s which would prohibit its reproduction.
80. Special Background Paper Prepared in the Department of State/1/
Washington, June 1, 1961.
/1/Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 66 D 110, CF 1906.
Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Bohlen.
PRESIDENT'S MEETING WITH KHRUSHCHEV
Vienna, June 3-4, 1961
LINE OF APPROACH TO KHRUSHCHEV
This paper seeks to set forth certain lines of approach both general and
specific which would offer the best possibility of getting through to Khrushchev
and enhancing in his mind the creditability of United States positions.
It seeks to eliminate emphasis on aspects of Soviet policy and its relation
with the non-communist world, which experience has shown is without value
and apt to be detrimental to the purposes we seek in this meeting.
The emphasis throughout should be placed upon the Soviet foreign policy
in its national aspects and any ideological topics or reference to the general
threat of communism in the world should not be dealt with per se but as a
function of and in relation to Soviet state policy.
The United States and the Soviet Union as chief protagonists in the present
world-wide struggle, find themselves in antagonistic confrontation in regard
to every international political problem. This is most certainly the Soviet
view which treats every issue as a battle in a continuing struggle in which
negotiation is not sought by the Soviet Government for the purpose of solution
of a given problem, but as a weapon in political warfare to obtain a Soviet
or communist victory at the expense of the non-communist world.
There is only one major subject on which there would appear to be a coincident
of interest between the United States and the Soviet Union, and that is on
the assumed common desire of both to avoid nuclear war. Community of interest
on this point should be the basic and starting point of the entire approach
to Khrushchev. On the basis of this common desire to avoid nuclear war,
the United States and the Soviet Union, as the two leading powers in
the world, have an enormous responsibility in the matter of the preservation
of peace. While recognizing that we will not find any genuine common ground
in regard to most if not all of the international issues in dispute, the
manner in which these disagreements are handled in practice should be approached
in the light of our common interest in avoiding nuclear war and in our great
responsibility as world powers.
It should be emphasized to Khrushchev that the artificial distinction between
the three categories of war, contained in his January sixth speech and the
eighty-one Party document, is inherently artificial and dangerous. The thesis
that certain kinds of war can be segregated out from others is a most dangerous
thesis. In reality, war is war and does not lend itself to such tidy compartmentalization.
Any form of armed action supported by a great power carries with it the obvious
danger of spreading, and thereby moving from one category to another. Support
by the Soviet Union of "wars of national liberalization"--an extremely flexible
definition at best--is entirely incompatible with the professed Soviet desire
for peaceful co-existence.
While Khrushchev will probably not be too receptive to anything to do with
the United Nations, nonetheless the only ground rules for co-existence which
exist in a jointly agreed document are in the Charter itself, which specifically
binds its signatories to refrain in their international relations from the
threat or use of force, except in individual or collective self-defense, and
to settle their international disputes by peaceful means. It should be pointed
out that the attempt to advance the communist cause by small internal wars,
i.e. wars of national liberation, is a certain path towards world war if
consistently followed, in the state of the world today. This is the logic
of any such Soviet position and no amount of tactical skill or self-deception
could obscure this reality.
The United States is a great power, and the Soviet Union is a great power.
The United States is very cognizant of this fact and does not and will not
seek to confront a great power, i.e. the Soviet Union, with a series of intolerable
choices which would involve either the acceptance of international political
defeat, or the recourse to war as a means of averting it. The Soviet Union,
for its part, should recognize the same reality in regard to the United States.
Quite apart from the subjective will of its leaders, it is not realistic to
believe that a great power can accept a succession of attempted or actual
political defeats without at some point in the process having recourse to
its great power.
While concentrating on the responsibilities and interests of the Soviet
Union as a great power, at some point in the discussion the duality of Soviet
operations in the foreign field should be brought out, but only, as indicated
above, as the function of or in relation to its national policy. Reference
should be made, in this connection, to the incompatibility between the public
utterances of Khrushchev as the leader of the Soviet State and the positions
taken and the views expressed in his January sixth speech as head of the dominant
party in the world communist movement, with particular reference in the latter
document to the violent and distorted statements of hostility towards the
United States as a country. On specific issues, the following line of approach
a) Germany and Berlin
Stemming from the general considerations outlined above, it could be said
to Khrushchev that he should not expect that the United States and its
allies would accept the political defeat involved in the loss or weakening
of their existing position in Berlin. We have firm obligations and solemn
commitments in this matter and to give them up or to permit them to be eroded
would constitute a political defeat in Europe, which would be quite intolerable
and unacceptable to a great power, no matter what the consequences.
