157. Editorial Note

On July 1, the Soviet Union shot down a U.S. Air Force RB - 47 airplane, which was on a proposed mission from the United Kingdom near the northern borders of Norway and the Soviet Union and over the Barents Sea, and rescued two of the six crew members. The two survivors were Captain John B. McKone and Captain Freeman Bruce Olmstead. President Eisenhower discussed his initial reaction to a report that the Soviets had shot down the plane in a telephone conversation with Secretary of State Herter on July 11; see Document 158. For text of the July 11 Soviet note presenting the Soviet account of the incident, see Department of State Bulletin, August 1, 1960, pages 164 - 165. For a memorandum of the President's telephone conversation with Secretary Herter on July 12 on the proposed U.S. reply to the Soviet Union, see Document 159. For texts of a statement by James Hagerty, the President's Press Secretary, July 12, and the U.S. note, July 12, claiming the RB - 47 was never closer to the Soviet Union than about 30 miles and never penetrated Soviet territorial waters or air space, protesting the Soviet interpretation, demanding the release to U.S. custody of the two officers, and proposing a joint investigation with the Soviet Union and any other acceptable "authority," see Department of State Bulletin, August 1, 1960, pages 163 - 164. The United States also postponed negotiations with the Soviet Union on an air transport agreement scheduled to begin in Washington on July 18. For text of the aide- memoire to the Soviet Foreign Ministry on July 14 declaring the postponement, see ibid., page 165.

For texts of the President's July 13 statement agreeing to a full discussion of the RB - 47 incident and his July 13 letter to Senator Mansfield responding to Mansfield's July 13 telegram in which he suggested the incident be brought before the U.N. Security Council, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960 - 61, pages 578 - 579. Mansfield's telegram is in Eisenhower Library, White House Central Files. For texts of the July 15 Soviet note rejecting the U.S. version of the incident and the July 18 U.S. note reiterating its position, see Department of State Bulletin, August 8, 1960, pages 210 - 211. The National Security Council discussed the incident on July 15 and President Eisenhower and Secretary Herter met on July 19; see Documents 160 and 161.

The U.N. Security Council took up the Soviet complaint July 22 - 26. For texts of statements by Representative Henry Cabot Lodge on July 22, 25, and 26, see Department of State Bulletin, August 15, 1960, pages 235 - 244. For text of the Soviet draft resolution, which the Security Council rejected on July 26 by a vote of two (Poland and the Soviet Union) to nine and a U.S. draft resolution, as modified, July 26, which the Soviet Union vetoed, and an Italian draft resolution, July 26, which the Soviet Union also vetoed, see ibid., page 244. The discussion in the Security Council is summarized in Yearbook of the United Nations, 1960, pages 41 - 42.

For text of the August 2 Soviet note replying to the U.S. note of July 18, and the August 4 U.S. note reiterating its demand for the release of the two officers, see Department of State Bulletin, August 22, 1960, pages 274 - 276. Ambassador Llewellyn E. Thompson spoke with Nikita Khrushchev on the RB - 47 case on September 8; see Document 162.

Meanwhile, because the RB - 47 flight originated in the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union sent a protest note to the British Government. For the reaction of British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, including the text of the undated letter he sent to Khrushchev rebutting the Soviet accusations on the matter, see Macmillan, Pointing the Way, pages 237 - 241. The text of Macmillan's letter to President Eisenhower, July 18, which explained his decision to write a personal rebuttal to Khrushchev, as well as the texts of the British note to the Soviet Government and Macmillan's letter to Khrushchev, were transmitted in telegram 426 to London, July 18. (Department of State, Central Files, 711.11 - EI/7 - 1860) Eisenhower's reply to Macmillan, July 21, congratulating him on his personal letter to Khrushchev, was transmitted in telegram 554 to London, July 21. (Ibid., 711.11 - EI/7 - 2160) The United States and the United Kingdom also reviewed their working arrangements concerning reconnaissance flights involving British territory. Memoranda of conversation between Ivan B. White, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, and British Ambassador Sir Harold Caccia on July 26, 27, and 28, and September 1 on this question are ibid., 700.5411. Memoranda of conversation between White and T. Brimelow, Counselor of the British Embassy in Washington, continuing these discussions on September 9, 22, and 26 are ibid.

