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Recommendations

1. That you approve our recommendation that we abolish our system of closed zones for Soviet exchange visitors and tourists./6/

2. That you sign the attached letters to the Central Intelligence Agency and the Departments of Justice and Defense requesting their comments on our suggested memorandum to the President (Tab A)./7/

/6/According to a note attached to the source text, Rusk neither approved nor disapproved this recommendation, presumably because his approval was not necessary until it was concurred in by other agencies.

/7/None of these letters, which were transmitted on June 9, is printed, but see footnote 2, Document 184.

 

76. Paper Prepared in the Department of State/1/

PMK-D/2

Washington, May 25, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 66 D 110, CF 1905. Confidential. Drafted by John P. Shaw (RSB) and cleared by John Keppel (RSB), Allan Evans (INR), and Guthrie (SOV).

PRESIDENT'S MEETING WITH KHRUSHCHEV
Vienna, June 3-4, 1961

BACKGROUND PAPER

Soviet Aims and Expectations

Summary

Khrushchev will regard the Vienna talks as far more important than a probing of the President's views. In discussing foreign relations in general, Khrushchev will expound the Soviet line on peaceful coexistence, stressing in particular the need for both sides to avoid actions which could produce nuclear war and the thesis that the US must draw appropriate conclusions from the growth of Soviet power. He will seek specific agreements, and will expect that the conference outcome will set the pattern for Soviet diplomacy for some months to come. Khrushchev would prefer that the talks end on a note of accord, and may make some conciliatory gestures for this reason. But his attachment to this aim will depend primarily on the outcome of the talks on major issues. Probably Khrushchev's foremost aim will be to obtain some commitment to hold resumed negotiations on Berlin and Germany. Short of a categorical rejection of any further negotiations on Berlin, Khrushchev would probably be willing to accept considerably less than his optimum demands on conference arrangements. Khrushchev's approach to disarmament questions is less predictable, but the possibility of modifications in the present rigid Soviet position on a test ban agreement or general disarmament cannot be excluded.

Introduction

The Vienna talks will be the culmination of a procession of Soviet approaches--some made as early as last November--for a meeting between Chairman Khrushchev and President Kennedy. This record leaves little doubt of Khrushchev's keen interest in the meeting.

The record also contains clear pointers to the topics the Soviet leader will want to discuss. He will stress the need--

(a) to arrive at an early, negotiated "interim" settlement of the Berlin question,

(b) to reach an understanding on various issues relating to disarmament and security,

(c) to "slow down" the arms race,

(d) to base US-Soviet relations on the principles of "peaceful coexistence" Soviet style, and

(e) to expand US-Soviet trade.

Khrushchev may also invite the President to visit the Soviet Union, and despite his intimations to the contrary, may raise the questions of Cuba and Laos. And, of course, he will wish to sound out President Kennedy as a leader, to test the man against impressions and hypotheses formed by Soviet diplomats and propagandists.

While this much is clear, these matters are of such scope and elasticity that they give Khrushchev considerable leeway in deciding how to play his cards. Before examining these particulars, it is useful to analyze several trends in Soviet policy which will have a bearing on Khrushchev's approach to the conference.

Trends and Pressures in Soviet Policy

Soviet diplomacy over the past year has shown marked inconsistencies. These inconsistencies have been partly the result of immediate circumstances, but in almost every instance they also reflect certain deeper, inherent features of present-day Soviet foreign policy.

In the first instance, "flexibility" is the hall-mark of Khrushchev's style. This flexibility takes shape in several ways. But most pertinent here is the tactic of alternating assertive and détente phases in the expectation that the West can be induced to yield positions peacefully through negotiations in a period of détente by virtue of the pressures that led up to it. Khrushchev's handling of the Berlin issue can be explained to an important degree in these terms.

Beyond this contrived ambivalence, there is also a true inconsistency in Khrushchev's diplomacy which has been increasingly discernible in recent years. The implications of the nuclear age, the political isolation in which Stalin's rigid policies placed the USSR and the communist movement, and internal requirements of the Soviet regime, compelled Stalin's successors to develop a new look in foreign policy--a strategy based on minimizing the risks of nuclear war, consolidation of Soviet holdings in Eastern Europe, a paternalistic alliance (where possible) with the forces of nationalism in the underdeveloped world, a generally gradualist approach to the goal of bringing communist parties to power, and more open and normal state relations between the West and the USSR.

On the other hand, the USSR's acquisition of a growing strategic strike force and increasing economic power have lent a new, assertive impulse to Soviet policies in recent years. Khrushchev maintains that the change in the world "correlation of forces" to the USSR's advantage should compel the West to recognize the "reality" of irrevocable communist rule in Eastern Europe, to "normalize" such anomalies as West Berlin and the unrecognized status of East Germany, and to refrain from "counter-revolution" (intervention) in the face of communist advances outside the bloc.

