National Security Council Report 68 (NSC-68) was a 58-page formerly-classified report issued by the United States National Security Council on April 14, 1950, during the presidency of Harry S. Truman. Written during the formative stage of the Cold War, it was top secret until the 1970s when it was made public. It was one of the most significant statements of American policy in the Cold War. NSC-68 largely shaped U.S. foreign policy in the Cold War for the next 20 years.
By 1949, events had reinforced the need for better coordination of national security policy: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed, military assistance for Europe was begun, the Soviet Union detonated an atomic bomb, and the Communists won control in China over the Nationalists. The United States Department of State seized the opportunity to review U.S. strategic policy and military programs, overcoming opposition from Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson and his allies in the Bureau of the Budget. Accounts of the deliberation on "NSC-68" indicate that the Defense Department representatives on the committee initially resisted proposals that would exceed the existing $13.5 billion ceiling on defense spending. The report known as NSC-68, was requested by President Truman on 31 January 1950, following a feasibility study of both the US and the USSR acquiring thermonuclear weapons; he directed the secretaries of State and Defense "to undertake a reexamination of our objectives in peace and war and of the effect of these objectives on our strategic plans." The first report was submitted on 7 April, and then passed on to the NSC for further consideration.
NSC Study Group (Known)
- Paul Nitze, Chair
- John P. Davis
- Robert Tufts
- Robert Hooker
- Chip Bohlen
- Major General Truman Landon, Joint Chiefs Representative
- Samuel S. Butano
Originally, President Truman did not support NSC-68 when it was first brought to him in 1950. He believed that it was not specific about which programs would be affected or changed and it also didn't go well with his previous defense spending limits. Truman sent it back for further review until he finally approved it in 1951.
The document outlined the de facto national security strategy of the United States for that time (though it was not an official NSS in the form we know today) and analyzed the capabilities of the Soviet Union and of the United States of America from military, economic, political, and psychological standpoints.
The NSC-68 described the challenges facing the United States in cataclysmic terms. "The issue that faces us are momentous," the document stated, "involving the fulfillment or destruction not only of this Republic but of civilization itself." 
- Block, Fred L. "The Origins of International ..." Google Books. 28 Apr. 2010. Web. 29 Apr. 2010. 
- Paul H. Nitze, S. Nelson Drew, Ed., NSC-68: forging the strategy of containment, Brief Chronology, p.17-19
- Paul H. Nitze, S. Nelson Drew, Ed., NCS-68: Forging the Strategy of Containment. p6, National Defense University, Washington DC: 1994. Google Book Source 23 Apr. 2009
- Nash, Gary B., Julie Roy Jeffrey, John R. Howe, Peter J. Frederick, Allen F. Davis, Allan M. Winkler, Charlene Mires, and Carla Gardina Pestana. The American People, Concise Edition Creating a Nation and a Society, Combined Volume (6th Edition). New York: Longman, 2007.
NSC-68 - text at FAS