The United States and Norway also reviewed U.S. reconnaissance flights touching Norwegian territory. A memorandum of conversation between Secretary Herter and Norwegian Foreign Minister Halvard Lange on October 10 indicated that the United States agreed to give Norway advance notice of U.S. peripheral reconnaissance flights through military-to-military channels. (Ibid., 700.5411/10 - 1060) A memorandum of conversation between Foy D. Kohler, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, and Paul Koht, Norwegian Ambassador to the United States, October 13, confirmed this agreement. (Ibid., 700.5411/10 - 1360)

The Soviet Union also raised the RB - 47 incident, along with the U - 2, in the U.N. General Assembly. For text of a statement by James J.Wadsworth, Representative to the United Nations, in the General Committee on September 23, replying to the Soviet complaint on the two incidents, see Department of State Bulletin, October 17, 1960, pages 622 - 623. On September 23, the General Committee rejected by a vote of 12 to 3 the Soviet proposal that its complaint be allocated to plenary consideration. For text of Wadsworth's statement, October 13, opposing the Soviet proposal to take up the two plane incidents in plenary session, see ibid., November 7, 1960, pages 726 - 727. On October 13, the General Assembly rejected the Soviet proposal by a vote of 10 to 54 with 33 abstentions and referred the issue to its First (Political and Security) Committee, but discussion there was deferred until 1961.



U.S. Department of State - Office of the Historian

Vol. X, Part 1, FRUS, 1958-60: E. Europe Region; Soviet Union; Cyprus

158. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between President Eisenhower and Secretary of State Herter July 11, 1960, 3 p.m.

The President telephoned from Newport about ticker reports that the Soviets have shot down our B - 47,/1/ missing since July 1, over the Bering Sea and have picked up two survivors. The President said he had been told this plane was 30 miles off the coast when it was last heard from./2/ The President said this may be true, but said he has gotten to the point where he doesn't trust them to the slightest degree. The President said they have two of our people and if these two people say maybe they were lost then we are in for it again. The President said if we can prove it was not over territorial waters when it was shot down, will we break relations or what do we do.

The Secretary said it was a very serious situation; that Mr. Gates was with him now and they had been going over this; that they were now in a briefing for the trip to Ottawa/3/ but would resume discussion of the plane incident following that. The Secretary said we still do not have the actual note; all we have so far are ticker reports but we have our Code Room alerted to get us the text of the note the moment it is decoded./4/

The President said he guessed we have the plot of the plane's course, but the President said he supposed our plot can be inaccurate. The President said he would be available to the Secretary except about 4:30 - 5:00 p.m. when he is going out on a ship. The Secretary said just as soon as we get the Soviet note, which will probably be after that time, we will get in touch with the President.
159. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between President Eisenhower and Secretary of State Herter July 12, 1960, 11:50 a.m.


The President telephoned with regard to giving the mileage figure in our reply to the Soviet note. The President said he didn't know how we can avoid this. The President said what it must be is that Defense and CIA must think they have tracking radar station the Soviets know nothing about.

The Secretary said most of it is carried on by another Government. The Secretary said it seemed to him if we make the flat assertion that the plane was not over their territorial land we will be asked the same question as if we say it never got within 30 miles, and the Secretary said it weakened our note considerably not to specify.

The President said that is the way he feels, but said the only thing is if the station is there--but the President said we wouldn't have to say anything else.

The Secretary said it seemed to him we can always say it came from direct communication with the plane and the Soviets can't prove or disprove it one way or the other.

The President asked if we didn't have direct communication.

The Secretary said no; the plane was under orders to communicate if they were in danger but did not do so.

The President said it must have been hit by a sidewinder type of thing. The President said he personally did not see the percentage in saying the plane did not go over Soviet territorial waters and not being able to say it never went within roughly 30 miles.

The Secretary said it weakens our case if we don't do this.

The President asked what their argument against this was.

The Secretary said they just say it might compromise us, but if we make a flat assertion it didn't go over territory, he couldn't see the difference.

The President said if we say that and they say they had a tracking station and sent fighters to check up, will we have to say how we know they didn't go closer than 30 miles if you have somebody like the World Court involved would you have to say how you knew this.

The Secretary said only up to a certain point.

The President said here is what he thinks--there is a weakness in the argument of the Air Force and Intelligence. The President said they say we never got out of international waters and never went over Soviet territory and how can you say that if you don't know where the plane was. The President said it seemed to him their argument is silly.

