The NSC-68 or the United States Objectives and Program for National security is a confidential 66-page national security document. It was drafted by the state department, department of defense, and other intelligence agencies and presented to President Truman in 1950.
How did the document reflect the anxieties faced by America after world war two? The document in many reflected the anxieties of America. Firstly, it showed one of the great concerns of America after the end of world war two. This concern was related to the cold war and was directly related to the USSR. It can be said that this was the main argument behind this NSC-68. It showed that the prime motive of America was to limit the Soviet expansion and its influence. This was the major concern since America was keen to limit the influence of the USSR.
Besides this reflects another concern which was more of an ideological nature. After the world war, two major ideologies that competed in this world were socialism and capitalism. The document reflects the growing concern in America about socialism. The success of socialism was a direct threat to capitalism and it would have undermined the ideological edifice on which the American nation was built. In addition to this, this also reflects the concerns of America for the domestic consequences of the appeal of socialism. The appeal of equality of socialism has perturbed officials in America as it would have heavily influenced people.
In addition to ideological conflict, NSC-68 also shows the power struggle or competition for global hegemony between the two global powers. After the end of second world war two, two global powers emerged on the international level. These were the USSR and America. As happened in the international realm, the two powers were keen to maintain their hegemony and increase their influence around the world. So, the documents mirror the eagerness on part of America to sustain its hegemony and curb the rise of any power that tries to unsettle the dominant position of America in the international realm.
The NSC-68 also shows the strength of America. The document has argued for high military spending to build up the conventional forces which require high taxation. Initially, Truman was reluctant to adopt this as it would have earned the ire of the American public. So what does this show? This shows the deeply entrenched democratic traditions of America where the strength of public opinion has always been the cause of concern for those in power. It also shows how public opinion has kept a check on the officials and prevented them from adopting dictatorial inclinations. In another state where democratic credentials and institutions have been weak, it would not have been a concern for the President to be so cautious about public opinion. So, the reluctance on part of the American president shows the strength of American democracy and its institutions.
Besides this, the document has asked for a large military buildup to counter the USSR. It means that such a large-scale military buildup would have required a large and strong economy. After the second world war, it has emerged as the largest economy in the world. To support such a large military build-up shows the strength of the American economy and its ability to sustain this. It means that the edifice of the American economy was erected on a strong foundation that has the ability and capability to help America in times of crisis.
Moreover, it also showed another strength of America which is to adopt a proactive policy in countering any challenge rather than having a reactionary approach. The buildup of armed forces and diplomatic efforts to counter the threat of the USSR reflects that America was proactive in its approach to foresee the emerging threat and be prepared for them.
So, was the strategy successful and reasonable for America in countering the USSR? It can be said that it was reasonable at that time. After the end of the war, the Soviets showed aggressive tendencies such as in Yugoslavia and North Korea. These actions reflected the aggressive and warlike posture of the USSR to spread its ideology. It means that it was necessary for American to raise its military buildup and expedite its diplomatic engagement to prepare itself and its allies for any surprise aggression for the USSR.
It can also be said that the strategy was successful and has proved so to America. The increased military spending from America forced the USSR to follow the course. As the economy of the USSR was not of enough capacity to support such a large-scale build-up. As a result, it can be seen that the USSR was mild in its approach and wanted to limit the heavy strain on the economy.
The strategy also proved successful as it conveyed to the Soviets that America was investing in its armed forces and military resources which means that the latter would respond swiftly and severely if any aggression is taken by the former. Such a message acted as a strong deterrent for the USSR to avoid taking any misadventure against America and its allies. So, the strategy outlined in the NSC-68 indirectly forced the soviets to avoid any military adventure against America.