67. Notes of the Secretary of State’s Staff Meeting, Department of State, Washington, June 29, 1956, 9:15 a.m.1

Intelligence Briefing —Mr. Armstrong’s outline attached.2
Satellite Unrest—Considerable discussion at various points in the meeting on the problem of exploiting unrest in the satellites particularly brought to light by the Poznan riots reported in the morning papers. In the first place, there was a discussion of the line which USIA should take, Mr. Hoover pointing out that official statements should probably not be used but quotable statements from the floor of Congress might be helpful as would the statements of the businessmen who come out from Poland having stressed the Poznan riots.

The Secretary spoke about the need of spreading widely the actions and claims of the USSR in its foreign aid programs because it would place the USSR in the dilemma of denying the claims and thus hurting their good will abroad or in affirming the claims and thus offending the Soviet people themselves who were being squeezed in order to support such aid programs. The Secretary went on to discuss the view he has held that the Soviet economy is overextended: they are trying to match and indeed surpass the U.S. military effort; they are trying to increase their capital development; they are trying to develop their foreign aid program. All of this in the face of a bad agricultural situation. He pointed out that if the U.S., with its far greater industrial base, attempted such programs it would be staggered by the load. The Secretary thought there was a need for us to develop the pressures on these economic vulnerabilities and that by publicizing expansively the Soviet foreign aid offers forcing them into the dilemma of acknowledgment or denial was an important direction in which we could go.

Discussion shifted to the appropriate utilization of the barter amendment to PL 4803 which Mr. Hill thought might be passed within ten days or so. The Secretary felt that we could develop an offer to the Poles, as well as to other satellites, which would be very appealing and which the USSR would now allow.

There was also discussion prompted by the Secretary’s report of Senator Humphrey’s inquiry to him as to whether the world shortage of cement might be a commodity we could usefully seek from the USSR and the satellites in our barter offers.

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As an aside during the discussion, the Secretary spoke eloquently on the need to take risks in the development of our policies, especially if we are to be “on the offensive”. Nothing is achieved that does not have some risk to it and we should not seek to make all our programs riskless. He pointed out that the coordination process often is deadening in this regard as each participant seeks to remove possible dangers.

Action: (1) P to prepare appropriate guidelines in the USIA exploitation of the Poznań riot. (2) P to guide USIA in the full publicizing of Soviet foreign aid programs and claims, seeking to place the USSR in the dilemma of acknowledging or denying. (3) E, in coordination with EUR, to step up its preparation of proposals (Staff Record, June 18)4 for carrying out the barter amendment to PL 480, without awaiting its passage, to focus particular attention on the current Polish situation, and to consider cement as a useful commodity in barter arrangements.

[Here follows discussion of unrelated items.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Staff Meetings: Lot 63 D 75. Secret. Drafted by Fisher Howe. According to an attendance sheet attached to the source text, among those present were the Secretary, Hoover, Murphy, Prochnow, Bowie, McCardle, Armstrong, and Elbrick.
  2. Attached but not printed.
  3. Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act of 1954, approved July 10. (68 Stat. 454)
  4. The reference is in error; it should refer to the June 15 Staff Meeting, in which the barter amendment was discussed. (Department of State, Secretary’s Staff Meetings: Lot 63 D 75)