41. Memorandum of Discussion at the 361st Meeting of the National Security Council0

[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and agenda items 1 and 2.]

3. Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security

General Cabell commented first on Khrushchev’s assumption of the Premiership in the USSR. After summarizing the reasons which probably induced Khrushchev to assume this new authority, General Cabell pointed out that only one additional increment of power was needed to put Khrushchev in the same power position that Stalin had previously occupied in the USSR. This last increment was complete control of the secret police. As yet, the CIA detected no signs that Khrushchev proposed to move in this direction. After discussing the make-up of the new leadership under Khrushchev and underlining the importance of Frol Koslov,1 General Cabell concluded by stating that he anticipated no basic changes in Soviet foreign policy as a result of Khrushchev’s moves.

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Secretary Dulles alluded to General Cabell’s speculations as to what had induced Khrushchev to take over Bulganin’s job. He added that he thought there was one other possible factor in this decision not mentioned by General Cabell. He pointed out that the realities of power in the Soviet Union rest in the Communist Party, which actually runs the Government of the Soviet Union. This fact was a constant embarrassment to the Soviets because it could not be disguised when there was one head of the Government and one head of the Party. Thus everybody knew that the letters that Bulganin signed were actually dictated by Khrushchev. Now that Khrushchev has become both head of the Party and head of the Government, and wears two hats, the embarrassing situation is somewhat more disguised. Nevertheless, the Soviet Union retains all the advantages of being in a position to say that the Soviet and Satellite Governments are not responsible for the actions of the Soviet and Satellite Communist parties. General Cabell said he would not disagree that this reasoning might well have been one of the factors in Khrushchev’s decision.

[Here follow discussion of unrelated subjects and the remaining agenda items.]

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Prepared by Gleason on April 4.
  2. Bulganin assumed the relatively minor position of Chairman of the State Bank in the new government. Other changes included the appointment of only two Deputy Chairmen of the Soviet Council of Ministers—Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan and Frol Romanovich Kozlov—compared with six in the previous government. Mikoyan was reappointed to this position, but Kozlov was newly appointed. Telegram 1684 from Moscow, April 1, reported on the changes. (Department of State, Central Files, 761.13/4–158)