The Secretary said that is just what we have been arguing with them.

The President asked the Secretary to pass along his view to Defense and CIA.

[Here follows discussion of unrelated subjects.]


//Source: Eisenhower Library, Herter Papers, Telephone Conversations. No classification marking. No drafting information appears on the source text.


U.S. Department of State - Office of the Historian

Vol. X, Part 1, FRUS, 1958-60: E. Europe Region; Soviet Union; Cyprus
160. Memorandum of Discussion at the 451st Meeting of the National Security Council Washington, July 15, 1960.


[Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. Extract--3 pages of source text not declassified.]


U.S. Department of State - Office of the Historian

Vol. X, Part 1, FRUS, 1958-60: E. Europe Region; Soviet Union; Cyprus
161. Memorandum of Conference With President Eisenhower Newport, Rhode Island, July 19, 1960, 3:15 p.m.


Secretary Herter, Mr. Bohlen, Mr. Kohler, Mr. Wilcox, Mr. Hagerty, General Goodpaster

[Here follows discussion of unrelated subjects.]

Mr. Herter next took up the subject of the RB - 47 case in the UN. He said we are trying to marshal our facts into the strongest possible case. Mr. Kohler commented that there are a number of problems of classification, or declassification, that still remain. He said that he wanted to put merely a general pitch before the President during the meeting, with detailed language yet to be developed. He said we are being guided by the determination not to make use of any [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] even though this is some of the best that we have as to the location of the plane. He said a map is being prepared which will show a generalized track, and that there will be a general statement as to sources, not pinpointed to one specific method. The President stressed that we should not let ourselves be caught out in any story, as in the U - 2 case, where we have to change our story subsequently or acknowledge an untruth. During further discussion I raised the question as to whether there had been consideration of the necessity for such flights maintaining radio silence, indicating that I saw no reason for this. The President agreed, and asked that I take the matter up with General Twining (which I did on the morning of Wednesday, July 20)./1/

Mr. Herter said he had some information that an American aircraft, which he thought was of C - 47 type, had earlier on July 19th, through navigation error, flown directly over the Kuriles. The Soviets had apparently tried to bring it down but were unable to locate it in the fog and clouds.

Mr. Herter next took up the letter sent to the President from Mr. Macmillan enclosing the British reply to the Soviets on the RB - 47 case, together with a personal letter from Macmillan to Khrushchev./2/ He commented that Macmillan has taken a very stout stand. The President read the letter (which I carried up to him) and said that he was glad to see it, commenting that many people have been saying that the British are being soft these days.

Mr. Herter then said that the question should be considered why the Soviets are taking the line that they have been taking. Their action gives real grounds for concern, since they are deliberately engaging in saber-rattling. He said that he and his associates, particularly Mr. Bohlen, have been giving some thought as to how best to handle this situation. One action that they have thought of is to work for something of major psychological effect through bringing our defense forces to a greater state of readiness. He asked Mr. Bohlen to outline this line of thought. Mr. Bohlen said the Soviet actions were now going beyond their usual ugly, angry reaction to every event they dislike. There has been a considerable shift in the Soviet behavior, evidenced by widespread campaign of inciting violence and disorder all around the world. He said that the threat to use force is something new in the Soviet tactics. This has now become something more than just words and needs to be met with more than words, since polemics and arguments are something they love for creating tension and disturbing world affairs. He said he had been casting about for some action that might quiet them down and show the world that the Soviets are not in position to rule the roost.

[Here follows discussion of unrelated subjects.]

In further discussion Mr. Bohlen said there are two hypotheses with regard to this change of Soviet line. The first, which he does not believe, is that they might have decided this is the best year for a show-down--that the correlation of forces is in their favor, and that the U.S. is paralyzed because of the forthcoming election. The second, which he is inclined to favor, is that they are having a good deal of trouble with Peiping and are adopting a militant line in order to cut out the Chinese.

[Here follows discussion of unrelated subjects.]

Mr. Kohler then raised one point with regard to flights such as the RB - 47. The British have apparently stopped theirs for the present and have suggested that we suspend our flights. We have held up certain of them but if we were to stop them for very long, it would be difficult and dangerous to start them up again. The President recalled his question (which Colonel Eisenhower had conveyed to General Twining) as to why the British could not take on the sector of northwest Europe for such operations. He agreed that if we suspend the flights for very long it would be very hard to start them up. The President thought that on the next such flight we ought to give consideration to announcing the route in advance.

