September 11, 2015
US National Security Council, August 18, 1948
Records of the National Security Council at the Modern Military Records Branch, National Archives, Washington. D.C.
(Scroll down to part 4 for Ukraine. End of Section 3 shares plans of suppression towards a post-communist Russia. A lot of attention is paid to appearances, so please try to read between the lines! It is long, but essential reading – Kristina Rus)
It is plain that Russia, both as a force in its own right and as a center for the world communist movement, has become for the time being the outstanding problem of U.S. foreign policy, and that there is deep dissatisfaction and concern in this country over the aims and methods of the Soviet leaders. The policies of this Government are therefore determined in considerable measure by our desire to modify Soviet policies and to alter the international situation to which they have already led.
However, there has yet been no clear formulation of basic U.S. objectives with respect to Russia. And it is particularly important, in view of the preoccupation of this Government with Russian affairs, that such objectives be formulated and accepted for working purposes by all branches of our Government dealing with the problems of Russia and communism. Otherwise, there is a possibility of serious dissipation of the national effort on a problem of outstanding international importance.
II. Background Considerations
There are two concepts of the relationship of national objectives to the factors of war and peace.
The first holds that national objectives be constant and should not be affected by changes in the country’s situation as between war and peace; that they should be pursued constantly by means short of war or by war-like means, as the case may be. This concept was best expressed by Clausewitz, who wrote that, “War is a continuation of policy, intermingled with other means.”
The opposite concept is that which sees national objectives in peace and national objectives in war as essentially unrelated. According to this concept, the existence of a state of war creates its own specific political objectives, which generally supersede the normal peacetime objectives. This is the concept which has generally prevailed in this country. Basically, it was the concept which prevailed in the last war, where the winning of the war itself, as a military operation, was made the supreme objective of U.S. policy, other considerations being subordinated to it.
In the case of American objectives with respect to Russia, it is clear that neither of these concepts can prevall entirely.
In the first place, this Government has been forced, for purposes of the political war now in progress, to consider more definite and militant objectives toward Russia even now, in time of peace, than it ever was called upon to formulate with respect either to Germany or Japan in advance of the actual hostilities with those countries.
Secondly, the experience of the past war has taught us the desirability of gearing our war effort to a clear and realistic concept of the long-term political objectives which we wish to achieve. This would be particularly important in the event of a war with the Soviet Union. We could hardly expect to conclude such a war with the same military and political finality as was the case in the recent war against Germany and Japan, unless, therefore, it were clear to everyone that our objectives did not lie in military victory for its own sake, it might be hard for the U.S. public to recognize what would in reality be a favorable issue of the conflict. The public might expect much more in the way of military finality than would be necessary, or even desirable, from the standpoint of the actual achievement of our objectives. If people were to get the idea that our objectives were unconditional surrender, total occupation and military government, on the patterns of Germany and Japan, they would naturally feel that anything short of these achievements was no real victory at all, and might fail to appreciate a really genuine and constructive settlement.
Finally, we must recognize that Soviet objectives themselves are almost constant. They are very little affected by changes from war to peace. For example, Soviet territorial aims with respect to eastern Europe, as they became apparent during the war, bore a strong similarity to the program which the Soviet Government was endeavoring to realize by measures short of war in 1939 and 1940, and in fact to certain of the strategic-political concepts which underlay Czarist policy before World War I. To meet a policy of such constancy, so stubbornly pursued through both war and peace, it is necessary that we oppose it with purposes no less constant and enduring – broadly speaking, this lies in the nature of the relationship between the Soviet Union and the outside world, which is one of permanent antagonism and conflict, taking place sometimes within a framework of formal peace and at other times within the legal framework of war.
On the other hand, it is clear that a democracy cannot effect, as the totalitarian state sometimes does, a complete identification of its peacetime and wartime objectives. Its aversion to war as a method of foreign policy is so strong that it will inevitably be inclined to modify its objectives in peacetime, in the hope that they may be achieved without resort to arms. When this hope and this restraint are removed by the outbreak of war, as a result of the provocation of others, the irritation of democratic opinion generally demands either the formulation of further objectives, often of a punitive nature, which it would not have supported in time of peace, or the immediate realization of aims which it might otherwise have been prepared to pursue patiently, by gradual pressures, over the course of decades.
It would therefore be unrealistic to suppose that the U.S. Government could hope to proceed in time of war on the basis of exactly the same set of objectives, or at least with the same time-table for realization of objectives, which it would have in time of peace.
At the same time, it must be recognized that the smaller the gap between peacetime and wartime purposes, the greater the likelihood that a successful military effort will be politically successful as well. If objectives are really sound from the standpoint of national interest, they are worth consciously formulating and pursuing in war as in peace. Objectives which cume into being as a consequence of wartime emotionalism are not apt to reflect a balanced concept of long-term national interest. For this reason, every effort should be made in government planning now, in advance of any outbreak of hostilities, to define our present peacetime objectives and our hypothetical wartime objectives with relation to Russia, and to reduce as far as possible the gap between them.
III. Basic Objectives
Our basic objectives with respect to Russia are really only two:
a. To reduce the power and influence of Moscow to limits in which they will no longer constitute a threat to the peace and stability of international society; and
b. To bring about a basic change in the theory’ and practice of international relations observed by the government in power in Russia. If these two objectives could be achieved, the problem which this country faces in its relations with Russia would be reduced to what might be considered normal dimensions.
Before discussing the manner in which these objectives could be pursued in peace and in war, respectively, let us first examine them in somewhat greater detail.
1 . THE GEOGRAPHIC REDUCTION OF RUSSIAN POWER AND INFLUENCE
There are two spheres in which the power and the influence of Moscow have been projected beyond the borders of the Soviet Union in ways detrimental to the peace and stability of international society.
The first of these spheres is what may be defined as the satellite area: namely, the area in which decisive political influence is exercised by the Kremlin. It should be noted that in this area, which is, as a whole, geographically contiguous to the Soviet Union, the presence, or proximity, of Soviet armed power has been a decisive factor in the establishment and maintenance of Soviet hegemony.
The second of these spheres embraces the relation between, on the one hand, the power center which controls the Soviet Union and, on the other, groups or parties in countries abroad, beyond the limits of the satellite area, which look to Russia for their political inspiration and give to it, consciously or otherwise, their basic loyalty.
In both of these spheres the projection of Russian power beyond its legitimate limits must be broken up if the achievement of the first of the objectives listed above is to be effectively served. The countries in the satellite area must be given the opportunity to free themselves fundamentally from Russia domination and from undue Russian ideological inspiration. And the myth which causes millions of people in countries far from the Soviet borders to look to Moscow as the outstanding source of hope for human betterment must be thoroughly exploded and its workings destroyed.
It should be noted that in both cases the objective can conceivably be achieved for the most part without raising issues in which the prestige of the Soviet state, as such, need necessarily be decisively engaged.
In the second of the two spheres, a complete retraction of undue Russian power should be possible without necessarily engaging the more vital interests of the Russian state; for in this sphere Moscow’s power is exerted through carefully concealed channels, the existence of which Moscow itself denies. Therefore, a withering away of the structure of power which was formerly known as the Third International, and which has survived the disuse of that name, need involve no formal humiliation of the government in Moscow and no formal concessions on the part of the Soviet State.
