19. Operations Coordinating Board Report0


A memorandum from Jeremiah J. O’Connor to Kohler, dated July 15, in which O’Connor indicated he was quoting from his preliminary and informal notes on the OCB meeting that day, reads as follows: “Mr. Sherer opened the discussion by noting that although some may have expected dramatic results, it will be several years before we can evaluate the success of the U.S. policy of promoting the peaceful evolution of the dominated nations toward national independence and internal freedom. The Acting Chairman, Mr. Harr (White House) asked if the time had arrived when private U.S. organizations could operate in other Eastern European countries as is now the case in Poland. Mr. McKisson replied it might soon be possible in Czechoslovakia and Rumania.”

The Board also discussed U.S. policy toward Hungary, tourism in the satellites, the influence of the Catholic Church in certain countries, and trade opportunities between the United States and Czechoslovakia. (Ibid.)

(Approved by the President May 24, 1958)

(Period Covered: From May 24, 1958 through July 15, 1959)

General Evaluation

1. In the existing state of relative balance between Free World and Soviet bloc military power, voluntary resort to force (including incitement to internal revolution) for the achievement of U.S. policy objectives in Eastern Europe is not in prospect. Therefore, efforts to achieve U.S. policy objectives are based upon the concept of evolutionary development rather than the concept of liberation.

2. Following upon mass disturbances in Poland and the national uprising in Hungary, the Soviet Union has endeavored to tighten the discipline of the Communist parties within the bloc. It has supported the rigorous repression of all active or potential elements of dissent. Nevertheless, certain factors and conditions of instability reflect continuing Soviet vulnerabilities in the bloc countries and afford moderate long-term opportunities for the United States to advance its policy objectives. [Page 96] These include the deep popular antipathy to Soviet Communism; the disruptive influence of the Yugoslav ideological heresy and Yugoslav independence; the continued manifestations of liberalization in Poland; the inability of the Soviet bloc regimes to broaden their base of popular support; and the failure of these regimes to satisfy basic consumer requirements while pursuing major economic development objectives.

3. The basic problem of U.S. policy in the area is to sustain and encourage by peaceful means the aspirations of the dominated peoples for national independence and human freedom. The effective application of U.S. policy necessarily has involved two separate, though not irreconcilable, lines of approach: (a) continuing refusal to accept the status quo of Soviet domination over the nations of Eastern Europe as a permanent condition and continuing affirmation of the right of the dominated peoples to national independence and to governments of their own free choosing; and (b) efforts to expand opportunities for direct contact with the dominated peoples, particularly in the cultural, informational, economic, and technical fields, as a means of exerting more effective U.S. influence upon future developments. It is clear, however, that the only avenue through which such interchanges can be expanded and developed is the existing regime in each country. The United States accordingly seeks to enter into more active relations with the Soviet-dominated regimes for this purpose wherever conditions permit. So far, significant progress has not been made toward the expansion of direct contacts, and radio broadcasts remain the primary means of circumventing regime controls aimed at excluding Western influence.

4. These two approaches to the application of U.S. policy remain complementary so long as U.S. actions thereunder are properly coordinated and carefully directed toward the accomplishment of our basic objectives. Thus, we stand firmly in support of the principles of independence and freedom and maintain our rights and responsibilities under existing international treaties and agreements. We define and clarify U.S. policy before the world on appropriate occasions. We expose, and condemn as the facts may warrant, the basic evils and defects of the Soviet-Communist system. It is essential, however, that efforts to exploit Soviet vulnerabilities be sober and judicious and take due account of our gradual but positive efforts to develop increased contacts with the dominated peoples through more active relations with the dominated regimes and to foster evolutionary trends toward the ultimate goals of national independence and freedom for the peoples of the area. Expansion of informational and cultural activities within these countries entails reciprocity, but great difficulties are encountered in providing appropriate facilities and support for reciprocal activities sponsored by the dominated regimes in the United States. Private travel by U.S. citizens to the Eastern European area, including tourist travel, has [Page 97] increased in the past year. The increase is especially noteworthy in the case of travel to Czechoslovakia. However, tourist travel to Albania and Hungary remains precluded under U.S. passport restrictions which are still in effect with respect to those countries.

