611.61/1–2450: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Kirk) to the Secretary of State 1


259. Embtel 243 January 23.2 Vishinsky’s reply to Secretary of State (Embtel 209, January 213) indicates by its violence that a sensitive spot was hit hard but extreme insolence of language is one more symptom of way in which Soviets are becoming increasingly rash as they seemingly think their position strengthens and ours weakens. If Embassy correctly reading signs, as long as this trend continues we may expect more and more rough treatment, less and less respect for common courtesies or for American public opinion. This is not merely conceit of bumpkin risen to power, who rejoices in offending because he thinks he is at last in position to do so with impunity; it is part of later phases of 90-degree turn Stalin has presumably planned for years, ever since that threat of Nazism forced him into alliance with Western democracies: Once he got Germany and Japan safely out of picture he swung ever more sharply away toward his orginal direction of world revolution based on USSR; in first years it was worth-while not to drop all veils at once, in order to confuse free world and delay its reaction; recently, however, veils have been dropped more and more, and Soviet press now speaks frankly of revolution, which testifies [Page 1084] to Stalin’s belief that with China won and an economic crisis believed under way he no longer need placate US or try to mask his intentions, but rather has more to gain now by driving straight for his real goal.

This new rashness was reflected in Stalin birthday articles,4 Soviet press New Year editorials, Malenkov’s November 6 speech,5 etc., and it has also been expressed in action, e.g. in treatment of our officials and other citizens in China, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia; in recent threats of Chou En-lai6 against French; in Chinese seizure of US, French and Dutch property, and Chinese attitude to recognition by Western Powers and even by India. UN walkout, though hardly deserving to be called rash, nevertheless fits in larger picture.

  1. This telegram was passed on to London, Paris, and Frankfort at 3:15 p. m., on January 24.
  2. Not printed. The Embassy commented that Vyshinsky’s “almost hysterical denials of Soviet plans to annex northern Chinese areas … couched in abusive language” was impressively unconvincing. It pointed out that Vyshinsky by “quoting at length from Secretary’s speech … contributed significantly to circulation this portion Secretary’s remarks in areas behind curtain. This type gratuitous aid generally is considered so reprehensible that most tortuous means are adopted to avoid it, and it is rare that Soviet reader sees actual criticism by Western leader of Soviet policy.” (611.61/1–2350)
  3. Not printed. Secretary of State Dean G. Acheson had made a speech on the “Crisis in Asia—an Examination of United States Policy” before the National Press Club in Washington on January 12. The text is in Department of State Bulletin, January 23, 1950, pp. 111–118.
  4. For commentary on the celebration of the 70th birthday of Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin, Generalissimo and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. v, pp. 683687 passim.
  5. Georgy Maximilianovich Malenkov, who was a secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, a member of the Politburo and Orgburo, and a Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers, delivered the main speech in the celebration of the 32d anniversary of the October revolution. See ibid., pp. 671 and 681.
  6. Chou En-lai was Chief of the State Administrative Council and concurrently Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China.