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13. Airgram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department
Moscow, January 24, 1961.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.61/1-2961. Secret; Limit Distribution. Also printed in Declassified Documents, 1977, 73C.
G-504. During my conversation with Khrushchev on January 21 he expressed sympathy for difficulties I had faced in Moscow which he attributed to uneven policy U.S. Government past eight years. After his expressing his usual opinions on Eisenhower and Dulles, I said I had become convinced I had been a poor Ambassador as there was clearly wide misunderstanding on both sides, but particularly Soviet. I referred to his January 6 speech/2/ and said I thought major part of difficulty was that Soviets interpreted everything in terms of class struggle and saw the world only through Marxist eyes. I said Soviets seemed to think we were concerned about Communism as an economic system. This was not the case. Many Americans thought of Soviet Union in terms of worst days of Stalin whereas Soviets thought of the West as in the days of Marx. There have been changes on both sides, but their margin of error was greater. What worried the West was not economic and social organization, but concern that Soviet Union itself desired to dominate the world with Communism as means to this end. We believed every country should decide its own system and if they freely decided on Socialism or Communism that was all right, but once a country became a member of the Communist Bloc the whole power of the bloc was used to keep it Communist regardless of the wishes of the people and I cited Hungary. If this sort of thing went on, of course eventually the world would become Communist.
/2/For text of Khrushchev's speech before a meeting of Communist Party organizations, January 6, see Pravda, January 24, 1961; extracts are also printed in American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1961, pp. 555-558, and Documents on Disarmament, 1961, pp. 1-15. For a summary and analysis of the speech, see Document 15.
Khrushchev said idea Soviets desire to dominate world neither correct nor
possible. He cited Soviet initiative in changing designation of Soviet Union
as leader of Communist bloc. There was no leader and each party equal. I
read quotation from his speech that Soviet Union would do everything to maintain
unity of Socialist bloc and asked if everything included use of force. Khrushchev
said this passage referred solely to ideological questions. He said Westerners
were always talking about China, implying that this could be exploited against
the USSR. While he said nothing further about China specifically, he said
what he really meant by stating that everything must be sacrificed for bloc
unity was that Communist countries must make mutual concessions in order to
preserve the strength of the bloc. At this point he launched into the discussion
reported mytel 1708./3/ In discussing the US
role as "international gendarme," he ridiculed US fear of Communist agents
implying that we looked for danger to ourselves in the wrong places. As an
example he cited Western charges that Lenin was a German agent. He also mentioned
Iran and said that Shah was not really afraid of a Soviet attack, but of Iraq
and its example to his own people.
/3/See footnote 4, Document 10.
Khrushchev suggested consider disband all blocs and they would pull their troops out of the countries of Eastern Europe. I replied they would still have a monolithic system and I could not believe the contrary until some country which had become Communist was allowed to change its system. I said I believed the Soviet people in general supported the system here, but this was not true of most other Communist countries. Khrushchev observed that Hitler had counted on the people turning against the regime when he invaded the Soviet Union, but they had been wrong. I said that there had been serious disaffection in the early days and Molotov himself had told us of his concern about it, but Hitler had helped them out by insisting upon mistreating the population and maintaining the Germans were the master race. Khrushchev responded that Hitler was a fool and that if he had been wise he would not have been Hitler, but Stalin.
Referring to our earlier discussion, I said the Soviets misunderstood the economic system of the United States and I described the workings of our laws against monopolies and the functions of the regulatory agencies in the United States. As an example of how this system works, I cited the case of the International Business Machines Company which had been forced by the Government to make a large number of its patents available to other companies. I reminded him of his visit to one of this company's factories near San Francisco./4/ I said that they should operate on the basis of fact and urged that they have their people study how our system really worked. I said it had its weaknesses, but it did not justify their interpretation that everything could be explained by exploited and exploited.
/4/For documentation on Khrushchev's visit to the United States in September 1959, see Foreign Relations, 1958-1960, vol. X, Part 1, pp. 388 ff.
Khrushchev referred to their action in widening contacts with America
and observed that the system was going well, but said he thought trade should
be developed and this in turn would improve political relations. He said the
State Department and his friend Mr. Dillon who is now Secretary of the Treasury,
were opposed to this view. He said it was the U.S. which suffered from this
attitude and they were having good trade relations with the companies in West
Germany, the U.K., France, and others.