The same is largely true of the first of these two spheres, but not entirely. In the satellite area, to be sure, Moscow likewise denies the formal fact of Soviet domination and attempts to conceal its mechanics. As has now been demonstrated in the Tito incidents, a breakdown of Moscow control is not necessarily regarded as an event affecting the respective states as such. In this instance, it is treated as a party affair by both sides; and particular care is taken everywhere to emphasize that no question of state prestige is involved. The same could presumably happen everywhere else throughout the satellite area without involving the formal dignity of the Soviet State.
We are confronted, however, with a more difficult problem in the actual extensions of the borders of the Soviet Union which have taken place since 1939. These extensions cannot in all cases be said to have been seriously detrimental to international peace and stability; and in certain instances it can probably be considered, from the standpoint of our objectives, that they can be entirely accepted for the sake of the maintenance of peace. In other cases, notably that of the Baltic countries, the question is more difficult. We cannot really profess indifference to the further fate of the Baltic peoples.
This has been reflected in our recognition policy to date with respect to those countries. And we could hardly consider that international peace and stability will really have ceased to be threatened as long as Europe is faced with the fact that it has been possible for Moscow to crush these three small countries which have been guilty of no real provocation and which have given evidence of their ability to handle their own affairs in a progressive manner, without detriment to the interests of their neighbors. It should therefore logically be considered a part of U.S. objectives to see these countries restored to something at least approaching a decent state of freedom and independence.
It is clear, however, that their complete independence would involve an actual cession of territory by the Soviet Government. It would therefore raise an issue directly involving the dignity and the vital interests of the Soviet State as such. It is idle to imagine that this could be brought about by means short of war. If, therefore, we are to consider that the basic objective outlined above is one which would be valid for peace as well as for war, then we must logically state that under conditions of peace our objective would be merely to induce Moscow to permit the return to the respective Baltic countries of all of their nationals who have been forcibly removed from there and the establishment in those countries of autonomous regimes generally consistent with the cultural needs and national aspirations of the peoples in question. In the event of war, we might, if necessary, wish to go further. But the answer to this question would depend on the nature of the Russian regime which would be dominant in that area in the wake of another war; and we need not attempt to decide it in advance.
In saying, consequently, that we should reduce the power and influence of the Kremlin to limits in which they will no longer constitute a threat to the peace and stability of international society, we are entitled to consider that this is an objective which can be logically pursued not only in the event of a war but also in time of peace and by peaceful means, and that in the latter case it need not necessarily raise issues of prestige for the Soviet Government which would automatically make war inevitable.
2. THE CHANGE IN THEORY AND PRACTICE OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AS OBSERVED IN MOSCOW
Our difficulty with the present Soviet Government lies basically in the fact that its leaders are animated by concepts of the theory and practice of international relations which are not only radically opposed to our own but are clearly inconsistent with any peaceful and mutually profitable development of relations between that government and other members of the international community, individually and collectively.
Prominent among these concepts are the following:
(a) That the peaceful coexistence and mutual collaboration of sovereign and independent governments, regarding and respecting each other as equals, is an illusion and an impossibility;
(h) That conflict is the basis of international life wherever, as is the case between the Soviet Union and capitalist countries, one country does not recognize the supremacy of the other;
(c) That regimes which do not acknowledge Moscow’s authority and ideological supremacy are wicked and harmful to human progress and that there is a duty on the part of right-thinking people everywhere to work for the overthrow or weakening of such regimes, by any and all methods which prove tactically desirable;
(d) That there can be, in the long run, no advancement of the interests of both the communist and non-communist world by mutual collaboration, these interests being basically conflicting and contradictory;
(e) That spontaneous association between individuals in the communist-dominated world and individuals outside that world is evil and cannot contribute to human progress.
Plainly, it is not enough that these concepts should cease to dominate Soviet, or Russian, theory and practice in international relations. It is also necessary that they should be replaced by something approximating their converses.
These would be:
(a) That it is possible for sovereign and equal countries to exist peaceably side by side and to collaborate with each other without any thought or attempt at domination of one by the other;
(b) That conflict is not necessarily the basis of international life and that it may be accepted that peoples can have common purposes without being in entire ideological agreement and without being subordinated to a single authority;
(c) That people in other countries do have a legitimate right to pursue national aims at variance with Communist ideology, and that it is the duty of right-thinking people to practice tolerance for the ideas of others, to observe scrupulous non-interference in the internal affairs of others on the basis of reciprocity, and to use only decent and honorable methods in international dealings;
(d) That international collaboration can, and should, advance the interests of both parties even though the ideological inspiration of thc two parties is not identical; and
(e) That the association of individuals across international borders is desirable and should be encouraged as a process contributing to general human progress.
Now the question at once arises as to whether the acceptance of such concepts in Moscow is an objective which we can seriously pursue and hope to achieve without resort to war and to the overthrow of the Soviet Government. We must face the fact that the Soviet Government, as we know it today, is, and will continue to be a constant threat to the peace of this nation and of the world.
It is quite clear that the present leaders of the Soviet Union can themselves never be brought to view concepts such as those indicated above as intrinsically sound and desirable. It is equally clear that for such concepts to become dominant throughout the Russian communist movement would mean, in present circumstances, an intellectual revolution within that movement which would amount to a metamorphosis of its political personality and a denial of its basic claim to existence as a separate and vital force among the ideological currents of the world at large. Concepts such as these could become dominant in the Russian communist movement only if, through a long process of change and erosion, that movement had outlived in name the impulses which had originally given it birth and vitality and had acquired a completely different significance in the world than that which it possesses today.
It might be concluded, then (and the Moscow theologians would be quick to put this interpretation on it), that to say that we were seeking the adoption of these concepts in Moscow would be equivalent to saying that it was our objective to overthrow Soviet power. Proceeding from that point, it could be argued that this is in turn an objective unrealizable by means short of war, and that we are therefore admitting that our objective with respect to the Soviet Union is eventual war and the violent overthrow of Soviet power.
It would be a dangerous error to accept this line of thought.
In the first place, there is no time limit for the achievement of our objectives under conditions of peace. We are faced here with no rigid periodicity of war and peace which would enable us to conclude that we must achieve our peacetime objectives by a given date “or else”. The objectives of national policy in times of peace should never be regarded in static terms. In so far as they are basic objectives, and worthy ones, they are not apt to be ones capable of complete and finite achievement, like specific military objectives in war. The peacetime objectives of national policy should be thought of rather as lines of direction than as physical goals.
In the second place, we are entirely within our own rights, and need feel no sense of guilt, in working for the destruction of concepts inconsistent with world peace and stability and for their replacement by ones of tolerance and international collaboration. It is not our business to calculate the internal developments to which the adoption of such concepts might lead in another country, nor need we feel that we have any responsibility for those developments. If the Soviet leaders find the growing prevalence of a more enlightened concept of international relations to be inconsistent with the maintenance of their internal power in Russia, that is their responsibility, not ours. That is a matter for their own consciences, and for the conscience of the peoples of the Soviet Union. We are not only within our moral rights but within our moral duty in working for the adoption everywhere of decent and hopeful concepts of international life. In doing so, we are entitled to let the chips fail where they may in terms of internal development.
