Chapter 4 – U.S. “Containment” Strategy from Truman to Johnson - 1950 to 1968

- Atomic Armaments (A. Military Evaluation of U.S. and USSR Atomic Capabilities, B. Stockpiling and use of Atomic Weapons, C. International Control of Atomic Energy); IX - Possible Courses of Action (A. The First Course—Continuation of Current Policies, With Current and Currently Projected Programs for Carrying Out these Policies, B. The Second Course—Isolation, C. The Third Course—War, D. The Remaining Course of Action—A Rapid Build-Up of Political, Economic, and Military Strength in the Free World); Conclusions; Recommendations; and Notes.

NSC–68 on the Soviet Threat to Civilization and the Future of Freedom. NSC–68 is available in full in this book’s Internet Document Library. It is “must reading” for students of historical realities too often ignored, and particularly of the Cold War conflict between the humanitarian democratic freedom faiths and societies of modern Western civilization and the repressive totalitarian faiths and regimes like those of Communism. Extensive excerpts follow:

[The Soviet “Fanatic Faith” and Threat to Civilization] The Soviet Union, unlike previous aspirants to hegemony, is animated by a new fanatic faith, antithetical to our own, and seeks to impose its absolute authority over the rest of the world. Conflict has, therefore, become endemic and is waged, on the part of the Soviet Union, by violent or non-violent methods in accordance with the dictates of expediency. . . . The ever-present possibility of annihilation should the conflict enter the phase of total war. . . . Any substantial further extension of the area under the domination of the Kremlin would raise the possibility that no coalition adequate to confront the Kremlin with greater strength could be assembled. It is in this context that this Republic and its citizens in the ascendancy of their strength stand in their deepest peril.

The issues that face us are momentous, involving the fulfillment or destruction not only of this Republic but of civilization itself. . . .

[U.S. Purpose and Three Realities] The fundamental purpose of the United States is laid down in the Preamble to the Constitution, . . . in essence, the fundamental purpose is to assure the integrity and vitality of our free society, which is founded upon the dignity and worth of the individual.

Three realities emerge as a consequence of this purpose: Our determination to maintain the essential elements of individual freedom, as set forth in the Constitution and Bill of Rights; our determination to create conditions under which our free and democratic system can live and prosper; and our determination to fight if necessary to defend our way of life, for which, as in the Declaration of Independence, “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

[The Soviet Design] The fundamental design of those who control the Soviet Union and the international communist movement is to retain and solidify their absolute power, first in the Soviet Union and second in the areas now under their control. In the minds of the Soviet leaders, however, achievement of this design requires the dynamic extension of their authority and the ultimate elimination of any effective opposition to their authority.

The design, therefore, calls for the complete subversion or forcible destruction of the machinery of government and structure of society in the countries of the non-Soviet world and their replacement by an apparatus and structure subservient to and controlled from the Kremlin. To that end, Soviet efforts are now directed toward the domination of the Eurasian land mass. The United States, as the principal center of power in the non-Soviet world and the bulwark of opposition to Soviet expansion, is the principal enemy whose integrity and vitality must be subverted or destroyed by one means or another. . . .

[The Polarization Between Slavery and Freedom] The Kremlin regards the [U.S.] as the only major threat to the achievement of its fundamental design. There is a basic conflict between the idea of slavery under the grim oligarchy of the Kremlin, which has come to a crisis with the polarization of power. . . . The idea of freedom, moreover, is peculiarly and intolerably subversive of the idea of slavery. But the converse is not true. The implacable purpose of the slave state to eliminate the challenge of freedom has placed the two great powers at opposite poles. It is this fact which gives the present polarization of power the quality of crisis.

The free society values the individual as an end in himself, requiring of him only that measure of self discipline and self restraint which make the rights of each individual compatible with the rights of every other individual. . . . [He has] the positive responsibility to make constructive use of his freedom in the building of a just society.

From this idea of freedom with responsibility derives the marvelous diversity, the deep tolerance, the lawfulness of the free society. This is the explanation of the strength of free men. It constitutes the integrity and the vitality of a free and democratic system. The free society attempts to create and maintain an environment in

[Book pg. 73]