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Part of a subsection of a node in the Cold War Document and Speech Meta Node
45. Airgram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of
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
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.''
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