CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
SUBJECT: REACTIONS TO CERTAIN US MEASURES
IN THE BERLIN CRISIS
To estimate Soviet, Chinese Communist, and Free World reactions to total naval blockade of. or other maritime control measures imposed on, the countries of the Sino-Soviet Bloc in
response lo Soviet restrictions on access to Wcat Berlin.
For discussion of Communist Bloc and other reactions to other maritime and economic pressures, seeSoviet and Other Reactions to Various Couraea of Action RegardingatedOP SECRET, Limited Distribution, andProbable Soviet ReactionesternatedOP SECRET. Limited Distribution.
is assumed that in response to severe Sovieton Allied rights In West Berlin, such as restrictionswhich the Allies considered unacceptable, theestern blockade of the Sino-Soviet Bloc.
the discussion of Bloc reactions, except in adevoted to considerations of limited maritimeI2ff), it is assumed that the US, together with asits Allies as would agree to participate, hasavalof the outlets to the Baltic and Black Seas, of Sovietthe Barents and White Seas and the Pacific Ocean, and ofand North Vietnamese and North Korean ports,passage of ships of all powers to and from Bloc ports.
A COMPLETE BLOCKADE
1. Reactions of NATO and Japan. We believe that theof NATO members would be extremely reluctant toestern naval blockade which, however justified, would in their eyea constitute an act of war. Should the Soviet provocation begreat, there might be some supportlockade aseans of striking'back other than by Western military action in the Berlin area or the immediate initiation of general war. However, there would still be strong and probablyobjections to the impositionlockade on the groundslockade, instead of forcing the Soviets to back down, would probably lead to new Soviet reprisals against West Berlin or against NATO countries and would further increase the risk of general war. These objections would probably be strongly held
bymong othershe UK, Denmark, and Turkey, whose
cooperation would be all but essential to the enterprise.
ecision to blockade should be instituted following the failure of an attempt to obtain NATO agreement, the political consequences for NATO unity would be very serious and could be disastrous to the alliance. Efforts to secure the cooperation of Japan, which would be essentialully effective Pacific blockade, would almost certainly fail.
Soviet Reactions. Assuming, however, estern naval blockade could be established, it woulderious challenge to Soviet prestige. Probably the most importantunderlying the Soviet reaction would be the objectives of reasserting its power while continuing to try to avoid general
The Director for Intelligence, Joint Staff, believes that the tone ofs entirely too pessimistic and that this excessive pessimism is reflected throughout the Estimate. Sufficient weight is not given to the circumstances which must exist at the time the blockade would be applied. Considering that the blockade would be imposed onlyesult of "severe Soviet pressure" and aseans of striking back other than immediate initiation of generale believes that considerably more NATO and world support of such action would be forthcoming than is indicated in this Estimate.
war. While there would be .ionic economic dislocation -within the Bloc, economic considerations would not be so great as toignificant role in determining the Soviet reaction. The Soviet leaders would feel under eome compulsion to defend the interests of their Satellites and Asian Allies. Communist China would press them to take strong measures. However, the chief motive of their reaction would be the preservation of the image of the USSR In the world at largereat power which could not be coerced by naval controls imposed by other powers.
4. The Soviet leaders would, therefore, seek to exertstrong pressures. We believe that they would not react to the impositionlockade by initiating general war, but they would Immediatelyessation of the blockade andinitiatives designed to compel the Western Powers to do so. In attempting to reassert their power, the Soviet leaders would certainly threaten participating countries euch as Turkey and Denmark. At the leaat the Soviets would probably cut off all Western accees to West Berlin, if this had not already been done.
5. In addition, the Soviets would almost certainly respond initially by ordering their merchant ships at sea into close friendly or neutral porta, and instructing merchant ships already In port to remain there. However, they would alsorompt test of the blockade, and they would encourage and press neutrals to do We believe that initial Soviet teats of the blockade would occur in areas within the operating radius of Soviet naval surface and air forces where the Soviets would hope to prevail, andizable political or propaganda gain might be anticipated. Under suchthe Soviet forces almost certainly would not avoid combat, and as their reaction increased in intensity they would use naval surface ships, submarines, and aircraft, as appropriate. They mightounter blockade against the blockading ountries and threaten to enforce it both with their large submarine and mining capabilities. It is also possible that at this stage the Soviets would encourage diversions In the Far East. During this series of measures and countermeasures, the danger of escalation to general war would always exist.