We do not know for certain that the successful pursuit by us of the objectives in question would lead to the disintegration of Soviet power; for we do not know the time factor here involved. It is entirely possible that under the stress of lime and circumstance certain of the original concepts of the communist movement might be gradually modified in Russia as were certain of the original concepts of the American revolution in our own country.
We are entitled, therefore, to consider, and to state publicly, that it is our objective to bring to the Russian people and government, by every means at our disposal, a more enlightened concept of international relations, and that in so doing we are not taking any position, as a government, with respect to internal conditions in Russia.
In the case of war, there could clearly be no question of this nature. Once a state of war had arisen between this country and the Soviet Union, this Government would be at liberty to pursue the achievement of its basic objectives by whatever means it might choose and by whatever terms it might wish to impose upon a Russian authority or Russian authorities in the event of a successful issue of military operations. Whether these terms would embrace the overthrow of Soviet power would he only a question of expediency, which will be discussed below.
This second of the two basic objectives is therefore also one likewise susceptible of pursuit in lime of peace as in time of war. This objective, like the first, may accordingly be accepted as an underlying one, from which the formulation of our policy, in peace as in war, may proceed.
IV. The Pursuit of Our Basic. Objectives in Time of Peace
In discussing the interpretation which would be given to these basic objectives in time of peace or in time of war respectively, we are confronted with a problem of terminology. If we continue to speak of the particular orientation lines of our policy in peace or in war as ”objectives”, we may find ourselves falling into a semantic confusion. Solely for the purposes of clarity, therefore, we will make an arbitrary distinction. We will speak of objectives only in the sense of the basic objectives outlined above, which are common both to war and peace. When we refer to our guiding purposes as applied specifically in our wartime or peacetime policy, respectively, we will speak of “aims” rather than of “objectives”.
What then would be the aims of U.S. national policy with respect to Russia in time of peace?
These should flow logically from the two main objectives discussed above.
1. THE RETRACTION OF RUSSIAN POWER AND INFLUENCE
[note: not SOVIET, but RUSSIAN – Fort Russ]
Let us first consider the retraction of undue Russian power and influence. We have seen that this divided into the problem of the satellite area and the problem of communist activities and Soviet propaganda activities in countries farther afield.
With respect to the satellite area, the aim of U.S. policy in time of peace is to place the greatest possible strain on the structure of relationships by which Soviet domination of this area is maintained and gradually, with the aid of the natural and legitimate forces of Europe, to maneuver the Russians out of their position of primacy and to enable the respective governments to regain their independence of action. [which then resulted in civil wars – FR] There are many ways in which this aim can be, and is being, pursued. The most striking step in this direction was the original proposal for the ERP, as stated in Secretary Marshall’s Harvard speech on June 5, 1947.
By forcing the Russians either to permit the satellite countries to enter into a relationship of economic collaboration with the west of Europe which would inevitably have strengthened east-west bonds and weakened The exclusive orientation of these countries toward Russia or to force them to remain outside this structure of collaboration at heavy economic sacrifice to themselves, we placed a severe strain on the relations between Moscow and the satellite countries and undoubtedly made more awkward and difficult maintenance by Moscow of its exclusive authority in the satellite capitals.
Everything, in fad, which operates to tear off the veil with which Moscow likes to screen its power, and which forces the Russians to reveal the crude and ugly outlines of their hold over the governments of the satellite countries, serves to discredit the satellite governments with their own peoples and to heighten the discontent of those peoples and their desire for free association with other nations.
The disaffection of Tito, to which the strain caused by the ERP problem undoubtedly contributed in some measure, has clearly demonstrated that it is possible for stresses in the Soviet-satellite relations to lead to a real weakening and disruption of the Russian domination.
It should therefore be our aim to continue to do all in our power to increase these stresses and at the same time to make it possible for the satellite governments gradually to extricate themselves from Russian control and to find, if they so wish, acceptable forms of collaboration with the governments of the west. This can be done by skillful use of our economic power, by direct or indirect informational activity, by placing the greatest possible strain on the maintenance of the iron curtain, and by building up the hope and vigor of Western Europe to a point where it comes to exercise the maximum attraction to the peoples of the east, and by other means too numerous to mention.
We cannot say, of course, that the Russians will sit by and permit the satellites to extricate themselves from Russian control in this way. We cannot be sure that at some point in this process the Russians will not choose to resort to violence of some sort; i.e., to forms of military re-occupation or possibly even to a major war, to prevent such a process from being carried to completion.
It is not our desire that they should do this; and we, for our part, should do everything possible to keep the situation flexible and to make possible a liberation of the satellite countries in ways which do not create any unanswerable challenge to Soviet prestige. But even with the greatest of circumspection we cannot be sure that they will not choose to resort to arms. We cannot hope to influence their policy automatically or to produce any guaranteed results.
The fact that we embark on a policy which can lead to these results does not mean that we are setting our course toward war; and we should be extremely careful to make this plain on all occasions and to refute accusations of this character. The fact of the matter is that, granted the relationship of antagonism which is still basic to the entire relationships between the Soviet Government and non-communist countries at this time, war is an ever-present possibility and no course which this Government might adopt would appreciably diminish this danger. The converse of the policy set forth above, namely to accept Soviet domination of the satellite countries and to do nothing to oppose it, would not diminish in any way the danger of war. On the contrary, it can be argued with considerable logic that the long-term danger of war will inevitably be greater if Europe remains split along the present lines than it will be if Russian power i.s peacefully withdrawn in good time and a normal balance restored to the European community.
It may be stated, accordingly, that our first aim with respect to Russia in time of peace is to encourage and promote by means short of war the gradual retraction of undue Russian power and influence from the present satellite area and the emergence of the respective eastern European countries as independent factors on the international scene.
However, as we have seen above, our examination of this problem is not complete unless we have taken into consideration the question of areas now behind the Soviet border. Do we wish, or do we not, to make it our objective to achieve by means short of war any modification of the borders of the Soviet Union? We have already seen in Chapter III the answer to this question.
We should encourage by every means at our disposal tile development in the Soviet Union of institutions of federalism which would permit a revival of the national life of the Baltic peoples.
It may be asked: Why do we restrict this aim to the Baltic peoples? Why do we not include the other national minority groups of the Soviet Union? The answer is that the Baltic peoples happen to be the only peoples whose traditional territory and population are now entirely included in the Soviet Union and who have shown themselves capable of coping successfully with the responsibilities of statehood. Moreover, we still formally deny the legitimacy of their violent inclusion in the Soviet Union, and they therefore have a special status in our eyes.
Next we have the problem of the disruption of the myth by which the people in Moscow maintain their undue influence and actual disciplinary authority over millions of people in countries beyond the satellite area. First a word about the nature of this problem.
Before the revolution of 1918, Russian nationalism was solely Russian. Except for a few eccentric European intellectuals of the 19th Century, who even then professed to a mystical faith in Russia’s power to solve the ills of civilization (*2) Russian nationalism had no appeal to people outside Russia. On the contrary, the relatively mild despotism of the 19th Century Russian rulers was perhaps better known and more universally deplored in the western countries than has since been the case with the far greater cruelties of the Soviet regime.