5. Our efforts to stimulate evolutionary forces and developments in the dominated nations will be vitally affected by our success in strengthening our own free institutions, economic well-being and military power and those of our allies and friends and by the progress we are able to make in resolving other outstanding international issues. Moreover, as has been noted, these efforts are in part dependent on the willingness of the Soviet bloc countries to permit increased cultural and informational exchanges. In view of the few openings permitted us, implementation of our program has been slow and difficult. It is unlikely that progress in the carrying out of U.S. policy toward the Soviet-dominated nations can be accurately evaluated on a short-term basis. Any meaningful assessment of the effectiveness of U.S. policy may be possible only after the efforts and experience of several years.


6. We do not recognize and do not have diplomatic relations with the Albanian regime. The Albanian authorities have shown no clear or direct interest in the establishment of relations with the United States. There has been no progress in the achievement of our objectives with respect to Albania. The relaxation of restrictions on travel by U.S. citizens to Albania has resulted in some travel there for business, professional and compassionate reasons. This has had some constructive effect in that it has enabled Albanian-Americans to see at first hand what conditions are really like in Albania.


7. On March 24, following negotiations in which the Bulgarian Government withdrew charges of espionage made against former U.S. Minister Heath (Heath had occasioned the suspension of diplomatic relations in 1950) and provided assurances that a U.S. Mission in Sofia would be permitted to carry on normal diplomatic functions, agreement was reached for the resumption of U.S.-Bulgarian diplomatic relations. Preparations are now under way to establish a U.S. Legation in Sofia. The target date is August 1959.


8. There has been little progress toward the achievement of basic U.S. policy objectives in Czechoslovakia. The United States has, however, been able to continue the economic negotiations begun in October [Page 98] 19552 and there is some hope these will come to a successful conclusion. If an agreement on outstanding economic problems is reached there may well be some improvement of relations which will afford opportunities for more active contacts. Even without such improvement, Embassy Prague has been able to conduct limited but varied informational and cultural activities among certain Czechoslovak groups. Surveillance of the Embassy staff and intimidation of their Czechoslovak contacts are a continuing handicap to these activities.


9. There has been no progress toward the achievement of U.S. policy objectives in Hungary. In the absence of any favorable change in the Hungarian regime’s defiant and uncooperative attitude toward the UN and its efforts to deal with the problems arising from the 1956 revolution, U.S. relations with Hungary remain strained, and the United States has continued successfully its efforts to keep the Hungarian situation before World opinion and under active consideration at the UN.


10. The slight progress we have made in working toward U.S. policy objectives within Rumania is reflected mainly in the cultural field where it has been possible to enter into limited exchange activities in several instances. Relations between the United States and the Rumanian regime appear outwardly more relaxed than in years past but undergo occasional acerbation. All basic issues remain unsettled. The interest of the Rumanian regime in developing better relations with the United States remains extremely cautious.

11. From the standpoint of operations, no review of policy is recommended.

  1. Source: Department of State, OCB Files: Lot 61 D 385, USSR & Satellites—Documents—1959–60. Secret. A cover sheet and an undated covering memorandum by OCB Executive Officer Bromley Smith are not printed. In his memorandum, Smith noted that the Board discussed the report at its July 15 meeting and that the outcome of the negotiations with the Czechoslovak Government for the settlement of U.S. claims “may determine the future of U.S.-Czech relations for a considerable period and also affect the possibility of applying the general policy of 5811/1.” He also indicated the Board concurred in the report for transmittal to the National Security Council and that it had subsequently been discussed by the NSC Planning Board on August 4.
  2. Document 6.
  3. Documentation regarding these ongoing negotiations is in Department of State, Central File 611.49231.