[Here follows discussion of unrelated subjects.]


//Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, DDE Diaries. Secret. Drafted by Goodpaster on July 21.

/1/No record of this meeting has been found.

/2/See Document 157.


U.S. Department of State - Office of the Historian Vol. X, Part 1, FRUS, 1958-60: E. Europe Region; Soviet Union; Cyprus

162. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State Moscow, September 8, 1960, 2 p.m.

692. I saw Khrushchev at 10 this morning. Conversation lasted 1 and 1/2 hours most of it without translation which is equivalent to over 3 hour conversation. I began by asking if he were familiar with my conversation with Gromyko and his reply on RB - 47./1/ When he replied he was fully familiar with it I said since he was pressed for time I would not repeat my remarks and my purpose was simply to impress upon him personally the seriousness with which my government regarded their continued detention of the two American fliers. I said my government would regret if this should lead to undoing much of good work that had been done to improve our relations but did not see how this could be avoided. He interrupted to ask if this were threat. I said by no means, but they should realize that feeling was very strong on this subject. I knew there was a difference of opinion about facts but our people went on basis this plane had not violated Soviet frontiers.

Khrushchev said they would have been glad if occasion had not arisen for them to hold these fliers. This was consequence of policy of US. He said assertions had been made by Secretary Herter and confirmed by President that we had right send planes over Soviet territory./2/ I interrupted him to deny this and said Secretary Herter's first statement may have been equivocal but this had been explained later. I also said President had said there would be no more U - 2 flights./3/ He said type plane was of no importance. I said RB - 47 was in entirely different category from U - 2 flight. Latter had been sent to overfly their territory whereas RB - 47 had strict instructions not to do so and we were convinced this had not happened.

Khrushchev said this was our opinion. If it had not done so it would not have been shot down. They had no aircraft carriers and it had been shot down by shore-based plane which was again proof.

I pointed out land-based planes can fly far from shore. Khrushchev remarked they had a limited radius of action though bombers could fly long distances. How far was US from border? Had plane lost its way? These flights were not good. US had taken upon itself right to fly planes over other countries. We had flown over Afghanistan, had wanted fly over Finland and had overflown India. We did not recognize sovereign rights of other countries. During Lebanon crisis we had flown over Austria without permission although both countries had undersigned Austria's neutrality. This policy increased tensions and they considered it a provocation. He pointed out that Soviet Union was different from what it had been in past and it was not Afghanistan. They had right and power to protect their homeland. He said we gave excuse that our planes had been sent on these missions to protect our security but surely we must realize that such flights threatened their security. He said suppose they had sent missiles without warheads over our territory. He repeated his conviction that President had not known of this flight although he had probably known in general about such flights and had given Allen Dulles a pat on the back when shown photos taken by these planes. He pointed out they had protested earlier flights of this kind both to US and to Security Council./4/ He said they had followed our plane on April 9 and on May 1 Malinovski had phoned him about second flight and he had given orders to shoot plane down. He said if this incident had not happened President would have had wonderful and hospitable reception in Soviet Union. What could he have done at Paris? They would have been ashamed to sit down with us in circumstances of this humiliation with no expression of regret on our part. We were not their neighbors but someone had wanted to spoil our relations though he was convinced that if President had been asked to clear this specific flight he would not have done so.

Khrushchev then said he wished to speak to me frankly and personally and said that his remarks were not for transmission to my govt. Although I am reporting on these separately/5/ I here give only portion related to U - 2 question. Toward end of our conversation I said our election campaigns were at best very sharp affairs and I thought it important that neither candidate be provoked into taking positions which would make impossible or long delay serious attempt to resolve our problems and to stabilize peace. Khrushchev said "Do you mean we should not put these fliers on trial before your elections?" I said, "No, I think they should be returned." He said "This is your first position but your second position is not to try them before the elections. We will think about this and discuss it in the govt and I am inclined to think you are right." He said that release of fliers before election would undermine their policy (I cannot recall his exact words here but believe his meaning was that this would be admission on their part that we were not to blame). He said they were aware of problem of our elections and did not wish to prejudice future possibilities for understanding.

