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Volume V
Soviet Union


Washington, DC


100. Record of Meeting of the Policy Planning Council/1/

Washington, June 23, 1961, 4 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 70 D 199. Secret. Drafted by Curtis.

George McGhee
George Morgan
Henry Brodie
John Curtis
Leon Fuller
Henry Owen
Secretary of State Dean Rusk
Henry Ramsey
Edward Rice
Carlton Savage
William Webb
Howard Wriggins

The Secretary opened the meeting by saying that he wanted to give S/P his impressions of the Vienna talks. He said that Khrushchev tried to impress Kennedy with the idea that "communism was here to stay" and that the USSR was "on the right side of history." The Secretary added that in this respect Khrushchev echoed views expressed in his January 6 speech. He mentioned that Khrushchev had emphasized the vitality of the Soviet system and that the USSR was engaged in a sacred war to "rid backward nations of capitalistic oppression"; the US had on the other hand accepted the mantle of the status quo and our collapse was historically inevitable. The Secretary remarked that he had told Khrushchev that he would make an excellent sales manager for General Motors.

The Secretary said that he was particularly impressed with the targets that Khrushchev evinced--"those countries in which the Soviets find the greatest opportunities are the same ones with which we are having the greatest difficulties."

The Secretary said that we must reexamine the situation as it existed in the '40s to know how to deal with the present problems. The Secretary mentioned in this context that almost every vote in the UN during the latter part of the '40s was overwhelmingly against the Soviet bloc. Using the Troika doctrine as a "casus belli" we must find ways and means of associating ourselves with the neutrals as well as our allies in order to again consolidate the world against the communist bloc; this should be our aim in the UN this fall. He said that the January 6 speech gave us ample ammunition to indicate to the world that the bloc had declared war on us and practically everyone else.

Mr. McGhee said that we must make issue of Soviet interference in the internal political life of various countries--witness Suslov's trip to India during the Indian Communist Party Congress--in order to put Soviet intentions in the proper light. The Secretary replied that this would be difficult because "our hands are not too clean".

The Secretary said that the US need not become too involved in various regions of the world lest our strength become dispersed; that we should push others to the front. In this context he expressed the feeling that by sponsoring such regional organizations as SEATO and CENTO we had promoted a sharp division among members of these pacts and nonmembers in the respective geographic areas. He said that we must find ways to improve relations among these powers. He agreed that the Commonwealth was a proven device for bringing together disparate elements in a more or less happy union and that we should attempt to strengthen such associations.

Mr. McGhee mentioned that S/P was contemplating a study on the Commonwealth and that he personally felt that Burma would join the Commonwealth if asked.

The Secretary said that we should try to aid group arrangements showing any evidence of strength in the Near East and Asia. He cited the All-Asia consultative committee as one association worth considering in this respect.

Mr. McGhee asked the Secretary to what extent Khrushchev would risk war. He added that it seemed Khrushchev had outdone Mr. Dulles/2/ in a policy of brinkmanship.

/2/John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State until April 1959.

The Secretary replied that Khrushchev was interested in establishing a status quo in Europe and that he was currently worried about the rise of neo-nationalism in the bloc European states. He said that Khrushchev did not consider Berlin a problem per se but that he would like to use it as a means of further reducing US prestige. He said that Khrushchev seemed to be convinced that there would not be a nuclear war and he was of course right in believing that the USSR military position on the ground was in his favor. The Secretary added that Cuba and Laos were not serious factors in the present Soviet strategy. In reply to a question from Mr. Owen, the Secretary stated that the President's statements on our position regarding Berlin and Germany had had no profound effect on Khrushchev.

The Secretary asked who performed policy planning in the Kremlin? Mr. McGhee answered that he had asked Zorin the same question and that he was given no specific information on the subject other than there were planners at every level of Soviet government.

The Secretary remarked that it was obvious that the Soviets had made some fairly fundamental and far-reaching decisions in the last several years and that they were not going to subject any of their vital interests to a third party, e.g., disarmament, the Congo.

The Secretary concluded that we must have a policy on Berlin that would force Khrushchev to realize that continuing on his present course would mean sacrificing his position among the uncommitted nations. (As an aside, the Secretary said that he was impressed that Khrushchev was willing to make the sacrifice.) He said that the only way we could affect a world community position against the bloc would be to assay what mistakes we had made and what mistakes the Russians had made; this should be a principal task of S/P.


101. Editorial Note

In a memorandum to President Kennedy, June 26, 1961, McGeorge Bundy discussed closing out the bilateral talks which had begun in Washington June 19 between John McCloy and Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Valerian Zorin in an effort to reach agreement on an appropriate forum for multinational general disarmament negotiations. Bundy noted that both Adlai Stevenson, U.S. Representative to the United Nations, and McCloy believed that the Soviets "no longer feel--if they ever did--that anything serious can be accomplished." McCloy and Zorin met for the last time on June 30 and agreed to reconvene in mid-July. During a meeting with President Kennedy on June 30, Zorin raised the issue of merging the test ban talks with those on general disarmament should the test talks fail. President Kennedy reaffirmed his opposition to such a move. McCloy and Zorin met in Moscow seven times between July 17 and July 29 but reached no agreement. For text of Bundy's memorandum and the memorandum of Kennedy's conversation with Zorin, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, volume VII, pages 97-102.


FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES - 1961-1963 - Volume V - Soviet Union P58

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