104. National Security Council Report1
Washington, June 29, 1956.
STATEMENT OF POLICY ON EAST-WEST EXCHANGES
- The basic strategy of the United States vis-à-vis the Soviet bloc
- To promote within Soviet Russia evolution toward a regime which will abandon predatory policies, which will seek to promote the aspirations of the Russian people rather than the global ambitions of International Communism, and which will increasingly rest upon the consent of the governed rather than upon despotic police power.
- As regards the European satellites, we seek their evolution toward independence of Moscow.
- For the first time since the end of World War II there are visible signs of progress along the lines we desire.
- Within the Soviet Union there is increasing education and consequent demand for greater freedom of thought and expression; there is increasing demand for greater personal security than existed under STALIN’s police state, and there is increasing demand for more consumer’s goods and better living conditions for the masses of people. The demands referred to must be considerable because the Soviet rulers judge it necessary to take drastic and hazardous measures to seem to meet them.
- Within the satellite countries there has occurred a considerable demotion of those who were dedicated to the STALIN doctrine of iron discipline of Communists everywhere, with the Soviet Communist Party acting as the general staff of the world proletariat. The fact that “Titoism” is now regarded as respectable by the Soviet rulers, and that it is profitable to Tito, encourages those within the satellite countries, such as Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary, to seek a greater degree of nationalism and independence of Moscow.
- There has thus come about a condition which should lead the United States intensively to seek projects which would have impact within the Soviet bloc and encourage the liberal tendencies referred to.
- At the Geneva meeting of Foreign Ministers, the three Western Powers submitted a well-rounded 17-point proposal which reflected the above thinking. This was rejected by the Soviet Union which, however, indicated that it might be prepared to develop East-West exchanges along the indicated lines on the basis of bilateral talks.
- The problem of East-West exchanges should be considered in the foregoing context.
- Our foreign policies are necessarily defensive, so far as the use of force is concerned. But they can be offensive in terms of promoting a desire for greater individual freedom, well-being and security within the Soviet Union, and greater independence within the satellites. In other words, East-West exchanges should be an implementation of positive United States foreign policy.
- The exchanges should in large part be initiated by the United States itself, and we should not be content with the negative or neutral position incident to passing upon Soviet initiatives, or the initiatives of private groups within the United States. Of course, Soviet initiatives should be accepted, and the private U.S. initiatives should be welcomed, whenever they advance U.S. policy or seem to [Page 245] be an acceptable and necessary price for what will advance U.S. policy. But the Government should be thinking and planning imaginatively in this field.
- One aspect of this matter which requires particular consideration is the impact of what we do upon third countries as well as upon military, political and economic cooperation among the countries of the free world. In many cases, the United States can tolerate a type of exchange which to other countries would be poisonous. Consideration should be given to explaining to third countries, on a confidential basis, the scope and purpose of our program and the precautions we would take, so that they will not misconstrue what we do as evidence that we believe that Soviet purposes have now become benign. This could be done, for example, as regards the American Republics at a meeting of the Ambassadors, such as we have had with increasing frequency in recent months. There could be similar expositions made on a selective basis with friendly countries of Africa and Asia. In this way, it could be made clear that what we do is a part of our policy designed to weaken International Communism, and that it is not either an acquiescence in Soviet policy or a recognition that Soviet motives have so changed that they are no longer to be feared.
- To increase the knowledge of the Soviet and satellite people as to the outer world so that their judgments will be based upon fact and not upon Communist fiction.
- To encourage freedom of thought by bringing to the Soviet and satellite peoples challenging ideas and demonstrating to Soviet and satellite intellectuals the scope of intellectual freedom which is encouraged within the United States.
- To stimulate the demand of Soviet and satellite citizens for greater personal security by bringing home to them the degree of personal security which is afforded by our constitutional and legal systems.
- To stimulate their desire for more consumer’s goods by bringing them to realize how rich are the fruits of free labor and how much they themselves could gain from a government which primarily sought their well-being and not conquest.
- To stimulate nationalism within the satellite countries by reviving the historic traditions of these peoples and by suggesting the great benefits which can be derived from a courageous policy of defiance of Moscow such as Tito exhibited.
Courses of Action
- The United States should take the initiative in East-West exchanges as a positive instrument of U.S. foreign policy, employing as a general guide the 17-point proposal (attached)2 as submitted at the Geneva Foreign Ministers meeting. Each proposal should be judged on its merits as contributing to the agreed objectives.
- The United States should make clear as appropriate to third countries the scope and purpose of our programs.
- Source: Department of State, S/P–NSC Files: Lot 62 D 1, East-West Exchanges. Confidential. Circulated to the members of the Council as an enclosure to Lay’s memorandum of June 29, in which he noted the discussion and action taken at the 289th meeting of the Council on June 28; see supra.↩
- See footnote 4, Document 99.↩