REVIEW OF CURRENT COMMUNIST ATTITUDES TOWARD GENERAL WAR (SNIE 11-4-55)

Created: 2/15/1955

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5 February 5

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REVIEW OF CURRENT COMMUNIST ATTITUDES TOWARD GENERAL WAR

CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM RELEASE IN FULL

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DtOBClOB OF CENTRAL DfTELUQKNCE

The following organlzitiona participated tn tie preparation cf this, estimate: the Central intelligence Agency aid the Intelligence organizations o! the Departments ol Stile, tie Army, the Navy, tne Air Force, and The.

C^carred tn by tht iM-ixi.rc.v-DVISORY fOMMlTTE*.

liS Concurring were Special AtSlstanl. Intelligence.of State;Assistant rnief of. Dcpcrtrre't cf the Army; the DirectorNam! Intelligence; the Pirxior of Intelligence. USAF. and lhe Deputy Directorlelligenct. The Joint Staff. Set, hoz-tver. footnotes to pur. graphs S.nd S. Theniryy Commission Reprcsentatlce to the IAC and the Assistant to the Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, abstained, tht lubfeel beinn outside of then- fii'UdcnoN

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REVIEW OF CURRENT COMMUNISTOWARD GENERAL WAR

THE PROBLEM

To examine, in the light of recent developments. Soviet and Chinese Communist willingness to assume risks of war,

SCOPE

Previous estimates (most recently, "Soviet Capabilities andCourses of Action throughave dealt with this problemong-term basis. The present estimate is confinedhort-terra, and is writtenwith reference to the situation respecting Formosa and the offshore islands.

ESTIMATE

COMMUNIST ATTITUDES

hinese Communist propaganda andrepresentations demonstrate that the regime is strongly committed to theof Formosa, tlie Pescadores, and theIslands. The Chinese Communist leaders give every Indication of holding lo thisMoreover. Peiping has long regarded the continued presence in the Formosa Strait and on Formosa itselfationalist China supported militarily by lhc US as atong-range threat to its security.

2 ClVe believe that thc Chinese Communists will refrain from courses of action which they estimate will involve them in full-scalewith thc United States

owever, we believe that the Chineseattitude with respect lo war is bold, sometimes boisterous, sometimesand that the Chinese Communists are

therefore likely to test the upper limits of US toleranceariety oforeover, in the light ofCommunist activities In recent months and their reactions to the recent US policy pronouncements on thc defense of Formosa and the Pescadores, we are not confident Uiat the Chinese Communists clearly understand which, iff the oflshore islands the US would defend wlUi its own forces, theunder which the US would defend them, or the extent to which the defense would be carried. We believe, therefore, that the Chinese Communists may miscalculate the degree of risk which military actions on their part In Uils area would entail

n any event, we believe that the Chinese Communists will probably take military action against thc ofTshore islands of sufficient scale

Deputy Director for InteUieence. The Joint Staff, would delete the words "If any"

2

test US determination to halt their advance et some point. Tliey might even* attempt to take Quemoy. Malsu. or Nanchi regardless of whether they estimated that the US would participate in thc defense of these Islands They may not be convinced, In the light of the restraint exercised by US policy in Korea and Indochina, that the US would in fact react to attacks on thc offshore islands by attack's on the mainland. Or, they maylhat the scale of any US reaction, even If it involved some attacks against thecould be controlled by them, perhaps by diplomatic actionritical juncture, in which they would count heavily on theinfluence of US allies on US policy. Finally, they may believe Uiat the US would not be willing to react to their actions in ways which could lead by stages to full-scale war against them, and perhaps eventually to war involving the USSR. If the Communistdid in fact prove to beeries of actions and counteractions might be set in tram which could bring about unlimited hos-tOiUes between Communist China and Uie US-

SOVIET ATTITUDES

Wo believe that the Soviet leaders view general warazardous gamble which could threaten the survival of their system. Accordingly, we believe that they will notinitiate general war, and will try to avoid courses of action which In theirwould clearly involve substanUal risk of general war. Wc believe Uiat the recent changes ln Soviet leadership do not indicate any Increased disposition on the part of the regime to riskar.

The Kremlin would not be deterred by the risk of general war from taking counteraction against any Western acUon which it regarded as an Imminent threat to its security.we see no evidence that the Kremlinany recent acUon by the Western Powers, Including progress so far made toward Germans constituting such an imminent threat.

"The Assistant Chief of, Department of the Army, believes that the worda "mightshould read "probably wiU."

lie new Soviet leadership has expressed "full approval and support" (or Chinese"policy" with respect to Formosa and the offshore Islands, but has left uncertain the extent to which thc USSK wouldhinese Communist effort lo take Formosa and the offshore Islands by military action. We believe that Moscow might see certain advantages in clashes between Chineseand US forces, at least as long as It believed that the clashes would be limited and localised. Bolh Soviet and Chineseleaders probably estimate that strictly local conflict between the Chineseand the US, with thc accompanyingof international tensions, would serve their interests. They may estimate, forthat the US in these circumstances would not have thc support of Its allies or of world opinionefense of the offshore islands, and that the result would be anIsolation of the US. Underircumstances they might believe thatrogress toward Its objectives elsewhere.luding West German rearmament, would be impeded, and that Soviet aims would thereby be served.

owever, the Kremlin would almostbe concerned that miliiary conflictthe CS and Communist China could not be kept limited and localized. It would almost certainly esUmate that unlimited war between the US and Communist China not only would endanger the existence of Uieally of uie USSR, but also would involve substantial risk of spreading into general war. Hence, It would probably attempt toestraining influence If il Judged Uiatdanger of unlimited war between Uie US and Communist China were developing. If such war did occur, we believe Uiat Uie USSR would support its ally in carrying on Uie war, but would not assist with Ils own forces to such an extent as, in its Judgment, would cause thc US to attack targets In Soviet tcrri-

subject will be treated more fully ln, 'Trobablc Soviet Response to the RaUItca-Uon of the Parischeduled for completion

tory. Wc believe that thc USSR would openly intervene in the war if the Soviet leaderssuch intervention necessary to save

the Chinese Communist regime, but the Soviet leaders would still try to confine the area of hostilities to the Par East'

Director of Naval Intelligence and thcDirector for Intelligence, Tlie Joint Stan, believe that the following should be substituted for the last sentence:

"Should the conflict progress so far thatof the Chinese Communist regime appeared imminent, we believe that the Soviet leaders would recognize thai open inlcrvcn-Uon on their part against US forces sufficient toie Chinese regime would involve

grave risk of general war "Ilh the ts Their decision would probably br based tr. esaHtel military, political, and economic lengths, with particular emphasis on tbc etrrsi*.In nuclear stockpiles anc ccliverj capabilities. We beuevu that tbeader: would probably concludehe;the conflict could not bebe Far East, and that Soviet KrvrjUwui-xufncK-nt toum Is "ia

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