It should be pointed out that the entire situation in Germany is abnormal,
that that of Berlin as a city is abnormal, and that we cannot accept the
characterization of one part of an abnormal situation as its sole abnormality.
The situation in Germany has existed since the end of the war, and while unsatisfactory
to all concerned, any change would have to be an improvement, or at least
no worse, from the point of view of all concerned--the Western allies, the
people of West Berlin, as well as the Soviet and East German side. In
a situation as delicately balanced as the situation in Germany, the side which
seeks to change it to its advantage and to the detriment of the other side
is the one that assumes the responsibility for the risks to peace inherent
in such a course of action.
The standard Soviet argument concerning the necessity of doing away with
the "vestiges of the war" is obviously a formalistic statement of the position
and cannot be accepted. The real vestige of the war to be corrected is the
division of Germany, but since this realistically does not seem to be an immediate
possibility, the delicate balance should not be upset. If ways of improving
the situation without detriment to any of the parties concerned could be found,
we would be prepared to consider any such suggestion. The proposal for a "free
West Berlin" does not satisfy these criteria, since it would appear to make
very little sense, even from a Soviet point of view, unless it brought them
certain advantages with corresponding disadvantages to the Western Powers
and the people of West Berlin, which would not be tolerable for the reasons
One possibility might be to return to the '44 agreement and to see if the
statute then outlined for all Berlin could not be reinstituted with certain
agreed modifications. One other course of action would be, if Khrushchev feels
he must proceed with a peace treaty with the GDR, to do so leaving unchanged
the obligations of the Four Powers in regard to West Berlin. We would not
subscribe to such a peace treaty, but its conclusion leaving West Berlin
in statu quo might be a possibility.
It would be well to focus the disarmament discussion on the current test
ban negotiations since these are the only actual negotiations in progress
in this field which, theoretically at least, should offer a prospect for agreement.
The chief obstacle for agreement at the present time is the retrogression
by the Soviet side in introducing the doctrine of a Three-Power Committee
with individual veto power in place of a single administrator selected for
his objectivity as an international civil servant.
Khrushchev should be questioned on this point as to how any such mechanism could possibly operate, since a veto power would render ineffective, and indeed ridiculous, the entire concept of an objective system of international verification and control. He should be pushed hard to justify the workability of any such mechanism. Care, however, should be exercised that this point is not built up to a degree whereby a Soviet retreat from this position might be utilized by them to justify major concessions on our part in other aspects of the test ban talks still in dispute.
If, however, Khrushchev sticks firmly to his insistence on the troika
and endeavors to transfer it into the general field of disarmament, he should
be told that there seems to be little prospect of any fruitful progress in
this entire field as long as this position is maintained. However, in all
likelihood, he will not seek to extend the troika principle into general disarmament,
but is more apt to stress the standard Soviet position that when disarmament
is fully or even substantially achieved, the Soviet Government would accept
any form of inspection. If he makes this latter point clear, then the discussion
of general disarmament should follow along the lines of our position paper
/2/Not printed. (Ibid., CF 1905)
In general, the impression we would desire to leave on Khrushchev is first
of all one of utmost seriousness in regard to the current world situation;
the desire of the United States to find means to handle our disagreements
in such a way as to avoid war and that, to this end, realistic and responsible
action on the part of the Soviet Union will be matched by equal responsible
and realistic action on the part of the United States; that world peace
cannot be preserved by an attempt to inflict political defeats upon great
powers and our reciprocal actions should be governed by some form of ground
rules in order to avoid the type of actions which can set off an automatic
chain of events leading to the end that both countries desire to avoid.
FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES - 1961-1963 - Volume V - Soviet Union P37