(*2) Karl Marx was not one of these people. He was not, as he himself put it, “one of those who believed that the old Europe could be revived by Russian blood,” [Note in source text]
After the revolution, the Bolshevik leaders succeeded, through clever and systematic propaganda, in establishing throughout large sections of the world public certain concepts highly favorable to their own purposes, including the following: that the October Revolution was a popular revolution; that the Soviet regime was the first real worker’s government; that Soviet power was in some way connected with ideals of liberalism, freedom and economic security; and that it offered a promising alternative to the national regimes under which other peoples lived. A connection was thus established in the minds of many people between Russian communism and the general uneasiness arising in the outside world from the effects of urbanization and industrialization, or from colonial unrest.
In this way Moscow’s doctrine became to some extent a domestic problem for every nation in the world. In Soviet power, western statesmen are now facing something more than just another problem of foreign affairs. They are facing also an internal enemy in their own countries—an enemy committed to the undermining and eventual destruction of their respective national societies.
To destroy this myth of international communism is a dual task. It takes two parties to create an inter-action such as that which exists between the Kremlin, on the one hand, and the discontented intellectuals in other countries (for it is the intellectuals rather than the “workers” who make up the hard core of communism outside the USSR), on the other. It is not enough to tackle this problem by aiming to silence the propagator. It is even more important to arm the listener against this sort of attack. There is some reason why Moscow propaganda is listened to so avidly, and why this myth takes hold so readily, among many people far from the boundaries of Russia. If it were not Moscow these people listened to, it would be something else, equally extreme and equally erroneous, though possibly less dangerous. Thus the task of destroying the myth on which international communism rests is not just an undertaking relating to the leaders of the Soviet Union. It is also something relating to the non-Soviet world, and above all to the particular society of which each of us forms a part. To the extent to which we can dispel the confusion and misunderstandings on which these doctrines thrive—to the extent that we can remove the sources of bitterness which drive people to irrational and Utopian ideas of this sort—we will succeed in breaking down the ideological influence of Moscow in foreign countries. On the other hand- we must recognize that only a portion of international communism outside Russia is the result of environmental influence and subject to correction accordingly. Another portion represents something in the nature of a natural mutation of species. It derives from a congenital fifth-columnism with which a certain small percentage of people in every community appear to be affected, and which distinguishes itself by a negative attitude toward the native society and a readiness to follow any outside force which opposes it. This element will always be present in any society for unscrupulous outsiders to work on; and the only protection against its dangerous misuse will be the absence of the will on the part of great-power regimes to exploit this unhappy margin of human nature.
Fortunately, the Kremlin has thus far done more than we ourselves could ever have done to dispel the very myth by which it operates. The Yugoslav incident is perhaps the most striking case in point; but the history of the Communist International is replete with other instances of the difficulty non-Russian individuals and groups have encountered in trying to be the followers of Moscow doctrines. The Kremlin leaders are so inconsiderate, so relentless, so over-bearing and so cynical in the discipline they impose on their followers that few can stand their authority for very long.
The Leninist-Stalinist system is founded, basically, on the power which a desperate, conspiratorial minority can always wield, at least temporarily, over a passive and unorganized majority of human beings- For this reason, the Kremlin leaders have had little concern, in the past, about the tendency of their movement to leave in its train a steady backwash of disillusioned former followers. Their aim was not to have communism become a mass movement but rather to work through a small group of faultlessly disciplined and entirely expendable followers. They were always content to let those peoples go who could not stomach their particular brand of discipline.
For a long time, this worked reasonably well. New recruits were easy to obtain; and the Party lived by a steady process of natural selection-out, which left within its ranks only the most fanatically devoted, the most unimaginative, and the most obtusely unscrupulous natures.
The Yugoslav case has now raised a great question mark as to how well this system will work in the future. Heretofore, heresy could safely be handled by police repression within the limits of Soviet power or by a tested process of excommunication and character-assassination outside those limits. Tito has demonstrated that in the case of the satellite leaders, neither of these methods is necessarily effective. Excommunication of communist leaders who are beyond the effective range of Soviet power and who themselves have territory, police power, military power, and disciplined followers, can split the whole communist movement, as nothing else was ever able to do, and cause the most grievous damage to the myth of Stalin’s omniscience and omnipotence.
Conditions are therefore favorable to a concentrated effort on our part designed to take advantage of Soviet mistakes and of the rifts that have appeared, and to promote the steady deterioration of the structure of moral influence by which the authority of the Kremlin has been carried to peoples far beyond the reach of Soviet police power.
We may say, therefore, that our second aim with respect to Russia in time of peace is, by informational activity and by every other means at our disposal, to explode the myth by which people remote from Russian military influence are held in a position of subservience to Moscow and to cause the world at large to see and understand the Soviet Union for what it is and to adopt a logical and realistic attitude toward it.
2. THE ALTERATION OF RUSSIAN CONCEPTS OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
We come now to the interpretation, in terms of peacetime policy, of our second major objective: namely, to bring about an alteration of the concepts of international relations prevalent in Moscow governing circles.
As has been seen above, there is no reasonable prospect that we will ever be able to alter the basic political psychology of the men now in power in the Soviet Union. The malevolent character of their outlook on the outside world, their repudiation of the possibility of permanent peaceful collaboration, their belief in the inevitability of the eventual destruction of the one world by the other: these things must remain, if only for the simple reason that the Soviet leaders are convinced that their own system will not stand comparison with the civilization of the west and that it will never be secure until the example of a prosperous and powerful western civilization has been physically obliterated and its memory discredited. This is not to mention the fact that these men are committed to the theory of inevitable conflict between the two worlds by the strongest of all commitments: namely, the fact that they have inflicted the punishment of death or of great suffering and hardship on millions of people in the name of this theory.
On the other hand, the Soviet leaders are prepared to recognize situations, if not arguments. If, therefore, situations can be created in which it is clearly not to the advantage of their power to emphasize the elements of conflict in their relations with the outside world, then their actions, and even the tenor of their propaganda to their own people can be modified. This was made evident in the recent war when the circumstances of their military association with the western powers had the effect just described. In this instance, the modification of their policies was of relatively short duration; for with the end of hostilities they thought they saw an opportunity for gaining important objectives of their own regardless of the feelings and views of the western powers. This meant that the situation which had caused them to modify their policies no longer appeared to them to exist.
If, however, analogous situations could again be created in the future and the Soviet leaders compelled to recognize their reality, and if these situations could be maintained for a longer time, i.e., for a period long enough to encompass a respectable portion of the organic process of growth and change in Soviet political life, then they might have a permanent modifying effect on the outlook and habits of Soviet power. Even the relatively brief and perfunctory lip service done during the recent war to the possibility of collaboration among the major allies left a deep mark on the consciousness of the Russian public, and one which has undoubtedly caused serious difficulties to the regime, since the end of the war, in its attempt to revert to the old policies of hostility and subversion toward the western world. Yet all this occurred in a period in which there was absolutely no turnover of any importance in the Soviet leadership and no normal evolution of internal political life in the Soviet Union. Had it been necessary for the Soviet Government to observe these policies of circumspection and moderation toward the west for so long a period that the present leaders would have had to yield to other ones and that there would have been some normal evolution of Soviet political life in the face of these necessities, then it is possible that some real modification in Soviet outlook and behavior might eventually have been achieved.
