LIKELIHOOD OF GENERAL WAR THROUGH 1957 (SNIE 11-54)

Created: 2/15/1954

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

COPY NO. ASS 1ST ANT DIRSCTab.OMe

NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE

LIKELIHOOD OF GENERAL WAR7

4 Approved4 CUSS CHWCC PublUhed4 **

CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM RELEASE IN FULL

T7i* /nfeilfoenee Advisory Committee concurred in tntt eitlmate onebruary ISM. See, however, footnotes of the Deputy Director for Intelligence, Tht Joint Staff. fond 6. Tht FBI abstained, the mbfect

being outndt Of Hi larfxficfton. The following member organUatxsnt af the rnttUSgenet Advisory Committee participated wtth the CentralAgency In the preparation of this eitlmate: The intelligence organisations of the Departments of State, tht Army, the Xawy. the Air Force, and The Joint Staff.

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LIKELIHOOD OF GENERAL WAR7

THE PROBLEM

To estimate the likelihood of general war with the USSR during the period

involvinginimum the certainty ofdestruction In the USSR and at the same time carrying with it the risk that the Soviet system itself would be destroyed.'

n the basis of the forcgoing^we believe it unlikely that the Kremlin will deliberately Initiate general war during the periode also believe that the Kremlin will try to avoid courses of action which in its judgment would clearly involve substanUal risk of general

1 In making this estimate It Is assumed that there wiU be no basic change In US policy with respect to the utlllzauon of nuclear weapons for defense against aggression.

It Is thc view of the Deputy Director forThe Joint Staff, thathould read as follows:

t seems logical, therefore, to esUmate that the SovieU should prefer to avoid general wareans of accomplishing their objectives and that thc Kremlin should try to avoid courses of action which In IU Judgment would clearlysubsUnUal risk of global conflict. Weprobable lhat7 (he odds are somewhat against Soviet InltlaUon of general war. Nevertheless, the Intelligence supporting this esUmate Is Insufficient to warrant athat the USSR would not resort to such acUon should the Soviet leaders believe:

o. That they had the capability toAllied forces and so disrupt and isolate the United States as to provide posiUve assurance of the success of Soviet effortsorld-wide basis.

a shift in Ihe balance of powerand that it consUtuled ato the security oljhe ussb thatsuccessfully countercdonly by general war.

a Western attack on the USSRand unavoidable and thatof surviving such an altack wouldby seising the lnlUatlve.

ESTIMATE

We believe that the Kremlin will remain fundamentally hostile to the US and that the capability of the USSR to wage general war. Including its capability to attack theUS, will continue to increase during the period of this estimate

The Kremlin probably considers thatwiU continue to exist during the period7 for increasing Sovietand perhaps expanding the area of Soviet control by methods short of general war. As its major course of action short of general war the USSR will continue to use the pressure of its growing military capabilities and its international Communist apparatus to try to undermine the political, economic, and psychological strength of the free world into give the Kremlin greater initiative ln the struggle for its ultimate objectiveommunist world dominated from Moscow and to reduce the freedom of action of the US and its allies to combat It.

Soviet Bloc superiority in ground forces employing conventional weapons will continue throughout the period of this estimate. The Soviet stockpile of nuclear weapons wiltgrow. The Kremlin is aware, however, that the West will7 have superior slrategic air power and navalarger atomic stockpile, and greater industrialThe Kremlin also probably considers that the USSR Is making substantial progress toward reducing its disadvantages in these respects, particularly as regards stockpile and types of nuclear weapons.

We believe that during the period of this estimate thc Communist rulers will continue to consider generalazardous gamble.

c believe, however, that the Kremlin would not be deterred by the risk of general war from taking counteractionsestern action which it considered anthreat to Soviet security. Moreover, the USSR or one of the Soviet Bloc countries might take actionituation in which the US or its allies, rather than yield an important position, might have to lake counteraction Involving grave risk of general war with the USSR. Thus general war might occur between now and the end7 as the

climaxeries of actions and counter-actions, initiated by either side, which neither side originally intended to lead to general war*

'It Is the view of the Deputy Director forThe Joint Staff, thathould read as follows:

n addlUoo. general war might occurnow and the end7 as the climaxeries of actions and counteracUons, Initiated by either side, which neither side originallyto lead to general war.

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