Militarism - Nsc 68




One of the important Cold War documents that rationalized the military buildup to meet the communist challenge was NSC 68, principally authored by Paul H. Nitze, director of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff, sent to the president in April 1950, and referred to the National Security Council for comment. Influenced by the Berlin blockade, the communist victory in China, and the Soviet testing of an atomic weapon, the authors of NSC 68 composed a ringing, frightening call to rearm. Whether the strategies outlined in NSC 68 were proper and prudent for winning the Cold War or were excessive, too expensive, and a misinterpretation of Soviet intent, they are part of the general debate on the Cold War and the extent of militarism in American policy and life.

NSC 68 states that "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." If there is "any substantial further extension of the area under domination of the Kremlin [it] would raise the possibility that no coalition adequate to confront the Kremlin with greater strength could be assembled." The authors described the military power of the Soviet Union and expressed belief that if a major war occurred in 1950 the Soviet Union would be capable of attacking selected targets in the United States with atomic bombs. To meet the Soviet threat the United States must possess superior overall power including military strength to guarantee national security and to conduct a policy of containment. The country should also produce and stockpile thermonuclear weapons. The rapid buildup would be costly but, "Budgetary considerations will need to be subordinated to the stark fact that our very independence as a nation may be at stake."

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