It flows from this discussion that whereas we will not be able to alter the basic political psychology of the present Soviet leaders, there is a possibility that if we can create situations which, if long enough maintained, may cause them to soft-pedal their dangerous and improper attitude toward the west and to observe a relative degree of moderation and caution in their dealings with western countries. In this case, we could really say that we had begun to make progress toward a gradual alteration of the dangerous concepts which now underlie Soviet behavior.
Again, as in the case of the retraction of Soviet power, and, in fact, as in the case of any sound program of resistance to Soviet attempts at the destruction of western civilization, we must recognize that the Soviet leaders may see the writing on the wall and may prefer to resort to violence rather than to permit these things to occur. It must be reiterated: that is the risk which we run not just in this, but in any sound policy toward the Soviet Union. It is inherent in the present nature of the Soviet Government; and nothing we may do can alter or remove it. This is not a problem new to the foreign relations of the United Stales. In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton stated:
“Let us recollect that peace or war will not always be left to our option; that however moderate or unambitious we may be, we cannot count upon the moderation, or hope to extinguish the ambition of others.”
In setting out, therefore, to alter the concepts by which the Soviet Government now operates in world affairs, we must again concede that the question of whether this aim can be achieved by peaceful means cannot be answered entirely by ourselves. But this does not excuse us from making the attempt.
We must say, therefore, that our third aim with respect to Russia in time of peace is to create situations which will compel the Soviet Government to recognise the practical undesirability of acting on the basis of its present concepts and the necessity of behaving, at least outwardly, as though it were the converse of those concepts that were true.
This is of course primarily a question of keeping the Soviet Union politically, militarily, psychologically weak in comparison with the international forces outside of its control and of maintaining a high degree of insistence among the non-communist countries on the observance by Russia of the ordinary international decencies.
3. SPECIFIC AIMS
The aims listed above are all general in nature. To attempt to make them specific would lead us into an endless maze of attempts at verbal classification and would probably be more confusing than clarifying. For this reason, no attempt will be made here to spell out the possible forms of specific application of these aims. Many of these forms will easily suggest themselves to any who give thought to the interpretation of these, general aims in terms of practical policy and action. It will be seen for example, that a major factor in the achievement of all of these aims without exception, would be the degree to which we might succeed in penetrating or disrupting the iron curtain.
However, the question of specific interpretation may be considerably clarified by a brief indication of the negative side of the picture: in other words, by pointing out what our aims are not.
First of all, it is not our primary aim in time of peace to set the stage for a war regarded as inevitable. We do not regard war as inevitable. We do not repudiate the possibility that our overall objectives with respect to Russia may be successfully pursued without resort to war. We have to recognize the possibility of war, as something flowing logically and at all times from the present attitude of the Soviet leaders; and we have to prepare realistically for that eventuality.
But it would be wrong to consider that our policy rested on an assumption of an inevitability of war and was confined to preparations for an armed conflict. That is not the case. Our task at present, in the absence of a state of war automatically brought about by the actions of others [already blamed the other party for the imaginary war! – FR], is to find means of pursuing our objectives successfully without resort to war ourselves. It includes preparations for a possible war, but we regard these as only subsidiary and precautionary rather than as the primary element of policy. We are still hoping and striving to achieve our objectives within the framework of peace. Should we at any time come to the conclusion (which is not excluded) that this is really impossible and that the relations between communist and non-communist worlds cannot proceed without eventual armed conflict, then the whole basis of this paper would be changed and our peacetime aims as set forth herein, would have to be basically altered.
Secondly, it is not our peacetime aim to overthrow the Soviet Government. Admittedly, we are aiming at the creation of circumstances and situations which would be difficult for the present Soviet leaders to stomach, and which they would not like. It is possible that they might not be able, in the face of these circumstances and situations, to retain their power in Russia. But it must be reiterated: that is their business, not ours. This paper implies no judgment as to whether it is possible for the Soviet Government to behave with relative decency and moderation in external affairs and yet to retain its internal power in Russia. Should the situations to which our peacetime aims are directed actually come into being and should they prove intolerable to the maintenance, of internal Soviet power and cause the Soviet Government to leave the scene, we would view this development without regret; but we would not assume responsibility for having sought it or brought it about.
V. The Pursuit of our Basic Objectives in Time of War
This chapter treats of our aims with respect to Russia in the event that a state of war should arise between the United States and the USSR. It proposes to set forth what we would seek as a favorable issue of our military operations.
1. THE IMPOSSIBILITIES
Before entering into a discussion of what we should aim to achieve in a war with Russia, let us first be clear in our own minds about those things which we could not hope to achieve.
In the first place we must assume that it will not be profitable or practically feasible for us to occupy and take under our military administration the entire territory of the Soviet Union. This course is inhibited by the size of that territory, by the number of its inhabitants, by the differences of language and custom which separate its inhabitants from ourselves, and by the improbability that we would find any adequate apparatus of local authority through which we could work.
Secondly, and in consequence of this first admission, we must recognize that it is not likely that the Soviet leaders would surrender unconditionally to us. It is possible that Soviet power might disintegrate during the stress of an unsuccessful war, as did that of the tsar’s regime during World War I. But even this is not likely. And if it did not so disintegrate, we could not be sure that we could eliminate it by any means short of an extravagant military effort designed to bring all of Russia under our control. We have before us in our experience with the Nazis an example of the stubbornness and tenacity with which a thoroughly ruthless and dictatorial regime can maintain its internal power even over a territory constantly shrinking as a consequence of military operations.
The Soviet leaders would be capable of concluding a compromise peace, if pressed, and even one highly unfavorable to their own interests. But it is not likely that they would do anything, such as to surrender unconditionally, which would place themselves under the complete power of a hostile authority. Rather than do that, they would probably retire to the most remote village of Siberia and eventually perish, as Hitler did, under the guns of the enemy.
There is a strong possibility that if we were to take the utmost care, within limits of military feasibility, not to antagonize the Soviet people by military policies which would inflict inordinate hardship and cruelties upon them, there would be an extensive disintegration of Soviet power during the course of a war which progressed favorably from our standpoint.
We would certainly be entirely justified in promoting such a disintegration with every means at our disposal.
This does not mean, however, that we could be sure of achieving the complete overthrow of the Soviet regime, in the sense of the removal of its power overall the present territory of the Soviet Union.
Regardless of whether or not Soviet power endures on any of the present Soviet territory we cannot be sure of finding among the Russian people any other group of political leaders who would be entirely “democratic” as we understand that term.
While Russia has had her moments of liberalism, the concepts of democracy are not familiar to the great mass of the Russian people, and particularly not to those who are temperamentally inclined to the profession of government. At the present time, there are a number of interesting and powerful Russian political groupings, among the Russian exiles, all of which do lip service to principles of liberalism, to one degree or another, and any of which would probably be preferable to the Soviet Government, from our standpoint, as the rulers of Russia. But just how liberal these groupings would be, if they once had power, or what would be their ability to maintain their authority among the Russian people without resort to methods of police terror and repression, no one knows.
The actions of people in power are often controlled far more by the circumstances in which they arc obliged to exercise that power than by the ideas and principles which animated them when they were in the opposition.
