28. Editorial Note
The process of drafting a response to Bulganin’s letter of February 1 to President Eisenhower reiterating the Soviet proposal for a treaty of friendship and cooperation with the United States (see Document 24) extended through the month of February. Draft replies dated February 9, 12, and 23 are in Department of State, EUR Files: Lot 59 D 233, Bulganin.
One view of the significance of the Soviet proposal was that the Soviet Government feared the imminent outbreak of hostilities between the United States and Communist China and it desired a Soviet-American treaty as a hedge against China’s invoking the Sino-Soviet mutual assistance pact and involving the Soviet Union in war with the United States. This view was advanced by Galen L. Stone, Second Secretary of the Embassy in France, in a letter of February 8 to Robert Kranich in the Office of European Regional Affairs. According to a memorandum from Armstrong to Allan Evans in the Office of Intelligence Research, dated February 16, Stone’s letter and the hypothesis it contained were discussed with “considerable interest” at the Secretary of State’s Staff meeting the previous day and Armstrong had been requested to prepare an analysis of the hypothesis. Evans sent his comments on the hypothesis to Armstrong in a memorandum dated February 23, in which he concluded that “although the suggestion is a novel one, we consider it to be without validity insofar as available information can be a guide,” evidence that pointed to “the closest collaboration between the USSR and Communist China, particularly since the Khrushchev–Bulganin–Mikoyan visit to Peiping in 1954.” Armstrong passed on Evans’ comments in somewhat abbreviated form in a memorandum of February 27 to Merchant. All these documents are ibid., Central File 611.61/2–2756.
It was apparently the February 23 draft reply that was discussed by Secretary Dulles in a telephone conversation with Robert Bowie on February 24. Bowie said that the United States would be helping the Soviet leaders if it made a “full-dress” reply to Bulganin’s letter. He suggested merely adding something about the Soviet proposal to [Page 62]a letter on the subject of disarmament that was also being drafted for the President to send to Bulganin. In an apparent reference to the speeches at the 20th Party Congress, Bowie noted that the Soviet leaders “have said in effect we made a lot of blunders under STALIN, but we are not like him.” The full-dress reply, according to Bowie, made it possible for the Soviet leaders “to say we are raking up old stuff etc.” Dulles said he would like to give the President a choice of which way to respond. (Memorandum of telephone conversation by Phyllis D. Bernau, February 24, 6:44 p.m.; Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, General Telephone Conversations)
On February 25, Dulles sent to the President a draft full-dress reply No. 5, dated February 25, and a covering memorandum explaining the two options and expressing his belief that any middle course would be unsatisfactory. On February 27, Eisenhower returned the draft full-dress reply to Dulles with the comment that he had no objection to either course, provided that the full-dress reply was modified so as to include “both our negative bill of particulars as well as a positive program that we believe adequate.” This correspondence is ibid., Whitman File, Dulles–Herter Series. According to a February 28 memorandum from Barnes to Elbrick, Dulles and Eisenhower discussed the matter the previous day and the President accepted Dulles’ suggestion that they merely add a brief paragraph to the disarmament letter. (Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199)
On March 1, the President sent a letter to Premier Bulganin responding to Bulganin’s letter of September 19, 1955, regarding disarmament. The final paragraph of the President’s letter reads:
“I also wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge receipt of your letter of February first which replied to mine of January twenty-eighth. My view remains generally as expressed in that letter. But I shall continue to study the problem with a view to seeing whether it seems that any useful new steps can be taken as between us. I may communicate again with you later on this matter.”
This letter was delivered by Ambassador Bohlen on March 5 and the text released in Washington the following day. For the full text of the letter, see Department of State Bulletin, March 14, 1956, pages 514–515.