137. Minutes of the Cabinet Meeting0

[Here follow a list of participants and the President’s brief comments on an unrelated subject.]

US-USSR Relations (CI 59–62)—Mr. Herter, speaking from the Cabinet Paper,1 reviewed the background and purpose of the Khrushchev visit, stressing particularly the President’s hope that the visit might serve to remove some of the misconceptions that existed about the United States. Mr. Herter pointed out that on the first visit of Mr. Khrushchev with the President the only really significant thing was that Khrushchev had not deigned to discuss at all the disarmament proposal he would be making to the UN a few days later, preferring to keep the matter of the speech a closely guarded secret, though he did refer to it as being “right here in my pocket and no one is going to see it”. Mr. Herter noted also the accomplishments at Camp David as set forth in the communique, plus the additional statements made subsequently2 that there would be no time limit placed in ultimatum fashion on the Berlin negotiations. He noted also the brief discussion of China and the impossibility of having any profitable discussion at that time.3 However, when Mr. Khrushchev went to China,4 there was evidence but not proof that he did what he could to soft peddle the issue.

Mr. Herter emphasized that the Russian effort now is to attempt to build up a feeling around the world that a new era of peace has set in. Mr. Herter said that some of our friends might over react to this in terms of moving much more warmly toward closer relations with Russia, despite the fact that the Russian representative in the UN recently attacked us vitriolically.5

Mr. Herter concluded that the visit could be considered a gain but that only future developments will reveal the worth of the visit. In the meantime, there is a need for other nations to realize that there has been no change in policy on our part.

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Mr. Lodge pointed out that people in the UN had thought well of the visit and the way it was handled by the U.S., but that there was growing talk of a “spirit of Camp David”. Mr. Lodge then noted the tendency in the non-white world (world is most of the world in terms of population) to look askance at the United States as being a “white” country and therefore associated with the Colonial Powers. He felt that the aftermath of the Khrushchev visit provides us a great opportunity to correct this attitude, since these countries regard us now as being somewhat more reasonable. We should focus attention on the Declaration of Independence rather than on the Communist Manifesto where it has been, and in doing so we should not endeavor to sell the specific word “Capitalism” which is beyond rehabilitation in the minds of the non-white world. As Mr. Lodge stated, the U.S. can win wars but the question is can we win revolutions.

Mr. Lodge cautioned that the U.S. could not afford any appearance of backtracking from the attitude it has had about the Khrushchev visit, since this would encourage the presently quiescent critics of the visit to sound off.

Mr. Lodge thought that the United States could seize and hold the diplomatic initiative by taking specific actions which might be something of the type of the following:

Revive the Baruch plan for atomic control and disarmament.6
Working for the presence of the UN in Berlin.
Focusing more on our assistance to under developed nations through the multilateral UN programs which far exceeds the Soviet contribution.

We could well afford to invite and challenge the Soviets to match our effort.

Domestically, Lodge thought we should give more consideration to the possibility of a greater growth rate of the national economy—perhaps 6% rather than 3% annually. He also stressed the harm done to our world relations by domestic race and color problems, where a single incident like Little Rock7 can do irretrievable harm. The President immediately asked why the sending of Federal troops had not done good rather than harm by showing our determination to maintain the rule of law. Mr. Lodge agreed that in this respect some benefit had been obtained but the adverse effects of the rioting were tremendous.

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Mr. McCone discussed the atomic scientists exchange visits and his experiences in Russia,8 pointing out such things as the Russian capacity for fully organizing efforts to promote special projects, Russian scientific respect for China’s potential in science, and the possibility of further exchanges in areas where new information is already being made public anyway. He also noted specifically the Russian agreement to holding technical discussions by the USSR, US, UK and the French as to safeguards against misuse of nuclear power reactors and materials.

Sec. Benson gave his impressions from his visit to Yugoslavia, Poland and Russia, and distributed copies of his summary report.9 He noted especially the superiority of U.S. agriculture and the probability that Russia will need a decade or more before catching up to our industrialized farm activity. He also talked at length about his visit to a church in Moscow and his firm faith that religion will never die there.

[Here follows discussion of unrelated subjects.]

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Cabinet Series. Confidential. Drafted by L. Arthur Minnich, Jr., the President’s Assistant Staff Secretary.
  2. A copy of a paper prepared by Secretary Herter, entitled “Assessment of Chairman Khrushchev’s Visit—Summary of Instructions to U.S. Missions Abroad,” November 2, is ibid.
  3. For Eisenhower’s and Khrushchev’s statements on Berlin following the Camp David discussions, see vol. IX, Document 16.
  4. See Document 133.
  5. See footnote 13, Document 136.
  6. Not further identified.
  7. See footnote 9, Document 75.
  8. In late September 1957, President Eisenhower federalized the National Guard and sent regular Federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to enforce a court order requiring integration of a high school.
  9. McCone and a group of U.S. scientists toured Soviet scientific laboratories and installations October 9–18.
  10. The summary report of Benson’s trip to Yugoslavia, Germany, Poland, the Soviet Union, Finland, Sweden, and Norway September 23–October 9 is in Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Cabinet Series.