62. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State0

UNMIS 18. For Harriman—State; Forrestal—White House. From Schlesinger. Fol is text of memo I sent to Stevenson October 24: “Memorandum to Governor Stevenson.

I had a talk this evening with Averell Harriman. He made the following points:

Khrushchev, he said, is sending us desperate signals to get us to help take him off the hook. He is sending messages exactly as he did to Eisenhower directly after the U-2 affair. Eisenhower ignored these messages to his cost. We must not repeat Eisenhower’s mistake.
The signals are (1) the instructions to the Soviet ships to change their course; (2) the message to Bertrand Russell;1 (3) his obviously premeditated [Page 188] appearance last night at an American concert in Moscow and his subsequent visit with the American singer.
In view of these signals from Khrushchev, the worst mistake we can possibly make is to get tougher and to escalate. Khrushchev is pleading with us to help him find a way out.
The best way out is the resolution recommended by Cleveland as Tab C in his memorandum (the defanging resolution).2 However, Harriman disagrees with Cleveland’s view that we should try to negotiate this resolution. He thinks we should try to get Ireland to introduce the resolution tomorrow. We cannot afford to lose any time. Incidents—stopping of ships, etc.—will begin the process of escalation, engage Soviet prestige and reduce the chances of a peaceful resolution. If we act shrewdly and speedily, we can bail Khrushchev out and discredit the tough guys around him—the ones who sold him the Cuban adventure on the theory that Americans were too liberal to fight.

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

October 24, 1962”

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, General. Confidential; Limited Distribution. The source text bears the notation “Bundy saw 11 p.m. 25 Oct.”
  2. For text of this letter, October 24, see American Foreign Policy, Current Documents, 1962, pp. 421-422.
  3. Presumably a reference to Cleveland’s October 24 memorandum to Rusk and Ball. (Department of State, S/S Files: Lot 65 D 438) See the Supplement.