be at stake. A comprehensive program would probably involve:
(a) Development of an adequate political and economic framework for the achievement of our long-range objectives.
(b) Substantial increase in expenditures for military purposes.
(c) Substantial increase in military assistance programs, designed to foster cooperative efforts, which will adequately meet Allied requirements.
(d) Some increase in economic assistance programs and recognition of the need to continue these programs until their purposes have been accomplished.
(e) Action on the problem of the U.S. balance of payments.
(f) Development of programs to build confidence among other peoples, and to wage overt psychological warfare calculated to encourage mass defections from Soviet allegiance.
(g) Affirmative measures by covert means in the fields of economic, political and psychological warfare to foment and support unrest in selected strategic satellite countries.
(h) Development of internal security and civilian defense programs.
(i) Improvement and intensification of intelligence activities.
(j) Reduction of expenditures for purposes other than defense and foreign assistance by the deferment of other programs.
(k) Increased taxes.
Essential as prerequisites to the success of this program would be (a) consultations with Congressional leaders designed to secure non-partisan legislative support, and (b) a presentation to the public of the facts and implications of present international trends.
The threat to the free world involved in the development of Soviet atomic and other capabilities will rise steadily and rather rapidly. Time is short, and the risks of war attendant upon a decision to build up strength will increase the longer we defer it. *
That the President:
Direct the National Security Council, under his continuing direction and with the participation of appropriate departments and agencies, to coordinate and implement the above conclusions on an urgent basis. Representatives of the member departments and agencies, and the JCS or their deputies, should be constituted as a Staff organization under the NSC to develop coordinated programs.
* It is noted that the threat of the Soviet Union to the security of the U.S. is of the same character as that described in NSC 20/4 (approved by the President on November 24, 1948), although the danger is more immediate than then estimated.