6. At the same time, as these developments progressed, the Soviets would of course recognize that the situation was moving very close to all-out war, and that the blockadeubstantialof the willlngneaa of the US and its principal allies to run grave risks in defenae of their Berlin position. We think that the Sovieta would be Impreesed by thla demonstration of the Western attitude, and they would probably accompany their forceful countermeasuree by movee designed toeneral conflict. Almost certainly they would reiterate their willingness to negotiate. They would probably stimulate and encourage world opinion, which would surely befor both the principal conteetantB to come to terms. They would probably agreeeference of the matter to the UN, where they would expect to enjoy considerable advantages. Theirposition, however, would continue to depend on their estimate of the intentions of the Western Powershis we cannot predict. Although they might adopt positions designed to alleviate thecrisis, we do not think that they would abandon their essential objectives with respect to Berlin.
ChineseReactiona. Tho Chinese Communists would feel the economic effectslockade, would deeply resent it, and would resist it to the limit of their capability. The Chinese leaders would press the Soviets to react strongly, and it is possible that they would with Soviet concurrence instigate new diversionary moves in the Far East.
World Reactions. The general reaction in the rest of the world, including almost all neutral countries, would be adverselockade. Regardless of justificationlockade in US eyes, the vast majority of people would not see sufficient relation betweeneasure and the strong Soviet pressure on Berlin to justify the measure. They would regard itove broadening the area of conflict to large parts of the world, and dangerously raising-the risks of general war. Even those who favor or at least do not oppose the Western position on Berlin would for the most part doubt the efficacy and fear the consequenceslockade.
The Director of Intelligence, Joint Staff, believes this reaction is only probable. See his footnote to paragraph 1.
Neutral and some allied opinion would consider that the Weet had weakened ita moral and legal arguments on "access rights" by Itself denying presently accepted rights of access and commerce among nations not officially at war. Nations jealous over newly.won sovereignty, and not without memory of colonial means ofwould be inclined to sympathize with the Soviet position even where previously they had not, or had harbored roughly equal wariness toward the Western and the Communist camps.
A number of neutral, and some pro-Western, countries would atand to loselockade. Soviet and other Bloc economic aid and trade are at present significant elements in the economies of the UAR, India, Guinea, and Indonesia. In addition, Cuba would be hit very hard by the blockade, especially in regard to Its supply
sum, the oppositionlockade in the worldwould probably be sufficient to assure UN condemnation ofand help build pressures in and on the Western Powersa solution to the Berlin issue and abandon the blockade.
LIMITED MARITIME CONTROL MEASURES
Regional Blockade. The US and its Allies might agree to cut ofl Bloc access to specific areas, such as the Caribbean, by seizing or diverting Bloc ships or Bloc cargo under otherhe Soviets would consider the affront to their prestige as little less than in the caseomplete blockade. Their reactions would probably be vigorous, and they would probably In retaliation Instituterestrictive actions where they found it possible. Their reactions in Berlin and perhaps elsewhere would probably be as strong as inaseomplete blockade. The other countries where shipping and trade were affected would aurely protest the action strongly. Opinion In the world in general would be less strongly hostile than to ablockade, but the chief objections would not be significantly moderated: concern over the consequences of broadened as well as heightened tension, and failure to see an adequate relationship to the stated justification and objective. The UN would probably be called upon to condemn the action, and would probably do so.
Seizure of Lend-Lease Ships. One measure which might be taken wouldS attempt to repossess theoviet-operated ships
under Lend-Lease, to which the US still holds title. Theseare among the largest which the Soviets operate and theyignificant part of ita overseas cargo. The Soviets would probably protest the procedure strongly, and would take steps to protect thesefrom eeisure, probably through keeping them out of areas' where they could be seized. While the Soviets would find the measure politically embarrassing and irritating, they probably would not react strongly to what would appear to be an ineffective response to their pressures on Berlin. World opinion would probably not be greatly excited by the move, though many neutrals and some allies would consider the measure as ineffective and inappropriate. If this were any important part of the response to heavy Soviet pressures on Berlin, Germany and our NATO Allien In general would be diacouraged by what they wouldeak and tangential response. The US legal position would be good, although the invocation of longreaidual rightsetaliatory purpose might bluntof the validity of the US clalme.
- .Original document.