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23. Outline for a Speech by the Secretary of State1

I. Introduction

In recent weeks Soviet diplomatic activity has been of a range and intensity unequalled in the last decade. Clearly they are trying very hard to do something; they are engaged in some sort of an important campaign.
It is most important that we give close study to the implications of what they have done; we must see whether these Soviet efforts afford real opportunities for improving the prospects of peace and freedom.

II Recent Soviet Activity

In swift succession the Soviets have:

signed an Austrian peace treaty which provides for the withdrawal of Russian forces from Austria;
presented a disarmament proposal which in some respects represents an important narrowing of Western and Soviet differences;
announced a mission or the very top Soviet leaders to Yugoslavia;
accepted a proposal to hold talks with the leaders of the U.S., UK, and France;
held a conference at Warsaw to organize Communist bloc counter to NATO;
imposed heavy tolls on truck traffic to Berlin inconsistent with 1949 agreement on access;

engaged in a whole series of public statements by Soviet leaders, directed to questions of foreign affairs.

(Describe each of above actions briefly.)

III. Reasons for Soviet Activity

We cannot pretend to be able to say with certainty just why the Russians are so active. On many things we can only conjecture. But various reasons suggest themselves:

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Soviet actions are in large part a reaction to the achievements of the Free World in developing strength and unity through collective means. They are all in some manner related to the important fact that the West has achieved a greater solidarity mainly through NATO, and that the Federal Republic has become a full partner in the Western Community.
The Russians may also be coming to realize more fully the tragedies and devastation which would take place if their policies should lead them and the world into a war. They are aware that the growing unity of the West is accompanied by a steadily developing capacity for defense and retaliation. Their own familiarity with the awful consequences of modern weapons may have increased along with their own modern capabilities. We may surmise that the Russians have been sobered by a growing awareness of the meaning of modern war.
It may also be that the Soviets find themselves overextended; they are having to give massive support and assistance to Communist China; their controls in the satellites cannot be maintained without cost to Russia; their massive military machine is an expensive drain on resources; and their domestic problems in expanding food and consumer goods for their people appear to be giving them some trouble.
The Russian leadership, or some of the men in it, may have concluded that Russian security and domestic interests have not been well served by previous policies; that those policies have led only to greater strains and potential dangers for Russia itself; and that a changed relationship with the outside world would serve them better. Or they may merely consider that less aggressive tactics are more likely to succeed in dividing the West and lowering its guard.

IV. Goals of Soviet Action

We can see some of the things that the Soviets would like to achieve by their present activity:

They would like to reverse the admission to NATO of the Federal Republic or to forestall the development of German forces, especially with close U.S. collaboration. Toward this end, at Warsaw and elsewhere, they have put forward the idea of a neutralization of “two Germanies”; they have proposed a formula for withdrawal of foreign forces from Germany and a continuation of four-power control as one part of their disarmament proposals; they have talked of the Austrian treaty as a pattern for a German solution.
They would like to weaken the security aspects of the North Atlantic Treaty and in particular to eliminate U.S. participation in European defense. Toward this end they have included withdrawal from foreign bases in their disarmament proposals; they have inserted in their Warsaw treaty clauses which invite the European NATO countries [Page 81]to abandon NATO and join in a general European security arrangement with the promise that the Warsaw arrangement would then be abandoned; they have tried to give the impression in statements about the Yugoslavia mission that there is no difficulty in a former antagonist getting along with Russia if only it will abstain from entering collective security treaties which the Soviets do not like; they have sedulously cultivated the ideas of neutrality and neutralism for non-Communist states.
They may wish to reduce the threat of nuclear war and the economic drain of large armaments. Their recent proposals on disarmament leave many questions unclear but they do constitue a major step toward previous Western positions.

V. Uncertainties of Soviet Position

We cannot, however, at this stage foresee to what degree Soviet activities are addressed toward serious negotiation about those major problems which require for solution a considerable change in Soviet policy.
Thus none of the Soviet actions so far clearly indicates:
that they are ready to give up their control of East Germany and allow the unification of a genuinely free Germany;
that they are willing to accept adequately safeguarded disarmament and removal of the threat of atomic weapons;
that they are willing to extend freedom to the Eastern European satellites.
Obviously there are good grounds for scepticism in the light of past experience.

VI. Our Task

In the coming meeting of Heads of Governments and in the months to come, we must explore carefully the possibilities that there may be some way forward toward just solutions of the problems that now cause tensions between the Soviets and the free world.
The recent Soviet activities give us some reason for hope that progress may be made. We know that our policies of unity and strength for the free world have already been productive. We can hope that the Russians have become convinced that their own interests will be better served by settling some of the pressing problems of the world. This need not mean that they have suddenly “reformed” but merely that they have adjusted their policies to changed conditions or placed greater emphasis on specific goals, such as security.
We must not expect miracles. We must not expect rapid or easy solutions. But we must move forward with care and purpose in the hope that we can really achieve a turning of the tide of history.
  1. Source: Department of State, PPS Files: Lot 66 D 70, Chronological, Jan.–Dec, 1955. Confidential. Drafted by Carlton Savage, John Campbell, and Robert Bowie, all of the Policy Planning Staff. The draft itself is not dated, but a covering memorandum from Bowie to Dulles was dated May 19. A handwritten notation on this memorandum indicated that copy no. 1 was handed to the Secretary by Bowie on May 20, that this outline was for a speech before the Magazine Publishers Association at White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, and that the speech was not published. Bowie’s memorandum stated that the outline was written on the assumption that the speech would be off-the-record and not broadcast or published, adding that he would question the wisdom of publishing this kind of speech. The memorandum further indicated that the speech was given May 23. (Ibid.)