25. Record of the Policy Planning Staff Meeting0


  • George McGhee
  • George Morgan
  • Henry Brodie
  • Leon Fuller
  • Howard Furnas
  • Henry Owen
  • George F. Kennan, Princeton
  • Henry Ramsey
  • Edward Rice
  • Carlton Savage
  • Evan Wilson
  • William Webb

[Here follow observations Kennan made on the work of the Policy Planning Staff.]

Mr. Kennan made the following observations on matters of substance:

There is little hope now for negotiation with the Russians on the fundamental problems such as disarmament and the division of Europe. We are likely to make more progress through reciprocal unilateral actions or tacit arrangements rather than signed agreements. This may be especially true in the disarmament field.

The US and the USSR have many points of common interest. We should endeavor to locate them and work on them. TheUSSR would welcome (1) the removal of the captive nations resolution from the Congressional calendar, and (2) strengthening commercial relations with the US, which to them would have symbolic political significance.

We should drop the problem of Hungary in relations with the USSR as it is an irritant and we cannot help the Hungarian people by continuing to press it.

It might be possible to work out informally with the USSR a mutually agreed arms limitation policy for Africa, even if this means US concessions regarding existing bases in North Africa.

Khrushchev with all his bluster is a sensitive man. We need patience and humor in dealing with him. We should not be worried by his statement that the Soviet Union intends to bury us—this was metaphorical, and the Soviet leaders know where their real interests lie.

The question of Sino-Soviet relations appears to be one for intelligence analysis rather than planning. We cannot do much to influence these relations but we must constantly observe them.

[Page 63]

We have an identity with Russia in the Far East. Japan should not be a barrier in our relations with the USSR. It might be helpful if we agreed to withdraw our bases from Japan and made a Far East agreement with Japan and Russia. This could in turn help us deal with the Korean problem.

We have much more difficult problems with the Chinese than with the Russians. The latter have more in common with Western civilization.1

Mr. Kennan thought it would be desirable for the Department to return to the old practice of giving instructions to a newly-appointed Ambassador explaining the purposes and objectives of his mission.

  1. Source: Department of State, S/P Files: Lot 70 D 199, Staff Minutes 1961. Confidential. Drafted by Carlton Savage.
  2. In a similar discussion on February 20, Ambassador Thompson stressed that Soviet officials emphasized trade in every conversation with him. He added that U.S. willingness to make trade arrangements with the Soviet Union “would be an evidence to them of good intentions.” Thompson added that Moscow saw the Middle East as one of its greatest opportunities and he believed that their greatest problem was containment of Communist China. Thompson concluded that the best thing the United States could do to put strain on relations between China and the Soviet Union was to make progress bilaterally with the latter. (Ibid.)