In turning over the powers of government to any Russian group, it would never be possible for us to be certain that those powers would be exercised in a manner which our own people would approve. We would therefore always be taking a chance, in making such a choice, and incurring a responsibility which we could not be sure of meeting creditably.
Finally, we cannot hope really to impose our concepts of democracy within a short space of time upon any group of Russian leaders.
In the long run, the political psychology of any regime which is even reasonably responsive to the will of the people must be that of the people themselves.
But it has been vividly demonstrated through our experience in Germany and Japan that the psychology and outlook of a great people cannot be altered in a short space of time at the mere dictate or precept of a foreign power, even in the wake of total defeat and submission. Such alteration can flow only from the organic political experience of the people in question.
The best that can be done by one country to bring about this sort of alteration in another is to change the environmental influences to which the people in question are subjected, leaving it to them to react to those influences in their own way.
All of the above indicates that we could not expect, in the aftermath of successful military operations in Russia, to create there an authority entirely submissive to our will or entirely expressive of our political ideals. We must reckon with the strong probability that we would have to continue to deal, in one degree or another, with Russian authorities of whom we will not entirely approve, who will have purposes different from ours, and whose views and desiderata we will be obliged to take into consideration whether we like them or not. In other words, we could not hope to achieve any total assertion of our will on Russian territory, as we have endeavored to do in Germany and in Japan. We must recognize that whatever settlement we finally achieve must be a political settlement, politically negotiated.
So much for the impossibilities. Now what would be our possible and desirable aims in the event of a war with Russia? These, like the aims of peace, should flow logically from the basic objectives set forth in Chapter III.
2. THE RETRACTION OF SOVIET POWER
The first of our war aims must naturally be the destruction of Russian military influence and domination in areas contiguous to, but outside of, the borders of any Russian state.
Plainly, a successful prosecution of the war on our part would automatically achieve this effect throughout most, if not all, of the satellite area. A succession of military defeats to the Soviet forces would probably so undermine the authority of the communist regimes in the eastern European countries that most of them would be overthrown. Pockets might remain, in the form of political Tito-ism, i.e., residual communist regimes of a purely national and local character. These we could probably afford to by-pass. Without the might and authority of Russia behind them, they would be sure either to disappear with time or to evolve into normal national regimes with no more and no less of chauvinism and extremism than is customary to strong national governments in that area.
We would of course insist on the cancellation of any formal traces of abnormal Russian power in that area, such as treaties of alliance, etc.
Beyond this. however, we have again the problem of the extent to which we would wish Soviet borders modified as a result of a successful military action in our part. We must face frankly the fact that we cannot answer this question at this time. The answer depends almost everywhere on the type of regime which would be left, in the wake of military operations, in the particular area in question. Should this regime be one which held out at least reasonably favorable prospects of observing the principles of liberalism in internal affairs and moderation in foreign policy, it might be possible to leave under its authority most, if not all, of the territories gained by the Soviet Union in the recent war.
If, as is more probable, little dependence could be placed on the liberalism and moderation of a post-hostilities Russian authority, it might be necessary to alter these borders quite extensively.
This must simply be chalked up as one of the questions which will have to be left open until the development of military and political events in Russia reveals to us the full nature of the post-war framework in which we will have to act.
We then have the question of the Soviet myth and of the ideological authority which the Soviet Government now exerts over people beyond the present satellite area. In the first instance, this will of course depend on the question of whether or not the present All-Union Communist Party continues to exert authority over any portion of the present Soviet territory, in the aftermath of another war. We have already seen that we cannot rule out this possibility. Should communist authority disappear, this question is automatically solved. It must be assumed, however, that in any event an unsuccessful issue of the war itself, from the Soviet standpoint, would probably deal a decisive blow to this form of the projection of Soviet power and influence.
However that may be, we must leave nothing to chance; and it should naturally be considered that one of our major war aims with respect to Russia would be to destroy thoroughly the structure of relationships by which the leaders of the All-Union Communist Party have been able to exert moral and disciplinary authority over individual citizens, or groups of citizens, in countries not under communist control.
3. THE ALTERATION OF THE RUSSIAN CONCEPTS OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Our next problem is again that of the concepts by which Russian policy would be governed in the aftermath of a war. How would we assure ourselves that Russian policy would henceforth be conducted along lines as close as possible to those which we have recognized above as desirable? This is the heart of the problem of our war aims with respect to Russia; and it cannot be given too serious attention.
In the first instance this is a problem of the future of Soviet power; that is, of the power of the communist party in the Soviet Union. This is an extremely intricate question. There is no simple answer to it.
We have seen that while we would welcome, and even strive for, the complete disintegration and disappearance of Soviet power, we could not be sure of achieving this entirely.
We could therefore view this as a maximum, but not a minimum, aim.
Assuming, then, that there might be a portion of Soviet territory on which we would find it expedient to tolerate the continued existence of Soviet power, upon the conclusion of military operations, what should be our relationship to it? Would we consent to deal with it at all? If so, what sort of terms would we be willing to make?
First of all, we may accept it as a foregone conclusion that we would not be prepared to conclude a full-fledged peace settlement and/or resume regular diplomatic relations with any regime in Russia dominated by any of the present Soviet leaders or persons sharing their cast of thought. We have had too bitter an experience, during the past fifteen years, with the effort to act as though normal relations were possible with such a regime; and if we should now be forced to resort to war to protect ourselves from the consequences of their policies and actions, our public would hardly be in a mood to forgive the Soviet leaders for having brought things to this pass, or to resume the attempt at normal collaboration.
On the other hand, if a communist regime were to remain on any portion of Soviet territory, upon the conclusion of military operations, we could not afford to ignore it entirely. It could not fail to be, within the limits of its own possibilities, a potential menace to the peace and stability of Russia itself and of the world. The least we could do would be to see to it that its possibilities for mischief were so limited that it could not do serious damage, and that we ourselves, or forces friendly to us, would retain all the necessary controls.
For this, two things would probably be necessary. The first would be the actual physical limitation of the power of such a residual Soviet regime to make war or to threaten and intimidate other nations or other Russian regimes. Should military operations lead to any drastic curtailment of the territory over which the communists held sway, particularly such a curtailment as would deprive them of key factors in the present military-industrial structure [Black Sea fleet – FR?] of the Soviet Union, this physical limitation would automatically flow from that. Should the territory under their control not be substantially diminished, the same result could be obtained by extensive destruction of important industrial and economic targets from the air. Possibly, both of these means might be required.
However that may be, we may definitely conclude that we could not consider our military operations successful if they left a communist regime in control of enough of the present military-industrial potential of the Soviet Union to enable them to wage war on comparable terms with any neighboring state or with any rival authority which might be set up on traditional Russian territory.
The second thing required, if Soviet authority is to endure at all in the traditional Russian territories, will probably be some sort of terms defining at least its military relationship to ourselves and to the authorities surrounding it. In other words, it may be necessary for us to make some sort of deal with a regime of this sort. This may sound distasteful to us now, but it is quite possible that we would find our interests better protected by such a deal than by the all-out military effort which would be necessary to stamp out Soviet power entirely.
