324. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in France0

5505. For the Ambassador. For your background, following is analysis Soviet and Soviet-ChiCom developments which you requested:1


Soviet developments. Soviets facing whole series serious internal and external problems and painful dilemmas. Internally, they seem to be devoting considerable attention to military posture. Disappearance of “missile gap” seems to have led Soviets to realize their military posture not sufficient to permit them to pursue policies they sought. Insofar as Cuban affair was attempt to redress situation relatively cheaply, there is evidence its failure may have led to even more painful decision, that of increasing resources devoted to military (note Khrushchev February electoral speech stressing guns over butter). Soviets may hope not so much actually overtake US militarily, but for some sort spectacular development creating impression of great strength, along lines Sputnik image in late fifties.

Virtually any increase in allocation to military would complicate already difficult resources problem. Agriculture in particular requires attention, and it seems unlikely administrative reorganization will successfully take place of greater funds for tractors, fertilizer, etc.

Soviet efforts at accelerating economic integration of Eastern Europe are encountering resistance (notably from Rumania) having nationalistic overtones. This problem is closely connected with both internal resources problem and relations with Chinese.

Soviets have suffered number of setbacks in policy towards nonaligned. Once promising relations with Guinea and Nasser have cooled, Soviets have been effectively blocked in Congo, Soviets are now competing with ChiComs as well as West in under-developed areas, and coup in Iraq constituted dramatic reverse. Soviets are apparently attempting to salvage something in Iraq by support of Kurds.

Internally, problem with intellectuals also appears to have become serious. Attempt to allow somewhat greater intellectual freedom without either allowing it to get out of hand, or controlling it by old proven Stalinist methods is not simple task. Most significant aspect this struggle [Page 683] would seem be almost unprecedented resistance offered by some intellectual circles.

As to rumors of difficulties within Soviet leadership, and possible challenge to Khrushchev, we have no hard evidence Khrushchev is in fact in trouble. Soviet difficulties must have created disagreements and policy disputes within leadership, and may have affected Khrushchevʼs position to some extent. There is probably some sense of general frustration. Khrushchevʼs political skill, however, should enable him to survive. We will be interested in seeing if apparent need to replace Kozlov adds to existing strains.


Sino-Soviet dispute. Dispute is probably most serious problem facing Bloc. Although both Chinese and Soviets have finally, after considerable parrying, agreed on July 5 date for bilateral meeting between CPSU and CPC, unlikely such meeting could result in reconciliation. Both sides persist in defending own positions, attacking those of other side, show no signs of willingness compromise on substance, and are actively attempting line up support among CPʼs. (See, for example, Hong Kongʼs 1926 to Dept, rptd Paris, for recent Liu speech.)2 Soviets are concerned over considerable progress ChiComs have made in lining up Far East parties, and in attracting groups sympathetic to them within number of WE and LA parties directly challenging Soviet leadership.

In general sense, dispute is obviously in interest [of the] West, though we see little we can, or in fact need, do to further it at this stage. At same time, it does not solve our problems—Soviet military strength, for example, is unaffected—and it brings with it some dangers, which already apparent. While Chinese will be able rely less on Sino-Soviet alliance, and may hence be cautious vis-à-vis major Western powers, they may also regard some of their neighbors as opportune targets for the more active strategy they advocate. Laos would seem example. Moreover, Soviet influence over Chinese and their sympathizers has significantly decreased, and Soviets now appear unwilling take actions which might focus attention on this decreased influence. Therefore, while Soviets would probably prefer see continued adherence to Geneva accords in Laos, they are letting present situation develop, in hope risks for them are low. In any event, extent of their influence at present is debatable.

East-West relations. We see little prospect in immediate future for progress with Soviets in East-West matters. Soviets are dragging their feet in virtually all negotiations with West (test ban, Berlin, disarmament, UN Outer Space matters, etc.). Factors may include Soviet recognition they are now in position of weakness, and desire postpone decisions involving West until their position strengthened. May also include Soviet [Page 684] concern lest agreements possible with West now would make them more vulnerable to ChiCom criticism and adversely affect Soviet struggle for influence over other Communist parties. We would not describe present Soviet posture as hard line, but rather immobility and absence of soft line. We do not, therefore, expect aggressive Soviet actions which would risk major confrontation with West, though there may well be more aggressive Soviet efforts exploit situations that arise, (such as Kurds) when they consider risk of doing so, in terms of confrontation with West, to be low. Since present Soviet posture seems to be one of holding action, rather than movement towards harder or softer line, we would expect them to try keep channels of communication open to us. We consider it in our interest to keep channels open, both to prevent Soviets from feeling compelled for lack of alternatives to drift into harder line, and to facilitate further progress at such time as Soviets decide this possible.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POLUSSR. Confidential; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Valdes on May 17; cleared by Thompson, Ball, Harriman, Tyler, Guthrie (in draft), FE, and EUR; and approved by Davis.
  2. The request has not been identified further. A similar analysis had been transmitted in Topol 1689 to Paris, May 10, for use at a meeting of the NATO political advisors. (Ibid., NATO 3-1)
  3. Dated May 14, it summarized Liu Shao-Chiʼs speech at Hanoi, May 12. (Ibid., POL 7 CHICOM)