I said he should not misunderstand me. In referring to our elections I was talking on whole broad question of our relations. My position was that they should return the fliers.



//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 761.5411/9 - 860. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Another copy of this telegram bears the President's initials. (Eisenhower Library, Staff Secretary Records, International File)

/1/Thompson reported his conversation with Gromyko in telegram 532 from Moscow, August 25. (Department of State, Central Files, 761.5411/8 - 2560)

/2/Reference may be to Herter's May 9 statement attempting to justify the U - 2 flights and the May 12 U.S. note to the Soviet Union on the incident. For texts, see Department of State Bulletin, May 23, 1960, pp. 816 - 817, and May 30, 1960, p. 852.

For text of the President's May 11 statement, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960 - 61, pp. 403 - 404.

/3/See footnote 2, Document 156.

/4/Regarding earlier Soviet charges of incursions of its air space by U.S. military aircraft and balloons, see Documents 39, 43, 47, 50, and 55.

/5/See Document 163.


U.S. Department of State - Office of the Historian

Vol. X, Part 1, FRUS, 1958-60: E. Europe Region; Soviet Union; Cyprus
163. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State Moscow, September 8, 1960, 5 p.m.

698. Eyes only Secretary. Following is that part of my conversation with Khrushchev which he did not want me to report./1/

He said he was convinced that there was no possibility of resolving our problems during rest of current administration. He had been much attracted to President who perhaps suffered from fact he was too kind a person and was basically military man who did not fully understand politics. He was quite sure if President had been asked to authorize U - 2 flight on May 1 he would not have done so even though he doubtless knew in general of these flights. He said he had tried to leave way out for President to disavow U - 2 flight but he did not do so. He said of course he realized President had gotten into almost impossible position since it would have been difficult for him to go before American people and admit he had not known what was going on. They would wait until after our elections to make new effort to reach understanding. He frankly had not been charmed by Nixon who he thought was a careerist but they had no desire interfere with our elections and would stay out of them. He mentioned Nixon's speech in New York before Dentists' Convention/2/ and said that had been stupid thing to do just before he, Khrushchev, was to visit US. However they were prepared to deal with Nixon if he were elected by American people. He knew little of Kennedy whom he had only met when he visited Foreign Relations Committee/3/ and exchanged few words with him but he indicated both our parties represented our system including our monopolies. This however need not prevent agreement on subjects relating to peace.

I replied to effect he misjudged President. I said I would admit, although I did not have facts and it was probably indiscreet to say so, that in my opinion President had probably not specifically authorized U - 2 flight. (Khrushchev interrupted to say "I will never exploit that remark against you.") I pointed out however that he himself had just made clear that he had not really left way out for President. I said moreover that at Paris he had immediately upon arrival given French written memo/4/ which he knew would eventually become public knowledge and that this action had been interpreted by us to mean he did not really wish to settle U - 2 affair. I said this was of course painful affair for me to have to discuss and there was no question but that plane had violated Soviet frontier. However, it seemed to us they had gone very far in over-exploiting it and this cast doubt on their intentions.

With respect to VP I wanted to make two remarks. In first place he had referred to VP's speech before dentists. While neither VP nor anyone else had ever mentioned this to me, it was common knowledge that shortly before this the VP had appeared before American veterans' organization and persuaded them not to pass resolution calling for demonstrations against Khrushchev during his visit to US./5/ This had caused many people to attack VP on ground he was pro-Communist. VP was politician and I personally thought his Dentists' speech should be regarded in light this background.

My second remark was that VP was as staunch an opponent of Communist system as Khrushchev was of capitalist, but I thought they would make mistake if they concluded from this that VP did not wish to reach agreements with Soviet Union in matters where it was to our mutual interest. I said I made these remarks not in any partisan manner as I knew both candidates and regarded them highly. I was equally sure that Kennedy would be prepared endeavor reach mutually satisfactory agreements. It was at this point that I referred to importance of Soviets not pushing either candidate into position which would jeopardize future negotiations. I said we already had number of acute problems and mentioned specifically Congo and Cuba. Khrushchev said they had no intention of increasing tensions but it was obvious from whole conversation they will maintain their present line at least until after our elections.

In discussing economic matters Khrushchev referred to conversations and arguments he had had with Harriman and Humphrey,/6/ both of whom he characterized as intelligent men though he indicated he had not been pleased with the way Humphrey had handled matter of their conversation upon his return.