I said I had never understood why they had agreed to negotiate about a lend lease settlement knowing that the position they were taking was unacceptable to us. Khrushchev merely repeated the usual Soviet arguments on this subject, but ended by saying perhaps we could freeze this question and trade in the meantime. He also reported the apparent misunderstanding which Mikoyan had of his conversation with Mr. Dillon when he asserted that Dillon had said the United States would supply credits if a lend lease agreement were reached. I said I had been present at the conversation and had heard no such statement./5/
/5/For a memorandum of Khrushchev's conversation with Dillon, September 27, 1959, see ibid., pp. 470-476.
Khrushchev said there were many problems for the new administration regarding
the USSR and that not everything could be done at once but we could make
good beginning with main subject discussed that morning.
Several times in the conversation, which was already long, both he and I agreed not to go deeply into the subjects discussed, but he suggested that we might one day have a long talk at his dacha.
Khrushchev asked if I would remain as Ambassador. I said I had no information
other than press reports and expected none for several days. He said with
a smile they would gladly give me their vote but he was not sure this would
be helpful. I replied I also had some doubts. I said if I did remain I assumed
I would be returning to Washington before long for consultation. Khrushchev
asked me to give his regards to the President, Stevenson, and others whom
he had met.
Khrushchev seemed reasonably well but there were some signs that he had felt
the strain of the long debates in the Central Committee Plenum.
14. Editorial Note
On January 24, 1961, Charles E. Bohlen transmitted a memorandum to Secretary
of State Rusk suggesting that he send a personal telegram to Ambassador Thompson
to inform him that the President intended to call him back once the President
and Secretary both had time to devote for serious consultations. (Department
of State, Central Files, 661.00/1- 2461) The following day Rusk sent the telegram
stating that the recall would be both to get Thompson's advice and to demonstrate
the President's highest level of confidence in him. (Telegram 1196; ibid.,
123 Thompson) On January 30 Rusk cabled further that he and the President
wanted Thompson to return at his earliest convenience for 10 days to 2 weeks.
(Telegram 1228; ibid.) The following day the White House announced that the
Ambassador would return on or about February 8 for consultations since President
Kennedy was interested in having Thompson's first-hand observations and report
on the situation in the Soviet Union. (Telegram 1243 to Moscow, January 31;
15. Current Intelligence Weekly Review/1/
Washington, January 26, 1961.
/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency: Job 79-S01060A. Confidential. Prepared by CIA's Office of Current Intelligence. The source text comprises pp. 1-3 of Part II of the issue(Khrushchev Speech on Moscow Meeting of World Communist Leaders) and pp. 1-5 of Part III of the issue (Khrushchev--The Soviet Public Image). Two photographs in the source text and their captions have not been printed.
NOTES AND COMMENTS
Khrushchev Speech on Moscow Meeting of World Communist Leaders
Khrushchev's report on 6 January, published in the Soviet party journal
on 17 January, was intended to stand as the definitive Soviet
interpretation of last November's Moscow conference of world Communist
Khrushchev vigorously reaffirmed his party's position on the issues in dispute
with Peiping and made it clear that the conference did not alter the views of
the Soviet leadership.
Probably timed to complement the short and formal 18 January Soviet central committee resolution on the results of the conference, the speech took a more forthright position in dealing with the major questions of doctrine and policy than the often equivocal Moscow declaration of 6 December. The handling of the various issues indicates continuing areas of disagreement with Peiping and suggests that Moscow is determined to make no important concessions to the Chinese.
In effect, Khrushchev defended the validity of his foreign policy and reaffirmed
that the only correct and prudent course under conditions of a nuclear stalemate
is a policy of limited risks to achieve political gains. As he put it, "We
always seek to direct the development of events in a way which ensures that,
while defending the interests of the socialist camp, we do not provide the
imperialist provocateurs with a chance to unleash a new world war."
Exuding confidence that the trend of international events continues to run in favor of the socialist camp, Khrushchev stressed that the general strategic line and tactics of world Communism depend on correct evaluation of character of the balance of power. While reiterating the standard proposition that the bloc is the "decisive factor" in world affairs, he warned that imperialism retains "great strength"; under these circumstances, he implied, the bloc cannot undertake the extremely militant, revolutionary program advocated by Peiping. As Khrushchev put it, "To win time in the economic contest with capitalism is now the main thing."
Against this backdrop, Khrushchev went beyond the Moscow declaration in discussing
policy toward the West. He stated, "Our party considers the policy of peaceful
coexistence, which has been handed down to us by Lenin, to be the general
line of our foreign policy." This statement takes on added significance in
light of East German party leader Ulbricht's acknowledgment that the term
"general line" provoked a dispute at the Moscow conference.