It is safe to say that such terms would have to be harsh ones and distinctly humiliating to the communist regime in question. They might well be something along the lines of the Brest-Litovsk settlement of 1918(*3) which deserves careful study in this connection. The fact that the Germans made this settlement did not mean that they had really accepted the permanency of the Soviet regime. They regarded the settlement as one which rendered the Soviet regime momentarily harmless to them and in a poor position to face the problems of survival. The Russians realized that this was the German purpose. They agreed to the settlement only with the greatest of reluctance, and with every intention of violating it at every opportunity. But the German superiority of force was real; and the German calculations realistic. Had Germany not suffered defeat in the west soon after the conclusion of the Brest-Litovsk agreement, it is not likely that the Soviet Government would have been able to put up any serious opposition to the accomplishment of German purposes with respect to Russia. It is in this sense that it might be necessary for this Government to deal with the Soviet regime in the latter phases of an armed conflict.
(*3). Treaty of Brest-Lilovsk, signed March 3, 1918, ended hostilities between Soviet Russia and the Central Powers on the basis of provisions that included the independence of the Ukraine, Georgia. Finland, the transfer to the Central Powers of Poland, the Baltic States, and portions of Byelorussia, and the cession of Kars, Ardahan. and Batum to Turkey. As part of the armistice agreement between Germany and the Western Powers on November II. 1918, Germany was forced to repudiate this treaty. [Ed. note]
It is impossible to forecast what the nature of such terms should be. The smaller the territory left at the disposal of such a regime, the easier the task of imposing terms satisfactory to our interests. Taking the worst case, which would be that of the retention of Soviet power over all, or nearly all, of present Soviet territory, we would have to demand:
(a) Direct military terms (surrender of equipment, evacuation of key areas, etc.) designed to assure military helplessness for a long time in advance;
(b) Terms designed to produce a considerable economic dependence on the outside world;
(c) Terms designed to give necessary freedom, or federal status, to national minorities (we would at least have to insist on the complete liberation of the Baltic States and on the granting of some type of federal status to the Ukraine which would make it possible for a Ukrainian local authority to have a large measure of autonomy); and
(d) Terms designed to disrupt the iron curtain and to assure a liberal flow of outside ideas and a considerable establishment of personal contact between persons within the zone of Soviet power and persons outside it.
So much for our aims with respect to any residual Soviet authority. There remains the question of what our aims would be with respect to any non-communist authority which might be set up on a portion or all of Russian territory as a consequence of the events of war.
First of all, it should be said that regardless of the ideological basis of any such non-communist authority and regardless of the extent to which it might be prepared to do lip service to the ideals of democracy and liberalism, we would do well to see that in one way or another the basic purposes were assured which flow from the demands listed above.
In other words, we should set up automatic safeguards to assure that even a regime which is non-communist and nominally friendly to us:
(a) Does not have strong military power;
(b) Is economically dependent to a considerable extent on the outside world;
(c) Does not exercise too much authority over the major national minorities; and
(d) Imposes nothing resembling the iron curtain over contacts with the outside world.
In the case of such a regime, professing hostility to the communists and friendship toward us, we should doubtless wish to take care i.o impose these conditions in a manner which would not be offensive or humiliating. But we would have to see to it that in one way or another they were imposed, if our interests and the interests of world peace were to be protected.
We are therefore safe in saying that it should be our aim in the event of war with the Soviet Union, to see to it that when the war was over no regime on Russian territory is permitted:
(a) To retain military force on a scale which could be threatening to any neighboring stale;
(b) To enjoy a measure of economic autarchy which would permit the erection of the economic basis of such armed power without the assistance of the western world;
(c) To deny autonomy and self-government to the main national minorities; or
(d) To retain anything resembling the present iron curtain. If these conditions are assured, we can adjust ourselves to any political situation which may ensue from the war. We will then be safe, whether a Soviet government retains the bulk of Russian territory or whether it retains only a small part of such territory or whether it disappears altogether. And we will be safe even though the original democratic enthusiasm of a new regime is short-lived and tends to be replaced gradually by the a-social concepts of international affairs to which the present Soviet generation has been educated.
The above should be adequate as an expression of our war aims in the event that political processes in Russia take their own course under the stresses of war and that we are not obliged to assume major responsibility for the political future of the country. But there are further questions to be answered for the event that Soviet authority should disintegrate so rapidly and so radically as to leave the country in chaos, making it incumbent upon us as the victors to make political choices and to take decisions which would be apt to shape the political future of the country. For this eventuality there are three main questions which must be faced.
4. PARTITION VS. NATIONAL UNITY
First of all, would it be our desire, in such a case, that the present territories of the Soviet Union remain united under a single regime or that they be partitioned? And if they are to remain united, at least to a large extent, then what degree of federalism should be observed in a future Russian government? What about the major minority groups, in particular the Ukraine?
We have already taken note of the problem of the Baltic states. The Baltic states should not be compelled to remain under any communist authority in the aftermath of another war. Should the territory adjacent to the Baltic states be controlled by a Russian authority other than a communist authority, we should be guided by the wishes of the Baltic peoples and by the degree of moderation which that Russian authority is inclined to exhibit with respect to them.
In the case of the Ukraine, we have a different problem. The Ukrainians are the most advanced of the peoples who have been under Russian rule in modern times. They have generally resented Russian domination; and their nationalistic organizations have been active and vocal abroad. It would be easy to jump to the conclusion that they should be freed, at last, from Russian rule and permitted to set themselves up as an independent slate.
We would do well to beware of this conclusion. US very simplicity condemns it in terms of eastern European realities.
It is true that the Ukrainians have been unhappy under Russian rule and that something should be done to protect their position in future. But there are certain basic fads which must not be lost sight of.
While the Ukrainians have been an important and specific element in the Russian empire, they have shown no signs of being a “nation” capable of bearing successfully the responsibilities of independence in the face of great Russian opposition. The Ukraine is not a clearly defined ethnical or geographic concept. In general, the Ukrainian population made up of originally in large measure out of refugees from Russian or Polish despotism shades off imperceptibly into the Russian or Polish nationalities. There is no clear dividing line between Russia and the Ukraine, and it would be impossible to establish one. The cities in Ukrainian territory have been predominantly Russian and Jewish. The real basis of “Ukrainianism” is the feeling of “difference” produced by a specific peasant dialect and by minor differences of custom and folklore throughout the country districts. The political agitation on the surface is largely the work of a few romantic intellectuals, who have little concept of the responsibilities of government. The economy of the Ukraine is inextricably intertwined with that of Russia as a whole. There has never been any economic separation since the territory was conquered from the nomadic Tatars and developed for purposes of a sedentary population. To attempt to carve it out of the Russian economy and to set it up as something separate would be as artificial and as destructive as an attempt to separate the Corn Belt, including the Great Lakes industrial area, from the economy of the United States.
Furthermore, the people who speak the Ukrainian dialect have been split, like those who speak the White Russian dialect, by a division which in eastern Europe has always been the real mark of nationality: namely, religion- If any real border can be drawn in the Ulcraine, it should logically be the border between the areas which traditionally give religious allegiance to the Eastern Church and those which give it to the Church of Rome.
