British policy on USSR 1947

Extract from report to the British Cabinet in 1947 summarising future British policy towards the USSR (Catalogue ref: CAB 21/1800)


33. From all the above factors we can now deduce the fundamentals of our Defence Policy:

  1. The supreme object of British policy is to prevent war, provided that this can be done without prejudicing our vital interests. This entails support of the United Nations and ability to defend our own interests.
  2. The most likely and most formidable threat to our interests comes from Russia, especially from 1956 onwards, and it is against this worst case that we must be prepared, at the same time taking every possible step to prevent it.
  3. The most effective step towards preventing war is tangible evidence that we possess adequate forces and resources, that we are fully prepared, and that we have the intention and ability to take immediate offensive action.
  4. Essential measures required in peace to give us a chance of survival and victory in the event of war are:
    1. Retaining at a high state of readiness properly balanced armed forces for immediate use on the outbreak of war, with the necessary reserves of resources to support them.
    2. Maintaining the united front of the British Commonwealth and doing everything possible to ensure that in the event of war we have the immediate and active support of all its members.
    3. Ensuring that we have the active and early support of the United States of America and of the Western European States.
    4. Increasing and exploiting our present scientific and technical lead, especially in the development of weapons of mass destruction.
    5. Actively opposing the spread of Russian influence by adopting a firm attitude to further Russian territorial and ideological expansion, particularly in all areas of strategic value to the defence of the British Commonwealth.
    6. Arresting by all possible means the deterioration that has already begun in our own position and prestige in the Middle East, and encouraging the continued independence of Greece and Turkey.
    7. Maintaining our Intelligence Organisations at a high standard of efficiency.
    8. Being prepared to take offensive air action from the outset since the war will rapidly reach a climax and the endurance of the United Kingdom cannot be guaranteed for any considerable period against attacks by modern weapons, still less by weapons of mass destruction. The best bases for this offensive action are United Kingdom, Middle East and if possible North- West India.
    9. Being ourselves prepared, equipped and able to use weapons of mass destruction as a part of this offensive action.
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