The term did not appear in the final declaration, and Ulbricht indicated
that the Soviet party had attempted to extract recognition from Peiping of
such a bloc-wide "line" and acceptance of the discipline it would impose on
Chinese policies. Thus, in effect, Khrushchev made it clear that the USSR's
basic foreign policy would not be adjusted to accommodate the Chinese.
Khrushchev also went further than the declaration in restating Moscow's intention to engage the West in further high-level talks. Unlike the declaration, Khrushchev reiterated his previous judgment that some elements in the West understand the danger of war and accept the need for coexistence. Building on this premise, he extended the Moscow statement by reaffirming that "socialist states" strive for "negotiations and agreement" with capitalist countries, and seek to "develop contacts" with capitalist statesmen. Presidium member Suslov, who delivered the formal report on the conference to the Soviet central committee plenum on 18 January, elaborated on Khrushchev's remark and specifically pointed out that these contacts should be between heads of states and governments.
Khrushchev supported the correctness of his approach by going into some detail on the consequences of modern war. After discussing the hundreds of millions who would perish in such a war, he called for a "sober appraisal" of the consequences as a necessary element in mobilizing the struggle to prevent war.
He also reaffirmed that the USSR is ordinarily opposed to local wars because of the danger that they might expand--a risk Peiping minimizes. As for one category of local wars, however, i.e., "liberation" wars such as the Algerian rebellion--Khrushchev stated his view, in apparent agreement with Peiping, that such wars are indeed inevitable as long as imperialism exists. He pledged that the bloc will give aid to such "liberation" forces.
The speech reinforced earlier indications that Moscow will pursue a more
aggressive program in all "colonial" areas--among which Khrushchev specifies
Algeria, the Congo, and Laos. However, the speech evaded the question--on
which the Chinese have charged Khrushchev with timidity--of whether bloc support
to "liberation" forces will go so far as to risk military clashes with the
West. Similarly, in distinguishing a fourth category of wars--"national uprisings"
such as Castro's--and in stating his expectation of and favor for such uprisings,
Khrushchev declared that such wars must not become wars between states, but
he evaded the question of what risks the bloc will take. He was particularly
careful not to categorize the Laotian situation.
Khrushchev defended at length his policy of wooing the nationalist leaders of underdeveloped countries, even at the cost of sacrificing the local Communist parties there. The Chinese have accused him of exaggerating the importance of the neutralists (e.g., Nehru, Nasir, Sukarno), and have urged less Soviet aid and more of an effort to bring these leaders down. Khrushchev seems willing to move a little faster toward making pro-Soviet "national democracies" (e.g., Cuba) of the neutral nations, but still not as fast as Peiping wishes.
As for the tactics of Communist parties in the West, Khrushchev reaffirmed
a gradualist program for these parties, envisaging lengthy preparation--through
"democratic" movements--for eventual revolution. The Chinese have argued that
"revolutionary situations" exist today in Western Europe and should be exploited.
In the latter part of his speech, Khrushchev discussed the question of the discipline of the world Communist movement, the underlying issue in the Sino-Soviet dispute. Khrushchev insisted that the "unity" of the movement is of "foremost importance," and he reiterated that the Soviet party recognizes the "equality" of other parties and does not regard itself as the "center" of the movement.
He followed this, however, by making clear that the Soviet party does indeed wish to be regarded as the principal party and as the spokesman for the bloc, and in effect he advised the other parties to get rid of those who sympathize more with Peiping than with Moscow. Several parties at the November conference had supported the Chinese on some issues, and many other parties were neutral or split.
Khrushchev, in conclusion, addressed himself directly to the Chinese, whom he condemned elsewhere in the speech, without naming them, for persistent "dogmatism and sectarianism." He reminded them that Sino-Soviet "unity" is necessary to "disappoint" and confound common enemies. Here and elsewhere he indirectly admitted that the Moscow conference did not resolve Sino-Soviet differences and may actually have made them worse.
Although Khrushchev quoted liberally from the Moscow declaration as testimony to the extent of agreement reached, the US Embassy has received reports that the original version of the speech contained sharp criticism of the Chinese. Khrushchev is reported to have bitterly castigated the Chinese leaders and stated that although they were "stupid," it was necessary to reach agreement with them.
He also reportedly presented a full review of the sharp debates between the Soviet representatives and the Chinese. He is said to have read to the meeting of party functionaries in the Kremlin the main parts of Liu Shao Chi's attack on Soviet policy as well as his own reply and concluded with the statement, "This is what happened--you can judge for yourselves."
FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES - 1961-1963 - Volume V - Soviet Union P 6