Finally, we cannot he indifferent to the feelings of the Great Russians themselves. They were the strongest national element in the Russian Empire, as they now are in the Soviet Union. They will continue to be the strongest national element in that general area, under any status. Any long-term U.S. policy must be based on their acceptance and their cooperation. The Ukrainian territory is as much a part of their national heritage as the Middle West is of ours, and they are conscious of that fact. A solution which attempts to separate the Ukraine entirely from the rest of Russia is bound TO incur their resentment and opposition, and can be maintained, in the last analysis, only by force. There is a reasonable chance that the Great Russians could be induced to tolerate the renewed independence of the Baltic states. They tolerated the freedom of those territories from Russian rule for long periods in the past; and they recognize, subconsciously if not otherwise, that the respective peoples are capable of independence. With respect to the Ukrainians, things arc different. They are too close to the Russians to be able to set themselves up successfully as something wholly different. For better or for worse, they will have to work out their destiny in some sort of special relationship to the Great Russian people.
It seems clear that this relationship can be at best a federal one, under which the Ukraine would enjoy a considerable measure of political and cultural autonomy but would not be economically or militarily independent. Such a relationship would be entirely just to the requirements of the Great Russians themselves, it would seem, therefore, to be along these lines that U.S. objectives with respect to the Ukraine should be framed.
It should be noted that this question has far more than just a distant future significance. Ukrainian and Great Russian elements among the Russian emigre-opposition groups are already competing vigorously for U.S. support. The manner in which we receive their competing claims may have an important influence on the development and success of the movement for political freedom among the Russians. It is essential, therefore, that we make our decision now and adhere to it consistently. And that decision should be neither a pro-Russian one nor a pro-Ukrainian one, but one which recognizes the historical geographic and economic realities involved and seeks for the Ukrainians a decent and acceptable place in the family of the traditional Russian Empire, of which they form an inextricable part.
It should be added that while, as stated above, we would not deliberately encourage Ukrainian separatism, nevertheless if an independent regime were to come into being on the territory of the Ukraine through no doing of ours, we should not oppose it outright. To do so would be to undertake an undesirable responsibility for internal Russian developments. Such a regime would be bound to be challenged eventually from the Russian side.
If it were to maintain itself successfully, that would be proof that the above analysis was wrong and that the Ukraine does have the capacity for, and the moral right to, independent status.
Our policy in the first instance should be to maintain an outward neutrality, as long as our own interests—military or otherwise—were not immediately affected. And only if it became clear that an undesirable deadlock was developing, we would encourage a composing of the differences along the lines of a reasonable federalism. The same would apply to any other efforts at the achievement of an independent status on the part of other Russian minorities.
It is not likely that any of the other minorities could successfully maintain real independence for any length of time.
However, should they attempt it (and it is quite possible that the Caucasian minorities would do this), our attitude should be the same as in the case of the Ukraine. We should be careful not to place ourselves in a position of open opposition to such attempts, which would cause us to lose permanently the sympathy of the minority in question. On the other hand, we should not commit ourselves to their support to a line of action which in the long run could probably be maintained only with our military assistance.
5. THE CHOICE OF A NEW RULING GROUP
In the event of a disintegration of Soviet power, we are certain to be faced with demands for support on the part of the various competing political elements among the present Russian opposition groups. It will be almost impossible for us to avoid doing things which would have the effect of favoring one or another of these groups over its rivals. But a great deal will depend on ourselves, and on our concept of what we are trying to accomplish.
We have already seen that among the existing and potential opposition groups there is none which we will wish to sponsor entirely and for whose actions, if it were to obtain power in Russia, we would wish to take responsibility.
On the other hand, we must expect that vigorous efforts will be made by various groups to induce us to take measures in Russian internal affairs which will constitute a genuine commitment on our part and make it possible for political groups in Russia to continue to demand our support. In the light of these facts, it is plain then we must make a determined effort to avoid taking responsibility for deciding who would rule Russia in the wake of a disintegration of the Soviet regime. Our best course would be to permit all the exiled elements to return to Russia as rapidly as possible and to see to it, in so far as this depends on us, that they are all given roughly equal opportunity to establish their bids for power. Our basic position must be that in the final analysis the Russian people will have to make their own choices, and that we do not intend to influence those choices. We should therefore avoid having proteges, and should try to see to it that all of the competing groups receive facilities for putting their case to the Russian people through the media of public information. It is probable that there will be violence between these groups. Even in this instance, we should not interfere unless our military interests are affected or unless there should be an attempt on the part of one group to establish its authority by large-scale and savage repression along totalitarian lines, affecting not just the opposing political leaders but the mass of the population itself.
6. THE PROBLEM OF “DE-COMMUNIZATION”
In any territory which is freed of Soviet rule, we will be faced with the problem of the human remnants of the Soviet apparatus of power.
It is probable that in the event of an orderly withdrawal of Soviet forces from present Soviet territory, the local communist party apparatus would go underground, as it did in the areas taken by the Germans during the recent war. It would then probably re-emerge in part in the form of partisan bands and guerrilla forces. To this extent, the problem of dealing with it would be a relatively simple one; for we would need only to give the necessary arms and military support to whatever non-communist Russian authority might control the area and permit that authority to deal with the communist bands through the traditionally thorough procedures of Russian civil war.
A more difficult problem would be presented by minor communist party members or officials who might be uncovered and apprehended, or who might throw themselves on the mercy of our forces or of whatever Russian authority existed in the territory.
Here, again, we should refrain from taking upon ourselves the responsibility of disposing of these people or of giving direct orders to the local authorities as to how to do so. We would have a right to insist that they be disarmed and that they not come into leading positions in government unless they had given clear evidence of a genuine change of heart. But basically this must remain a problem for whatever Russian authority may take the place of the communist regime. We may be sure that such an authority will be more capable than we ourselves would be to judge the danger which ex-communists would present to the security of the new regime, and to dispose of them in such ways as to prevent their being harmful in the future. Our main concern should be to see that no communist regime, as such, is re-established in areas which we have once liberated and which we have decided should remain liberated from communist control. Beyond that, we should be careful not to become entangled in the problem of “de-communization.”
The basic reason for this is that the political processes of Russia are strange and inscrutable. They contain nothing that is simple, and nothing that can be taken for granted. Rarely, if ever, are the colors straight black or white. The present communist apparatus of power probably embraces a large proportion of those persons who are fitted by training and inclination to take part in the processes of government, Any new regime will probably have to utilize the services of many of these people in order to be able to govern at all. Furthermore, we are incapable of assessing in each individual case the motives which have brought individuals in Russia into association with the communist movement. We are also incapable of assessing the degree to which such association will appear discreditable or criminal to other Russians, in retrospect. It would be dangerous for us to proceed on the basis of any fixed assumptions in such matters. We must always remember that to be the subject of persecution at the hands of a foreign government inevitably makes local martyrs out of persons who might otherwise only have been the objects of ridicule.
We would be wiser, therefore, in the case of territories freed from communist control, to restrict ourselves to seeing to it that individual ex-communists do not have the opportunity to reorganize as armed groups with pretenses to political power and that the local non-communist authority is given plenty of arms and help in any measures which they may desire to take with respect to them.
We may say, therefore, that we would not make it our aim to carry out with our own forces, on territory liberated from the communist authorities, aпy large-scale program of de-communication, and that in general we would leave this problem to whatever local authority might supplant Soviet rule.