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45. Airgram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State/1/

Moscow, March 14, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.61/3-1461. Secret; Limit Distribution.

G-666. Returning from my meeting with Khrushchev at Novosibirsk I had a two-hour conversation with Mr. Dobrynin, head of the America Section in the Foreign Office. I found this of considerable interest, particularly in view of the fact that Dobrynin has served in the United States and is as friendly toward us as any communist official I know. I began by expressing discouragement at the prospect of reaching agreement with Soviet Union on major issues in view of the wide disparity between the way the two countries saw the same problem. I suggested there was a double distortion in the Soviet view of these issues. In the first place they saw everything through the prism of Marxism and secondly, I could not help but believe that they did not get an objective picture of a given situation because of the tendency which had existed for years of reporting facts which tended to support Soviet positions. When Dobrynin asserted that they had excellent factual information, I agreed this might be true but I was convinced they did not understand what motivated western countries.

Dobrynin said that from his experience in the United States he thought we would fall behind the Soviet Union in economic development because we lack a goal. The Soviet people have the goal of overtaking the United States and are prepared to sacrifice and work hard for this. In his opinion this was far more effective than in the US where many people are satisfied with what they have and see no reason to strain themselves to increase production. I agreed that there was something in this thesis. Dobrynin went on to observe that when the Soviets achieve their goal of overtaking us this would have a major effect upon the standing of our two countries in the rest of the world. He said the US was a rich country and therefore all less developed countries looked to us for assistance and this gave us great influence. In the future it would be the Soviet Union to which they would turn.

Latin America having come up in this connection, Dobrynin said he thought we had made every possible mistake in dealing with Castro's Cuba. Castro had made overtures toward us which had been rejected, he had visited the US and had received what amounted to a rebuff, and each move we made to punish him was met by a counter-move on his part. I suggested that the opposite was true in that we had been most patient and had finally broken relations when virtually forced to do so by Castro. I referred also to his dictatorial moves in dismissing most of the judiciary and in arbitrarily executing hundreds of honest Cubans. Dobrynin said that bloodshed was of course deplorable. He pointed out that Lenin had wished to avoid it in the Soviet Union but was obliged to resort to terror in order to deal with counter-revolution.

Dobrynin discussed the Laos situation and our efforts to curtail the UN agenda, which I have already reported./2/

/2/See Document 34.

In this connection I urged that at any time there was doubt about our intentions or our policies, they should ask us frankly rather than guess. He admitted that there were frequent misunderstandings. I pointed out that the removal of such misunderstandings was one of the principal reasons for the current approach to Mr. Khrushchev.

Discussing the Congo, Dobrynin said he thought our policy was influenced by our commercial interests there. I said I was sure this was not the case and thought we had very little commercial interest in that country. He mentioned diamond interests and oil companies. I said that we had important interests in some of the newly-established African countries but I thought that the Congo had been dominated commercially by the Belgians and I was not aware of any important tie-up with American industry. In any event I could assure him that there were no commercial interests in a position to influence US policy decisions. (This seems to me a good example of the Marxist slant which Soviets give to every problem.)

I was struck by the extent to which Dobrynin is convinced that the Soviet Union will achieve its goals and that democratic capitalism is doomed.

In the course of the discussion Dobrynin asked for my opinion of Ambassador Menshikov. I did not consider it expedient to answer this directly. I referred however to his intense activity in buttonholing various American public figures and by other indirect remarks indicated that I did not think he had been very successful. Later on I had occasion to remark that the type of official who in my opinion would succeed in the US was Kuznetsov. Dobrynin remarked "A number of us in the Foreign Ministry would agree with you.''

Thompson

 

46. Editorial Note

Ambassador Thompson offered his analysis of Chairman Khrushchev's thinking on Berlin in telegram 2209 to the Department of State, March 16, 1961. "All my diplomatic colleagues who have discussed matter appear to consider that in absence negotiations Khrushchev will sign separate treaty with East Germany and precipitate Berlin crisis this year. My own view is that while he would in these circumstances almost certainly conclude separate treaty, he would likely attempt avoid immediate crisis on Berlin by some method such as instructing East Germans not to interfere with Allied access for given period of time." For text, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, volume XIV, pages 30-33.

 

FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES - 1961-1963 - Volume V - Soviet Union P22

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