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51. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department
Moscow, April 1, 1961, 5 p.m.
/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751J.00/4-161. Confidential; Priority.
2362. Eyes only Secretary. After discussion of Laos problem/2/ Khrushchev said he was pleased at signs of possibility improvement our relations. He expressed particular satisfaction at President's action in stopping our military from making boasting and threatening statements./3/ He said each time this was done Soviet military felt obliged reply and this did much to worsen atmosphere. I pointed out President had not only taken steps to prevent statements which did not accurately reflect policy our govt, but was also strengthening civilian control over military policy. K remarked this was important and said they had had problem with Marshal Zhukov./4/ He had been friend of Eisenhower and thought he was smarter than Eisenhower. When latter became President Zhukov developed big ideas about his own role. However Soviet system had no place for juntas and when they had thrown Zhukov out he had himself stated they had been right to do so.
/2/In telegram 2354 from Moscow, April 1, Ambassador Thompson reported that
Chairman Khrushchev had called him in that day to give him a copy of a Soviet
aide-memoire responding to the United Kingdom's proposal of March 23 for
an international conference on Laos and an immediate cease-fire. For text
of telegram 2354, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, vol. XXIV, pp.
110-111. The aide-memoire expressed both Soviet satisfaction that the United
Kingdom now agreed to convening an international conference and Soviet support
for a cease-fire appeal. Text of the aide-memoire is printed in Department
of State Bulletin, April 17, 1961, pp. 545-546.
/3/On January 27 the White House had introduced stiff controls over speeches
and statements by U.S. military spokesmen.
/4/Georgi K. Zhukov, Marshal of the Soviet Union and Minister of Defense,
was dismissed by Khrushchev at the end of 1957 for "adventurism" and "Bonapartism."
Khrushchev said he deplored war propaganda in general and suggested we
should conclude agreement, perhaps international one, to prevent publication
of war propaganda. This already forbidden in Soviet Union. It might be alleged
that this was interference with freedom of press but on contrary it was measure
to prevent abuse of press. Press not allowed, for example, to advocate prostitution--why
could it not prevent war propaganda. He also started to give example of convention
banning chemical warfare but then recalled we had not adhered to this convention--something
he had never understood.
I said I thought our view was that it was not really practicable to handle this problem by treaty and among other difficulties it was virtually impossible draw line and say what was war propaganda and what not. I thought however much could be done to diminish this type activity particularly if appropriate lead given at top.
Khrushchev then said he had fully agreed with President's position that
we must both display restraint and try avoid confrontation of power of our
two countries. They had however been very much disturbed by Bowles' speech.
When I inquired what particular passage he had objected to he could not recall
exactly but mentioned problems of Congo, Cuba, and Laos. (I believe
Soviets had in mind particularly sentence beginning "Our international interests
are not compatible with the global objectives of Soviet long-range strategy.")
With respect to Congo K said what had happened there and particularly murder
of Lumumba had helped communism. Lumumba was not Communist and he doubted
if he would have become one. He was man with limited outlook who easily became
excited. He remarked we had discussed this problem before and Soviet position
Turning to Cuba he could not agree with our policy there. Each country should
be free to choose its social system. They did not agree, for example, with
Yugoslav internal policies but this did not prevent them from having good
relations with that country. He said President had indicated that financial
aid would be given to aid in overthrow of present Cuban Govt. Bands of émigrés
had been formed and threats made against Cuban Govt. He said Soviet Govt.
would openly support Cuban Govt and would give them economic aid. He pointed
out Soviet Union had no base in Cuba and only base there belonged to us. He
then went on to question our policy of having bases all around Soviet Union.
He dwelt particularly on question of Iran. He said this was poor country
where govt was doing little to help people. He said Shah liked to consider
himself Monarch but his ancestry not particularly enviable. We sought special
rights for ourselves everywhere. Soviet Union was not threatening Iran.
Our trouble was that we were not confident of our own system. We had set up
alliances to protect members not only from outside aggression but from subversion.
Only subversionists in countries like Iran were students and others who were
dissatisfied with conditions. We had military advisors in Iran and although
he indicated he was not making a demand he wished to state that it would be
most useful to our good relations if these were withdrawn.
Reverting again to Cuba he asked why we did not establish diplomatic relations with that country and try to resolve our problems with it peacefully. He made clear Cubans had not put him up to this but he was merely speaking his own mind.
I replied that with respect to Congo we had hoped UN would be able deal
with this problem and that we could both have remained out of it. However
Soviet Union had started furnishing military and other supplies to one faction.
Khrushchev intervened to state they had furnished medicines and in any event
these had been supplied to legal govt. He also said we were aware of his views
on UN. Hammarskjold was US agent and carried out our orders. I denied this
and said many of his actions had annoyed us but we considered him objective.
I went on to say that I thought what bothered us particularly about Cuba was
its use as a base for attempts on overthrow of other Latin American govts.
When he disputed this I said I had heard Cuban pilots were being trained in
Czechoslovakia in flying jet planes. Cuba would never be able attack us and
therefore these presumably were designed for use against other Latin American
countries. I said we had been most patient with Castro. In first place we
had cut off supply of arms to Batista/5/ and
although there had been differences of opinion in US about Castro we had
been fully prepared accept his govt. However he had made most violent statements
against US and had confiscated our assets there without compensation and finally
had insisted on reducing our Embassy to handful of people. We had tried to
be patient but he had given us no choice. Khrushchev replied Castro said we
were using Embassy to harbor spies and Castro was not Communist. He said
he had not heard of any training of jet pilots but if he were Castro he would
buy jet planes since these were necessary to prevent arms being dropped to
counter-revolutionaries from planes flying from US. He thought that in one
case we had even admitted this. I said we had taken strict steps to prevent
such activities although there had I believed been one case in which a plane
had gotten through. In concluding Khrushchev said we should continue to be
patient and should try to improve our relations with Cuba.
/5/Fulgencio Batista y Zaldivar, President of Cuba until January 1959.
He said he considered Soviet position in world was good since they were on side of people trying to improve their lot. US was supporting reactionary govts in many places. We often spoke of elections and he inquired what would be result of election in Spain or South Vietnam or South Korea. In latter Syngman Rhee/6/ had disappeared but new man was not much better and people were dissatisfied. He did not think even we knew what went on in Diem's/7/ govt in Vietnam. I replied that there were cases where we supported reactionary govts and there were two reasons for this. First was that we did not believe we should intervene in internal affairs of these countries and second was we were concerned at these countries being threatened by Communist expansion. Khrushchev said he welcomed President's idea of our competing in economic field and in such matters as culture and to see who could bring people the most happiness. If our system could demonstrate it could do this better than communism he was ready to embrace our system. I said I could only repeat what I had said to him before, namely that much of our difficulty came from our different points of view and misinformation and misunderstanding. US wanted nothing more than prosperity and happiness of all peoples throughout world but we did not think this should come about by outside intervention. Khrushchev replied Soviet Union was also against intervention in others' affairs but there was no justification for ring of US bases around Soviet Union./8/
/6/President of the Republic of Korea.
/7/Ngo Dinh Diem, President and Secretary of National Defense of the Republic
of South Vietnam.
FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES - 1961-1963 - Volume V - Soviet Union P26