NSC 68 is a document, written in 1950 to analyze the course of action available to the President of the United States in defense to the Soviet Union during the ongoing Cold War. NSC 68 focuses on the military, economic, political and psychological standpoints of the United States in relation to the Soviet Union. NSC 68 was presented to President Harry S. Truman by his National Security Council and was primarily written by Paul H. Nitze. Nitze proposed that the U.S. take a more drastic and aggressive form of foreign policy to safeguard the nation, as well as the free world from communist rule. NSC 68 focused on the need for a massive military buildup, an increase in military funding for the armed forces, and authorization for the development of the hydrogen bomb.
In response to President Truman's request to the National Security Council, NSC 68 was to conduct "a re-examination of our objectives in peace and war and of the effect of these objectives on our strategic plans". NSC 68 called for immediate action and contained a detailed outline portraying a proposal for extreme changes in the current U.S. foreign policy of containment. NSC 68 proposed the need for an aggressively larger, and more prepared military, including higher funding to back its expansion. At the time of NSC 68 most agreed that diplomatic solutions were fully exhausted and military might was the only thing that would slow the Communist expansion.
NSC 68 was an important Cold War document because it presented a world view of that conflict, which engaged U.S. society for nearly forty years. It portrayed a world divided by an epic struggle between two ideologies, in which the outcome could only be victory or defeat. It provided the justification for rearming the United States after World War II while prompting an arms race. Although actual war with the Soviet Union never occurred, NSC 68 helped put the United States on a war footing for generations, thereby contributing to the shaping of American society and culture during the second half of the twentieth century. NSC-68 was an important part of an overall shift in American foreign policy to a full containment strategy that was established by following administrations.