CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
SUBJECT: Consequences of the Korean Incident
Purposes In Launching tho Northern Korean iHtack.
A. Apart froa Immediate strategic advantages, the basic Soviet objectives in launching the northern Korean attack probably wereost the strength of OS eommitmenta implicit in the policy of contain*-ment of Communist expansion!ain political advantages for the further expansion of Communism in both Asia and Europe by undermining the confidence of non-Communist states In the value of US supporto
, B, The Soviet estimate of tho reaction to the North Korean attack was probablyN action would be alow andhe US would not intervene with ita ownouth Korea wouldcollapse promptly, presenting the UNait accompli; (A) the episode would therefore be completely localized;he fighting could be portrayed aa US-instigated South Korean aggression and the North Korean victoryictory of Asiatic nationalism against Western coloniallsm0
Developments from the Korean Incident,,-
There are at present four major alternative courses of action open to the USSR, They are not mutually exclusive courses of action. In particular. It la estimated that the USSR is very likely to try to prolong the fighting in Korea( alternative "B" below) for the abort run and thenew weeks or months. Ifppear favorable to Soviet leaders, shift to the more aggressive course of creating similar incidents elsewhere (alternatlve'C* below). The alternatives are examined not in order of probability, but In order ef increasing risk of global war and Increasing expenditure of effort on the part of the USSR?
The USSR may localize the Korean fighting, permitting US forces to drive the North Koreans back toh Parallel and refrain from ere-ting similar ineldente elsewhere. In tbe meantime, the USSR would remain uncommitted in Korea and would develop the propaganda themes of US aggression and imperialistic Interference in domestic affaire of an Asiatic nation a
Notes This memorandum has not been coordinated with the Intelligence organizations of tho Departments of State, Army, Navy,ond the Air Force.
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this alternative is the most cautious course for the USSR to tele. Ite adoption would indicate complete surprise at the DSto the Korean incident and would suggest strongly that the DSSR was unwilling to runinimum risk" oflobal conflict Involving the US and the USSR.
reetige and political influence would be substantially augmented, particularly with Western European allies and other nations aligned with the OS.
Soviet prestige and Influence would be damaged, but there would be condensations in the form of secondary political gains that would accrueesult of*
tho "peace campaign" end portraying themilitary aggressor;
the theme of Asian nationalism versus Ueatern
the forth Korean and Chinese CcexsmistSouth Korea as an embarrassment to developmentonstructive USpolicy in Korea,
This alternative couroe of action ia unlikolyj Soviet advantages would be secondary, cooperatively long-range, and intangible, while Soviet disadvantages would be immediate.
AlterpqUTv The OSSR nay localise the Korean fighting, still refrain from creating similar incidents eleeubere, but ln order to prolong OS
involvement in Korea, give increasing material aid to tho North Koreans.
perhaps employing Chinese Communist troops, either covertly or overtly/ The USSR would remain uncomltted in Korea and would develop the propaganda themee of OS aggression and imperialistic interference in domestic affaire of an Asiatic nation.
J' alternativeoderately cautious course for the
OSSR to take. The DSSR would probably consider that itslight risk oflobal conflict involvingand the
US prestige would be seriously damaged if the OSSR succeeded in prolonging the incident in this way6 Western European allies and other nations aligned with the US would question the iaaaodlate military value of DS commitments even though expecting then to be honored.
Soviet prestige would be augmented If the fighting in Korea were prolonged without an open Soviet conroitmontc
U. Tne USSR would obtain appreciable secondary, comparatively long-range gaina in political influenceesult of promoting the "peace campaign" and portraying US as imperialistic western aggressor in Asia, unless successfully counteredS "Truth" campaign.
involvement of US military forces in Korea wouldUS capabilities to support similar commitments elsewhere.Western European allies of the US would feel dangerously exposed
for some time (even if tha USartial mobilisation for war),
USSR probably will adopt thia alternative courseat least for tho short run, since tbere would be fewor risks and the Soviet gains would be appreciable.
. 7hU alternative will appear especially attractive to the USSR because at any time, if conditions appeared favorable to Soviet leaders, the USSR oould shift to the more ambitious program (alternativemaadlutolyn which alternative "B* would merelyirst phase.