He referred to dissensions within US and in West and boasted theirs was monolithic system. (He did not mention China.) He said he had heard of discussions in West about dissensions within Soviet regime but said they were united not only in party but also in government, and pointed out he was head of both party and government. He said reports of his disputes with Suslov/7/ and others were completely untrue and there was full agreement not only with him but with Mikoyan and Kozlov and others. He said even with Molotov there had not been basic disagreement over his policies,/8/ particularly coexistence, but said Molotov carried burden of his age and background in his thinking. He said coexistence was Leninist policy and even Stalin had agreed with it.

Throughout this conversation and to some extent last night/9/ Khru- shchev emphasized great importance he attached to fact that U - 2 flights were made after his visit to US and especially his friendly conversations with President. He has thus indicated that not only was Soviet military prestige an important factor but also his own personal prestige in view of favorable remarks he made about President after his return to Soviet Union.


/9/Thompson reported his conversation with Khrushchev on the U - 2 incident, which Khrushchev initiated in the presence of the entire diplomatic corps during a Kremlin reception for the Vice President of the United Arab Republic on September 7, in telegrams 686 and 688 from Moscow, September 7. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.61/9 - 760)


//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.61/9 - 860. Secret; Priority.

/1/For reports on the rest of Thompson's conversation, see Documents 162, 164, and 165.

/2/See footnote 2, Document 109.

/3/See Document 108.

/4/Regarding Khrushchev's memorandum, which he gave to de Gaulle on May 15, see Document 147.

/5/Apparently heeding Nixon's plea not to jeopardize the Khrushchev visit to the United States in 1959, the delegates to the American Legion convention in Minneapolis in late August 1959 killed resolutions condemning Khrushchev's presence and passed resolutions urging acceptance of his visit.

/6/Regarding Harriman's conversations with Khrushchev, see Documents 75, 76, and 86. Humphrey met with Khrushchev in Moscow on December 1, 1958; see vol. VIII, Document 84.

/7/Mikhail Andreevich Suslov, Secretary and Presidium member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

/8/During a shakeup in the Soviet Communist Party leadership in mid- 1957, Molotov was removed as a member and Presidium member of the Central Committee of the party and from all other duties and was then appointed Soviet Ambassador to the Mongolian People's Republic.


U.S. Department of State - Office of the Historian

Vol. X, Part 1, FRUS, 1958-60: E. Europe Region; Soviet Union; Cyprus
164. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State Moscow, September 8, 1960, 5 p.m.

699. This morning when Khrushchev said he wished to speak personally, frankly and confidentially I could of course not continue to take notes and he spoke rapidly in Russian without translation. Following is therefore to best of my recollection but should not be taken literally./1/ In explaining why Soviet Union did not intend war and believed world would eventually go Communist and our grandchildren live under Communism, he said this was because Soviet system was better and when this was demonstrated even we would adopt it. He then launched into long harangue, much of which along usual Communist lines. He referred to fact that our steel mills were producing at only half capacity and said this could never happen in Soviet Union and was fatal handicap to US. He had read statements by President Truman about our rate of production/2/ but said the high rate in US at end war was due to necessity of supplying war-torn countries. Now even Japan and Germany were able sell in US market. He was utterly convinced Soviets would exceed our production per capita by 1970. He mentioned unemployment in US and referred to his conversation with American labor leaders in San Francisco./3/ He contemptuously referred to them as having sold out to capitalism. He realized I would not agree with such appraisal but that was his view. He referred to opportunities in Soviet Union, citing his own case. He mentioned some figures regarding surplus agricultural products in US and said "Imagine what we could accomplish with our system if we had such surpluses to dispose of" and then indicated they expected to achieve them. He said he had read statements of American Congressmen and others arguing against American tourists visiting Soviet Union and said it was natural they would be favorably impressed by Soviet Union after picture that had been painted for them. He said our two defectors/4/ had been astounded at what they had seen of Soviet Union and mentioned incidentally that they were intelligent people and that Soviet Union had not known about them nor had any responsibility for their defection. He said Francis Powers was also a not unintelligent fellow and had been much impressed with what he had been shown on trips around Moscow. He said in these circumstances how could anyone in his right mind in Soviet Union want to settle matters by war with awful destruction this would bring. He said I had lived in Soviet Union now for three years and had seen with my own eyes progress they had made. He observed that we often spoke of freedom under our system but I surely had been able to see the extent to which people enjoyed freedom in Soviet Union. He started to say I was free to go anywhere I liked but then corrected this to Moscow and its environs. He exuded confidence and it was impossible not to be convinced that he genuinely believed what he was saying.