Both of these trends are compatible with the Soviet understanding of that elastic concept, peaceful coexistence. And Khrushchev would like to have the best of each. He seems to hope that by incessant though relatively unprovocative pressures (primarily political) he can consolidate and extend Soviet influence, particularly in the underdeveloped world. At the same time, he seems to hope that when these pressures do arouse adverse reactions, he can minimize the military risks (in relations with the US) and the political liabilities (in relations with nationalist neutral governments). But a harmonious blending of these approaches is not always possible, even in the day-to-day functioning of Soviet diplomacy. Over the long run, these two trends hold profoundly different implications for Soviet relations with the free world.

Finally, even deeper contradictions flow from the dual role the Soviet leaders play as rulers of the USSR and heads of the communist world. In the former role, their primary concerns are the security and the political-economic well-being of the Soviet state. But the impulses these concerns lend to Soviet policy often are circumscribed or nullified by the obligations and loyalties assumed by the USSR as center of the bloc and communist movement. This factor is most conspicuous in Soviet relations with Communist China, not only because of mutual obligations but because Peiping's challenge from the left to Soviet leadership of the communist world imposes upon the Soviet leaders a need to prove their militancy if they are to hold the support of other communist parties. At the heart of the matter are the conflicting national interests of the USSR and Communist China (as defined by the communist rulers) and the difficulty of reconciling the divergent policies and views of these two communist superpowers in a political system based on the proposition that there is a single source of authority and truth.

Pressures arising out of the Sino-Soviet dispute have been an important consideration behind the assertiveness characterizing Soviet foreign policy over the past year. They may well influence Khrushchev's behavior at Vienna. Still, Communist China by no means has a veto--whether direct or indirect--over Soviet policies. In recent months, the USSR has continued to pursue policies which, in several specific instances, run directly counter to Chinese Communist interests.

This ambivalence is nowhere better illustrated than at the Geneva test ban negotiations. There is little doubt that Moscow's desire to inhibit Communist China's acquisition of nuclear weapons has been one important reason why the Soviets have seriously entertained the idea of a supervised nuclear test ban. And there is equally little doubt that Peiping's ambition to become a nuclear power is one important reason why the prospects for a test ban agreement have dimmed during the resumed session of the conference.

General Approach

Despite the agreement to keep the Vienna meeting informal, Khrushchev will regard these talks as far more important than a mere probing of President Kennedy's views. His own position convinces him of the importance of having the ear of the man in charge, and he will want to impress upon the President his views as to how US-Soviet relations, and the affairs of the world, should be governed. He probably will seek specific agreements, if only to prove to his own audiences that his summit diplomacy pays off. And he will expect that the conference outcome--both the particulars and the general atmosphere--will set the pattern for the style of Soviet diplomacy for some months to come.

Khrushchev will come to Vienna in a confident mood, his confidence swelled by the events in Laos, in Cuba, and in outer space, and by the general growth of Soviet power. But it would be a mistake to overestimate this confidence. Khrushchev's vacillation over pressing the Berlin issue during the past year indicates an awareness of the potential dangers involved. He might well feel that a vigorous US response to a sharp Soviet challenge on Berlin would be more likely, not less so, in the wake of Cuba and Laos. There is also convincing evidence of Moscow's concern over its exposed position in Cuba, the growing US-Indian rapprochement, and increased US defense expenditures. In addition, Khrushchev has his own problems within the bloc--with Communist China and Albania--and internal problems as well.

During the talks, Khrushchev might, for effect, strike a note of anger and bluster--particularly in response to strong language on sensitive issues. But it seems likely that he will generally assume an attitude of reasonable firmness, coupled with a pitch for improved US-Soviet relations.

Khrushchev would prefer that the talks end on a note of accord, that they convey the beginning of a new period of relaxed international tensions. (However, mindful of the Sino-Soviet polemics of last year, Khrushchev will not be prepared to go so far in this regard as he did following his talks with President Eisenhower.) In addition to other, more general, considerations which are cited below, he probably believes that a détente atmosphere would establish a political deterrent of sorts to forceful US action against Cuba, and against Laos in the event the current negotiations break down. He might also hope that this atmosphere would take some of the steam out of an expanding US arms program. And, while not essential, an atmosphere of US- Soviet accord would harmonize with the type of Party Program Khrushchev evidently plans to present at the CPSU Congress next October (which it is anticipated will emphasize consumer welfare, and ultimate communist victory through economic competition and peaceful coexistence).

Khrushchev might be prepared to make some conciliatory gestures for the sake of outward harmony; he might even have "saved up" some lesser concessions for this purpose. But his attachment to harmony will not be without conditions; it will depend to a large extent on the outcome of the talks on the major substantive issues.

FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES - 1961-1963 - Volume V - Soviet Union P35

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