Alternative C. The USSR, while attempting to prolong the fighting in Korea as in alternativeay also attempt to disperse and perhaps overstrain US military forces-in-readiness byeries of incidonts similar to the Korean affair. Without directly and openly Involving Soviet forces, such incidents could be created in Formosa, Indochina, Burma, Iran, Yugoslavia, and Oraeee. The effects ofravated by renewed pressure on Berlin and, possibly,
* .ualternative wouldomparatively aggressive course
for the USSR to take. Its adoption would indicate willingness to run
an appreciable risk oflobal conflict because of the possible
US reaction. The USSR could easily turn to this alternative at any
time, but it Is not likely to turn to It until the USSR has fully analyzed
the implications of ths US commitment In Korea.
employed its armed forces in support of ItsKorea, the US will have to honor similar coraaitments or lose mostadvantages of tha policy of supporting the Korean commitment,
US does not have tha military forcea-in-roadinessits commitments with US military forces and equipment Inother than Korea (perhaps none)ubstantial increasemiliUry forces and industrial productivity in ths militaryabout what would amountartial (asa general) mobilisation for war.
Ito Deep involvement of OS military forces In tbe Par East or Near East would laave Western Europe even more dangerously exposed than at presento
5. At acme point further Korean^atyla incidents (requiring the commitment of US forces to stabilise the aituation) presumably would force the US to adopt one of the following alternatives:
the policy of general containment by limiting
OS comndtmonts and by planning to combat Soviet acgreasion only at those selected points where existing US military strength would permit5
(t) begin partial military and industrial mobilisation in an attempt to enable the US to combat any further Soviet-sponsored aggression anvwriero in the world; or
(c) begin total mobilization to enable the US to threaten to meet any Soviet or Soviet-sponsored aggression with war agalnat the USSR.
Tho USSR probably will adopt alternative "C" sooner or later If Soviet loudera do not estimate the risk of global war involved to be substantial or are preparedlobal war if it develops*
7= If Soviet development of this alternative course of action leadseneral US mobilisation,lt appears at thie.tlme that the USSR probably would In that event continue limited aggressions, accompanied by ths customary "peace* propaganda, discounting actual US Initiationeneral war and perhapa estimating that the political and economic strains of mobilisation would weaken or discredit the US and its forelm policy* The USSR, however, may:
(a) desist from further aggression of the Korean typo,lobal war and taking mobilisation as an Indication of greater risk than Soviet leaders had anticipated ir. choosing this course of action; or
US-initiated global war, atteapt to seizeby immediately attackingin effect turningbelow).
. The USSR may consider US intervention in Korea eitherprelude of an inevitable global war or as justification forglobal war for which it iseither case ImmediatelyOS and its
1. nothing In tho Koruan situation as yet indicates that the USSR would deliberately decide to employ Soviet forces in direct military action precipitating global war. ecision is unlikely if, as now seems probable, Soviet leaders believe thatt
there are continuing opportunities to expand Soviet Influence by the comparatively clteap and safe means of Soviet-controlled Communist revolutionary activity (including propaganda, sabotage,guerrilla warfare, and organized military action by local Communistin Korea), whioh can be supported by Soviet diplomacy and the mere threat of Soviet military strength-in-readin-iss; and
there ia substantial risk involved for the USSR in the global war that almost certainly would ensue from direct military action by Soviet farces.
2* The USSR would appear to have little reason to be pessimistic about gains by methods short of global war, particularly by adopting the courses of action described ia Alternatives "B" and nC" above.
3o Tho USSR is unlikely to choose the alternative ofglobal war at this time in view ofi (a) the generalthe US and its allies In total power-potential; and (b) tha factpresent Soviet atomic capability Is inaufflcient to neutralizeretaliatory oapabill ties and to offset the generallyof the US and its allies by interfering witn the US mill tarindustrial
IH- &ffactaailure of US Korces to Hold South Korea.,
A. Tho imraediataailure to hold South Korea wouldamaging blow to Us prestige with loss In political influence greater than the loss that would have been incurred If the US had not undertaken to support ita moral commitment In South Korea>
OS would bo confrontedccepting the loss of USttemptingaa much prestige as possible by committing substantialresourcesiffloult and costly invasion of an area
which is not of primary strategic importance to the over-all US military position. In either case foreign policy and military capabilitlea would be discredited at home and abroad.
US forces were expelled from Korea, tbe USSR wouldalternatives described abow (Section II)B It mightOowever, to postpone further aggressive action elsewherehad determined whether,esult of the loss of worldtho effectlvonoaa of US aid, other areas might not be broughtaphere of Influence through intimidation alone*.Original document.