When he had finished this long discourse I pointed out he had covered a large field and that his time was limited as this was his last day in Moscow. I would therefore not deal with all points he had made. I said I was glad he believed they could win through economic competition since this meant they did not intend use force. I had no reason therefore to disabuse him of his conviction but rather than argue some of the economic points he had made I would send him two articles by American economists which would summarize for him some thinking in US on question of economic competition. (I later sent him articles by Willard Thorp and W. Rostow contained in part III of Joint Economic Committee of Congress on comparisons of US and Soviet economies.)/5/ I said both our systems had strengths and weaknesses. They frequently spoke of overtaking us in butter production but we had all the butter we could use and why should we try to out-produce them. Their rate of industrial production was higher than ours but our system was geared to produce what we needed. He indicated his agreement with this. I said however I wished particularly to draw his attention to what I considered an error in their thinking; this was their tendency to over-simplify question of US motives in foreign relations. I said they tended to interpret them entirely in terms of class warfare and this was quite wrong. He had mentioned repeatedly monopoly capitalism and I said that while profit motives could on occasion enter into these things, this factor very minor. I said we were fully as confident as he was in our system and would welcome peaceful competition to show which was better.

Referring back to that part of his conversation which related to U - 2, I said one thing had very much struck me in what he said now and in many previous statements by himself and others in Soviet Govt; that was references to being treated as equals, humiliation, Soviet power, etc. I said I knew there was never any intention to humiliate Soviet Union or discount their power. I had lived long time in both countries and thought to some extent I was in position to understand both points of view. No question that both our peoples wanted peace and that neither govt wanted war. Since each knew this true, each tended to regard his own actions as purely defensive but this was not view taken by other side. There was distrust, suspicion, and even fear on both sides and this accounted for some actions of those responsible for security.

Khrushchev repeated they desired understanding and did not themselves intend do anything provocative, at which point I again pressed for release of RB - 47 fliers.



//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.61/9 - 860. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution.

/1/For reports of the rest of Thompson's conversation, see Documents 162, 163, and 165.

/2/Not further identified.

/3/See footnote 2, Document 122.

165. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State Moscow, September 9, 1960, 9 p.m.

713. In reviewing my cables on Khrushchev conversation/1/ I find following points not covered.

In disclaiming any intent to use force for spread of Communism Khrushchev observed that of course once a revolution took place Soviets would give assistance to govts representing working class.

With respect to Powers trial he mentioned statement made by American lawyer (presumably Hallinan)/2/ on justice of trial.

In discussing conviction that Soviet would overtake US by 1970 Khrushchev made clear this included consumers goods such as textiles.

Khrushchev disavowed any intention of interfering in our elections. He knew he had been criticized for attacks he had made on President (not clear whether he was referring to world press or to remarks I had made to Kosygin)./3/ He asked however how he could have received President. He said "If someone comes to visit you and you catch him redhanded throwing a dead cat over your fence, you could not respect yourself if you received him as an honored guest."



//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.61/9 - 860. Secret; Limit Distribution.

/1/Documents 162, 163, and 164.

/2/The Soviet Government invited Vincent Hallinan, Progressive Party candidate for President in 1956, to observe Powers' trial in Moscow. TASS, the Soviet press agency, quoted Hallinan as having said the Powers' trial was absolutely fair. (The New York Times, August 19, 1960)

/3/Reference presumably is to a conversation Ambassador Thompson had with Khru-shchev and Aleksei Nikolaevich Kosygin, First Deputy Prime Minister, on the U - 2 incident on June 30, in which Khrushchev criticized the President's handling of the incident. When Khrushchev left the meeting, Thompson told Kosygin that further criticisms "of this nature would have effect in US far beyond anything which I believed they intended. Kosygin made no significant reply but appeared embarrassed." (Telegram 3282 from Moscow, June 30; Department of State, Central Files, 761.5411/6 - 3060)


U.S. Department of State - Office of the Historian

Vol. X, Part 1, FRUS, 1958-60: E. Europe Region; Soviet Union; Cyprus